The individual is doomed to a desire for power, in a world where power is unattainable. In 1949 Eric Arthur Blair published a novel called 1984, under his pseudonym George Orwell. This is a book that has many underlying themes to it, and among the themes is the power struggle that exists between the characters and the government. Orwell reiterates the notion about a power struggle in the plot, the settings, and the characters. Absolute power corrupts absolutely; this is the unfailing truth that is proven once and again in this novel.
Near the beginning of the novel Orwell introduces Winston Smith, the main character of his book. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth altering documents from the past. Winston does not share the views of the other Outer Party members, but due to the fear instilled in him he does not share his feelings with anyone else he works with. Instead he keeps his opinions to himself, and tries to fit in only enough to not arouse suspicion. Near the beginning Winston also runs into a woman, named Julia, that he dislikes, but later falls in love with.
Julia also does not agree with the Big Brother government, but she goes out of her way to fit into the mold of the ideal Party member. Just looking at these two characters shows us that power is at the root of all people, but that is also one of the things that Big Brother is working to eliminate. By breaking people, and showing them that power is unattainable, Big Brother hopes to bring the party members to a point where they will no longer fight against the party s power, but will rather accept it. Winston and Julie represent what happens to the few, who do not accept what is told them and try to rebel against the current power.
They strive after power, not realizing that it is the hatred of the absolute power that set them into rebellion in the first place. They rebel in as many things as they can, all the while wondering in what way they can help themselves, their ambition is self serving. For instance when Winston starts volunteering at the munitions plant, he only does so to his own benefit, so he can have a deeper cover as the ideal citizen. Defying the rules about sex only for the purpose of defying the government, not for love or lust, just defiance, shows us how very much Winston and Julia are power hungry.
Power hungry for their own power, how much power they can assume they only way they know how, defiance of Big Brother. It doesn t matter to them how the defiance is achieved, they only know that they do not like what the party does, so they want to rebel. They both long to join the Brotherhood, a fictitious group of rebels founded by Samuel Goldstein, which is their only hope of survival to relish power in their plight against Big Brother. Although in the end Winston loses this battle to the party because of the Party s power, controlling the past, the present and in some degrees the future.
Controlling the minds of its members, because as O Brien tells Winston, the only truth exists in the mind. And the Party controls the mind, so in truth they control the truth. It is also stated in the book that whoever controls the present controls that past. This is true because the only things we have to remind us of the past are documents that are in the present, but when the documents are controlled then the past is controlled along with it. In the end Winston s fears of becoming an unperson. All he can think about is a fate worse than death but, annihilation.
How could you make appeal to the future when not a trace of you could physically survive? (Orwell, p. 29) The Party eliminates anyone who dares to confront them, this leads to the capture of Winston and Julia by the thought police in their room, and they are shocked to find how many of the Thought Police they knew and trusted as fellow rebels. Big Brother represents ultimate power by all the ways it controls it s citizens. It controls what they see, hear, the news they are exposed to, and the past news they have access to.
They had succeeded in ascertaining their power by wiping out most of the people that existed when they first came into power. The older generation had mostly been wiped out in the great purges of the fifties and sixties, and the few who survived had long ago been terrified into complete intellectual surrender. ” (Orwell, pg. 74), this shows us how power was the driving force for the Party as it purged great numbers of people so it could run the country as it would, all those lives were in sacrifice for their struggle for power.
Then after they had achieved their power they had the means to enforce it, The Thought Police would get [anyone] just the same (Orwell, p. 21). This shows us how Winston s mind worked, he knew that the Thought Police would get him eventually because the Government had proven itself over the past 40 or so years. It had proven to the people that there was no beating the system, no matter how hard you tried you couldn t beat the system. Every day more and more people became unpersons. Big Brother had the power to make the people believe anything they wanted to.
For all they knew Oceania could have been a self contained state, and the rest of the world could have been free, but they would have been none the wiser. Just toys in a game being played with and discarded at will being pushed around and controlled by a master hand from above. The plot shows us how power is the driving force behind all of the characters decisions by leading us through Winston s struggle against his own mind, and then into his struggle with O Brien and the Ministry of Love.
In the end we see that, He loved Big Brother (Orwell, p 311), and that his struggle for power was ultimately lost at the hands of the greater power, wanting more power: INGSOC, the newspeak word for English Socialism. Big Brother had won the battle for Winston s mind. They had broken down what little humanity remained in him. He was merely a shell of what he used to be, now he was filled with only what Big Brother wanted him to be. He had no feelings, no conscience, he merely reflected the ideal party member, in thought and in deed.
The setting of the society, and the totalitarian government shows the dangers of what may happen when the hunger for power is satisfied. From the terror they represent in the proles minds, to the fear that they instill in the party members, Big Brother is proof that Absolute Power, Corrupts Absolutely. In a world where power is unattainable, it becomes the sole desire for man. Although power is constantly used as a magnet for those who are not yet strong enough to resist it, it is kept for those who are perfect in the eyes of the government.
Winston and Julia are merely two examples of the many people trying to thwart a system of government that is all-powerful, all-knowing. The control of the past also adds to Big Brother s power. The plot shows the hunger for power by revolving every aspect of the novel around power. The thought police as a means of the government s controlling of the general population, represents the means to gain power, while the everyday person is what is sacrificed for power. Power hunger is indeed resident within each individual.