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Thread: Is O'Brien sane by our society's standards?

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    Is O'Brien sane by our society's standards?

    There are conflicting parts of the book that keep me from making a solid conclusion about this, but First let us establish that Winston is also sane by our society's standards.

    -When O'Brien is torturing Winston, he tells him that Winston's mind reminds him of his own, except that Winston is insane

    - When he is interrogating Winston earlier, he seems very convinced, with an air of confidence, that everything he says about the party being omniscient and all of that is true. But Winston still clings to his own truly correct memories.

    - But when Winston is in O'Brien's house, he seems completely aware about how evil and corrupt The Party is and how they need to be taken down.

    So, even though he is lying, O'Brien denounces the party and is sane enough to come up with the thoughts, yet, based on Winston's words when he is tortured, O'Brien seems completely certain that the party is all-knowing and all-powerful. Which is not sane by our society's standards.

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    What are you assuming are our society's standards. I think that must have been answered before you start with the subject you bring out. Can it be done? I don't think so.

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    Without delving into deep philosophical concepts, sane by our society's standards is one who doesn't believe everything an all powerful government says, one who actually uses their memory as a source of history (something that O'brien tried to remove from Winston) ect. Just a person who isn't gullible, stupid, mindless, and irrational like some of the characters in 1984.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arknd View Post
    Without delving into deep philosophical concepts, sane by our society's standards is one who doesn't believe everything an all powerful government says, one who actually uses their memory as a source of history (something that O'brien tried to remove from Winston) ect. Just a person who isn't gullible, stupid, mindless, and irrational like some of the characters in 1984.
    Deeply philosophical. LOL

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I don't think O'Brien is insane, just very, very cynical. He knows full well that the Party is evil. He is aware of and can articulate the faults of the party as well as any anyone. He also knows better than anyone that it is not good for your health or well-being to subscribe to anti-party views. He knows something to be true and chooses to disbelieve it. The thing O'Brien and Winston have in common is that they both dare examine their thoughts about the system, although O'Brien only in his professional capacity. Everyone else also knows the Party is evil too, but they dare not consider it. Orwell calls this process double-think, which seems similar to cognitive dissonance. iirc cognitive dissonance is the sense of unease you feel when you know in your heart that something is wrong but you refuse to believe it because it does not suit you.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    I don't think O'Brien is insane, just very, very cynical. He knows full well that the Party is evil.
    You're right about him being same, but wrong on cynicism - he isn't cynical at all.

    He is entirely logical about The Party and does not see it as even slightly evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    He is aware of and can articulate the faults of the party as well as any anyone. He also knows better than anyone that it is not good for your health or well-being to subscribe to anti-party views. He knows something to be true and chooses to disbelieve it.
    You seem to have missed quite a lot in reading the book.

    O'Brien articulates what could be described as faults, but only from a non-Party perspective. From O'Brien's own view, The Party is perfection, and he explains that to Winston in great detail.

    In terms of truth/not truth, it isn't a case of deliberate disbelief, it's doublethink, meaning you can hold two opposing points of view but believe them both.


    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    The thing O'Brien and Winston have in common is that they both dare examine their thoughts about the system, although O'Brien only in his professional capacity. Everyone else also knows the Party is evil too, but they dare not consider it. Orwell calls this process double-think, which seems similar to cognitive dissonance. iirc cognitive dissonance is the sense of unease you feel when you know in your heart that something is wrong but you refuse to believe it because it does not suit you.
    I really think you're ascribing 20th/21st century Western world morality, truth and idealism to 1984, which is completely wrong.

    Evil is a moral concept that is just foreign to the thinking of any Inner Party member - there is no good and evil. For starters the words don't exist in Newspeak, and more importantly, they are meaningless in the context of The Party. The Party must prosper, therefore anything which helps it is perfectly sane and reasonable.
    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."

    Anon

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