NCEA 3.7 – Significant Connections

Dystopia as a genre has helped to shape the way in which each generation views the world before them. It is a glimpse into the demise they potentially face, throwing issues that they have into a relatable world view. Most dystopias now come from film. Film and TV have become one of the main forms of dystopian media, creating a new visual way for story tellers to bring a dystopia to life. The job of these storytellers is to provide the audience with the means to see how decisions they make on real current issues, prevalent in their own non-fictional worlds, can be played out in a visual or oral performance. A world issue that is found frequently in dystopian film and literature is the concept of restriction of knowledge. How this is approached varies from director, to author, to screenwriter, while remaining an observable feature. To further talk about this, I will be exploring the theme of restriction of knowledge through the texts of George Orwell’s “Nineteen-Eighty-Four,” Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the film “Ex-Machina,” and an episode from the popular dystopian TV series Black Mirrors “Men against fire.” These texts, show the ways in which knowledge can be restricted in our modern lives and in our potential futures; and shows what can happen to the people this knowledge is taken from. “Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.” – Alan Moore

George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen-Eighty-Four’ is a text written during the post second world war period. Exploring the themes of a totalitarian state, through the eyes of an unorthodox protagonist. Through the text’s protagonist we see how the world in which the text inhabits restricts knowledge to the main characters, and to the audience. By physically taking away access to knowledge, the people lose sense of history and of communication, eventually losing a sense of identity and individuality at the hands of the state, and the restrictions they have imposed. In the world of ‘Nineteen-Eighty-Four’ it is the physical restriction of knowledge by the government, to the general public that causes the population harm. The state issues all forms of media, from literature, to film, even to erotic novels. This distributed media is altered and destroyed on a daily basis in order for its information to fit with the current truth of the regime. “And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.”  In this quote we can see how the constant changing of the the “truth” has caused it become meaningless. The public have no idea of their own reality, due to choices made by their government to restrict access to knowledge in order to keep complacency. This restriction of knowledge gives power to the government and away from the people. Examples of this occur in modern life as well. Such as in North Korea, where all media is controlled by the state. Traveling in, out, and around the country is also controlled in order to limit the North Korean people’s exposure to outside views of the world. A common tactic of rebels is dropping hard-drives filled with literature, film, news, and messages from all over the world into the country to be distributed. This is a way of informing the North Korean people that there is a world outside of what they’ve always known; that what the have been told all their lives may have been a lie, and to enlighten them to the truths of the control they face. As we see in the text of ‘Nineteen-Eighty-Four,’ and reflected in the real life North Korean dictatorship, knowledge gives a government power over the people they govern. This lack of knowledge shown in the text, and reflected in some aspects of our own world, is leading newer generations to ignorance in the face of control. Our knowledge and access to information is what gives power back to communities. This text is showing how when knowledge is restricted to the general public, they lose control of their own collective power.

In the text the “The Handmaid’s Tale,” written by Margaret Atwood, we again see how this concept of restriction of knowledge takes power from the people. In this text that theme is explored in relation to women; and when women have lost their rights to basic forms of knowledge such as writing and reading. To give some context, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ takes place in a future America, where a state (renamed Gilead) has been taken over by a theocratic (religious based) government. In this state men hold complete power, while women have become degraded to objects of labour and sex. The protagonist of this story is a women by the name of Offred; a Handmaiden under the government, sent to officials houses to bear children for their families. Women in this text have complete restriction from knowledge in terms of not being allowed to read or write. This regulated stripping of a basic human right, prevents the women from gaining power or seeking help in this text. It becomes blindingly clear to the audience that without this access to literature, women in the text are kept in the dark. Unable to read current news, write to family, or to record their  side of history, as each horrific event takes place. If this future were to come true, history would know of the events recorded by the men. A re-written tale of what actually happened from the perspective of those with access to power. Our own history books reflect this. Showing that our legacy as a human race has been recorded by men of power, and by men with access to education. Due to the power these men of the past held, they have been able to shape how we now view the past; women and their part in history is not written, its as if we already lived the events of the Handmaid’s Tale, but we are unable to see this due to the restriction that women had to recording their own histories. Cleopatra is an example of this. She was a powerful female pharaoh of Egypt, who by almost all records was deemed a promiscuous adulteress, who cared little for her people. However, most records found today of her were recorded by Roman men, who sought to defame her to the Roman public and her own people. As one of the most recognisable women in history, she had become little more than a propaganda slogan, against the ruling women in ancient Europe. Had records from women or even by Egyptians been the ones to find their way int our history books, she could have been the symbol for so much more. “Tell, rather than write, because I have nothing to write with and writing is in any case forbidden. But if it’s a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone. You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else.” This quote by Offred shows the power of being able to tell a story, even if to one person. Having access to education and restrictions removed to tell the world of what women in her society face, Offred could change the situation for women in the text. Restriction of physical access to knowledge in this text, is an example of women in our own past who’s lives will forever be remembered by us as the men around them perceived the situation. Had women of the past had access to the education we have now, the history books we read today may have told a very different story to the one we have always known.

Restriction of knowledge in the previous example texts prohibited a mass of people from education, but this feature of dystopian literature can also apply to a person to person basis, as well as in a new digital age. A text that explores this is the 2015 film ‘Ex-Machina.’ The story of this film is based around three characters. Nathan, a brilliant scientist who lives in total isolation from the world in order to continue work without distraction. Caleb, an office worker for Nathan who “wins” a trip to go out to the reclusive man’s house and meet the genius behind the company. And Ava, an AI (Artificial intelligence) made by Nathan, so realistic you wouldn’t know unless you saw under her skin. Nathan’s aim in the film is to have Caleb come and test Ava, to see if she will pass as a real human, with emotion and a history that’s shaped her. The title Ex-Machina comes from the latin phrase “Deus Ex-Machina” which means “a god from a machine,” the contemporary use of this phrase in literature however, refers to an implausible concept or character brought into the story in order to make the conflict in the story resolve; the character being able to dictate the story as if they were a god.  How knowledge is restricted in this film is through many different aspects and characters. For example, Nathan restricts the world from the amazing advancements in technology he is making, instead keeping it to himself. He also restricts Caleb from really interacting with Ava, never letting on her true potential in order to keep Caleb in the dark. Ava herself is restricted by Nathan, and the containment where she lives; she is cut off from the world, only knowing what Nathan chooses to show her, or to programme her with. Ava in turn restricts Caleb from her true intentions. This film shows how by limiting a person’s access to other people and the world they can become ignorant to the advances that have been made in their place (in the case of Nathan) and how on a person to person basis we can never really know someone unless they tell us (in the case of Ava and Caleb). Knowledge of another person’s inner workings will always be a restricted to us, no matter how empathetic we are. This restriction of knowledge of human intention is one that ultimately leads to the death and suggested death of Nathan and Caleb at the hands of Ava. In our world this lack of understanding or insight to other humans is approached through empathy, but a lack of this has also lead to some of the major wars of our history. Showing how a lack of human understanding can lead to the dystopias we watch and read about. Ex-Machina is a film that displays how restriction to knowledge can be personal, and one that must be overcome through communication in order to leave our dystopian futures behind us.

Lack of human understanding and empathy is a theme that drives the next text, Black Mirrors ‘Men Against Fire.’ The restriction of knowledge in this text allows for a lack of human empathy, leading to the massacre of innocents. In the ‘Men Against Fire’ world we as the audience see that it is a post apocalyptic future U.S.A, viewed through the eyes of a soldier in the army. This army’s job is to track down and hunt “roaches,” mutated humans that are detected through an implant that each soldier receives. Later in the episode, the audience along with the protagonist, learn that the implants actually physically alter the person’s view of the “roaches.” We come to find that they are really just normal humans left homeless and diseased by the apocalyptic landscape; the implant was placed to alter and dehumanise them, making their slaughter easier on the consciousness of the soldiers. In this quote here,” They realised that making the aggressors see their humanity would be the key to breaking them of their will to kill,” shows how the government knew that the way to conscript soldiers was to make their enemy inhuman. A goal achieved through restriction of knowledge via the implant. This filtering of view makes the world the soldiers inhabit, and the horrible crimes they have committed easier to handle. Meaning that the public as well have no idea either of what they are allowing their government to do. This kind of filtering of information happens in a much larger scale, and predominantly in a digital space, in our own world. Through social media, news outlets, and other digital media, misinformation and filtering of knowledge occurs to such a large extent that the “truth” is  often is hidden by an implant of our own making. Such as the political choices we make, what news we choose to follow, who we choose to listen or subscribe to. It is a restriction of knowledge placed on us by our governments and adjust by us, filtering more or less of what we choose to see. Our world view and the horrific events such as war and famine, and mass deportation, are viewed through the lens that is chosen by us, the public. It is done to make it easier on our consciousness too, just like the protagonist soldier, that we are choosing to do nothing in aid of the crimes we filter out from our media feeds. 

Restriction of knowledge is a powerful theme that dictates many, if not all, aspects and characters in these discussed texts. The access to information that is given or taken across the film, TV, and books explored, show how when knowledge is restricted it disenfranchises the overall community; not just those it is taken from. Even those at the top with seemingly all of the access to information and knowledge are left dissatisfied. Such as with Nathan in ‘Ex-Machina.’ He is brilliant but his unwillingness to share this information with others, leads to mistakes an eventually his own death. The soldier in ‘Men Against Fire’ when all restrictions are removed, chooses to give back the information passed to him, as it is too much to bear alone; as he has no power individually to make great change. The state of Gilead in the ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ is still suffering at the hands of disease and infertility even with all the sacrifices people at the top have made for the “good of all.” Our protagonist from ‘Nineteen-Eighty-Four’ when exposed to the truth comes to find that is actuality it is all a lie. He dies at the hands of the state, believing in a lie until the end, as he never had any real access to knowledge. These dystopian texts are made to hold a mirror up to society. To make the audience see themselves and what they would do in the face of such adversity.  To see if they would too, live comfortably with the lie, or challenge it for the uncomfortable truth. All that prohibits the characters of these texts from changing their situation is access and control of knowledge. There is no difference from the audience and these characters. The texts tell us to take control of the restrictions placed upon us, to challenge what is clearly not right, and to push back against the futures we are presented with. The way to achieve this is by not repeating the faults of the societies in these texts, thereby giving access to education and removing restriction to knowledge to all who wish for it. “The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.”   These texts are a warning how not to become the dystopias that have shaped us, and that this is possible to become the Utopias we dream of. 

NCEA 3.4 – Writing Folio – 入乡随俗: Do as the Romans.

“If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it ” -Julius Caesar (original)

Above block 627 circling yellow smog was all that was visible. Dragging with it the crawling smell of rot. It had already taken over most of East Hong Kong; at this rate it would blanket the whole city before third quarter. A warm heavy rain had begun to cascade down the stacks. Causing a swell of rubbish to flow out from Victoria Harbour, and back onto the street platforms from which they had been thrown. Opposite me sat the ‘HUB.’ An imposing structure of slanted glass and uneven geometry. All combined to form a monstrosity of engineering; impenetrable and completely unforgettable. Further up, the rain had blurred the ‘HUB’s’ screens to the point of illegibility, the red neon characters floating across the holo rather than its usual lateral formation. Among these floating characters the face of the Senator flashed up, then began to glitch horribly. Unintentionally mocking the real life tick. The Senator was a gentile looking man with barely any imperfections, and an air of aristocracy about him that couldn’t be placed. He simply exuded a level of importance that could not be taught to common people.

Under the thick smack of rain against the steel, the familiar busy hum of the stacks could be heard. Somewhere an alarm beeped, and a fan whirred to life, people spoke in indiscernible voices, dialects coming from every region, shrill yells from children bustled out of their doors to the Academy. For most of them it was still far too early. Their steps sluggish, little faces sleepy; after each blink their eyelids fell further, leading them back into sleep.  I liked the monsoon season in Hong Kong. It distorted the world for a brief period, like a huge sigh of relief from a city gasping for air. Tipping the umbrella back I allowed the rain to fall every so slightly onto my uncovered Oxfords, tarnishing the leather. Above me the glitching Senator had become stuck on the word “观 (guān).” You would think the Senator would give up and just put the HUB in Cantonese or english, so that his fear mongering could actually be understood. However,  I suppose a man like our almighty Senator must live up to his name-sake.

Marcus!” The yell although muffled by the rain, was unmistakable. “Marcus would you hurry up! the HUB’s gonna close and we cannot get locked out again this block,” exasperated as ever Cas had suddenly appeared under the umbrella. Soaked to the skin and vaguely smelling of cigarettes, (so much for the imposed ban). Cas or Cassius liu Tsai as he was formally known, fixed me with a famous pointed glare. Like myself, Cas was a 2036 baby. Born during the less than formal removal of authoritative power from Hong kong to Mainland China. To spite our new government, our generation had been named  after roman leaders and generals by our scorned families.  Hence the less than traditional Chinese names of Cassius and Marcus. Under the umbrella I began to apologise, before being abruptly cut off by a booming voice ringing out from the hub,”If you break our law, you cannot seize power: in all cases observe it,” It was the Senator himself. Not in flesh and blood. But somehow, the screen glitch had cleared for long enough for him to finally complete his threat.”Would you calm down Cas, I’m sorry alright,” I snipped back, tearing my eyes away from the holo. Cas’s exasperation was contagious whenever he was partially annoyed; I seemed to have caught it this morning. “No I will not calm down Mr Chen,” he knew I hated being called that. “If we get locked out again this block there will be a report made, and I for one will not show up to the Federation with a report against my name.” Cas had a point, reports did not look great when you were a member of the higher federation. Just then we were interrupted again.

The HUB’s doors had slowly begun to swing open. They were the most magnificent thing about the monster, giving the whole building the appearance of stepping into an afterlife. Standing three stories high and made of thick semi opaque glass, the lighting from the interior gave the impressions of a clean white fog extending outwards. Once the doors closed again only the fuzzy black outline of passing figures could be seen; the doors had been aptly nicknamed ‘Heaven’s gates’. “CALL FOR THE HIGHER PARTIES. FEDERATION WILL BEGIN IN SESSION.” The HUB’s tone rolled out of the opening doors and across the mid city. The voice of god, in actuality the Senator, came steadily through the them. Looking away from Cas towards the announcement, I couldn’t help but feel a shiver running down my spine and my grip tighten on the umbrella. Cas took a step back. The rain further soaking his suit. “Lets just go okay,” He looked a little defeated, but that could have just been the fact that his thick hair was matted to his forehead, water droplets slowly rolling tear-like down his face . Reluctant, I turned to face the HUB. “Alright, lets just make it through today’s session then we can go meet Anthony for Char Siu” At the mention of food Cas looked slightly more hopeful. He turned and trudged across the drag, pausing only briefly to raise a hand and beckon me, and my umbrella, to follow him into the rain.

Practise paragraph

“symbols are a rich source of meaning.”

Historically symbols have always held a significance in society, the importance of these symbols is showcased in film, “Minority Report.” In this film one of the most prevalent symbols is the image of an eye. Eyes are typically referred to in literature as the ” Windows to the soul,” and this is exploited in the films own world. Shown in the fact that eyes in the film connect people to the world around them for advertising, social interaction and for surveillance. The justice system called pre-crime in the Minority Report world use technologically advanced eyes in order to register citizens and to identify them. In this world built for the film, eyes are a persons identity, they are essentially a person’s soul, and with all the advancements in technology the justice unit of pre-crime uses peoples eyes as a window of surveillance to judge their character; to judge their soul. The historical significance of eyes can be found in ancient Greece, where the goddess of Justice ‘Tiresias’, is blind folded, and also the ‘Moirai’ also know as the three fates were blind. In the film there are three pre-cogs mirroring the fates, and whom predict the future and therefore determine the destiny of our protagonist. Justice, in the form of Tiresias historically was blind in order to convey a fair trial, where a person could be weighed upon themselves and their crime. However, the justice department of the film disregard this, weighing up a persons crime by having the ability to be all seeing due the the pre-cogs power of being able to determine the future, by knowing a persons future before they know it themselves.

“Good literature enlightens, great literature inspires action.”

Literature whether it is a newspaper, to a novel, effects the daily lives of humanity. Its contents can do greater good, or greater damage than word of mouth. This is to say that our literature is our history, and our history is written in ink, “Literature is the immortality of speech”- August Wilhelm von Schlegel. Literature in all its forms has the ability to enlighten is readers and to inspire the action it represents, however it is up to the audience of these texts to decide its worth; to heed its action or to forget its very warnings. The genre of dystopia in literature has arguably been one of the most influential in these respects. This is due to dystopia’s core concepts of placing our audience in a familiar but wildly distorted setting, thereby forcing its readers to views itself through a new lens. This is done in order to reveal the faults that we must rectify to prevent the future set before us. The dystopian novel of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is not a great text. This was not decide upon by its reviews or by its cult following, but by the way in which it failed to communicate its warnings to inspire the action necessary to prevent the reflected events we see in our modern day. It is a piece of literature that although passes the mark is terms of “great’ work by a purely commercial point of view, it hasn’t inspired beneficial action, that would prevent its audience from the very dystopian future he has created.


  • Two concepts, both alike in morality, in our modern world, where we lay our scene. From ancient beginnings for business, where now prison like monogamy makes a civil war of divorce, making modern love and marriage an illusion. This beginning may sound familiar to you all, and that will be because I have taken the liberty to re-write one of the most recognisable romances of our history; Romeo and Juliet. Ironic though isn’t it? To start with an allusion to a romance when its been re-written as to demonise the very act, well that’s what I will be speaking about today. The demonisation of romance through marriage and how in reality, real Love and marriage have no actual correlation.


  • Marriage and love are two concepts that over time have become entwined through a signature on paper and a shackle on each others index finger, the promise of a forever with a very handy combining of assets to be more of less equally shared. In 1922, Edvard Westermarck defined marriage as “A more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring.” So to say marriage not even a hundred years ago was all business and no play, has a ring of truth to it, and really has it changed all that much? People in that era and before it were expected to marry for wealth and privilege, also to produce heirs to their accumulated fortunes. Marriage in its earliest origins was never even for love, it was all about connections. With Royal families marrying off children left, right and centre in order to have a bit of the British royal family influence all over Europe, and look at them now they’ve finally snagged an American to bridge the  gap between the two world superpowers. It’s not only the marriage itself that has become a cycle of business perpetuated by the masses, it is a real commodity for those who need it. Nowadays it is easier to marry a complete stranger to gain accesses to a country, than it is to apply for a visa. The marriage grants the partner a visa, allowing them to hop borders and now live and work within their partners country. My own parents have been married for 26 years, however a romantic proposal wasn’t made, my dad never got down on one knee. The reality was that my parents married for connivance.  Hence a long standing commitment to one another was signed into the institution that is marriage, not because of the need to establish love, but for the benefit that it would bring. My own parents did not marry for love, as it was already present, the marriage was a separate benefit to the relationship they had already maintained for years. And they both firmly believe that they would have remained together had they not been married, the marriage came as a way to beat the system. American comedian Groucho Marx once said “ Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution.” Well he may be right but when the institution is established as a beneficial contract rather than as the sole display of love then it maybe an institution willing to change with modern ideas of love and relationshipsOlder generations typically in their ignorance, often think that if we don’t get married that the love wasn’t real, that the couple won’t stay together, that if they don’t get married they won’t have kids, and if they don’t have kids then what will happen to the family line, and then what if the family line dies out? Shocking really, but family lineage has absolutely no meaning whatsoever in this day and age; the oldies are gonna take awhile to wrap their heads around that one.
  • The other part of this apparent correlation is love. Love, when trying to find a definition, was almost impossible to find with something concrete that in english seemed to fit the enormity of this emotion. But a common thread through all my searching was that the idea of monogamous, long term commitment, or any form of institutional ceremony to “celebrate” the act of love was non-existent; and totally irrelevant to the concept. If love by various  definitions does not require the act of marriage, then why I ask you, do we require it to show our love for the ones we do. The answer being that we don’t and that we are socialised through media, history and by economics to feel required that after we have meet the ‘one’ or have stayed with someone of that nature for an extend period of time that is becomes and expected next step. Often times in ancient greek society, a couple would be married but would both me having separate known affairs, this was not frowned upon because it was  understood that the marriage was a separate entity to the love they had with others. In ancient Greek there were considered to be four forms of love: familial love storge, friendly love philia, romantic love eros, and divine love agape. These were all used in everyday language to allow for the distinguishing of what we in common english call love. Can you remember what you said when you are first in a relationship with someone? no ? maybe it’s because it seems too childish to explain that we have such a limited vocabulary to talk about what is one of the driving forces of humanity. In english we don’t have these distinguished terms that the greeks had, instead when someone says, ” So…do you like  like them,” we say ” yes I like like them.” We, in english, have to double the adjective for lack of a better form of expression of the beginning of love. To me this comes across as a lack of understanding of what love even is, if we a supposedly smart species, cannot find the words to define it, and if we cannot define it, then who are we to say that what and when and where loves place is; personally I don’t have the words to describe it either, but I do know that a word such a love should not be attached to an institution based on accrued monetary value.


  • “In love there are two things—bodies and words.” -Joyce Carol Oates.  I’ve spent a great deal of time talking about the crime that is marriage to the victim that is love. And if marriage be a crime then what is its punishment I ask you the audience? is it to take out marriage completely from our society, or is it more reasonable to systematically change the way in which marriage is viewed by new generations.


NCEA 3.4 Writing Portfolio. Feature Article: 1984: Critical review

The world  inside the novel of Nineteen-eighty-four was created in the late 1950’s by it’s author George Orwell. It’s bleak view of the future of humanity was used as a launch pad during its popularity, into discussions of the dark themes that were explored in the text. Themes such as control through fear and intimidation, how surveillance effects a society, and what happens when there are no real truths, only acceptable lies. These are all ideas and themes explored through the text of Nineteen-eighty-four, however a major fault may lie in how these are presented to a wider and a more modern audience. An overbearingly noticeable trend appears within the novels’ characters; all minor and major characters noteworthy of a name are male, expect a single women.

A theme explored in depth by Nineteen-eighty-four is control through fear. An important aspect, which most of the fictitious society of Nineteen-eighty-four is based upon.  Although while doing so one key trait seems to be ignored, or purposefully left out; the perspective of women in the story. The way for an audience to empathise and to understand a text is to find a relatable feature. This novel leaves out this option for a lot of women, as when there is a mention of women it is usually in a sexual and or violent context. Such as in the quote by our lead male protagonist Winston, “He would ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax. This quote is said only moments after the recipient female character is presented to the audience, she is also one of Winston’s first interactions with women in the novel, setting up female treatment in the novel from the very start. George Orwell’s idea of control through fear was meant to be a warning to the future of our whole society,  but his portrayal of women in this future is one that many women would find more far more dangerous than their male counterparts. In the 1950’s and carrying into the present day of 2018 a way in which women are often controlled is  through a sexual context. Whether its women’s rights for sexual health, the laws which govern women’s attire, or even how women choose to give birth. These regulations towards women are largely based on control,  they put women in lower position of society by creating fear in making and limiting women’s choices. These fears for women exist in places that they do not for men. This can be seen clearly in the text in the quote,”With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror.”  The woman in question here is in fear of her own children, due to the society in which the novel inhabits. The same fear does not appear to exist for the women’s husband who has no responsibility for his children, and no fear of them. An example of a real life situation in which women are controlled through fear, is in abortion rights. Through scare tactics and  hordes of people protesting outside clinics, women are pushed into an uncomfortable situation with their own pregnancy. Some countries such as Ireland and the U.S.A have such strict laws surrounding abortion that they do not allow for any form of a safe abortion. Leading women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to full term, even if they cannot support the child, it would be detrimental to their own health, or even if the baby itself would not live after the birth. Much like the woman from the quote above, women experiencing this tend to become terrified of and even resentful to  their own pregnancy. Situations like this occur due to lack of sexual education, which in some countries, much like in the novel Nineteen-eighty-four, only preach abstinence rather than providing safe means of protection. These steps taken towards women’s rights, by governments mainly run by men can control women in their day to day lives. It allows societies to place blame and the sole future responsibility back onto women, controlling their futures before they have even begun. In Nineteen-eighty-four the government has created an anti-sex league as well as imposing an unspoken ban for real loving relationships, in order to create a division between men and women in their further understanding  of one another and each others issues. The addition of female perspective in this novel would have created a better telling, and would have been able to relate to a wider audience allowing for larger discussion to progress and further understanding of all that George Orwell wanted to convey. When relaying the message of how control through fear can effect a  populous, it is an aspect of our societies history that women have faced repeatedly, and showing this through a women’s perspective in the novel would have communicated the idea to a future audience much clearer.  

In the text there seems to be mention of less than ten women in total, with only two of them having any dialogue, and one having a semblance of character; this character being a young woman named Julia. Julia does not help to further the plot or the theme of control though fear within the novel, but rather in a real world context. To provide some background to this idea we need to look into the ‘Manic pixie dream girl’ trope that often appears in modern texts. This trope was first coined in 2007 by film critic Nathan Rabin, and is described as “A female character that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” The characters that take on these ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ roles are ones that have no substance to build a real character from, and if left out of the text would not change the plot all that much. These character exists only for the benefit of a male character, and often the protagonist. Nineteen-eighty-four’s Julia takes on these tropes multiple times in the text. An example of this is when she confesses her love for the protagonist Winston, even though they had had no previous encounters and only talked at the time of this sudden confession. This incident occurs when Winston needs one final push to begin his personal rebellion. Julia’s own irrelevance to this rebellion is shown when she at one point disappears entirely from the text, only to reappear to play housewife in a ‘meaningful’ relationship with Winston. This relationship is based solely off of encounters with Winston sporadically over a couple of months, to show ‘rebellion’ by engaging in sexual intercourse. For Winston this is seen as a form  of rebellion, while for Julia the act has no deeper meaning. “I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don’t want any virtue to exist anywhere…you like doing this? I don’t simply mean me: I mean the thing itself? [Winston]…’ I adore it [Julia].” This quote from both Winston and Julia illustrates how Julia’s character is simply there to fulfil a selfish wish in the protagonist’s journey.  To take from the previous quote about the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ Julia teaches the brooding Winston to embrace life and all its infinite mysteries in order to begin his rebellion. As well as this, a relationship of this type would only exist in the fevered imagination of a lonely author, George Orwell wrote this novel at much the same age as our protagonist WinstonJulia’s want for sex is seen as personal and flippant, with the author even going as far to mention her many other sexual partners, “Hundreds of times-well, scores of times, anyway.” Julia’s character is shown as charming, pretty, she rebells for those who need her to, her sexuality and apparent want for classic house wife tropes of the 1950’s, seen in the quote, “Yes, dear, scent too. And you know what I’m going to do next? I’m going to get hold of a real woman’s frock…I’ll wear silk stockings and high-heeled shoes!” are used as tools to further Winston’s plot, ideals, and journey. Julia however, fades into obscurity once her role is filled; she ceases to be relevant and therefore ceases from the plot. The tragedy of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope is that their characters could be so much more, but that they cannot exist without a man. Once a man has no need for the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ whether its the protagonist or the author, they are tossed aside, killed off or just never mentioned again. This trope and Julia’s character all relate to a broader real world context, showing how this trope has bled into modern day society. Sayings such as “Behind every great man is a great woman” are the example of how women are not becoming the front runners of our societies, but the ones guiding men to take the lead. This itself is control through fear. A warning, unintentional no doubt, that when the women of our real life societies step back in roles, and allow major officials to control certain rights; it will cause women to be left out of the narrative. Much like our fictional Julia’s and Manic Pixie Dream Girls, when women are no longer considered needed in our societies, whether its through control and through the fear women have given over, women will cease to be apart of the  narrative.

George Orwell wrote from what he knew, and also catered to the prominent audience of his time. For George Orwell this was the middle aged, white, middle class male. This perspective however, limits its readers, and it demonstrates one of the very themes he wrote about; even if not necessarily in the context it was originally intend for. Part of this is effected by the leaving out of an entire genders perspective in the novel. This act says more about the author and the times in which the novel was written, than it does about the novel. It also allows the modern readers to see what was the focus of society in the 1950’s. However, the novels continued reverence in our modern society without mentioning the mishandling of female characters such as Julia, and the effects that tropes perpetuated by her in this revered novel have, is a fault in the relaying of one of the most important messages of Nineteen-eighty-four. The message being control through fear. This should be an accessible warning, but Nineteen-eighty-four’s lack of varied perspective leaves it a warning left unheeded. Modern readers of the novel in 2018 see the appearance of control through fear, especially towards women in real life, and not the push back of this control that the novel could have preached. Ultimately the very idea that George Orwell sought to change has become a reality, in some form or another, for the people he chose to leave out of the plot, and for the people he unwittingly choose to not warn.




Dystopia Definitions:

  • An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
  • A dystopia is an unpleasant (typically repressive) society, often propagandized as being utopian. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction states that dystopian works depict a negative view of “the way the world is supposedly going in order to provide urgent propaganda for a change in direction.”
  • The most famous and considered to be the first dystopian novel is H.G. Well’s The Time Machine, published in 1895. The novel is considered to be science fiction( as most dystopian text usually are) but was the beginning of a subgenre eventually becoming dystopia on its own.
  • The word dystopia comes from the words utopia with the addition of dys- meaning simply bad. It was created in the late 18th century, with its first appearance in an author Thomas More’s novel “Utopia”.

Dystopian texts:

  • Hunger games trilogy (Suzanne Collins) BOOK/FILM: government control, oppressive society, rebellion.
  • The year of the flood ( Margaret Atwood) BOOK: Environmental
  • The handmaid’s tale ( Margaret Atwood) BOOK/ TV: Government control, oppressive society, ellitest.
  • Blade runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) FILM: last remnants of humanity, collapsing society at hands of elliestism.
  • The Matrix (Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski) FILM: VR world, domination of more advanced species, collapsing society.
  • V for Vendetta (James McTeigue) FILM: oppressive society, rebellion leading to revolution, starts with a single idea or person.
  • Mad Max ( George Miller, George Ogilvie) FILMS: total disrepair of society, fight for survival and control.


  • Centred around the journey of one main protagonist
  • Protagonist is usually an anti-hero, begins journey out for their own gain
  • Plot reaches point of clarity for character where their attitude shifts from that of themselves to the betterment of their greater society, and thus a cause is born or now endeavoured for.
  • Societal context is that our protagonist is on the bottom of society, having only known the worst aspects of their propagandised “Utopia.”
  • Visually: society is gritty in our protagonist’s eyes, city setting usually (or what is left of one), crowded, filth of both mental and physically in our protagonists face daily, dull colours with statement pieces to contrast and accentuate the cheapness of it all. In comparison our elite members of society will usually have cleanliness on and in their settings and clothing to show their own lavishness. Their sets include clean lines and neutral palettes with structure and order.  
  • The values of each member of society in our dystopias are displayed with their clothing, each wearing themselves on their sleeves to communicate to readers or viewers their place in the context of a story.
  • Orally: bottom of society is loud with the sounds of people in every aspect of life, it is a daily commotion that is the set of background noise, noting to a lack of privacy. Top of society experiences a setting of calm and often almost unnerving quiet, showing their wealth again at being able to have a secluded private area, in which they do not have to share with other members of society; it also shows their exclusion of society that does not meet their standards.
  • The way our characters talk is also outlined this way. With elite members having a more refined pattern and accent displayed when reading or watching a text. Bottom members (and usually our protagonist) will use ore colloquial terms and have a rougher tone and speech pattern, or in some cases may not speak at all.


1984: Quotation


Winston, protagonist, Chapter 5:

“yes they swallowed it. Parsons swallowed it easily, with the stupidity of an animal. The eyeless creature at the other table swallowed it frantically, passionately, with a furious desire to track down denounce and vaporise anyone who should suggest, that last week the ration had been thirty grams. Syme, too- in some more complex way, involving doublethink- Syme swallowed it.

Here we see that Winston is now even more sure of his first observation. That Syme may not be as orthodox as he may publicly appear to be. This is seen in the way Winston seems to sense the hesitation that Syme takes before he too gives in to the lie. Syme is already been seen to be a very intelligent man, and he here we see him see the mistake, realise that he is being feed a false truth, and accepting it anyway, because in their world a that is what a smart man does.

This quote from Winston seems to outline all the types of people that the new dystopian world contains. Those like Parsons who simply accept anything under the government as truth. Too dull or complicit, being young enough to not know anything else outside of it, to call anything into question now. These constant adjustments of the truth no longer phase people such as Parsons, people who are truly brainwashed by big brother.

The others are people described such as the “creature.” These are the people who have taken their devotion of the idea pushed onto them to the next level.  As Winston describes, ” the eyeless creature swallowed it frantically,” showing that the people such as these will take anything given to them. The concept of making the character be described as eyeless is also interesting. This is because it gives the reader the impression that the creature, and people like him, cannot see for themselves; and are therefore reliant on Big Brother.  They are so frantic to accept new information,  because for them all they know is Big Brother, as they have essentially had their own way at looking at the world taken from them.

Lastly we have the people like Syme. These are the bystanders of the new world. The ones desperate to stay alive that they keep their heads down and out of the way. Syme, much like many others, accepts things he know to be false simply to be able to old onto his life a little bit longer. They are also the people that have found pleasure in the smallest of things, these are what truly keep them from turning to rebels such as Winston. Syme has his work, this he is obviously passionate about, and for him seems to be what he holds onto in a world like this. its a tiny part of his life which he knows to be true, because he has created it himself. Syme is the example of all the people who choose to do nothing because they have something themselves which keeps them comfortable in their complicity to the dangers that surround them.


Winston, protagonist, chapter: 

“until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

This quote from Winston is said during his walk through the proles. He ponders the idea that the largest mass of power does not actually  lie in the government, but in the poverty stricken areas on the outskirts of ‘London.’ However, we see that Winston is cyclical about this prospect because as we, as the audience, soon discover the people of the proles live in a relative freedom; in comparison to those that live lives such as Winston.  The people of the proles are governed more loosely, they are allowed small freedoms such as a family and items such as beer; this is how they are kept in check. Because they are allowed these small freedoms they do not call into question the governing they do receive, although their lives are not grand and cannot become so in this flawed system, they are not so bad as to think to rebel. Therefore in Winston’s own words they will never become conscious. This lack of incentive to rebel is what prohibits them from forming the realisation to do so. To rebel would lead to the realisation that they had been living under an unfair and unjust system, and allow them to explore a new avenue of thought and life outside of the hardship they have become neutral to. But as I have stated before they will not rebel because they have no cause, and they will not realise they need for a cause until after a rebellion is started. Winston desperately wants the proles to revolt, as it will free him more than anything else, and will in his own mind lead t a better future; at the moment he knows the means of getting his way but no way to deliver and rally this message.


Winston, Protagonist, Chapter: 7 pg 80  ( memory of a poem/ song from years back)

“Under the spreading chestnut tree, 

I sold you and you sold me:

There lie they,  and here lie we

Under the spreading chestnut tree. “

This memory of a broadcast is remembered by Winston when he discovers three former members of the ‘elite’ party at a drinking spot called the chestnut. The song or poem itself seems out of place in the scene and very unlike Big Brother to be promoting; what I gathered then from the irregularity of the message to the rest of the story was that it is meant to stand out, and that it could be a sign of rebellion. The lines themselves also seem to appear this way, the idea of a tree spreading out like an idea taking root in a community, from an area ( the chestnut drinking spot) that is seemingly notorious for rebellious meetings.

Another message that can be gleaned from the short song is the hopelessness and loss of trust. The lines ” I sold you and you sold me: There lie they, and here lie we,” show a darker side of the world in which Winston lives. No one can be trusted to not be sold out, or in selling another person out for their own personal gain.  The direct use of the word “lie” is another tell to this as it isn’t necessary o use that word, it seems deliberate, and immediately changes the context from simply laying down, to being lied to or about.

With the point described above the idea of a spreading chestnut tree does not show an idea of inside rebellion, but rather an idea of increased control. The chestnut tree spreads outwards, wrapping more and more people to be intwined within the parties ideals. This snippet of a song from Winston’s memory stands out for a purpose, as to which side the message is for remains unknown until further into the story.

Winston, Entry in diary, Chapter: 7 Pg 84

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows. “

This is to say that if one is allowed to state the truth of one aspect, then all else that is factually true can also be deemed, and proved as such.  This quote shows to the reader how much the world in which Winston lives is different from our own, when even a truth that is simple for a child to understand can be called into question and can now be called a lie. It’s a deliberate demonstration of how much control the Government has, when the obviously true can be called into question. It also shows how little freedom the people within this regime have. That can be seen in how the quote seems to ask permission to say the truth, rather than being able to sate it openly.

  • extension: pg 261 – O’Brien holds up four fingers to a beaten winston after repeating quote back and asks, ” How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?”
  • this is a blatant act of aggression by O’Brien.

Winston, interaction with girl, page 111: “In front of him was an enemy who was trying to kill him: in front of him, also, was a human creature, in pain and perhaps with a broken bone. ”

Winston, after being discovered at the bookshop, Pg :  “It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one’s own body. ”

  • Winston is deciding whether or not to take his own life

Winston, pg162: “History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

after an encounter with O’Brien where O’Brien acknowledges the rebellion, pg 167: “He had the sensation of stepping into the dampness of a grave, and it was not much better because he had always known that the grave was there waiting for him.

  • the realisation that with the acknowledgment of rebellion his own acts will now actually effect his life. actions that themselves are a life or death situation.

Julia and winston talking about rebellion and the party, pg 174: “if you can feel that staying human is worthwhile, even when it cant have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.”

Winston reading Goldstein’s book to Julia, pg 227: “sanity is not statistical,”


O’Brien and Winston having a conversation mid torture pg282:

” do you believe in god, Winston?”


” then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?”

” I don’t know, the spirt of man. ”

” and do you consider yourself to be a man?”


” If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. ”

Winston after a couple of weeks after his torture reteaching himself pg290: “sanity was statistical. It was merely a question of learning to think as they thought. ”

  • previously we saw that winston believed that ” sanity is not statistical,” on page 227. Now we can see that by this point in the story that Winston has finally had his values broken, that he is not the rebellious man we saw before and that his older concepts of thought crime and double think do not exists for him anymore.

( Last line, a defeated winston sits in the chestnut and the war has ended) pg311: ” He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother. ”

  • the last line of Winston story is the final blow. He has given up, the system he fought with his soul rather than through direct action has been painfully stripped away. He was the ” last real man” and now he has joined the masses. His proof of sanity was statistical as he joined along with the people he thought to be brainwashed.



  • Coming to terms with turning thirty:
  • 1. Realise that your best years are behind you. Once you have come to terms with this crushing inevitability, knowing that your childhood was wasted due to lack of maturity, and that your teens were somewhat unfulfilled due to school and sleep deprivation; you will feel liberated. Because you can now lounge about, using excuses of having much weaker joints, long work hours and monotony, to prohibit you from doing anything of substance or interest at all.


  • 2. Realise that with the gaining of a year from 29 to 30 marks you as ancient. Therefore you are now considered wise beyond comprehension to anyone below you in age. Seize this new found opportunity to talk down to those in their twenties, and to remind the youth of today that back in your day everything was so much better than it is now. Remember that while executing this, don’t let on that the unfamiliarity of today’s technology and the new cultural shift is in reality terrifying to you, to the point of opposition of change. 


  • 3. Realise how numbered your days are. The grim reaper is just around the corner, so I would take these words to your early grave, “I have not died today, but maybe tomorrow. ” Maybe the closeness of death will even motivate your ancient joints locked within your blandly formalised lives to go out and take back the other 70 years of life ahead of you.