Character Sketch of Julia in 1984
Table of Contents
Julia Not a Complex Character
Julia is not a complex character. She has a natural, unthinking enjoyment of life and of sex. Winston is fascinated by her understanding of the connection between chastity and Party orthodoxy. Sexual frustration, she maintains, makes people hysterical and they have to be hysterical if they are to be marching up and down all the time, shouting their hatred for Goldstein. In their private world above the junk shop she wears make-up and behaves like ‘a woman, not a Party comrade’. The big difference between Julia and Winston Smith is that she does not share his obsession with the Party’s altering of the past. She is not interested in truth, and in the preserving of truth but in Winston and herself. In the end she betrays him in Room 101, just as he betrays her. The most significant aspect of her character is how she opens Winston up to a fuller understanding of himself, and she does so by her natural affection and warmth.
Julia employed in the Ministry of Truth
Julia works in the fiction department of the Ministry of Truth, servicing a motor that operates a fiction writing machine. Her reputation for purity is such that she has even been allowed to work in the Muck House-Pornosec, which produces pornography for the consumption of the proles. Believing that safety lies in always yelling with the crowd, she has built up a facade of loyalty, attending demonstrations, distributing literature for the Junior Anti-Sex League, preparing banners for Hate Week. It all paid: ‘If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones.’ But such rule-breaking is caused purely by her desire for erotic pleasure, however well-versed she is in the tactics of deception it is not because of any rational or ideological repulsion from Ingsce. She is a rebel only from the waist down:
“Life as she saw it was quite simple. You wanted a good time: ‘they’, meaning the Party, wanted to stop you having it, you broke the rules as best you could. She seemed to think it just as natural that they should want to rob you of your pleasures as that you should want to avoid being caught. She hated the Party, and said so in the crudest words, but she made no general criticism of it.”
A Fairly Intelligent Woman
Julia is never dull and commonplace. She is fairly intelligent, in fact “In some ways…… far more acute than Winston.” Yet, she is no intellectual. Hilariously she kicks off all scruples. It is true that she had several love affairs before, but when she meets Winston, it is not just the same as before. This time she finds herself passionately involved. We can doubt Winston’s sincerity, for his is not so much pure love as “a political act.” But Julia’s love has transcended the political barrier. This becomes clear during their visit to the enigmatic O’Brien whom they mistake for one of their creed and to whom they offer their services towards an overthrow of Big Brother’s regime. O’Brien in his shrewd and self-possessed manner asks them how far they can go in their crusade against the tyranny. Entering details he asks them if they can commit murder, treason, blackmail or forgery, disseminate veneral diseases, give their lives, and so on, and to all his questions, they very readily answer in the affirmative. But when at the end, the unkindest cut comes, that is, when O’Brien asks,
“You are prepared, the two of you, to separate and never see one another again?”
It is Julia and not Winston who reacts sharply and immediately, and says as unflinchingly as in her earlier affirmative answers,
“No” As for Winston, ‘It appeared to Winston that a long time passed before he answered. For a moment he seemed even to have been deprived of the power of speech. His tongue worked soundlessly, forming the opening syllables first of one word, then of the other, over and over again. Until he had said it, he did not know which word he was going to say.
he said finally
It is unfortunate that all this sincerity and determination goes to pieces in face of the unbearable tortures inflicted upon her. Although for a considerable length of time she continues her resistance, when the worst comes, she gives way. The betrayal comes from both sides, under similar tortures. Both have learned the same lesson from the experiences in the torture chamber: “all you care about is yourself.” When they meet after the betrayal is complete, they appear to each other as grossly impoverished personalities. Their bodies meet, but desires and hopes are dead for ever. A voice coming from afar symbolizes their common feelings:
“Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me-“
A well-deserved praise of her character comes from Sir Richard Rees. He writes :
“…the figure of Julia is the one point of relief and contrast against the nightmarish horror of the book…in Orwell’s work she stands out as his liveliest and most perceptive study of a woman.”
Julia’s offer of love to Winston
Because she has recognized him as one who does not belong, she sends Smith the moral heretical message possible in Oceania: ‘I love you’. After days of frustration and snatched moments of muttered instructions, they begin their sexual relationship out of the range of telescreens and microphones in a countryside that reminds him of a boyhood dream-landscape which he has called the Golden Country. But from the beginning this relationship is associated with corruption. When he learns that she has done this before with scores of Outer Party members he is delighted. Perhaps the Party is rotten under its surface cult of strenuousness and self-denial. “If he could have infected the whole lot of them with leprosy or syphilis, how gladly he would have done so! Anything to rot, to weaken, to undermine! Just making love, satisfying mere lust, is impossible in a world where everything has become political, and where everything is mixed with fear and hate: ‘Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was blow struck against the Party.”
Failure of the conspiracy against the Party
Any love affair is predestined to end in the cells of the Ministry of Love. But in the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop such a private life was possible. Here they plan conspiracy against the Party. Their plan flops. Their relationship ends when Smith is arrested and confronted by the Thought Police in the windowless but constantly lighted Ministry of Love.
Difference between the characters of Winston and Julia
The chief difference in the characters of Winston and Julia can be seen in the different natures of their rebellion from the Party. Winston’s rebellion is emotional and intellectual mainly: Julia’s is primarily physical. She is not interested in questions of ideology or politics. Her main motivating force is her Search for physical pleasure. Winston is only the last in a long line of her lovers. This is not to say, however, that her love for Winston is not sincere. But her love is almost completely on a physical level; thus, we learn indirectly that almost immediately she betrays her lover under torture. Intellectually, Julia is limited. Also, it is significant that she is much less interested in human suffering than is Winston.
Winston’s revolt, on the other hand, is intellectual, emotional, and physical. Primarily, it is the first two. Winston is gifted with an insatiable curiosity. From the beginning of the book, We see Winston groping toward an awareness of himself and his world. This search for answers is one of the main motivating forces in Winston’s character. The Party spends much more time and effort in breaking down his resistance than it expands on Julia because Winston is more intelligent than Julia, and his rebellion is on a deeper plane than is hers.
In delineating the differences in the characters of Winston and Julia, it is important that we do not become dogmatic. Winston is a complex character. And Julia, while being less complex than Winston, is not a two-dimensional or “flat” character-she comes very much alive in the novel. We cannot forget that Winston’s revolt is also partly physical. Orwell in 1984 and in other of his works draws a definite parallel between sexual freedom and political freedom. Julia’s physical desire is also in part a desire for political freedom, since in Oceanic society sexual abandonment conflicts with the aims of the Party. It is enough to say that neither character is heroic, but their interests and reasons for disenchantment with the Party of differ. Julia, the representative of all normal, sex-oriented women, is concerned with the physical and the practical. Winston, the representative of every intelligent man, is concerned with the physical, but more profoundly with things of the spirit and the intellect. He is concerned with his and Julia’s safety, true: but he is also interested in things greater than themselves. He is the seeker of reality in a society in which reality does not exist in a meaningful way.