Betrayal in George Orwell’s 1984 and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

Betrayal in George Orwell’s 1984 and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

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In a fiction story, when the concept of a “turn of events” is incorporated into the plot, it typically acts as the rising action of plot. The trusted compatriot when turned into the adversary of the protagonist creates not only an element of deception, but also the purest yet most inadequate form of humanity. The elements of the trusted friend and the betraying ally are integrated into George Orwell’s 1984 character of O’Brien and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises character of Robert Cohn as they contradict their initial characteristics as friends to develop into a traitor to their protagonist. Authors make use of this element to create a hopeful relationship between the reader and the “trusted friend” or “betraying ally” and then abruptly break the bond in order to provide the lesson that things are not always what they seem.

The element of the betraying ally is successfully used in 1984 by O’Brien, the mysterious and seemingly untouchable member of the Inner Party as he gains the trust of the character of Citizen Winston Smith. Orwell provides a descriptive look into the personal life of Winston, however, the only connections the reader can make with the Party and its members are through the eyes of Winston. As a result, the intentions of actions of those around him and the inner workings of the Party remain unexplained until they are interpreted and analyzed by the reader with Winston. This inkling of ambiguity is integrated in the character of O’Brien, an influential Inner Party member who traps Winston into believing that he is a member of the Brotherhood, a radical opposition group. O’Brien firstly seems to inaugurate Winston into the Brotherhood, then later, he is present at Winston’s jail cell brainwash him to cor...


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...t he believes to receive in return clearly shows his blind naivety. Hemingway chooses to use Cohn’s pure innocence in his role as the trusted friend to represent the besmirched flow of society today.

In a utopian world, honesty is evident in every situation; however, fiction writers, when incorporating these types of characters into their story, build up the truth that the word of a human being is malleable. It has no palpable structure. The elements of the “betraying ally” and the “trusted friend” incorporate a sense of the impossibility to escape the corruption of innocence. Authors use these elements in order for readers to connect with these characters in hope of an actual figure of ultimate morals only to pull the rug under the readers’ feet to explain that, even in the world of fiction, there will always be a shadow of sleaze to creep over pleasantry.

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