In 1984, George Orwell examines the effects of absolute totalitarianism on individual consciousness and the loss of having humanity under extreme power. In the novel the reader witnesses the destruction of all human reason epitomized in the statement that two and two makes five. In the world of 1984, personality is a crime and significant human relationships are impossible to achieve including the struggle to free oneself from anothers power.
The reader is first introduced to the character Winston Smith, who is the hero of the novel. His name is the name of everyman and any man. His name is also ironic in that Winston stands for the greatness of Winston Churchill but his last name is Smith, which is the most generic name a person can have. Winston is unique but at the same time he is just one of the many citizens who conform to society. He is a potential hero who can maintain his individuality against public demands but at the same time his last name spells out his ultimate fate as it implicitly suggest that ultimately he will share the fate of his fellow men. . Winston is not the typical hero of a novel. In the beginning of the novel Winston is wounded, he has a chronic cough and a varicose ulcer. His sickness is significant in the novel as this separates his character from society and is a symbol of his suppressed individuality. It is also significant that his wound is improved when he is with Julia and when the party manages to conform him they also heal his wound. It is in fact Winstons ironic and dark fate that the party heals Winston and erases all the signs of his former self and his individuality. These are powerful examples of how Orwell uses the power struggle of a character to enhance the meaning of the work, which is the power a single person can have, to have their individuality.
Orwell also had many symbols of Oceania and its inhabitants; the major one is that of dust. Mrs. Parson has dust in the cracks of her face while Winstons diary is covered with specks of dust. The dust represents both the physical Oceania and the inevitability and totality of the states power and control. The dust in the novel characterizes the assimilated individuals, even Julia has sooty dust in the pores of her skin on their first meeting but their love frees both of them and broadens their individuality. Their meetings become an expression of freedom and a political act but ironically their surroundings are still all covered with dust and thus even their relationship is symbolically placed under the control of the state. The smashed paperweight is the symbolic end of their attempt to escape the confines of society. The paperweight that represented Winstons and Julias existence was valuable for its beauty as it reminded Winston that the past existed in another form: The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julias life and his own in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal. But once the paperweight is smashed it is linked to Oceanias dust and their eternity is broken, their life is fragmented like the paperweight.
In 1984 ,Orwell provides an apocalyptic vision of the future. The most disconcerting aspect of the novel is the sheer inevitability of the outcome and the inevitability of Winstons failure. All the symbolism throughout the novel indicates the ultimate fate of Winstons surrender of his individuality, his rationality, his emotions and his self. Winstons surrender is complete and terrible. It is a profound rendering of denial of human integrity and human values. Ultimately taking away ones individuality and ones humanity making us all on and the same.