1984 by George Orwell shows unbalance between the classes of its dystopian society through stark contrast

Party


  • Kept under strict watch by the government through the use of telescreens that view the members constantly and also spew out repetitive propaganda
  • They are conditioned to be ever loyal to the government. They are encouraged to spy on their neighbors and devote all of their free time to the improvement of themselves and their community. They are even taught that sex is a duty to the government to produce children

Proles


  • Largely ignored and left to do as they please. They are not monitored or cared about by the government.
  • They are viewed as inferior and allowed to revel in things of the past. Their living conditions are far worse than the party's and they are raised into hard lives of poverty, drunkenness and gambling.
The party is looked after closely because they are more of a threat to the government. They are more intellectual and have more potential to realize that the government is built on lies and corruption. The proles on the other hand are underestimated as being obsolete because they have learned to accept that they have no hope or ambition to improve their lives. Syme says that "The proles are not human beings" (Pg 52). This is the popular belief among the Party members because they see them as lowly animals. Winston however feels that they are perhaps more human than the party because they have the freedom to do as they like. They are not conditioned and brainwashed to be what the party wants them to be. In this case the people of the lower class may have less material possession, but their lives are more meaningful because they have the ability to choose.
One thing I found particularly interesting about the class system here is that the Proles are happy where they are on the power ladder. They know that they can not gain status and they don't have a desire to do so. Generally we as a people want to get as high up as we can. We want to be on top and gain glory. The Proles seem to realize that their lowly lives are better and that more power would cost them freedom.
It seems that middle class people like Winston desire to go downward instead. This sort of role reversal shows thought provoking contrast between our world today and Orwell's depiction of the future. Is the human race headed in a direction where we gain so much that our desire is to lose?
Andy Schoenborn
4/6/2013 01:00:20 am

Hi Ian,

Your observation, "the Proles are happy where they are on the power ladder. They know that they can not gain status and they don't have a desire to do so." is poignant. I wonder if this is that they don't know, or if it is a case of blissful ignorance?

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