An examination of identity in Orwell's "1984"

Essay by ougoahHigh School, 11th gradeA+, September 2006

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

Downloaded 27 times

In "1984", George Orwell paints his vision of life in an age where totalitarianism has eradicated individuality, choice and personal identity. In the context of a modern dystopia in the grip of political megalomania, Orwell raises a number of concerns in connection with modern society and the human race, while highlighting the importance of preserving individual identity. While still a novel, 1984's core themes are pertinent to our current world, as it draws several parallels between the life of its protagonist, Winston, and that of the modern man, and alludes to an important fact: identity can only exist when the environment allows it.

1984 follows a man who has lost his identity, who does not possess outward status of any kind and whose every move is scrutinised by those in control. Throughout the novel, Winston seeks to be identified by those of like mind. Eventually he meets a man named O'Brien and becomes a criminal working against the party.

Ultimately Winston is caught, unable to overcome the regime; he is physically and psychologically manipulated until finally he yields total obedience to his superiors.

Orwell draws a parallel between Winston and the human race as a whole, implying that Winston is the "last man" left. The novel's clearest message is that the human race ought not to destroy its own identity. Orwell portrays authority as being obsessed with identifying every aspect of its subjects, from their names to the records of their every move. Yet it is apparent that this obsession with identification and control leads to the destruction of every kind of meaningful identity, since it transforms a society of unique individuals into one of perfect homogeneity. The government's contempt for individuality is furthered by the notion that people are classified as either sane or insane; sanity is the equal...