1984 by George Orwell
Summary (50 words):
The first third of George Orwell’s 1984 introduces us to Winston Smith and his thoughts living in the oppressive government under the rule of Big Brother and the Party. Winston initially holds the ideals of the party; however, throughout the story, Winston comes to realize that something is not right.
Paragraph (445 words):
Winston really impressed me when he steps into the prole’s pub to ask the old man about his experiences in the past. He did this although he could get caught by the patrols and sent to the labour camps, or worse, vaporized. This scene reveals that Winston is going through an internal conflict where he feels so trapped within his own thoughts that he will rather risk the quality of his life to seek the truth and connect with another genuine person, rather than to stay isolated in his own mind. Throughout the scene, Winston fears getting caught; he fears that the Party will find out about his actions, thoughts, and intentions. But he still wants to know about the past, he still wants to ask the old man to “tell me (Winston) about your life when you were a boy. What was it like in those days? Were things better than they are now. or were they worse?” (99). But his wants outweigh the risks and Winston “pushed open the door, and a hideous cheesy smell of sour beer hit him in the face” (99). At first glance, this seemingly impulsive and rash decision seems unrealistic. Who would do such a thing in that situation? But Winston has been showing these signs from the beginning of the book. Earlier in the story, Winston says that he “[…] had been stricken immediately by an overwhelming desire to possess it (the diary)” and that’s why he bought the book. This small one-time thing, however, has throughout the story developed into this risky curiosity which leads Winston to talk to the proles and visit the shop – where he found the book – again. I feel like this is a very satisfying development for Winston’s character because his actions and thoughts feel real and unaltered. I feel like these conflicts and conversations he has with himself make him appear to us like a real human. His thoughts feel genuine, like any of us readers could’ve had those thoughts if we were in Winston’s position. In a way, we unconsciously emulate his feelings and can feel empathetic when he has these thoughts but can’t share them. We’ve all had moments where we had a thought or feeling that we couldn’t explain to somebody, nobody could understand, or we just couldn’t share because for different reasons. In that way, we do emulate Winston, sometimes. I, personally, can relate to this feeling. I did something I wasn’t supposed to and felt like I couldn’t tell anyone. However, I did eventually confess and that’s why I believe I would act the same way that Winston did and seek the truth of the past.
“Before assuming, try asking”
In life, we must not judge or assume things of others. Assuming can lead to disrespect and unfounded frustration towards other people. In Stuart McLean’s short story Emil, Emil appears in front of Dave’s store and Dave irately asks for the homeless man to leave. Morley later tells Dave that “You (Dave) should introduce yourself (himself)” before asking Emil to leave (111). And sure enough, when Dave introduces himself and asks kindly, Emil gets up and leaves the front of Dave’s store. In this situation, Dave didn’t show respect and looked down on Emil even though he knew nothing about him. Later, Dave even comes to the realization that Emil is better than him in some regards when he says that “it bothered him that Emil could keep track of the scrap of paper, and he couldn’t keep track of the books” (114). These quotes show that Dave shouldn’t’ve judged Emil right away because once he got to know him, he discovered that Emil was a person just like himself and was better than him in some respects. On the other side of the story, Morley treats Emil with respect and gives him the benefit of the doubt even when others would not do so in similar situations. For example, when Morley says, “Is that for your garden, Emil?” she doesn’t assume she knows what Emil is up to and asks what he is doing (115). Where somebody like Dave would just assume Emil was up to no good, Morley asks Emil what he is doing and discovers that he had no ill intent. In conclusion, in Stuart McLean’s Emil, the stark contrast between how Dave and Morley treat Emil reveal that we should hold our assumptions until we know more about the situation, even if we think we know enough.
The social lens is the most powerful lens for viewing George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope because it reveals the intrinsic desire humans have for power and control. During the extent of the film, we see many examples that corroborate this statement. One thing that you may or may not notice is that most of the powerful characters in this film are human or human-like, either psychically or emotionally. To an extent, the more ‘human’ a character is, the higher they would be on the social hierarchy. We see this taking action right as the film starts; The four-legged reptilian creatures the Storm troopers ride at Tatooine or the fury Banthas the sand-people ride is both non-sentient beings that have been domesticated by humans or human-like species. Additionally, we do not see any non-human-like alien in a position of great power during the movie, with Jabba the Hutt being the only exception. Another thing that comes to notice with the social lens is that the dominant entity that reigns over the galaxy is run purely by humans. The Galactic Empires screen time has been dedicated to its very human leaders and its equally human soldiers. Here we see humanity at the top of the tower again. The entire system and military of the Empire consists of humans. Finally, the entire story is about the struggle of two human parties. Both the Empire and the Rebellion are shown to be made up of human members who fight for control. The humans, who are already at the top of the hierarchy, even fight between each other to elevate their parties’ control. These three points show that humans have a yearning for relevance and/or importance because they make us, the viewers, feel important and part of something bigger. From this I can assume that George Lucas’ film Star Wars: A New Hope was made with an intent to entertain and connect with us, the viewers. Empowering humans in the movie allows us to make better connections with the characters. Imagine if Luke was a cow, it wouldn’t be the same. Simply put, we as a species, is narcissistic. When authors like George Lucas writes these stories, they assume the intelligent life can only come int the form of species that look like, or are, us. From this, I can conclude, films and stories often depict humans or human-like actors and empower them to make the observer feel important and powerful.