Representation of Oppresion in 1984 and Never Let Me Go

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Both texts present a protagonist who is oppressed by a group which are higher than themselves as these groups have full control over the characters and their respective societies, the characters arc are displayed to the reader through a first person narrator within “Never Let Me Go” by Ishiguro to allow the reader to have a personal connection with Kathy; on the other hand Orwell uses a narrator to show the protagonist Winston’s journey at the same time creating a separation between the text and the reader to mirror Winston’s disconnection to the party. The authors use a range of formats to present the oppression in the novels some of which are: friendships, the role of women within the texts and how the characters deal with the oppression they face within their respective societies. These dystopian parallel worlds are displayed differently in the texts due to the different time periods they are both written and set in and the personal views of the authors.

In the texts the authors have displayed a variety of relationships in which the protagonist themselves and other characters are involved in, these of which are restricted by the systems controlling their lives. These relationships are of varying degrees, from physical to deceitful and friendships among others. In “Never Let Me Go” Ishiguro has split the text into three parts creating separation and to show the different stages of Kathy’s life of which she is reflecting upon. The same structure is used in “1984” however it isn’t used to show a life time but to show different events, stages of emotion and rebellion within Winston with part two being where he’s most fulfilled with Julia but also ready to rebel and then this peak disintegrates when he is tortured in part 3. In “1984” Winston develops only a singular friendship throughout the book thus showing the control the party has this reiterated by O’Brien as he states “The real power we have the right to fight for night and day, is not power things, but over men” (p234). This mirrors that of the times of when Orwell wrote the novel as he had witnessed the danger of the Soviet Union first hand in Spain which he projects into the book through the party. As for “Never Let Me Go” friendships are a key part of the text, as at the beginning of the text Kathy states “just how lucky we’d been – Tommy, Ruth, me, all the rest of us.”

By putting them before herself shows the significance of their relationships with her. These friendships are tested throughout the novel, in part one Ruth is questioned on a pencil case to which she says “Let’s just agree. Let’s agree I got it in the Sale” to which this after causes some tension between the girls but Kathy backs Ruth up saying “a big mystery” this argument shows how their friendship is just like that of other “normal” girls of their age but this also established the hierarchy in their friendship as the use of italics inRuth’s statement shows the manipulation she has over the other girls, along with the statement being repeated shows how serious this statement is and the fact Kathy backs her up later showing Ruth has enough power over Kathy to make her feel bad. In part 2 Kathy states “Those early months at the cottages had been a strange time in our friendship.” This shows them growing up and developing more as individuals rather than as a group, however they still showed unity after disappointment of Ruth’s possible as “Tommy and I were silent – a sort of resentment on Ruth’s behalf” Ishiguro does this to show that though everything they are more than just a friendship they are the only family and group they’ve ever known and that their friendship is the one thing they have had control on whilst the futures are controlled by the guardians. Kathy and Tommy’s relationship develops over the course of the novel, however the core of their friendship remains as they confided in each other throughout their lives and Kathy refrained from telling him certain things in fear of upsetting him. The most poignant part of their friendship is when the find they tape as Tommy says “ I wish I’d found it”, then he goes on to says “ I used to think about it, in my head, what it would be like, if I found it and brought it to you. What you’d say.” Showing how the fundamental value of caring for each other always remained.

In regards to romantic relationships in both texts the protagonists ultimately can never be with whom they are in love with. As in “Never Let Me Go” Tommy and Kathy go to Miss Emily to see if that can get a deferral they learn “There’s no truth in the rumour” with this information, they both knew this meant their lives were always just for the “donations” and that regards for their lives and “souls” of which the guardians talked about never really mattered. They continued their relationship as Kathy being Tommy’s carer but as well as a physical relationship by “having sex every now and then.” Then Kathy stops being Tommy’s carer and “it was the last time” they speak of Ruth stating “are you glad Ruth completed before finding out everything” by talking about her is symbolic of them all being together one last time as through their oppression of being controlled by the guardians their donations they can never truly live full lives together romantically or as friends. Then Kathy states to herself “I lost Ruth, then I lost Tommy to” showing Tommy had completed and that they couldn’t ever fully be together. In “1984” fascism is clearly being used on Winston and Julia as they are manipulated by their deceitful “friend” Mr Charrington as he confides in him as he gets a room from him “for the purpose of a love affair” However he betrays them as they are caught ( He used the room as a form of entrapment as they felt someone was actually helping them) and a voice says “ you may as well say goodbye” this is done as their relationship is seen as the ultimate transgression and O’Brien deceives them as when together the state cannot control them and have them devoted to the relationship which the party accepts which is that of their allegiance to it.

In both texts women and their role roles within the texts is another way the authors have displayed oppression. I share the view with one of my secondary sources[1] that Orwell understood that rape was violence and he did this long before the feminism movement themselves brought this topic to light, however Julia’s sexual acts are her form of empowerment and her way of rebelling as it is seen as a digression from the state by planning and having sex with many members of the party she is also increasing the personal rebellion within the party’s regiment and it allows her to free herself from her otherwise constricted lifestyle. Ishiguro presents oppression in the text as a psychological thing as Kathy she looks through the magazine “focusing on their faces” and then later on Ruth says “We all know it. We’re modelled from trash” ironically they will never know and this not knowing will leave them emotionally unfulfilled which my secondary source [2] also stated. This is a basic need when we grow up to know who we are and where we come from and this lack of knowing he how much they have been oppressed form themselves which is why Ishiguro made Kathy like Julia (in “1984”) have many sexual encounters to fill the void of the unknown. Another character how struggles with their existence in “Never Let Me Go” is Ruth as she lives vicariously through the thought that her “possible” is a businesswomen as she feels that her own existence after donations if worthless which is due to the manipulation of the guardians.

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Another way the authors represented oppression in the novels is through the way the protagonist themselves view and see how and why they’ve been oppressed. In “Never Let Me Go” throughout their lives they’re “told and not told” of why they exist however they know from an early age “none of [them] could have babies” to which Kathy says “none of us [were] practically bothered” I found this quite disconcerting and how throughout the whole novel no one rebelled against the “Donations” and how they all accepted it as this wouldn’t been something that usually people would be okay, this unnerving tone allowed for the dystopian theme to come through but also for the oppression to be seen as something that was inevitable and not to be questioned and just like in “1984” and how the state/party shouldn’t be questioned, however in the book the protagonist Winston and his love interest Julia do as she hugs Winston’s as it states “in the ramifications of the party doctrine she has not the faintest interest” showing they she didn’t care for the party or it views. By them both simply consenting and partaking in their sexual encounters they were the biggest rebels to the states as if their love/lust surpassed theirs for the state it meant that the state lost full control of them and their beings. When asked by O’Brien before his betrayal “Are you ready to give your lives? To commit suicide they replied “yes” showing just how willing the were to fight the oppressions set by the state on them, however when asked “You are prepared, the two of you, to separate and never see one another again” Julia replied “No!” this changed in expression and the exclamation mark show that she loves Winston and that they have already surpassed the party in committing the biggest act of rebellion and how much the despised the oppression forced upon them in its extreme form. Also this lack of disregard for their own lives and not caring about the implications of the action on the world could also mirror how Orwell felt when writing 1984 as he was fighting tuberculosis which he later died from two years after the publication of “1984” this could be why the text has such a dark and political themes running throughout as Orwell himself was very political having a dislike towards the labour party and their views to which he projects onto the state within the text.

In Never Let Me Go a first person narrative is used from Kathy’s perspective which Jo Walton expresses the view in [3] that “It’s Kathy’s cheerful acceptance of everything that makes this so brilliant and unbearable.” I share with this view that Kathy and her friends accept their fate this leaves the reader unfulfilled with a want for a rebellion as they have had their freedom taken away with them and restrictions and the fact this is never explored in the book gives the reader an unnerving feeling as it is assumed by the current society whom read the text that they would as that is what is seen in society today and the reader has a hard time with their acceptance as whilst we must accept this and watch as oppression integrates into every aspect of their lives, as humans we have a hard time comprehending death and our morality. Conversely Winston rejects the view of the majority whom accept their fate to which Winston’s rebellion is a relief to reader as he symbolises some form of hope and normality to the dystopian world which are in contrast to the real world. In a system where individuality is being eradicated a person can only be powerful if he fully embodies the part as O’Brien says “if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all powerful.” As the structure of the book Winston’s does this in three stages as this is explained to him in part 3 chapter 3 of the book [4] and O’Brien says “There are three stages to reintegration” “There is learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance” and Winston’s fulfils all three and shows full acceptance of the Party and Big Brother when he says “Do it to Julia! Do not it Julia! Not me! Julia!” The use of exclamation marks shows the anger in the statement whilst signifying the end of his rebellion and ultimately accepting his fate like the rest of the society.

Alongside the narrative the language is key in both texts as in “Never Let Me Go” euphemisms are used throughout the novel such as “Donations” and “Completions”. This use of soft tones takes away from the bleak reality that these children have no other purpose that to give their organs and then die, this shows the manipulation the guardians have over them as their naivety is shown through both Kathy’s narrative and her language as her skewed perspective [5] of her life is due to the lack of understanding about her own future. My secondary source4 speaks of how the murders are deemed acceptable as long as “deemed necessary in a given ideology”4 which Miss Emily reiterates when she says “do you think will go back to a world without cancer.” Another restriction placed on the children by the “guardians” is what they are taught and the fact “The Gallery” is emphasised as a place of importance to distract them from science in an attempt to not question their existence. A key manipulation of language through the novel is “guardians” suggesting they are saving them or helping them with connotations to holy beings. To an extent is true as they are being humane to them and trying to prove they have souls however they still make the children carry out this role and put psychical restrictions on them such as “the fence” and the main restriction on their life span. All of the language manipulation across both texts uses depersonalisation which stripes anyone of guilt or responsibility by using “the guardians” and “the party” by grouping everyone it means every is equal meaning no one will stand up to the system as they are held equally responsibility, it also retracts from what they are actually doing and the use of flowery soft language is used to allow the society to accept what is happening and not take responsibility for their actions.

In both texts there is a falsity of hope to which the protagonists and their companions find comfort in and hold in high regard this hope for the future. In 1984 O’Brien tells Winston he “made it all up” in regards to the future. As readers we know there is no future which Winston hopes for in 1984 as if the party is able to erase the pasts though the use of things such as word speak and “doublethink”. That’s they have the same if not more control to manipulate the future and that of the individuals of whom they control in order to make all those under their control become “the Party” and not individuals. Within “Never Let Me go” the characters are met with the same dismay as Winston’s when they find out from Miss Emily’s that referrals never existed in the film after the fact this is met by silence and this is unnerving the reader, but this shows how they accept the fate and ultimately accept their mortality and the fact the now this and their acceptance of it highlights the importance of their friendship.

Both authors used their texts are warnings to society. Orwell probably wanted his warning to be more significant due to his limited time left, and Ishiguro unintentionally placed his warning throughout the novel. Orwell shows that if we oppress or restrict humans it will lead to another war or Soviet Union state where those deemed viable are the only ones who can survive which is then decided by an over ruling political state. Ishiguro didn’t start out to have an underlying aim within the text, however through the acceptance of the characters and their fate and their creation he showed that if there are no rules and too much freedom is giving again a state or a party will overrule and exploit their power which has been done within both texts and the fact that we should treat each other with humanity and dignity. By combing both warnings oppression is represented as something that shouldn’t be forced upon others by on overruling states however rules should be placed so that a no ruling party or group take over and cause their views to shape those of others i.e. indoctrination.

In conclusion, oppression is presented and viewed by the authors as a negative thing as is something which in “Never Let Me Go” we must accept and watch as it is permeates every aspect of their lives. Which is shown throughout the novel through structure and the relationships presented along with how the characters themselves deal with their situations and through the narrative techniques with the undertone the authors themselves have depicted to display their dystopian societies and their views.

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