“In that antiworld, there is no written law, and everything is, or can be, considered a crime at the pleasure of the State” (254). Winston is not heroic in the traditional sense. He rebels in secret, always afraid of the watchful eye of Big Brother; he betrays Julia at the slightest provocation in the Ministry of Love; he comes to love and support his persecutors.He is “passive and not self-aware. Winston, from the first moment we meet him, never makes a free decision” (Ranald). However, though he is not perfect, Winston does at least attempt to find truth and insist on it in the face of overwhelming opposition. Winston’s final defeat is discouraging.
James E. Davis observes that Orwell “does express a mood of near but not complete despair. The mood is despair only if readers do not heed the warning of what will happen if we continue on some of our present courses. But we do not have to become soulless automatons.It is not foreordained” (248). Our own society does not repress freedom and truth in the same way or to the same degree as the Party in 1984. There is still hope that we will not allow the government or any institution to tell us lies and compromise our freedoms.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, is about a dystopian society in which firemen burn books, and the ideal citizen sits around and watches television all day, not thinking about anything too deeply and not caring about the consequences of his or her actions. Guy Montag is a fireman.He has lived most of his life believing that firemen are beneficial to society, enforcing a just law that protects everyone. His mind is opened to the reality of his miserable job when he meets a young girl named Clarisse McClellan. When his boss, the firehouse captain, realizes this change in him, Captain Beatty begins to fight back, trying to either return Montag to his previous state of ignorance or destroy him and the knowledge he represents. John Colmer is struck by Bradbury’s ability to convey horror. Bradbury is successful “in creating the horror of mechanized anti-culture.
The burning scenes have intense power” 149). Central to this “anti-culture” is a violent struggle between knowledge and ignorance. Montag’s job as a fireman is to destroy people’s homes and lives to eliminate knowledge and encourage ignorance, but when he meets Clarisse, knowledge begins to overpower ignorance inside his own mind, and he realizes that what he is doing is horrible. She asks him a simple question about his life: “Are you happy? ” she said. “Am I what? ” he cried. But she was gone—running in the moonlight. Her front door shut gently.
“Happy! Of all the nonsense. ” (10)Clarisse plays a critical role in alerting Montag to his blindness. Edward Eller credits this young “oddball” with creating a crisis in Montag’s life that upends his complacency: Clarisse prods him back into experiencing the outside world’s sensations, especially smells as simple as “apricots” and “strawberries,” “old leaves” and “cinnamon,” smells which up to now have always been dominated by the odor of kerosene. She ignores his authority by openly questioning whether he can even think and challenges his smug superiority by seeing through his “mask” of happiness and into his deeper discontent. (152)