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Papers >> English >> 1984 – Sanity and Salvation

In 1984, George Orwell’s Party’s definition of sanity and salvation is a paradox to the real definition of sanity and salvation.
The author used the protagonist, Winston Smith, to portray the “insane” but real definition of sanity. During the interrogation process, O’Brien, a member of the Inner Party and supposed Brotherhood, is trying to prove to Winston that he persuades himself that he remembers events that never happened and that he is “…unable to remember real events” (203). O’Brien then mentions an example about three men who were falsely accused and that Winston actually held the evidence proving them innocent in his hand was all a mere delusion. After O’Brien showed Winston the document in which he thought he had seen, he soon realized that he had. Once Winston had glanced at it, the document vanished as O’Brien tossed it into the nearest memory hole and told Winston that it did not exist–that he was insane. Winston kept strong in believing that he had seen it before and that he was sane (204). After more questioning, Winston was worn out from the electrical shock dial that O’Brien kept increasing as Winston gave an incorrect answer. O’Brien then asked him if the past had real existence. Winston, feeling helpless, did not know the right answer or if the right answer was even right. He didn’t know whether “yes” or “no” was the answer that would save him from the pain (205). He was so mentally confused that he did not which answer he felt was correct. The way he thought was said to be insane, yet he never wondered if he was. Sanity lies in what the government wants you to believe and Winston doesn’t want to believe in it; therefore, he was insane. This is a paradox because it has contradictory qualities to the real definition of sanity. Orwell used the antagonist, the Party, to portray the “sane” bug apparent definition of sanity. Again, during the interrogating, O’Brien tells Winston that he makes up imaginary things and doesn’t remember what really happens. This is not true, but the Party wants him to think this to have complete mind control over him. The less the citizens know, the more control the Party has over them. At another point during the interrogation, O’Brien is trying to convince Winston that two and two makes five and Winston is having trouble accepting it. O’Brien then cries out that it “…is not easy to become sane” (207) because he doesn’t want it to be easy for Winston. If it were easy for Winston, then either he has already been mentally broken in or the process isn’t working correctly. If it wasn’t working correctly, then O’Brien would have loss his control over Winston. The leaders need this control to proceed with their communist rule. The communist-type government is insane itself, therefore the leaders who help run it are insane. Since the leaders have control over the people, they have control of what is right and what is wrong. If you’re against them you’re “insane,” which is paradoxical because it has seemingly contradictory characteristics to the real definition of sanity.
George Orwell also used Winston to portray the “insane” but true definition of salvation. O’Brien is explaining why he’s taking the trouble to “cure” Winston and tells him that he’s known all along what the matter was with himself. He tells Winston that he has “…known it for years, though [he] has fought against the knowledge” (203). Winston knows this is true because he has always tried to keep himself from thinking or acting negatively. His will power kept him from failing to restrain himself from thinking “insanely.” This preservation from failure is one of the real definitions of salvation but is contradictory to the Party’s definition of salvation. Orwell used O’Brien, through the Party, to portray the “sane” but false definition of salvation. After Winston has been taken to Room 101, Winston is ecstatic while O’Brien is preparing to open a cage filled with “enormous rats.” He is horrified of rats and thinks they are the worst thing in the world, which is what Room 101 brings to everyone, their own personal hell. With each step O’Brien takes closer to Winston, he becomes more ecstatic and then finally loses it. Everything had gone black and for an instant he was insane, but as he snapped out of the darkness, he was “…clutching an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose another human being…” This is the selfish type of salvation that the Party wants the people to have. The “sane” way to have salvation, according to the party, is to interpose “…the body of another human being” (235). Saving yourself from the effects of sin is one of the definitions of salvation, but not in this manner. When you interpose another human, you don’t get salvation. Also, he hasn’t sinned so he doesn’t have to save himself from it. Either way there is no salvation. This is paradoxical because the Party’s process of salvation is contradictory to the real process of salvation.
George Orwell’s Party’s definition of sanity and salvation is a paradox to the real definition of sanity and salvation because it contradicts the real definition with almost complete opposite qualities and properties.




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