Sample donated: Charlie Watkins
Last updated: September 27, 2019
Nearly every aspect of the society presented in both George Orwell’s 1984 and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We is controlled including speech, identity and even the most natural impulses of sex and love. The suppression of these ingrained actions is encouraged due to the destruction of people’s humanity.In the novel 1984 the setting is significantly comparable to the one that is communicated through We.
Orwell creates a set in Airstrip One, formerly Great Britain, a province of the superstate Oceania and is a projection of the future. Within Airstrip One the living conditions are poor with the buildings damaged, the food synthetic and rationed out, wages poor and clothing run-down. One cannot expect privacy anywhere as telescreens have been implanted that monitor behavior visually and audibly within almost every room. As for the setting in We it takes place in a colossal city, the only one left in the world. The city is defined by both what is in it and by what lies outside of its walls. Inside is an urban nation almost entirely constructed of glass meaning everything is serene and clear.
All citizens of the city can see one another and the very notion of privacy is state-sanctioned. As for what lies outside the green wall is natural resources such as forestry and wilderness. As a dystopian society with high requirements to live up to most characters are common in the way they live. Both novels paint a strict visual of how citizens are to behave including small details such as clothing and personal expression to the way they walk and talk. Orwell creates a party that ultimately controls every act of the citizen such as language, expression, love and history.
Similar to 1984, Zamyatin creates a one way society where there is no way of referring to people except by their letter followed by a given number. The society is run strictly by logic and reason as a primary justification for the laws or construct of the people. The individual’s behaviour is based on logic by the way of formulas and equations outlined by the One State. However, the authors of both We and 1984 created male characters with a strong lead due to their personality traits in contrast to other characters in the novel. 1984 begins by introducing Winston who is a male citizen of Airstrip One, much like this We is significantly similar in which it begins by introducing D-503. Winston Smith is known for his main attributes rebelliousness and fatalism and at times his shyness.
Although he hates the Party passionately he is not particularly worried about what they could possibly do to him. Due to this he commits inumerable crimes throughout the novel ignoring the totalitarian world he is living in. Much like Winston, D-503 shares the same feelings towards the Benefactor. D-503 is a mathematician known as a faithful follower of the benefactor and blindly believes that the One State is just a society, that individual freedom is a burdensome remnant of the past and that the numbers work better in a collective state of contentment rather than happiness.
Unlike the main characters in other dystopian literature, both Winston and D-503 are neither brave, nor particularly disturbed by the totalitarian society they live in. After introducing the male character of both novels, the authors begin setting up a female character to portray the concept of forbidden sex and love. In 1984, Julia is introduced as a worker in the fiction department in Oceania’s Ministry of Truth. She is practical in her mindset, and worried about the here and now as opposed to worrying about her future. She is known to be somewhat rebellious, but in a passive-aggressive sort of way. Julia is seen in the book as someone who enjoys sex, but it has been debated as to whether she does this for her own satisfaction or for part of her rebellion. Comparable to Julia is Zamyatin’s character I-330.
I-330 is known as a dangerous women serving as a spy and a corruptor. She is the future girl twisting men around her finger to do her biddingThroughout both We and 1984 the most natural impulses of sex and love are controlled by Big Brother and the Benefactor. Orwell’s 1984 minimizes the idea of sex and love, the only entity acceptable to love in Oceania is the face of the party: Big Brother. The restriction is necessary to achieving compete power and control over its citizens, as the Party must dissolve all loyalties derived through love, sex and family and redirect them upon itself. Those who have sex only do it to give back to the party by bringing young children to become junior spies. Junior spies are an organization in which children have become the police and denouncers of their parents in the name of Big Brother. By this means, the Party has managed to wedge itself between one of the most powerful instinctual bonds to turn parental devotion into fear and children into faithful machines of the Party as an extension of the Thought Police. Ultimately their goal is to strip citizens of any aspect of individuality; “There will be no loyalty, except loyalty toward the Party.
There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.”(220) Throughout We Zamyatin creates stated intervals in which they are allowed one hour, known as the sex hour, to lower their curtains around their glass apartments. There is, however, no marriage, though sex life does not appear to be promiscuous. Children, as well, are forbidden unless given to the state to raise. In both We and 1984 the author creates a relationship between two people ultimately with the same idea that the females will bring out the rebelliousness in Winston and D-503.
In 1984 Winston initially hates Julia, but soon begins to construct a relationship with her. At first, their relationship is merely a political act of rebellion. The purpose of being together is for them to express their anger and frustration with the Party and its repressive tactics. However, after the first few meetings their relationship turns from merely political rebellion to actual love for each other. It blossoms, eventually, into true love. The relationship gives Winston a reason to believe in himself again, it helps him to gain momentum and strength in his own rebellion. In Zamyatin’s We D-503 initially hates I-330, claiming “the woman had a disagreeable effect upon me, like an irrational· component of an equation which you cannot eliminate” (35). I-330 engages in forbidden practices such as smoking and drinking and conclusively attempts to convince D-503 to join.
Nonetheless, her charms are irresistible and he ends up falling for her.Along with the basics of the plot outlined above, both D-503 and Winston ultimately find themselves subjected to procedures that remove their ability to reject the government’s philosophy, after which both men find that they no longer care for their former lovers. In both 1984 and We freedom is considered to be an evil act against the state. Throughout 1984 this is most clearly illustrated in the Party’s oft-repeated slogan; WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
In We this idea manifests through the strict options that the Benefactor offers to D-503 and I-330. “…
Those two, in paradise, were given a choice: happiness without freedom, or freedom without happiness. There was no third alternative…”