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Comparative Essay, 1984 Vs Equilibrium

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Two futuristic dystopias

When thinking of the future it is not rare to be optimistic, and dream of a society very different from the one that we are living in today. Fantasizing about our own utopia it can be easily forgotten that the future may be everything but great. In both 1984 and Equilibrium a future dystopia is being portrayed. They may seem exceedingly similar when comparing them quickly, therefore the main goal with this comparative essay is not just to state axiomatic similarities, but instead find what separates them. The focus of this comparison will be on the two main characters, Winston Smith and John Preston.

Plot summaries

1984 is enacted in a society ruled by “the Party”, and its boss is called Big Brother, a ubiquitous leader. It is post war, and Winston Smith whose life the reader gets to follow, lives in the state of Oceania. In Oceania everything is being controlled by the Party. The thoughts, history and language of the inhabitants is controlled and every step is constantly being watched. The Party strives towards stopping any kind of rebellion against their leadership, and by surveil every person’s thought they can assure that no one is thinking rebellious. The Ministry of Truth is responsible for adjusting the history so it corresponds with the Party’s point of view. It is also where Winston works and later on meets a girl named Julia. Their relationship is an intense love affair and together they dream about overthrowing the Party, even though Julia is not as passionate about it as Winston.

In Equilibrium World War III has recently ended and a major part of the population is dead. A new kind of society has been elaborated in the city Libria and its leader is referred to as Father. To feel is strictly forbidden as the outbreak of the war is blamed on feelings. Everyone has to take daily doses of a newly developed drug named Prozium, which prohibits any kind of emotion. John Preston is a highly ranked cleric (the cleric is Libria’s form of agent) and is responsible to search Libria thoroughly and reveal all sense offenders as well as destroying all cultural remains. John one day accidentally breaks his dose of Prozium and starts to do the prohibidden, to feel. He starts to see the way of life in Libria very different which leads him into beginning a very dangerous path.

Opinions about leaders

Winston and John are alike in several ways. They both oppose their governments and leaders and works against them. The features of an ideal rebel is someone who is greatly discontented with the incumbent political system and desire to revolt against it. The ultimate goal is often to dethrone the government and ultimately change how the society is ruled. All these features can be found to be possessed by Winston, hence one of his main characteristic is rebelliousness. Actively he attempts to show his disapproval of the Party, for example by writing in a diary. He writes down notes such as “Down with Big Brother”. Since even rebellious thoughts is seen as a severe crime this type of action is a way for Winston to test the extent of the Party’s control.

When John starts to see his society and its strict rules from a different view he begins an precarious way of life. He disapproves some of the choices made by Father. For example the choice that sense offenders are directly send to be executed instead of being given the chance to have a trial. Just as Winston, John perpetrates one of the most severe crimes. In Equilibrium the most solemn crime is not to be rebellious, but to feel. Any kind of emotions is strictly forbidden, and as a cleric he work with arresting sense offenders. To be one, a sense offender, is possibly the most perilous thing he could do. As the movie proceed he continues to reprobate Father. Consequently, the two characters share the similitude to be disgruntled with their separate leaders. A great difference however is that initially John is conscientious to his leader. Winston instead ceases his controversy with the Party towards the end, making it possible to make a clear distinction between how they opposite their leaders.

Personalities and self perception

Winston is conventional rather than eccentric, which makes it easy for many readers to identify with him. He is slender, frail and dull. Throughout the book he shows a cogitative side, and has long reflections about the Party and its power. He endeavors to find out how and why the Party practice such unmitigated dominance over Oceania. On the surface he appears to be tranquil and timid. His job is in the outer circle of the Party and therefore has no influence nor power. He perceive his existence rather nonsensical and surmises that this is because of the totalitarian government.

“He sat back. A sense of complete helplessness had descended upon him.

To begin with, he did not know with any certainty this was 1984.”

(George Orwell, “1984”, page 7)

In this quote it’s perceptual that Winston is tremendously unappeased with his reality.

Although Winston strives towards a society where the Party do not exists, he throughout the story strongly believes that he will fail and the Party will secure their position as an controlling leader. He assumes that he will fail and therefore takes several risks that might been seen as unnecessary. The reason is simple, if he is going to be captured either way he deliberates that it does not matter. His approach and way of thinking demonstrate a low self-esteem. When seeing failure as an axiomatic egression he never truly believes in his own rebellion.

John is a cleric of the highest possible level, and therefore is someone many people foster respect for. He is handsome and extremely well trained. At first John appears to be a blunt and brittle person which strictly follows all the rules without ever compromising. Since everyone in Libria takes the drug Prozium daily and therefore can’t feel, it is also difficult to have a unique personality. What distinguish every person from another? It is first when John terminates his use of Prozium his real personality starts to show. Hearing music nearly bring him to tears, and he is also incapable of killing a dog and instead saves it. Even though these new emotions is hard to control he is able to maintain a affectionless and hard exterior. That this is made possible thanks to the hard training he has experienced



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