Psychological Violence In George Orwell's Fahrenheit 451

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In George Orwell’s 1984, violence takes a cruel, most dehumanizing form: psychological torture. Mind control is the weapon with which the Party strips man of his very essence. “Nothing was your own,” reads the novel, “except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull” – and, in the end, even that has been usurped by the Party. Ultimately, 1984’s antagonist, O’Brien, refuses the protagonist, Winston Smith, the right to die an individual by dealing him a punishment far worse than execution: life as a puppet of the Party. Winston is not allowed to die a martyr, for this would be a personal victory and Oceania can only have one victor. In the novel’s closing chapter, a once defiant but now meek Winston sits quietly in a pub, and readers are faced…show more content…
We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” By feeling scared and impassioned, these novels insist, we are doing something utterly, incalculably, and vitally right. In 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, readers are asked time and again: what makes us human? It is, as we come to recognize in both novels, the ability to feel — to be impassioned, to be petrified, to be overcome with fury that inflames our very souls. Stripped of our emotions, after all, what separates man from machine? There are forms of life, asserts Orwell, that are worse than death. Life in Oceania – where “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength,” and delusion is sanity – is, in fact, not life at…show more content…
“There was truth and there was untruth,” insists Winston, “and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” Yet in the end, even Winston has succumbed to the delusions of the majority. His defiance will go forgotten; it’ll be as though it never existed in the first place. Even he will not remember the person he once was. The Party will erase Winston Smith from history. In the essay “Ideology and Terror,” Hannah Arendt asserts that loneliness is the “common ground for terror” – something that reinforces dystopian novels’ central theme of failed human connection. In 1984, Winston Smith finds himself the only one alert in a mass of automatons: surrounded by people, yet all alone. Arendt argues, however – and Orwell’s writing corroborates – that one’s ultimate defeat is not losing his companions, but rather “los[ing] his own self.” And this, of course, is exactly how Winston Smith’s story ends. Alone in a pub, a man sits quietly, having lost the very meaning of the word

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