The Corruption of Human Nature in 1984
A predominant theme in George Orwell’s 1984 is the human condition. Facilitated by his social commentary of the evils of a totalitarian society, Orwell delves into the topic of the corruption of human nature, and poses philosophical questions about the demoralization of human qualities. These ideas show through in the demoralizing torture methods of “the Party” such as the use of rats, the constant patrols of the “Thought police”, and the Party’s excessive means of maintaining authority. Orwell creates a dialogue about the true state of man, the tragedy of that state being violated, and the qualities that are inalienable.
The protagonist, Winston Smith, is essential to Orwell’s diagnosis of the human state. The novel is written with a third person omniscient narrator, but predominantly provides the reader with details of Winston’s thoughts, with additional insights into the actions surrounding Winston that he is unaware of. Winston’s role as protagonist is to provide a stark contrast between the true thoughts of a common man and the pomp and propaganda that the party preaches, but he doesn’t exemplify an unalienated mind in the beginning of the novel.
When the story begins, the reader finds Winston to be caught in an interminable drone of daily life. Winston, “did not know with any certainty that it was 1984” (Orwell 10). Winston’s life is ruled by the Party in almost every aspect of his life; he works for
the party, he obeys the Party’s rations on food, takes part in the “Two Minutes Hate”, and is constantly under the watch of the invasive “Telescreens” that serve as not only a television, but also a surveillance camera. In the opening pages, Winston displays a certain complacency towards his current state; “You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was over heard, and except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” He seems to recognize...