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Thread: Room 101.

  1. #1
    Orwellian The Atheist's Avatar
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    Arrow Room 101.

    A rare instance of a phrase entering the English language and having a meaning quite distinct from any other English phrase - Room 101.

    Nobody who has read and understood 1984 can fail to feel a tingle in the spine at the thought of Room 101. It is where people's minds are so totally destroyed that it creates the equivalent to complete re-programming.

    Orwell demonstrates the necessity of using Room 101 by the amount of time Winston & Julia are allowed to continue their affair. Mr Cherrington, as a member of the Thought Police, was aware of Winston's unorthodoxy right from the start, so why was he allowed to remain at large? The Thought Police needed to be assured that they knew his deepest, most secret, most feared phobia. Many people have lots of fears - spiders, heights, the dark - but there will be one overwhelming fear which cannot be faced under any circumstances, and it is imperative for the Party to find out what it is.

    Winston's rat episode is the trigger for action by the Thought Police.

    With this fear exposed and exploited, O'Brien is able to destroy Winston's will - he is an empty vessel, signified by the change in attitude after he renounces Julia. The knowledge that he would swap places with the one person in the world he thought he loved more than himself is inescapable and Winston is able to be programmed like a blank disk.

    When a prisoner is ordered to Room 101, he begins to scream and beg not to be taken there. Given that nobody who hasn't been re-programmed already knows what Room 101 actually is, I'm sure this man is a plant to allow the fear to fester in Winston's mind. He will be expecting the worst, then has the realisation that Room 101 is far worse than he could have imagined.

    The question of what Julia's Room 101 might be has come up often.

    The only clue - if it is one - in the book is Julia's loathing of the thought of sex with Inner Party members and I think there's a case that her Room 101 would have been multiple rape by Inner Party members.

    Room 101 is the ultimate weapon in the world of the Thought Police. Only through its use can dissent be re-created as love - of both BB and the Party.

    So, what was Orwell trying to say with Room 101?

    He was teaching us that all things are possible within a mind if it is forced to confront its worst fear, that we all have those fears, and maybe, in his own way, George Orwell was trying to tell us not to let those fears overcome us - if we deal with fears, they will never grow to Room 101 proportions.

    All continuing comments and questions are welcome.
    Go to work, get married, have some kids, pay your taxes, pay your bills, watch your tv, follow fashion, act normal, obey the law and repeat after me: "I am free."

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  2. #2
    Home Remarkable's Avatar
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    Well,in the end,Winston does not deal with his fears anyway...
    I think that Room 101 is designed to make prisoners first reflect on what they are going to say.I agree with The Atheist that the party was actually trying to find Winson's worst fear,but it's not only that what they are trying to do by not getting him from the beggining.The party wants to show to Winston that it is very,very powerful,of absolute control...They want to show that even if you think that you are near escape and safety,you are so wrong!
    You forget that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence: and the kingdom of heaven is like a woman.
    James Joyce

    It is a fatal miscarriage, so ill to order affairs, as to pass for a fool in one company, when in another you might be treated as a philosopher. Jonathan Swift

  3. #3
    Some interesting comments from The Atheist... I'm not entirely convinced that they are categorically the reasons intended, or at least are not supposed to be so dogmatically and absolutely portrayed. However, they are aspects to think about. Athough it is true that perhaps one of the reasons why Charrington and the Party allowed Winston (and Julia) to continue at large for so long may have been to let them eventually expose their fears, I think that the weightier issue and purpose for this was probably more to allow the couple to transgress and incriminate themselves to a greater extent, until their intentions were clearer and it gave the Party a more twisted justification (a strange oxymoron, but apt, I think), to punish them. Remember that it is clear O'Brien and the Party had been monitoring and setting traps for Winston 7 years before his capture, when even he follows relatively close to Party doctrine. As for Room 101 itself, it's purpose, to me, seems to be more to do with subjecting one's self to the Party: forcing them to abandon all the moral beliefs and values that we, in our present society, possess, eliminating our own "stable" world and in turn forcing the person to turn to and accept Big Brother and the Party as the only absolute, stable aspect of life (ironic in itself as the Party is unstable and ever-changing in its policies). Winston appears to represent such a person as, like Remarkable says, Winston doesn't confrint his fears but is frightened into abandoning his morals and offering himself up to the Party. I'm not entirely convinced that it is relations with Inner Party members that Julia fears most, either, although it is a possible thought. My doubt only stems from her saying that she "adores" sex, so it is not the act itself that she fears, whether or not it be with Inner Party members. She just criticises them and despises them. So it is possible but somehow I doubt it. Still, all these ideas are very interesting subjects to contemplate, and I commend The Atheist for them

  4. #4
    Orwellian The Atheist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saperelli View Post
    Some interesting comments from The Atheist... I'm not entirely convinced that they are categorically the reasons intended, or at least are not supposed to be so dogmatically and absolutely portrayed. However, they are aspects to think about.
    That's just me, I'm Chairman of the Anti-Equivocation League.



    Quote Originally Posted by saperelli View Post
    Athough it is true that perhaps one of the reasons why Charrington and the Party allowed Winston (and Julia) to continue at large for so long may have been to let them eventually expose their fears, I think that the weightier issue and purpose for this was probably more to allow the couple to transgress and incriminate themselves to a greater extent, until their intentions were clearer and it gave the Party a more twisted justification (a strange oxymoron, but apt, I think), to punish them.
    I'll grant that I might be wrong, but I believe that logic points to it, for the reasons outlined, while your scenario doesn't quite fit the facts.

    Yours breaks down to these points:

    The Thought Police (TP) wanted W&J to incriminate themselves more deeply.

    Doesn't fit. Parsons was arrested for talking in his sleep on one occasion, while Syme used "god" as a rhyme on a single occasion. There had to be a far more compelling reason for liberty in a society where insufficient hatred during the Two Minute Hate could have the TP pick you up.

    To more clearly understand their intentions.

    Doesn't fit either. Once W&J had met O'Brien, their intentions were warped by the TP anyway. Up until the pair walked through O'Brien's door, that premise could be right, but given the attitude of W&J once they had seen the book and heard of the Brotherhood, the TP could learn nothing further of W&J's personal goals. Even then, if some TP zealot felt that should continue, why would they want to know? The Party is in complete control and they have no need to know what your plans are, just that the plan/s exist in your mind. They are, after all, the Thought Police.

    It's important, when proposing meanings and reasons within books to see whether the known facts fit the postulation. Like the "smoking gun" in the courtroom, the world of literature is fraught with traps and we need to clear those first.

    If you're looking at the exact timing of their capture, I think it was planned by O'Brien to have them in a state of hope. The moment of their capture was immediately after W had been reading the Goldstein book, probably the most hope either had had in their lives, only to sink to the lowest point in the split-second it took to realise their doom.

    To me, the chronology of that plan being actioned by O'Brien, coming straight after the rat episode tends to indicate the rat as a compelling reason for it. Maybe that's just ancillary and Orwell wanted to merely counterpoint the sadism of the Party - building W&J up to a peak to shatter.

    Quote Originally Posted by saperelli View Post
    Remember that it is clear O'Brien and the Party had been monitoring and setting traps for Winston 7 years before his capture, when even he follows relatively close to Party doctrine.
    Important to note that other than buying razor blades, a crime for which there would have only been minor punishment, it appears that W had led a morally superior outward life, while retaining his inner thoughts only to himself. The TP wanted to wait for physical evidence of W's crimes before arresting him - at least that's the only hypothesis which fits him being left for so long. Mere suspicion is enough to arrest someone, so it's fair to think that during all that time, the TP may have suspected that he was suspicious, but hadn't got quite far enough to remove a good worker from a reasonably important position. (Controlling the past) If everyone under the remotest suspicion were arrested, there'd be nobody left, so some kind of physical evidence would need to be manifested. 1984 starts with W having already bought the diary and his first entry is easily sufficient to take him away.

    Again, the logical place for the TP to have arrested W&J is at/after O'Brien's. They had admitted to capital crimes and had displayed an affection for each other even beyond their principles - neither would betray the other. At that stage, every possible lever or weapon against W&J was already in the hands of the TP.

    Quote Originally Posted by saperelli View Post
    As for Room 101 itself, it's purpose, to me, seems to be more to do with subjecting one's self to the Party: forcing them to abandon all the moral beliefs and values that we, in our present society, possess*, eliminating our own "stable" world and in turn forcing the person to turn to and accept Big Brother and the Party as the only absolute, stable aspect of life (ironic in itself as the Party is unstable and ever-changing in its policies). Winston appears to represent such a person as, like Remarkable says, Winston doesn't confrint his fears but is frightened into abandoning his morals and offering himself up to the Party.
    * Society in 1984 doesn't possess those things.

    It's not possible to confront one's fears in a setting like Room 101. You've both mistaken my point as saying W should have confronted his, which is not what I said at all - I said that Orwell may be telling us , the readers, not to let fear rule, but to deal with it.

    The difference between W's fear and just "fright" is enormous. Anyone will say anything under extreme torture - there's plenty of POW evidence of that around - but to actually de-program's Winston's whole being is the goal of Room 101. Afterwards, he doesn't just think differently, he is a different man entirely, nothing but a creation of the TP.

    Quote Originally Posted by saperelli View Post
    I'm not entirely convinced that it is relations with Inner Party members that Julia fears most, either, although it is a possible thought. My doubt only stems from her saying that she "adores" sex, so it is not the act itself that she fears, whether or not it be with Inner Party members. She just criticises them and despises them. So it is possible but somehow I doubt it.
    Again, I might not be right, but it's the only given reason. Orwell may have felt it unnecessary to assign one to her.

    Take a close look at Julia's comments on the Inner Party - she doesn't just criticise and despise them:

    ...and above all the Inner Party, about whom she talked with an open jeering hatred which made W feel uneasy...

    Or, when asked if she had had sex with Inner Party members, "Not with those swine, no. But there's plenty that would if they got half a chance."

    I think you also show a complete lack of understanding of how attitude to rape has nothing at all to do with a person's attitude to sex.

    Quote Originally Posted by saperelli View Post
    Still, all these ideas are very interesting subjects to contemplate, and I commend The Atheist for them
    Always trying to help!
    Go to work, get married, have some kids, pay your taxes, pay your bills, watch your tv, follow fashion, act normal, obey the law and repeat after me: "I am free."

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  5. #5
    madman kevinthediltz's Avatar
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    i believe that room 101 is a display used by the party to show ABSOLUTE control. It is the proof that the party has the power to completely destroy someone through the use of their deepest fear. And not just one person, its EVERYONES deepest fear. Fear is ultimate control. If you can force someone to experiance the thing they fear the most, you have complete control over that person.
    Everyone knows what's in room 101.


    Everything becomes irrelevant, when the sky tears open.

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  6. #6
    Orwellian The Atheist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinthediltz View Post
    i believe that room 101 is a display used by the party to show ABSOLUTE control. It is the proof that the party has the power to completely destroy someone through the use of their deepest fear. And not just one person, its EVERYONES deepest fear. Fear is ultimate control. If you can force someone to experiance the thing they fear the most, you have complete control over that person.
    Nope - that doesn't quite fit. Winston has no idea what Room 101 is about, or even its existence until he hears about it during detention.

    Once inside, yes, the person realises that they're completely naked inside, but among outer Party members, not an issue.
    Go to work, get married, have some kids, pay your taxes, pay your bills, watch your tv, follow fashion, act normal, obey the law and repeat after me: "I am free."

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  7. #7
    madman kevinthediltz's Avatar
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    True, i didnt state that very well. Once winston was set free (in the literal sense), he knew that the party could control his one fear. And when he was in prison and one of his fellow cell mates was taken to room 101, the man screamed and cursed and such, even though he didnt actually know what was in the room. It is the hype surrounding it that gives it so much power. Well, at least in the ministry of love it does.
    Everyone knows what's in room 101.


    Everything becomes irrelevant, when the sky tears open.

    "Hey Kevin." "What?" "Theres a ditch there." "Sh*t!"

  8. #8
    TiGGeR LoVeR
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    I am in serious need of help!!!

    I have an essay due in less than 16 hrs & my assignment is to

    "write an essay in which i explain how the a character in the novel 1984

    could be viewed as morally ambigious and why his moral ambiguity is

    significant to the work as a whole."


    in the essay i must include 5 quotes from the novel (including chapter it came from)

    i dont know where to start..so as you can see i am totally lost and i really need someone's help.

  9. #9
    Love of Controversy rabid reader's Avatar
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    As Atheist mentioned the purpose of the timing was Hope they had been experiencing, the hope of finding others like them who would be willing to rebel. When that hope is taken away all at once and you are then faced with the most horrifying situation your own imagination can create, the person you were dies and with dies your ideals as well.


    O'Brien states it, while torturing Winston, that the whole purpose of the operation is to kill the ideal. He says that any omnipotent power can kill someone spreading revolutionary ideas across their country, but to simply kill them makes them martyrs, makes the Empire seem weak because they were unable to defeat the idea and reason of the individual so they kill him in hopes to rule with fear. But like Winston would erase history and create a new one, O'Brien erases the idea of revolution in Winston and creates a pupil of the party, all through the complete abandonment of hope found in Room 101, which for me always represented the idea purger.
    A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.
    - Orwell

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  10. #10

    TP's slow arrest

    I think that Orwell didn't make the Thought Police arrest W&J straight away for one main reason. to make us hate the totalatarianism, Orwell makes us sympathise with Winston, and shows how happy he is with Julia, so when he does get arrested we were shocked and saddened to see their relationship destroyed. But if W&J were arrested straight away, like they should have been, there intimate relationship wouldnt have developed to a level that would make the message clear.

  11. #11
    Ataraxia bazarov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toodee View Post
    I think that Orwell didn't make the Thought Police arrest W&J straight away for one main reason. to make us hate the totalatarianism, Orwell makes us sympathise with Winston, and shows how happy he is with Julia, so when he does get arrested we were shocked and saddened to see their relationship destroyed. But if W&J were arrested straight away, like they should have been, there intimate relationship wouldnt have developed to a level that would make the message clear.
    Nope.
    They had to fall in love so they can betray each other and make BB as a winner. With an immediate arrest, they wouldn't fall in love and all of that would never happen.
    I think every reader would ''hate'' Party with or without arrest.
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    i think toodee has made a valid contribution,winstons and julias relationship really develops to the point where they are in the sort of relationship that is universal,no matter of colour,faith and creed,a man and woman in love.what a crime!
    this section of 1984 is non politcal it seems,apart from winston trying to politiscise julia and her falling asleep.sadly this is what happens to my wife when i talk politics and government to her.that is what makes it real though, creates empathy and makes the thought police's iminent discovery of them all the more cruel.
    do we not have to empathise to sympathise?

  13. #13
    I have a question about Winston and O'Brien.
    When Winston is getting asked questions by O'Brien, why does Winston say he loves him? O'Brien is hurting him, almost killing him, and Winston says O'Brien is his protector. Winston also adds that he felt O'Brien was his protector, NOT to make the pain stop, but because he really felt that. Please, I am confused and would like some help. Thank you!

  14. #14
    Orwellian The Atheist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Broadwaygirl View Post
    I have a question about Winston and O'Brien.
    When Winston is getting asked questions by O'Brien, why does Winston say he loves him? O'Brien is hurting him, almost killing him, and Winston says O'Brien is his protector. Winston also adds that he felt O'Brien was his protector, NOT to make the pain stop, but because he really felt that. Please, I am confused and would like some help. Thank you!
    Stockholm Syndrome.

    Orwell seems to have pre-dated psychiatry's finding out about this strange business by 20 or 30 years, but what he describes is exactly right.

    It's fascinating, and aside from the case it was named for, Stockholm Syndrome most famous case, Patty Hearst, makes for thoughtful reading.
    Go to work, get married, have some kids, pay your taxes, pay your bills, watch your tv, follow fashion, act normal, obey the law and repeat after me: "I am free."

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    yes very interesting,1984 brings up so many different shoots from the branches of its roots that the debating is almost without an end!

    this was very disturbing but i put it down to delerium and the fact that winston admired him as intellectually superior to himself,this alone was enough for winston to "love him",and i had not considered the psychological side of this is loving an abuser.
    one mans unjust acts upon anothers mind has sickening and pitiful consequences.

    thanks for the great information.

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