An essay which compares how both Orwell and Proulx develop there main characters in George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four"and E. Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News".

Essay by edwardop July 2003

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By close examination of George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and E. Annie Proulx's 'The Shipping News' compare the ways in which the Orwell and Proulx, develop their main characters

'1984', as a science fictional dystopia, depicts a totalitarian regime that outlaws truth, love, thought, and the concept of the individual, controlling its populace with fear, brute force, and propaganda. Orwell presents Winston Smith as the protagonist of the story; his desperate attempt to preserve his identity initially leads to great development in character. Ultimately, however, such development is brought to a brutal end as his growing self is replaced by a superficial conformist personality imposed from outside. Similarly, 'The Shipping News' closely scrutinises its lead character's development in character; this internal growth, in contrast, is far more gradual and moments of great influence are much harder to ascertain. Despite this, the contrast of the Quoyle from the beginning of the novel and his eventual counterpart is significant.

From the outset both authors make conscious attempts to allow the reader to grasp the essence of their characters simply from hearing their names. This is achieved through identifying characters with names, which have obvious or explained connotations. In the prologue to the first chapter, the term 'Quoyle' is defined in 'The Ashley Book of Knots' as:

"A Flemish flake is a spiral coil of one layer that it may be

walked on if necessary."

Proulx introduces Quoyle as the human equivalent of a Flemish flake; isolated and confused, left behind by the hive-like, sprawling metropolis that surrounds him. Victim of a painful childhood almost psychologically abused, Quoyle had to come to terms with his brother and father's insistence he was inferior. Consequently, he suffers from low self-esteem and like a coil of rope he finds himself walked on by others. This pathetic...