The Impossibility of Redemption for Winston Smith in 1984

In George Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith cannot escape the state's domination. Yet his inability is not only because of government power. Rather, even if he did have an opportunity to leave Oceania, his actions indicate that he would not have the personal convictions and character to do so. Both his lack of courage and Oceania's lack of a clear "good" render it difficult for Winston to succeed over Big Brother--and why, instead, he succumbs.

Of course, Winston does rebel against the state. It is particularly interesting to note that Winston works at Ministry of Truth as a revisionist writer of historical fact and that the first act of rebellion he commits involves the act of writing. Driven by a sense of isolation from society, Winston acts the ultimate act of remoteness: writing a diary. Not only is this a solitary act, however, but it is also a relatively safe one. For Winston, the consequences of openly expressing heretical ideas is too risky; he wishes to work out the contradictions and problems of his society, but he wants to do so in some measure of security.

Yet writing down his thoughts is still a dangerous act. Although Winston's initiation into rebellion may at first seem tepid, in fact it is...

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