“Big hopeless dystopian world (Oceania) where Nineteen Eighty-Four set

“Big
Brother Is Watching” is the motto of this hopeless dystopian
world (Oceania) where Nineteen
Eighty-Four set in theoretical morrows. Oceania, today’s London, ruled by
totalitarian regime and an invisible leader who, is Big Brother, governs the
state. The hierarchical society divided into three classes: The members of the
Inner Party are at the top of this classification, below them the Party members
and far below proletariats.  The Inner
Party and the Thought Police have been monitoring the Party members for
twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; however, proletariats are not so
important that it is not even worth watching. Oceania has no laws, there are
social norms, if anyone tries to depart from the Party rules, he or she will be
punished for that. As it is stated above, Big Brother is watching.

 

            George Orwell (1903 – 1950) by writing this hopeless
dystopian world, succeeded to criticize totalitarian regimes and his successful
depictions cannot be denied. However, as in other misogynistic dystopian
novels, the women of  Nineteen Eighty-Four are also invisible
and not superior to men.  Women are “either sexless automatons or
rebels who’ve defied the sex rules of the regime” (Atwood 516). As Daphne Patai
has asserted, this is quite hypocritical: “Orwell assails Big Brother’s
domination of the state but never notices that he is the perfect embodiment
of hypertrophied masculinity” (Patai, Despair 88): the narrator never “focuses
on male power over females” (Patai, Despair 93).

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            On the opening page of Nineteen
Eighty-Four, the protagonist, Winston Smith is introduced, and the narrator is
the third person, limited omniscient, this is the story of Winston. After a few
pages, Winston’s future love is on the stage but for the time being her name is
not mentioned, yet she is Julia. When Winston saw Julia for the first time, she
described as:

He did not know her name, but he knew
that she worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably?—?since he had sometimes
seen her with oily hands and carrying a spanner?—?she had some mechanical job
on one of the novel-writing-machines. She was a bold-looking girl, of about
twenty-seven, with thick dark hair, a freckled face and swift, athletic
movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was
wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to
bring out the shapeliness of her hips. … He disliked nearly all women, and
especially the young and pretty ones. It was always the women, and above all
the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the
swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy. But
this particular girl gave him the impression of being more dangerous than most.
(Orwell 11–2)

 

The narrator is constantly switching
between what seem to be facts and Winston’s opinions. This leads to confusion,
as Daphne Patai’s interpretation of this passage shows: ‘Orwell here dislodges
the general comments about Party women so that they are no longer attached to
Winston’s point of view but instead take on the form of reliable “facts”‘ (Patai,
Mystique 241). But in fact the narrator uses a textual style that simply suggests factuality.
The sentence Patai refers to (‘It was always … unorthodoxy’) is surrounded
by Winston’s subjectivity: ‘He disliked’, it says in the sentence before, and
it is followed by ‘gave him the impression’. But still, the narrator makes it
seem like Winston’s impressions of women are the truth. And these impressions
are misogynistic and two dimensional.

The novel’s women described as if all
idiots and full of party slogans like Winston’s wife ‘The Human Soundtrack’
(Orwell 69), or proletariats, whom he at some point watches ‘disgustedly’ (Orwell
73), prostitutes, or self-effacing maternal figures: even when seen positively
women are stereotypes (Patai, Despair 88). ‘Women are at the margins’, and
‘exist mainly as a source of frustration, irritation, or temptation’ (Bail
215). And this view is never challenged by the only woman who doesn’t fit quite
into this narrative: Julia might be different, she is still first and foremost
defined as a female body.

            Furthermore, the way Orwell names the characters reflect
their status within the novel. Julia has only a first name; she is an
insignificant female, and Orwell in this respect follows his society’s
convention of considering a woman’s last name a disposable, because changeable,
element in an uncertain social identity. O’Brien, at the opposite pole, has
only a last name, in typical masculine style. And Winston Smith, halfway
between the powerless personal feminine and the powerful impersonal masculine,
has a complete name. ( Patai )

Orwell
stayed in the matter of whether or not to value the woman. Within the novel
Julia is mainly anarchical, she is not interested in being a player in the game
of domination; she does no longer take the Two Minute Hate significantly; she sleeps
even as Winston reads to her from Goldstein’s book. Her purpose is to get as lots
real delight as she will out of the oppressive society wherein she reveals
herself. Given the limitations the novel offers, this method begins not to look
negative; surely, Julia’s delight-seeking does not harm anybody, and she is
willing to go through big danger for it.

Despite
this favorable presentation of Julia and the few other positive portrayals of
women in the novel (the single proletariat woman, who endure; the protective
actions of Winston’s own mother and the mother in the film he sees), most of
the women in Orwell’s narrative hardly figure except as caricature: they are
Party secretaries, Party fanatics, Party wives like Katharine – whom Winston
judges to be the emptiest person he has ever known – or Mrs. Parsons; they are
women’s voices are represented in a consistently negative way: The “piercing
female voice” of the exercise leader who yaps and barks on the telescreen in
the morning, the “silly feminine voice” that Winston hears in the canteen, the
screeching of the woman on the telescreen when he gets home. Women are not
individuals, as the men are. Women are clearly “other” in the world of 1984 as
in Orwell’s own society and Winston relates to them as such.