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Barron's Booknotes-1984 by George Orwell-Free Book Notes
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ORWELL ON WOMEN

We have seen that the roles assigned to women in Oceania and in Winston Smith's mind fall into very limited stereotypes: the pure self-sacrificing mother, the frigid wife, the sexually aggressive and emotionally supportive mate. We must now ask whether there is a 'hidden agenda' for women in this anti- Utopian book. Does George Orwell in any way imply that women in an ideal world should be different? The answer I fear is No. From the perspective of a feminist living in 1984, Orwell's attitude toward women and the family is discouragingly conservative and repressive. However brilliantly Orwell foretold the horrors of totalitarian thinking and political control, he failed to see that embedded in his own attitudes toward women was an ideology almost as oppressive to the female as the Party is to Smith. Anne Mellor, "'You're Only a Rebel from the Waist Downwards': Orwell's View of Women," in Nineteen Eighty- Four, ed. Peter Stansky, 1983


ORWELL AND O'BRIEN

O'Brien's explanation of his conduct and that of the other members of the Inner Party is not irrational; it is the conduct that is irrational, and his creator knew it was. That an insane murderer may understand why he murders neither prevents what he does nor makes the crime less horrifying. It is too bad that Orwell's beliefs have at times been confused with O'Brien's, for this has prevented some readers from seeing how profoundly Orwell understood totalitarianism.... The long dialogue between O'Brien and Smith demonstrates Orwell's awareness that implicit in totalitarianism is a desire for expansion-physical, intellectual, spiritual-that... recognizes no limits. William Steinhoff, George Orwell and the Origins of 1984

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Barron's Booknotes-1984 by George Orwell-Free Book Notes
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