Compare and Contrast: 1984 and Waiting for the Barbarians

1903 Words8 Pages
While reading either Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee or George Orwell's 1984, one would not infer that these two works would have anything to do with one another. However, after examining both novels there appear to be a great many connections between the themes, characters and symbols of the texts. Although the novels were written almost thirty years apart and by authors with marginally different backgrounds, they both warn society against a totalitarian form of government and seek to expose the downfalls of these governments. The protagonists in both texts see the pitfalls of their respective ruling bodies from which they directly suffer. The characterizations of both of the protagonists are strikingly similar, as well as their fates when they choose to rebel. Not only do the characteristics of the protagonists correspond to one another, the prosecuting governments are equivalent in both texts as well. The manners in which they exercise control over their fictional societies are very much alike, even though the structures of the societies they govern are completely different. By observing aspects such as these it is very easy to outline the major similarities and differences in the two texts. The first and most prominent connection between the two works is the government's use of torture. Both the Empire in Waiting for the Barbarians and the Party in 1984 use torture as a form of physical control as well as a method for finding "truth". In 1984, everybody is forced to perform daily exercises, called "Physical Jerks", and then must work long, grueling days in government agencies. This routine consigns the public to a state of perpetual exhaustion and ensures the safety of the Party from physical rebellion because nobody possesses the strength to resist it. If one does rebel against the Party, like Winston for instance, then they are subjected to

More about Compare and Contrast: 1984 and Waiting for the Barbarians

Open Document