How Real Is Love Between Winston and Julia?

In his famous anti-utopia 1984 Orwell explores how totalitarian society influences different spheres of human life. Private life and relationship between a man and a woman is one of the issues of his concern, which he brilliantly dissects telling a love story between Winston and Julia. In the novel, their feelings towards other are probated by the cold and destructive machine of the regime. In this severe trial, it is made clear that Winston’s love for Julia is based mainly on rebellion, and he reveals weakness of spirit unable to fight for his choice.

Before having a look at the relationship between Julia and Winston, it is worth saying that in the described society it was challenging for people to have private life at all. The party watched every step of a person through the so-called telescreens installed in every room. As a member of the Party and a worker of Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith realizes what impact the regime makes on a person. Start of his affair with Julia is an attempt to express his protest against the rules and limitations that the Party imposes on a person. At the same time, he is totally a product of this regime, unable to get rid of slave’s mentality. So, he is sure from the very beginning of his relationship with Julia that they will be caught and punished.

Julia is an eccentric personality; she has something wild in her nature, which is dangerous for the regime based on obedience. She is a symbol of freedom for Winston, that is why he is attracted to her. Julia initiates their affair by sending a message to him with the words “I love you”, which looks reckless under permanent track of telescreens. By saying “ I love you” she does not mean romantic feelings because, as she confesses, she has been dating with many other men too in the same way. Julia is a symbol of sexual liberty, which is absolutely banned by the Party. “Orwell gave Winston Smith a lover whose sexuality, like Eve's, helped destroy her mate's chances for happiness. In ancient Rome, the name "Julia," Orwell's choice for Smith's last-name-less lover, signified any and every daughter of the Julian clan, so Orwell's Julia was the Anywoman of postwar England, superficially brassy, selfish, weak, sensual, and opportunistic, a rebel only in matters sexual” (Brunsdale 144)


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It is believed that restrictions upon sex help control people better, so this policy is followed by everyone. Winston writes about the rules that exist for relationships: “The aim of the Party was not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control. Its real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act. Not love so much as eroticism was the enemy, inside marriage as well as outside it”( Orwell, 1.6). Marriages are allowed by the Party for the sake of children birth but a special committee needs to consider the couple’s application. In case it is discovered that the two are sexually attracted to each other, marriage is not allowed. In contrast, the affair between Julia and Winston is based on passion and pleasure first of all, which makes it rebellious to the Party.

In the same way, having affair with Winston is a rebellion for Julia. From early childhood women are taught an idea that sex is dirty and that celibate should be preserved. For this reason  Winston was not able to set intimate relations with his first wife, Katherine, whose sexuality was absolutely oppressed. Julia realizes these rules but she is the one who is not brainwashed, she is able to take pleasure and enjoy her sexuality. So, speaking about relations between Julia and Winston, they can hardly be called love but rather a rebellion based on sex. “Listen. The more men you've had, the more I love you. Do you understand that?” Winston tells to Julia, which reveals the core of their relationship.( Orwell).

However, the novel reveals that their mutual affection is growing, that it is impossible to build relationships otherwise. Maybe their affair is not love but they get attached to each other, which is dangerous for the Party anyway. This is the reason why O’Brien, a sophisticated psychologist, realizes that his main goal while keeping Winston in the Ministry of Love is making him to refuse from Julia. When this is done and the bond is broken, Winston is deprived of the self that he has finally found. The author conveys an idea that no matter how strong attachment can be, it is also possible to break a person’s spirit by violence. So, when Winston betrays Julia, his feelings for her disappear, although he sees her once in a while. Their relationship was based on revolt, now that Winston is safe; he is not able to fight for the truth. He becomes a normal member of the Party, and is totally under control.

To conclude, Orwell demonstrates that an affair between Julia and Winston is mostly a revolt for both of them. While Winston rebels against the regime, Julia is largely a sexual rebel who despises restrictions imposed on people by the Party. Despite the fact that their relationship cannot be called a true love, it is a chance for both of them to return to the roots of their nature, it makes them freer and more human. With Winston’s break in the final of the novel, this chance is virtually lost for both of them.

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