Through the use of Winston’s life as a window into the oppression and harshness of communism, Orwell warns the reader of the dangers of allowing communism to spread unchecked, therefore turning the reader against communism. Orwell, through his description of Winston’s daily life in London, exposes communism as a deceitful, oppressive farce. For example, in the opening chapter of the novel, Winston refers to his flat as a Victory Mansion, an ironic description because electricity was rarely present, the elevator never worked, and the telescreen droned constantly.
Because of the incongruity of the name Victory mansion and the living conditions present within one, the reader therefore deduces that the name Victory Mansion is simply a propaganda ploy by the Oceanian government, revealing the destitute living conditions of even Party members, individuals who possessed some, if minor, influence, illustrating to the reader the poverty that communism creates.
Furthermore, through the name of Winston’s workplace, the Ministry of Truth, Orwell provides another example of irony, as the ministry produces propaganda and rewrites politically inconvenient newspaper articles and history, exposing truth, a basic right in Western culture, as a farce in communism. Moreover, to illustrate the Party’s oppression, living comforts, such as Victory Coffee, Victory Gin, and Victory Cigarettes, exist to the masses only in watered down and tasteless forms, nothing victorious about the products, illustrating the harshness of live under communism.
In contrast, the Inner Party, a few select individuals, can enjoy coffee, wine, and tea in full – flavored variants, exposing the oppressive control the Inner Party has over the masses. The impoverishment of the masses that the Party, in its deceitful manner, attempts to cover up with Three Year Plans that show a gradual improvement in personal quality of life, when in reality life does not improve at all, serves as a market warning against communism, that with communism, the masses would descend into poverty, while a select group perpetuates its wealth.
By utterly destroying Winston as a person, Orwell shocks the reader into the evils of the Party’s doctrine, mutilating the audience’s view against communism. For example, during Winston’s interrogation, in Room 101, O’Brien releases rats upon Winston, displaying the magnitude of the Party’s surveillance, that the Party knows everything that there is to know about every single Party member, even his deepest phobia, an idea, pervasive government surveillance, which would distress people who viewed communism as an acceptable form of government.
Furthermore, when O’Brien forces Winston to sincerely believe the false mathematical truths of the Party, that 2 + 2 = 5, the Party’s legitimacy erodes further because of its adamant falsification of the most logical of fields, mathematics. Because of math’s subordination to the Party’s whims, the reader views the Party, an embodiment of communism, as a mutilated entity devoid of rational thought. Furthermore, since Winston serves the role of the protagonist, the reader empathizes with him.
Therefore, Winston’s capitulation from an energetic, rebellious lifestyle to a brainwashed, politically re-educated alcoholic, sincerely loving Big Brother, the antagonist of the novel, shocks the reader into the horrible actions which communism would subject citizens to, malicious deeds which the masses cannot prevent under any circumstance. The depressing conclusion to the novel disturbs the reader, forcing him to view communism as a malicious, oppressive farce which ignores basic human rights.
Orwell’s exploitation of Winston by the communist Oceanian government provides a warning against the spread of communism, thereby turning the reader against communist government. Ultimately, Orwell’s arguments to pathos, shocking the reader, succeeded in halting the spread of communism after World War II and eventually destroying widespread communism in the 1990s. In modern society, we must heed Orwell’s warnings about communism, and by extension, totalitarian and authoritative government as they inevitably will ignore basic human rights and cause major headaches to countries promoting the ideals of freedom and liberty.