The Role of the Three Key Female Characters in Orwell's 1984

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In his novel 1984, George Orwell depicts an idealistic totalitarian utopia through the main character Winston's life. The novel begins by introducing Winston Smith, a thirty nine year old man who works at the Ministry of Truth, where history can be rewritten. Orwell assigns women to play key roles in his novel to develop Winston's character. The three most important women who affect Winston's life are his mother, his wife Katherine, and his coworker Julia. Through their similarities and differences in characteristics, these three women encourage Winston to commit thought crimes and allow him to experience temporary freedom from Big Brother's despotic control. Winston's mother was a tall, statuesque, rather silent woman with slow movements and magnificent fair hair. Winston rarely has memories about his mother since she disappeared when he was ten or eleven years old. "He could not remember what had happened, but he knew in his dream that in some way the lives of his mother and his sister had been sacrificed to his own." ( p.30) Winston felt guilty since he thought that he was the reason his mother and sister disappeared. He felt that his mother's disappearance was somehow caused by his higher social status. "He was out in the light and air while they were being sucked down to death, and they were down there because he was up here." (p.29) Winston's longing for his mother still exists even thirty years after his mother's death. In the mean time, he also dreams of a romanticized past where there was still basic freedoms like privacy, love, and friendship. "Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason. (p.30)" However, in Orwell's utopia, such virtues are alien to Winston. Regardless Winston fantasizes about

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