Otherness In 1984 By George Orwell And The Spy Who Came In From The Cold By John Le Carre

1622 words - 6 pages

Otherness in 1984 by George Orwell and The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John Le Carre

The notion of “otherness” is a perception that has been evident to the point of fever during the Cold War, resulting in a paranoid atmosphere that caused numerous separations in society, such as the US against the Soviet Union, East against West, and capitalism against communism. However, the paranoia not only existed externally, but also internally, as many groups perceived divisions within themselves in this atmosphere. This perception is notable in the novels 1984, by George Orwell, and The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, by John Le Carre. The novels’ protagonists experience this notion of otherness not only in their enemies, but also in their supposed allies and in themselves. The depiction of otherness in 1984 and The Spy Who Came In from the Cold show how not only is this concept universal, but also that it can change dramatically at the drop of a hat, flipping this concept in a way that destroys whatever notions it previously implied.

Upon one’s first awareness of otherness, it defines itself as simply a two-sided opposition: an Us versus Them mentality. Indeed, it is through this mentality that many view otherness, not only as one force against another, but also as each force having its own specific goals, agenda, and modes of operation. This concept is represented explicitly not only in the Cold War as the US versus the USSR, but also as East versus West, the Party versus the Brotherhood, and the Circus versus the Abteilung. Consequentially, it is through these polar opposites that Winston and Leamas attempt to find solace, as though they can justify their lives through their association with what they define as moral, just, or simply what they believe in. Winston attempts to justify his own existence when O’Brien questions his humanity compared to the Party; “And you consider yourself morally superior to us, with our lies and cruelty,” to which Winston replies, “Yes, I consider myself superior” (Orwell 270). Leamas also justifies his own desires in his hatred for Mundt, as he tells Control, “If it’s a question of killing Mundt, I’m game” (Le Carre 17). Thus, it is through this preliminary notion of otherness, Us versus Them, that many view their opposition, such as Winston and Leamas.

Because ‘The Others,’ by definition, are simply too fundamentally different to be reconciled with their opposition, the notion of elimination seemingly drives the two forces against each other even more. For Winston, this means joining the Brotherhood and completely overthrowing the Party, but also in retaining control of his own mind, as he tells Julia, “They can’t get inside you. If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them” (Orwell 166). Thus, though Winston is one man, he believes the Brotherhood will remain as seemingly undefeatable as the Party. And even...

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