For my Wildcard piece, I have chosen an essay I wrote on the forced repression of human impulses and desire in George

Orwell's magnum opus Nineteen Eighty-Four. There is a common theme between the novels I read throughout the semester and this novel, in that detectives Phillip Marlowe and Jake Gittes repress many of these carnal desires themselves, in an effort to keep their wits about them and perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. This essay shows the dangers of repressing love, and the detrimental effect such actions can have on the individual. By avoiding indulgence in carnal pleasures, both Marlowe and Gittes are able to dedicate themselves fully to their work- but deny themselves one of the fundamental necessities of human life: the need to be loved.

Ian Koll Independent Reading Essay It is of common belief that humans, as a species, are inherently dictated by impulses. Things such as thought, love, sensuality, and the desire to know- all of which are facets of the concept of human nature. These impulses vary greatly in extent and magnitude, though the vast majority of such impulses, including the aforesaid, are deemed natural. Thus, human nature, as it is so aptly named, is inclusive of these impulses, and defines what society considers to be both normal and expected behavior. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell presents a reality in which the freedom to indulge in human impulses is forcefully oppressed to a point of absurdity- where the fundamental aspects of human nature are outlawed, and subsequently punished, in adherence with the totalitarian nature of the governing party. Nineteen Eighty-Four takes place in a crumbling, degraded London, known as Airstrip One in the realm of the novel. The citizens of Airstrip One refer to one another merely as “comrade”- an allusion to the Soviet Union’s Communism, which was gaining momentum during the time the novel was being written. Orwell presents Airstrip One as a province of Oceania (which is comprised of the Americas and the British Empire) dominated by a totalitarian dictator, known only as “Big Brother.” Big Brother becomes the face of oppression within the novel, and can be seen on posters throughout the city, in buildings, and even in the homes of citizens. The consistent presence of Big Brother’s image, along with the perpetuating slogan “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” (Orwell 2) aides in illustrating a world in which privacy is all but a fleeting image of a past which isn’t allowed to exist. Winston Smith, the

novel’s protagonist, is a prime example of a citizen who has had enough of the atrocious conditions of existence the party allows. Winston is a fatalist, and is tortured by the idea that the party will inevitably kill him for breaking the law, as he, along with the rest of the citizens of Airstrip One and Oceania, are constantly under surveillance. Privacy is but one of a slew of other human rights one is deprived of in Oceania. Despite the underlying social ramifications of removing one’s right to privacy, due to the tyrannical command the party has over both the outer party and proletariat, reduced rights are a requirement, as fraternization of any sort may be a disguised plot to overthrow the party. Another fundamental human urge is the desire to find and feel love. Love and sexuality are also controlled, and the act of lovemaking is humorously referred to as “our duty to the Party” (Orwell 46.) Through organizations such as the Junior Anti-Sex League, which promotes celibacy for both genders, and the idea of “artsem” (artificial insemination,) the Party contorts citizens views of sensuality, turning sex into an inhuman, revolting act of sin. As Winston put it, “The Party was trying to kill the sex instinct, or, if it could not be killed, then to distort it and dirty it” (Orwell 45.) The Party’s goal, according to Winston, “…was not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control. Its real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act” (Orwell 65.) In forbidding the innate human tendency to procreate, along with their other numerous rules, the Party inadvertently caused a backlash of vice and corruption to flourish in secrecy throughout Airstrip One. Prostitution, for example, ran rampant, and “…the poorer quarters swarmed with women who were ready to sell themselves. Some could even be purchased for a bottle of gin” (Orwell 65.) Even Winston admits to sleeping with a prostitute in his past, an action that is quite common despite its illegality. The fact that so many citizens are willing to be unlawful regardless of the punishments they face is a telling sign of the Party’s shortcomings, and an interesting narrative component of the novel. Removed slightly from controlling the ability for citizens to make love, the Party furthers their abolishment of love through their dissolution of the family unit. While not necessarily a human impulse,

the “family bond” is one that many societies deem to be sacred, and unchangeable, no matter the external influence. The Party, aware of the strong bond between parent and child, caused tension in the homes of its citizens by teaching young children to spy on their parents, and report possible crime to the Thought Police. Thus, Airstrip One became a place where even the most cardinal need to nurture one’s child is viewed as a daunting and dangerous task. “…Children,” as Winston describes “…on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations. The family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police. It was a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately” (Orwell 93.) Orwell’s choice in pitting parent against child creates a feeling of deep contempt and scorn towards the Party, as many can relate to the powerful urge to care for an offspring. It is for this reason alone that many citizens detest the Party; unable to act out, however, due to the Party’s means of punishing dissenters. The most flagrant example of the Party’s oppression of natural impulses is their control of citizen’s ability to think. “Thoughtcrime,” as it’s known, spans beyond the realms of speech and action, and includes controversial or otherwise socially unacceptable thoughts, voiced or not. Through psychological surveillance, the Party monitors each and every citizen of Oceania through telescreens, which broadcast things as subtle as facial expressions and nervous habits, to observers in the Ministry of Love. Winston commits thoughtcrime early on in the novel, by writing the defamatory phrase “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” several times in a journal. It is through this action that Winston realizes he will inevitably be captured and tortured for slandering the Party. Winston, a fatalist, accepts this fact, and attempts to indulge himself with a romantic relationship with Julia, another Outer Party member, though fate ultimately prevails and both are arrested by Mr. Charrington, an undercover member of the Thought Police, on the pretenses of thoughtcrime. The absurdity of the party is made evident through Orwell’s description of thoughtcrime, and in Winston’s fatalistic statement that “Nobody ever escaped detection,

and nobody ever failed to confess. When once you had succumbed to thoughtcrime it was certain that by a given date you would be dead” (Orwell 71.) Later in the novel, during Winston’s torturous reeducation in prison, Winston meets his neighbor, who has also been arrested for thoughtcrime. It is humorous to note that his neighbor, Mr. Parsons, was arrested after his daughter alerted the Thought Police about things he was muttering in his sleep- a concrete example of the ludicrous manner in which the party operates. Nineteen Eighty-Four, while relying less on the typical components of successful literature, tells a compelling political tale that strikes fear in the imaginations of individuals spanning several generations. Orwell’s novel has yet to become a reality, and serves as a powerful and frightening tool to educate readers of the dangers of totalitarianism, and the harsh reality of unchecked governmental power. Without the ability to execute natural human impulses, many consequences ensue, and civil unrest becomes an unavoidable circumstance. It is because of both Winston and Julia’s inability to feed their impulses that the Party eventually captured them. In the eyes of modern society, they committed no crime. This was Orwell’s point- to warn his audience of the dangers to come if action was not taken to prevent such a government from coming to power. Because of these thought provoking points and the vivid, horrifying imagery the novel contains, Nineteen Eighty-Four has remained a timeless, cautionary tale worthy of the highest acclaim.

Works Cited: Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. New York City: New American Library, 1977. Print.

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