'1984' by George Orwell and 'The Winslow Boy' by Terence Rattigan both explore the issues of power and gender in their texts. Power and gender is represented and portrayed to the audience in certain ways. In '1984', George Orwell communicates these aspects through Winston and Julia, and the three parties respectfully. He also uses irony to give the reader a better understanding of who has the power in the situations. In 'The Winslow Boy', Terence Rattigan explores the themes through the court case, and also through Catherine.
Power is a main theme in the book '1984'. The book explores the struggle and the abuse of power throughout the storyline. In the novel, there are three class systems in the society, these being the Inner Party, Outer Party and the Proles. As a totalitarianism system is in place, each party is given certain rules and responsibilities. Through these rules and responsibilities, we are able to determine the level of power each party has.
The Inner party has few rules and responsibilities. As a result, we are able to conclude that they have a great amount of power, and they lead a luxurious life. An example from the text is on page 175 which states:"The whole atmosphere of the huge block of flats, the richness and spaciousness of everything, the unfamiliar smells of good food and good tobacco, the silent and incredibly rapid lifts sliding up and down, the white-jacketed servants hurrying to and fro - everything was intimidating.
The Outer Party however do not lead such a fantastic life; however their life is full of rules and responsibilities to their communities. Members of the Outer Party are constantly forced to take part in events such as the 'two minute hate' and they are bound by rules which affect their day to day activities. They are constantly monitored by telescreens and live in fear of 'vaporisation'. Also, The Outer Party members are continually famined as they are handed out rations, rather than money. They are cramped together in apartment buildings with small rooms. The place where Winston stays at is called Victory Mansions.
"The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a coloured poster, too large for indoor display had been tacked to the wall." "Winston made for the stairs. It was not use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours." - Page 3.
In comparison to the quote on page 175, it is easy to determine who has more power and a better standard of living. Although Victory Mansions suggests elegancy and luxury, the truth is almost the complete opposite. This technique is Irony and has been used purposefully in the situation to convey the shift of power in society.
The proles are also a class in the political state of big brother. The proles, although lacking wealth, have no rules or responsibilities from the party. The proles take up almost 85% of the population, and most of them are without a telescreen, which means they are not under constant surveillance from the party. As they lay outside of the parties restrictions, they have the power to overthrow the party if they wished; however, there is no need for them to rebel as they are already outside of the parties' laws.
"If there is hope, wrote Winston, it lies in the proles." - Page 72.
This quote also uses irony to convey power as:"Until they [proles] become conscious they will not rebel, and until after they rebel they cannot become conscious." - Page 73.
George Orwell also portrays gender in the form of Winston and Julia, the two main characters. A male is typically the stronger, domineering and controlling in a relationship. As for females, they are thought to be the more submissive, and cowardly. George Orwell has played with these stereotypes, and therefore has switched the roles with Winston and Julia, giving Winston the female characteristics, and Julia the male characteristics. By doing this, the reader therefore things twice about the situation and how the society has become. When reversing the roles, the author can create confusion, and therefore uses satire to teach us about the different roles that women and men can take, and show us that there is no limit to how we should act depending on our sex.
'The Winslow Boy' also explores the issues of power throughout the text. The main focus of the text is the court case in which there is a struggle for power and justice. Terence Rattigan uses this storyline to communicate his opinions to the audience. In the court case, the struggle for power is between the government and the Winslow family. The Winslow family rely on human rights and honesty to obtain the power from the government, who is in control of the boy's future. The court case is the family's only chance regaining honour for their son. This therefore demonstrates the importance of power in the society and its effects on the community. Without the rights that are given to citizens, the accused Winslow family member would have been mistreated and wronged.
From the quote on page 95, we can determine that the court case was not over the little money stolen, yet it was over the principle of being ethic and right.
"All I know is, John, that if ever the time comes when the House of Commons has so much on its mind that it can't find time to discuss a Ronnie Winslow and his bally postal order, this country will be a far poorer place than it is now." - Page 95It also tells us that in need for the society to be efficient and understanding, it must not abuse the power that is given. This is how power is conveyed in "The Winslow Boy".
Rattigan also explores gender in his play. He communicates the issues of gender through Catherine. Catherine is a lady who is very focused on women's suffrage. She is very professional and a smart aspiring young lady, who is very opinionated. The twist to Catherine's personality, however, is that she is a very beautiful girl with a strong sense of femininity. Rattigan also focuses on strong character development, especially with Catherine, as a technique in his work and this is used to help break the stereotype associated with gender.
"It seems decidedly wrong to me that a lady of your political persuasion should be allowed to adorn herself with such a very feminine allurement. It really looks so awfully like trying to have the best of both worlds." - Page 89This contrast of her character allows Rattigan to play with our understanding of women's roles and the stereotypical constrictions to be either intelligent, or beautiful.
Through this information, it is clear to see that both George Orwell and Terence Rattigan have explore the issues of power and gender in their texts, and communicated there opinions on the subject matter through them.
Bibliography :Orwell, George. 1984. London: Penguin Books, 1987