1984 Essay by TE

1984: Selfishness Superiority

          Humans’ natural instinct of self-preservation creates an innate selfishness within all people. Humans are genetically wired with the desire to live, causing them to put themselves and their needs above others. Through a healthy, loving family dynamic, this selfishness can be blunted to some extent and altruistic tendencies develop. In1984, the Party uses innate selfishness to their advantage, creating love only for the Party. The manipulation of the Outer Party differs from the Proles, due to their varying roles in society. The Outer Party members possess knowledge of the Party’s activities and therefore pose more of a threat. Consequently, the Inner Party manipulates the Outer Party Member’s selfishness in order to control the Outer Party. The Party destroys familial bonds, and creates dire living conditions as a way to fuel the Outer Party members’ selfishness. Because of their lack of power, the Proles can maintain their family bonds, allowing them to remain human. Orwell juxtaposes the ability to love in the two different groups to demonstrate how the Inner Party manipulates social hierarchy and family dynamics to accentuate humans’ innate, selfish tendencies.

Orwell uses the Proles mothers’ protective instincts to demonstrate the Proles’ continuing humanity and ability to love. In one of Winston’s diary entries, he writes of a film shown at a movie theater. The film depicts a boy and his mother being attacked, “the woman putting her arms around him and comforting him… covering him up as much as possible as if she thought her arms could keep the bullets off him”(9). Even as they face death, this Prole mother instinctively protects her son. The love she feels overcomes her instincts of self-preservation, allowing her to put herself in harms way in an attempt to save her son. This type of affection is unique to the Proles, and demonstrates the direct connection between family ties and humans’ ability to be selfless. This Prole mother is not alone in her wish to protect children. After the film, which shows more gruesome deaths, ends, Winston says, “there was applause from the Party seats but a woman down in the Prole part of the house suddenly started kicking up a fuss and shouting they didn’t oughter showed it not in front of the kids”(9). This woman, alone, finds this footage of violence and torture disturbing and understands that this film should not be shown to children. The Proles’ family relationships make them more compassionate and able to overcome their natural selfish instincts.

In comparison, Orwell shows the Outer Party members’ inability to love because of their deeply manipulated family dynamic. The government becomes a curtail part of Outer Party families through its deep involvement in some of the most personal aspects of the Outer Party member’s lives. When describing women in the Party, Winston says, “the women of the Party were all alike. Chastity was as deeply ingrained in them as Party loyalty.” (67). For the Outer Party, sex was, as Katharine said “[their] duty to the Party” (67). The Inner Party has made itself an unspoken necessity in every part of life. Buy embedding itself that deeply in the family dynamic, the Party has made itself indispensable, and, through their involvement in the Outer Party’s family dynamic, limits all fears of losing power,. The government has taken control of all aspects of Outer Party life, all in the hope of enhancing selfishness and maintaining power.

Through the manipulation of selfishness, the Inner Party hopes to permanently remove love from the Outer Party family dynamic to create a deep dependency on the Party. The Inner Party does this through the manipulation of children, removing love from familial relationships. As Orwell says, “It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children… [who could easily have] overheard some compromising remark and denounced his parents to the Thought Police” (25). This exceedingly selfish behavior stems from the lack of a loving home and family, and Outer Party members inability to truly love. The Party manipulates children, detaching them from their parents and any familial ties while creating a deep trust and reliance on the government. By manipulating children, the Party has created an entire generation that lacks any form of human affection, that will grow into inherently selfish adults. These deeply manipulated children will grow up, reproduce, and feel no love for their own children, thus creating another generation of people who feel no compassion toward others. The Inner Party, through the manipulation of the Outer Party’s family dynamic, has enhanced humans’ natural tendencies of selfishness.

Orwell demonstrates humans’ natural selfish instincts, and the Inner Party’s manipulation of them, through Winston’s relationship with his mother. Children are, for the most part, naturally selfish. However, the nurturing, loving family dynamic allows people to overcome these feelings, creating an ability to truly love. The Party knows this and accentuates it in order to keep rebellion at bay and love only for the Party. Although Winston’s mother loved him very much, the Inner Party kept Winston’s innate selfish instincts intact by inflicting conditions of deprivation and hunger. Such conditions bring out humans’ natural desire of self-preservation and selfishness. Winston recalled a moment from his childhood in which “Winston stood watching [his mother] for a moment. Then with a sudden swift spring he had snatched the piece of chocolate out of his sister’s hand and fleeing for the door… he felt somewhat ashamed of himself and hung about in the streets for several hours, until hunger drove him home” (163). Winston easily took a small piece of chocolate from his baby sister, and only returned home because of his hunger, not his guilt. Winston’s inability to truly love can be traced back to his childhood and his remaining selfish tendencies.

Due to the Inner Party’s manipulation of humans’ innate selfishness, Winston is unable to truly love Julia. Nevertheless, his relationship with Julia and the hope she gives him makes him happier and healthier. “His varicose ulcer had subsided, leaving only a brownish stain on the skin above his ankle, his fits of coughing in the early morning had stopped” (150). This further demonstrates the humanizing effect of companionship on people. Even with his inability to truly love Julia, the mere act of being emotionally close to another person was enough to change Winston drastically. However, through long captivity, isolation, and torture, the Inner Party managed to completely break Winston and his relationship with Julia. Under torture, Winston began to “understand that in the world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment… ‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’”(286). The Party manipulated Winston into such a state of utter terror that he willingly transfers the punishment to the one person he cares most about. Winston has been isolated and manipulated by the Party for so long that he is unable to put another above himself, making it easy for him to sacrifices Julia in order to save himself.

Orwell comments on humans’ selfish tendencies through the comparison of the Proles’ and The Outer Party’s ability to love. The Inner Party manipulates the family dynamic in order to create the desired outcome. The Inner Party, in its effort to maintain power, suppresses and dehumanizes the Outer Party members. The Proles do not suffer from this dehumanization, and through human companionship, retain their ability to love. Orwell comments on the human condition and the correlation between power and selfishness. The Inner Party is willing to bring out the worst in people, taking away love and joy and replacing it with selfishness and hate, just to remain in power.

1984 Essay by T.E.

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