Frankenstein and 1984: Cautionary Tales

George Orwell and Mary Shelley use their works as precautions to potential disasters in society. As Orwell is warning humanity of the hazards of totalitarian rule, Shelley is forewarning the danger of science becoming too powerful for mankind’s own good. In 1984, Winston fully changes as a character from despising the Party to loving Big Brother. If it was not for the strong pressure to conform inflicted upon him by the Party, Winston would never have gained the love for Big Brother.

In Frankenstein, Victor shifts from a child dreaming of recognition and fame for discovering the secret of life to a twisted man with an obsession with getting revenge on his own creation. His act of creation results in the destruction of all his loved ones. Shelley uses Victor’s shocking experience and transformation to caution society of the threat of science consuming humanity. Winston in 1984 forewarns humanity of totalitarianism through the conversion of hatred to love, while Victor warns mankind about the potential effect of science becoming dominant through his change from an innocent to malicious man.

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George Orwell’s 1984 is admonishing the human race of what could happen to society if the government were to gain control of every aspect of life. The story may exaggerate these circumstances; however, it is bringing attention to the issue of totalitarianism. 1984 proves to be a cautionary tale as it shows the gradual change in Winston’s character throughout the novel. At the very start of the novel, Orwell portrays Winston as a regular citizen who is obeying the Party.

As the story progresses, Winston begins to understand how the system of the government of Oceania truly has full control of its citizens, and he recognizes his deep hatred for Big Brother and the oppression of the government. At the end of it all, through endless amounts of torture, Winston’s state of mind is drastically altered to actually love Big Brother. The novel is a precaution to how the government has potential to gain control of every aspect of freedom. When Winston purchases a diary at the beginning of the novel, it appears to be his first action defying the Party.

First, buying in the free market was highly looked down upon for Party members. Winston repeatedly writes “down with big brother” in his diary; this is when he began to stray from his pattern of conformity. Winston has made the transformation from a regular citizen following the austere demands of the government to an enemy of the Party when he fully understands how much it really infuriates him. Writing poor things about Big Brother in that diary is a criminality, and Winston is now subject to arrest; because nary negative thoughts about the Party are permitted.

Winston has been driven to unlawful acts due to the increasing hatred that has boiled up inside him, and he now knows that he will eventually be arrested. The thought of his arrest frightens him more than anything, and he dreads the day the Thought Police arrive at his door because he is not ready to die. The government has stripped every right away from the citizens of Oceania, even the right to one’s own thoughts. With the invention of Newspeak, the systematic destruction of language, the government is attempting to make it impossible to even form a negative thought about the party, because there will be no words to do so.

Newspeak and the Thought Police are taking more and more freedom away from the citizens every day. Knowing that he isn’t safe in his own head is enough to drive Winston mad, but he cannot stop the flow of hatred that he has for Big Brother. Soon Winston cannot keep these thoughts solely inside his mind, and he begins to act upon them. The oppression inflicted by the government is bringing Winston to rebellion; his desire to take down Big Brother is growing more and more each day.

Winston’s affair with Julia is illegal in various means, and Winston strongly believes that he will be arrested someday soon; however, he continues with the affair. Although sexual acts are not permitted unless it is to create new life for another member of the Party, Winston and Julia engage in them every time they can manage to secretly meet each other. The effort the two lovers must put in to see each other is unthinkable, as they must avoid telescreens and microphones almost everywhere they turn. When Mr. Charrington allows them to use his room without a telescreen, they take full advantage of it.

Seeing as Winston is still married to his wife and sexual acts are illegal, Julia and Winston defy the Party in more ways than one. Winston has changed from full obedience to the Party to defying it due to his outsized amount of hatred for Big Brother. Julia and Winston engage in negative talk about the Party, which puts them subject to arrest. Believing that O’Brien is a member of the Brotherhood and he too is opposed to the Party, Julia and Winston pay him a visit at his apartment.

O’Brien tells the two that they must be willing to lose their own lives in order to take down Big Brother; however, when he sks if they would be willing to betray one another, they refuse. Winston’s hatred for Big Brother has accumulated so much that he is now willing to die solely for the sake of taking down the Party. At the start of the novel, Winston could not stand the thought of his own death. The thought haunted him, and he was not prepared for that to happen. As the story progresses and Winston is being oppressed in more and more ways, he despises the Party more than ever, and eventually is willing to give up his life to destroy it.

For one to hate something so much that he or she would die to rescind it takes a large amount of abhorrence. The pressure and control inflicted by the Party has driven Winston to this point, one that he never thought he would come to. When Winston and Julia are arrested, they discover that O’Brien was not actually a member of the Brotherhood, but of the Thought Police. They are never even completely certain that the Brotherhood or Goldstein exists, or if it was simply created by the Party to lure wrongdoers in.

Winston is physically tortured for what seems like ever, and ultimately he is brainwashed and confused into believing that the Party is always right and as stated in the last sentence of the novel, his mind is altered to the point that he actually loves Big Brother. Winston states that nothing can surpass physical pain, and with it, the Party has this ability to psychologically manipulate its citizens into believing whatever it wants them to believe. For Winston to go from loathing Big Brother to loving him is a massive transformation.

Winston has developed from an average citizen, to an enraged citizen against the Party, to a member of the Party that genuinely loves and respects Big Brother. The shift from Winston loathing Big Brother to adoring him is a shocking realization of how much power the government really is capable of possessing. Winston even betrays Julia, something he swore he would never do. This really proves the extreme control the Party holds over him. Orwell forewarns readers that if given the power, the government could potentially turn our society into one similar to the one in 1984.

The drastic change in Winston’s character is a prime example of the effects this could have. Mary Shelley shows the dangers of scientific advancement in her novel Frankenstein through telling how Victor’s seemingly harmless experiment completely backfired on him. Shelley delivers a strong message that using technology to go beyond human abilities could have serious consequences. Frankenstein is used as a precaution to what could happen if science overshadows humanity. Victor Frankenstein’s scientific experiment in turn changes Victor from a man of good into a man of evil.

The mass devastation caused by Victor’s doing is a forewarning to the potential of science taking over. As a child, Victor showed interest in human life, and developed a desire to discover the secret of life. Through many long, hard years of study, he gets a good education and eventually uses his knowledge to create a living creature of his own. At first, the monster is a gentle, innocent being. While staying in the hovel he discovered, he learns all of his senses and comes to understand language and emotions by watching the family in the cottage next door.

He develops into a caring being and shows compassion for the family; however, he comes to the realization that he is repulsive and will not ever be accepted by humanity when he is rejected by the family. The rejection enrages him, and he comes to despise his creator. The monster takes his rage and murders William, and then sets up Justine to look like she is guilty of the murder. As a result, Justine is killed, leaving Victor devastated. Victor sees the total devastation caused by his doing, and becomes completely guilt-ridden.

The monster has gone from a harmless creature to a vindictive psychopath. Instead of bringing the anticipated recognition, fame, and fortune that Victor had hoped for, the monster only destroys dear things that are close to Victor. The monster continues to rage and murders Henry, driving Victor to become more vengeful. Victor has made the transformation from being an innocent youth fascinated by science to a disillusioned, guilt-ridden man determined to destroy the results of his scientific endeavor.

Victor commits himself to an animalistic obsession with revenging himself, and craves to get back at his own creation. He has turned into an evil man, all because of his seemingly innocent experiment with the secret of life. On his wedding night, the monster murders Elizabeth, and his father dies soon after due to extreme grief. Because Victor surged beyond human limits and accessed the secret of life by creating his own creature, everyone dear to him has died. Victor’s experiment has singlehandedly changed him into an evil man.

Eventually, the obsessive hatred of his own creation drives him to death when he dies on Walton’s ship. Luckily, Walton witnesses how destructive the thirst for knowledge can be and he draws back from his mission to reach the North Pole. Unfortunately, Victor’s scenario had already spiraled out of control. The quest Victor was on to discover the secret to life has completely backfired, and he found himself with no loved ones left. Victor has gone from an innocent man looking to discover something magnificent, to a victim of his own creation, to an evil man obsessed with revenge.

Shelley uses the shattering situation and alterations Victor undergoes to forewarn society of what could happen if science overshadows humanity. Although this book exaggerates to an extent, it is a strong example of how important it is to not allow technology or science take over. Orwell’s 1984 and Shelley’s Frankenstein both prove to be novels of precaution. As 1984 portrays the dangers of a totalitarian government, Frankenstein illustrates the hazards of science becoming too powerful for mankind’s own good.

In 1984, Winston changes from an everyday man, to a rebel against the Party, to a loving member of the Party. He is brainwashed by the powerful government into loving Big Brother, an emotion he never would have developed if it weren’t for the ridiculous power the Party holds over him. Orwell orchestrates how if the government was to gain too much power, society could potentially look like it is portrayed in 1984. In Frankenstein, Victor begins as an innocent child looking to advance in the scientific field.

He dreams of discovering the secret to human life, and wishes to prolong life or even prevent death. Although he was aspiring and had good intentions, Victor’s experiment completely backfires on him and with the events following the creation of his monster; he transforms into an evil, vengeful man. The unnatural creation of life turns around to bite Victor, and he has to learn to deal with the consequences that come along with his mistake. Orwell and Shelley use their works to caution society of potential issues that could arise.