Christ in Orwell’s 1984

The novel 1984 by George Orwell describes a utopia in which Winston Smith and his fellow rebel, Julia, are comrades. Though there is no god in Oceania, multiple parallels to Christianity exist in the story. The people learn to doublethink and think in favor of the government, similar to how Christians train themselves to think in a godly manner, and at one point, Winston realizes that only Julia can take his place in the torture chamber, much like Jesus Christ took the place of every person on the cross.

In George Orwell’s 1984 the main character, Winston Smith, realizes that there is only one person who can save him from his worst fear.  Winston’s worst fear is rats, and the only thing that he can do to save himself from the rats clawing his face in Room 101 is to betray Julia: “he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment – one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats” (Orwell 297).  This situation is similar to Christ taking man’s place on the cross.  Only Christ could pay for the sins of every person.  Only Jesus could take the punishment of the world.  Romans 5:19 says “…so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (English Standard Version).  It only took one man to make everyone righteous.  All people are made righteous through Jesus Christ.  Julia is the only person that can pay for Winston’s “sin” of government subversiveness.  Winston had to wish his punishment on Julia to be freed.

In 1984, the government serves as a utopia in which the Party teaches everyone how/what to think just like Christ creates a kind of utopia in which everyone is righteous.  Winston eventually becomes righteous according to Party beliefs because his thought patterns are transformed.  He is trained to doublethink in which he replaces one thought with another.  This is very similar to how Christians “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10.5).  Christians take negative thoughts and make them positive.  They take thoughts of disobedience and turn them into thoughts of obedience.

The Party is a form of righteousness-enforcing god.  In fact when O’Brien questions Winston, he talks about a “heretic” who needs to be “convert[ed]” (Orwell 263).  When talking about heretics, he says “We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him.  We burn all evil and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side…genuinely, heart and soul” (263).  The Party tries to create perfect humans, just like Jesus makes people perfect.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines righteousness as “Justice, uprightness, rectitude; conformity of life to the requirements of the divine or moral law; virtue, integrity” (“righteousness”).  The righteousness of God could be considered divine law, and the righteousness of the party could be considered moral law.  In both 1984 and the Bible, people are supposed to conform to the laws.  Winston and all of his Comrades are to use the form of doublethink, captivating their mind that way.  In the Bible, Christians “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10.5).  In both the novel and the Bible, higher powers teach people to conform their thoughts and actions to that of the higher party.

The government made everybody one under it, a utopia.  In order to bring Winston back to the fold, they had to get him to realize that he was helpless and that to get him to a spot where only one person could take his place, and that person was Julia.  The government wanted him to be like everyone else, a compatriot.  Similarly, Christ makes everyone like himself.  The Bible says that “For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5.21).  Like Christ died to make all people righteous, Julia was Winston’s savior to make him like everyone else (righteous according to the government’s standards).

The utopia presented in Orwell’s 1984 is similar to Christianity.  Winston’s thought while in Room 101 parallel the teachings of Christianity that Christ was the only person who could take man’s place and save mankind.  Julia is representative of Christ in this case.  Christ’s utopia is a place with no sin (righteousness), where people conform to Biblical doctrines; the Party’s utopia is where people obey without thinking and conform to the Party’s doctrines.

Works Cited

English Standard Version.  Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers, 2002.  Print.

Orwell, George.  1984.  New York: Plume, 2003.  Print.


About Allison L. Goodman

I am a stay-at-home wife and mother. I fill my days making taking care of my daughter, encouraging others, cooking meals for my family, managing my resources through DIY projects, and writing.
This entry was posted in Criticism, Literature and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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