The History of Sexuality: George Orwell Essay

The History of Sexuality: George Orwell Essay

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In his novel 1984, George Orwell presents a dystopian society in which sex and sexuality are fundamentally repressed by the government of Oceania. According to the Repressive Hypothesis, discourse and debate surrounding sexuality in 1984 should be restricted and concealed. This viewpoint is flawed, however, because sex permeates the culture in Oceania. Though the word “sex” is only whispered, evidence of its continued utilization appears everywhere. Sex lingers in the culture through the vocabulary and speech of everyday life, through Winston Smith’s descriptions of his sexual conquests, through Julia and her ostensible sexuality, and through the need for sexual confession within the novel. 1984 promulgates a bleak outlook towards the future of sexual discourse, but the novel still transmits its message despite the censorship inherent in the novel. Within the pages of 1984, censorship of sex leads to the proliferation of sex, as per Foucault’s theory.
Oceania society is defined by its lack of sexual pleasure and for its excessive censorship and fumigation of sexual discourses. According to Irving Howe, discussions of sexuality and enjoyment of sex have been effectively “obliterated” by the beginning of the novel (Howe). Despite this extinction of sexuality, sexual verbiage is clearly visible within the society. All official discourses on sex in Oceania are created by the government as it exhibits its power, but vestiges of sexuality exist within this governmental system. For instance, the terms “sexcrime” and “goodsex” are created in the lexicon and find practical use in everyday conversation by the protagonists and villains alike (Orwell 305). For a culture aiming to repress and destroy sexuality, they utilize the wor...


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... It is not, however, the only way in which sexuality can be understood in this context. Despite the despotism of free thought and action, sexuality remains ever-present within the dialogues and discourses created by not only the characters, but the government of Oceania as well. Sexual terminology remains in existence, characters engage in and discuss sex, and the confession of sexual misdeeds is actively encouraged within the society of Oceania. Despite rampant suppression and subjugation, characters in the novel are keenly compelled to create discourses on sexuality.






Works Cited
Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. Vol. 1. New York: Vintage, 1978. Print.
Howe, Irving. "George Orwell's "1984"" Workers' Liberty. Workers' Liberty, 5 Aug. 2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2014.
Orwell, George. 1984: A Novel. New York: Signet Classics, 2008. Print.

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