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1984 Ending: Analysis

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  • 0:03 Ending of ''1984''
  • 0:55 The State Over All
  • 1:33 Death
  • 2:03 Julia Loved More
  • 2:48 What Is Orwell Saying?
  • 3:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
Few novels invoke more imagery than George Orwell's '1984,' and of those images, the end of the novel stands out. Julia and Winston have survived the torture of Big Brother, but are they truly okay?

Ending of 1984

All good things must come to an end. For Winston Smith, the protagonist of 1984 by George Orwell, that means that his getaways with his lover Julia are spoiled by the fact that they are caught by members of the Thought Police. Held for disloyalty to the state and its personification, Big Brother, Winston and Julia are separated and tortured. After all, the state demands absolute submission. Worst of all, his supposed contact to help him overthrow the state, O'Brien, is the one who is torturing him. By the end of it all, Winston meets Julia long enough to tell her that he doesn't love her anymore, but he's sure that he loves Big Brother.

As you might expect, there is plenty to analyze in the ending of 1984. In this lesson, we'll take a look at some of the major themes of this book's conclusion.

The State Over All

O'Brien prompts Winston over and over again. After all, it is a simple math problem. 2 + 2 = 4, Winston argues. O'Brien corrects, often with a bit of torture to help. Given Winston's past role in the Ministry of Truth, this was especially problematic. For O'Brien, Winston must accept that 2 + 2 is whatever the state tells him that it is.

This submission is, after all, one of the primary goals of O'Brien's torture of Winston. Winston must be forced to accept whatever the state tells him, no matter how absurd it is. Without that submission, the state falls apart.

Death

If you were to read the second-to-last paragraph of 1984, you might think that Winston met his end with a bullet to the brain. However, that's not the case. Instead, Orwell is trying to suggest that Winston is completely dead on the inside. In other words, O'Brien killed what made Winston himself. In the next paragraph, we find that he's obsessed with the idea of Big Brother. No, Winston is not physically deceased, but at this point he is lifeless.

Julia Loved More

One of the moments we see that Winston has really changed is when he meets up with Julia after their time being tortured. He looks at her and realizes that he doesn't love her any more. She says the same to him, but he notices that she has a scar on her forehead.

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