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Irony and Imagery in 1984

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Irony And Imagery In 1984

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The irony is used by the author in the novel “1984” to provide deeper meaning, and surprises readers. Orwell uses situational irony to surprise the audience with some unexpected turns of events. The author uses oxymorons to provide a deeper meaning to the text. There are three important oxymorons in “1984”, and they are all included in the Party’s slogan, which says,

“WAR IS PEACE

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FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH,”

(Orwell 27).

The three lines of the slogan are contradictory terms; war does not mean peace, it is the exact opposite. Just as freedom is the opposite of slavery, and ignorance, the opposite of strength. These three oxymorons give deeper meaning because it means the Party lies to the people and forces them to think incorrectly. The author also uses situational irony, where something happens that is the opposite of what we would expect to happen. For example, Winston is being tortured for committing crimes against the Party, and he is forced to choose between facing his biggest fear or giving Julia the punishment. Because of his extreme fear of rats, Winston says “Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to bones. Not me! Julia! Not Me!”(Orwell 297). What Winston chose to do is ironic, because he and Julia made a promise to never betray each other, and to always stay by each other. They were serious about their promise and loved each other so much, it would be hard to believe that Winston would rather she get killed and tortured than face the rats himself. But since he decided for her to receive the punishment, it surprises the reader, because Winston didn’t seem like he would give up the only thing that makes him feel human, which is his love.

The author’s attitude towards this story is revolted, and the tones are gloomy, dark, and hopeless. The author’s attitude would be revolted because it was based on how he felt life was like at the time he wrote it. He wrote it during World War 2, and he disagreed with what was going on in countries run by totalitarian governments like fascism and communism. In response to how he saw the world, he made “1984” to illustrate his vision. The tone of the book is gloomy and dark because the imagery provided shows that London is run-down and is ruined by the fighting. When Winston sees the ruins of London, he asks himself, “were there always these vistas of rotting nineteenth-century houses, their sides shored up with balks of timber, their windows patched with cardboard and their roofs with corrugated iron, their crazy garden walls sagging in all directions? And bombed sites where the plaster dust swirled in the air and the willowherb straggled over the heaps of rubble, and the places where bombs had cleared a larger patch and there had sprung up sordid colonies of wooden dwellings like chicken houses?”(Orwell 3). The imagery of a ruined city helps support the argument that the tone of the book is gloomy and dark because the setting is gloomy and dark. There is also a constant state of war, that also proves the gloomy tone of the book. The book also contains a hopeless tone. The tone of hopelessness is shown when Winston decides to betray Julia and give her the punishment(Orwell 297), and when Winston starts agreeing with the lies the Party tells him. The narrator tells us that “He accepted everything. The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford were guilty of the crimes they were charged with,” (Orwell 287). This shows hopelessness because Winston tried his hardest to stay true to what he believed, but the Party was just too strong. It was pointless to try to fight, and Winston was hopeless. He knew that the Party had won and that he lost. Orwell created the tones from imagery, setting, and the plot of the story. All Winston fought for was pointless in the end, because the plot revealed that the Party would prevail and overcome his attempts to bring them down.

The main theme of 1984 is that a totalitarian government is dangerous, and they will go to extreme measures to maintain their power over the people. This is the main problem Winston is trying to solve because he sees that everybody’s lives are being affected by the government’s lies, but the few people who see the injustice are too scared to speak out. This is dangerous because it gives the government unrestricted powers, and anyone who criticizes them will be silenced. An example of this from the text is when the story says “a few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous,”(Orwell 73). The Party had agents make fake stories, so they would have an excuse to kill or punish someone, who they believed could be a threat. This is dangerous, because it puts innocent lives at risk, and it is used to suppress other people’s contrasting views. The text contains motifs, such as the telescreens, which the Party uses throughout the story to spy on people and to make sure people obey them. They are used to keep control over the people and alert the party when someone is committing crimes and thought crimes. Telescreens are a recurring image that appears almost everywhere because they are placed and located everywhere by the Party. It is a constant reminder that the Party is watching and that you must stay loyal.  

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