Internal and External Conflict in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

Internal and External Conflict in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

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Internal and External Conflict in 1984


The book, 1984 by George Orwell, is about the external conflict between Winston Smith and Big Brother; and the internal conflict between the two ideas, democracy and totalitarianism. Orwell wrote the novel to show society what it could become if things kept getting worse: he sensed of the expansion of communism when he wrote the novel. The conflict between democracy and totalitarianism at the year of 1945 created two characters, Winston Smith and Big Brother, in orwell's mind. Big Brother is the embodiment of all the ideals of the totalitarian party. In contrast to Big Brother, Winston Smith keeps the idea of democracy emphasizes freedom, he has to hide his own thought because the Big Brother's party will punish him by death if the party finds it out. George orwell criticizes of Big Brother's society by describing it as a dark and a gloomy place. It warns that people might believe that everyone must become slaves to the government in order to have an orderly society, but at the expense of the freedom of the people.


  The conflict between Winston and Big Brother starts from the beginning of the novel when Winston begins to keep his secret diary about Big Brother. Winston Smith is a third-nine years old man who is a member of the 'outer-party'--the lower of the two classes. Winston works for the government in one of the four main government buildings called the ministry of Truth where his job is to rewrite history books in order for people not to learn what the past used to be like. Winston's occupation is the major factor which lets him to realize that Big Brother is restricting people's freedom. However, Winston keeps his complains about Big Brother and the party for his own secret because the party will not allow anyone keeping a rebellious thought. The tension between them gets serious when Big Brother becomes suspicious of Winston. Winston is therefore watched by O'Brien, an intelligent execute at the 'Ministry of Truth', who is a member of the 'inner party'--the upper class. Without doubting Big Brother's trap, Winston shares his ideas with O'Brien. O'Brien mentions a gentleman named Emmanuel Goldstein whom he claims to know the leader of the rebels against the party. O'Brien also promises to help winston, and promises him a copy of Goldstein's book. But O'Brien betrays him as Big Brother has planned.

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  The conflict between Winston and Big Brother reaches its climax when Winston is caught and taken to a place "where there is no darkness", which are brought bright underground rooms where criminals are taken to be interrogated. Winston gets tortured mentally so badly that by the end of the novel he loves Big Brother, and cannot think a single thought without the permission of the party. O'Brien is called 'teacher' and responsible for Winston's reform. The torturing 'lecture' by O'Brien is long and slowly kills Winston's spirit. From then, Winston has no liberty and freedom in his mind, and also he exists for the party, not himself: he just becomes one of Big Brother's victorious reforms.


  Orwell himself creates a conflict with totalitarianism by criticizing the ideas' of the party, and describes the society as very dark place. In Orwell's 1984 there are three sentences which are obviously paradoxes summing up what the party of totalitarianism stands for, and they are:



"War is Peace"

"Freedom is Slavery"

"Ignorance is Strength"



Orwell who prefers democracy criticizes these sentences as 'non-logical'. There are a evidence which proves that the totalitarian idea makes no sense. For example, the sentence, "Ignorance is Strength", is written to keep the party's slogan--"who controls the past, controls the future.". As stated at the second paragraph of this essay, the party rewrites history books in order for people not to learn about the past. In other words, the party basically removes any evidences about existence of democratic system, so common people cannot even think about liberty and freedom. If people finds out about the true past, then Big Brother will not be able to control future because he did not control the past. Also Orwell presented the evil minded party which tries to keep the steady power of the upper classes including the leader. Notice the sentence, "War is Peace". The society in 1984 are consisted of three totalitarian 'superstates' which are Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania. All of these states are in a constant state of war with one another. The reason of this war is vague. However, it is their feeling that as long as a constant state of war is prevailing, the people will be only concentrated in the war effort: people will not think about the problems of their political system. At least each state does not have worry about troubles such as revolts within the states. Another evidence which proves that Orwell is criticizing totalitarianism is that he describes their society as "dark, gray drab jungle."


  In 1984, George Orwell shows a political parable which is based on political warning signs he saw in the mid-twenty century by creating conflicts between Winston and Big Brother. Big Brother's victory over Winston represent orwell's serious concern about threats of the totalitarian power. From his work, readers who live in prevailing democratic society can have a chance to consider about these very different political systems, democracy and totalitarianism.    

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