"There is something in the universe
- I don't know, some spirit, some principle
- that you will never overcome."
THE SPIRIT OF MAN
"It is the Spirit of Man."
~ Winston Smith, 1984
...continued from Reader comments about how the concept of God is left out of the book
My response to a reader who emailed with the comment, "It seems stark how the concept of God is left out of the book 1984 and the only mention* of God is when Winston is asked whether or not he believes in Him and he says "No".
The God that Winston said "No" to is the Party's God, which is obviously an evil being if you read the conversation that has transpired prior to O'Brien asking Winston if he believes in God.
Winston believes in a life force inside human beings which is morally superior and more powerful than the death force that drives the Party. He calls it "the spirit of Man".
Here's the pertinent excerpt of the conversation between O'Brien and Winston as Winston is being tortured in the Ministry of Truth, pages 212 to 217 of Nineteen Eighty-Four:
"...Can you not understand, Winston, that the individual is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigour of the organism...We are the priests of power...God is power...It is time for you to gather some idea of what power means...The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an individual.... The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day is not power over things, but over men..."
"...As usual, the voice had battered Winston into helplessness. Moreover he was in dread that if he persisted in his disagreement O'Brien would twist the dial again. And yet he could not keep silent. Feebly, without arguments, with nothing to support him except his inarticulate horror of what O'Brien had said, he returned to the attack:
"'I don't know - I don't care. Somehow you will fail. Something will defeat you. Life will defeat you.'"
"'We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable. Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it out of your mind. They are helpless, like the animals. Humanity is the Party. The others are outside - irrelevant.'"
"'I don't care. In the end they will beat you. Sooner or later they will see you for what you are, and then they will tear you to pieces.'"
"'Do you see any evidence that this is happening? Or any reason why it should?'"
"'No. I believe it. I know that you will fail. There is something in the universe - I don't know, some spirit, some principle - that you will never overcome.'"
"'Do you believe in God, Winston?'"
"'Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?'"
"'I don't know. The spirit of Man.'"
"'And do you consider yourself a man?'"
"'If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone? You are outside history, you are non-existent.'"
"His manner changed and he said more harshly:"
"'And you consider yourself morally superior to us, with our lies and our cruelty?'"
"'Yes, I consider myself superior.'"
"'...You are the last man,' said O'Brien. 'You are the guardian of the human spirit...'"[end quoting]
Orwell's working title while he was writing his masterpiece was The Last Man in Europe and it was only after the book was finished that the name Nineteen Eighty-Four was settled on. The part of the book where the term "last man" is used is coincidently, or god-incidently, the same place where O'Brien and Winston have the conversation about God. The ideas raised here must therefore be of great importance to Orwell and therefore to us, the readers.
One of Orwell's main tenets in 1984 is the belief that "if there is hope, it lies in the proles because only there - with 85 percent of the population of Oceania - could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated...if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength".
I think Orwell is saying that by mere numbers alone the force of good living inside human beings is far more powerful than the evil force living inside the world-wide organization out to destroy us.
President Kennedy expressed similar sentiments in his Inaugural Address by saying:
In the long history of the world, only a few generations
have been granted the role of defending freedom
in its hour of maximum danger...
The energy, the faith, the devotion
which we bring to this endeavor
will light our country and all who serve it,
and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
All the best,
* Actually, that was the second time "God" was mentioned. The first time is when Winston is sitting in a cell of the Ministry of Love and the guards bring in a prisoner who turns out to be a fellow employee from the Records Deparment of the Ministry of Truth who was arrested for leaving the word "God" at the end of a line in a poem of Kipling he was altering.
Lincoln's Handbill Statement on Religious Views, July 31, 1846 ("...It is true that in early life I was inclined to believe in what I understand is called the "Doctrine of Necessity" -- that is, that the human mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by some power, over which the mind itself has no control; and I have sometimes (with one, two or three, but never publicly) tried to maintain this opinion in argument...")
RUPTURE IN THE RAPTURE (reader says hope is in the Bible)
ORWELL SAW GOD IN MAN (response to reader who says Orwell's faith in the "spirit of Man" is a "pathological coping mechanism")
Reader comments about how the concept of God is left out of the book
42.The Party Tells 'Why' and 7.Systems of Thought and 23.The Proles
WINSTON DIES INSIDE and Jackie Jura's visit to 2. ORWELL'S GRAVE
45.Chestnut Tree Cafe and WHO CONTROLS WINSTON'S MIND?
MOSES & SUGARCANDY MOUNTAIN
Orwell may have been honouring his first wife Eileen when he named "1984" because she had written a futuristic poem in 1934 entitled "End of the Century, 1984", which was based on her recent reading of Huxley's "Brave New World". In her poem she describes the future fifty years down the road...
Reminder ~ We are spiritual beings having a human experience ~ by author unknown
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~