Otherness in 1984 by George Orwell and The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John Le Carre

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Otherness in 1984 by George Orwell and The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John Le Carre

The notion of “otherness” is a perception that has been evident to the point of fever during the Cold War, resulting in a paranoid atmosphere that caused numerous separations in society, such as the US against the Soviet Union, East against West, and capitalism against communism. However, the paranoia not only existed externally, but also internally, as many groups perceived divisions within themselves in this atmosphere. This perception is notable in the novels 1984, by George Orwell, and The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, by John Le Carre. The novels’ protagonists experience this notion of otherness not only in their enemies, but also in their supposed allies and in themselves. The depiction of otherness in 1984 and The Spy Who Came In from the Cold show how not only is this concept universal, but also that it can change dramatically at the drop of a hat, flipping this concept in a way that destroys whatever notions it previously implied.

Upon one’s first awareness of otherness, it defines itself as simply a two-sided opposition: an Us versus Them mentality. Indeed, it is through this mentality that many view otherness, not only as one force against another, but also as each force having its own specific goals, agenda, and modes of operation. This concept is represented explicitly not only in the Cold War as the US versus the USSR, but also as East versus West, the Party versus the Brotherhood, and the Circus versus the Abteilung. Consequentially, it is through these polar opposites that Winston and Leamas attempt to find solace, as though they can justify their lives through their association with what they define as m...

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...ston and Leamas.

The concept of “Otherness,” both being outside of ones own enemies and allies, depicts through Winston and Leamas how utterly alone one can become at the almost instant perception of being a minority of one. The idea of otherness is both universal, as exhibited through their unique stories, and dramatic in its ability to completely change one’s reality and perception of the world. As Winston and Leamas are completely blown away by the utter change in regards to their perception of otherness, their realization of themselves being the “others” displays how this notion, especially during the Cold War, can be both simultaneously understood and misunderstood in an era of blurred division.

Works Cited

Le Carre, John. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. New York: Pocket Books, 2001.

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.

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