One day, the dark haired girl of Winston’s obsessions surreptitiously passes him a note. On it are inscribed the words, “I love you.” This written confession unbalances Winston’s world. As if incised, all of his festering tension is suddenly released. For the first time, rebellion takes the form of a physical act instead of just a thought hidden away.

The first act of disobedience is sex. Winston and Julia do not “make love” as we would understand it. Their relationship is tainted by a remarkable hatred and violence as if by copulating they are striking a mortal blow against Big Brother himself. For the party does not discourage passion as earlier believed. The government actually depends on the frustration of denied passion that is then channeled into the war effort. The Hate Week celebrations have an orgasmic quality about them. For the party, releasing this pent up energy through a physical relationship is nonproductive and thus subversive.

The nature of Winston and Julia’s rebellion is fundamentally different. For Winston, the rebellion is of an ideological nature. His relationship with Julia is just the first step towards casting down the ideals of Big Brother. Julia on the other hand rebels on a more practical level. She is lashing out at a system that keeps her from acting out on her desires. For her, rebellion is about upholding the system in public in order to conceal the fulfillment of independent desires. It is unclear which one of the two is enlightened and which still remains ignorant.   

In many ways, the sexual relationship between Winston and Julia recalls a corrupted Garden of Evil. Temptation drives them towards disobedience. Of course, with knowledge comes the awareness of impending death. “We are the dead” becomes Winston’s refrain. The omnipotent government will not forever remain oblivious. In fact in the original tale, God was already aware of the act that had taken place…

Ironically for a pair that is all but dead, Winston and Julia seem remarkably alive. Time is moving again. The two create plans for the future, meaningless and futile plans, but plans nonetheless. The passage of time and the seasons becomes noticeable. The cool, crisp weather of April when Winston and Julia first become involved turns into the warm, muggy weather of June. They seem at peace with the natural world.

In one scene, Winston notices a singing bird. For what purpose the creature is singing remains unknown yet the mere act of expression astounds him. In a parallel scene a washwoman of the lower class sings one of the machine-generated songs of the party. Despite dismissing the lyrics as meaningless drivel, Winston is entranced by the life she lends the song. To express is to live.

Naturally, life and the change it entails is anathema to the party. They would prefer that human society resembled one great machine with each person functioning as a cog. What use is humanity and emotion to a machine?

Winston comes to realize that the act of expressing oneself is the key to being human. All of those useless gestures and all of those internal feelings do have meaning. As long as Big Brother cannot take those feelings from him, Winston will have successfully defied them and retained his human soul.

 

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