Proles symbolism in 1984 – The Proles represent the lowest working classes of society (the proletariat) and they also serve as a metaphor for hopelessness. Winston hopes, as did many real thinkers such as Marx, that the Proles could rise up against the Party and restore freedom for all citizens. But the history of Oceania written by Emmanuel Goldstein argues that Proles throughout history have rebelled against the state only to regenerate the same class structure and oppress new generations of Proles. Thus, the Proles in 1984represent hopelessness. While they live free and “savage” lives, they do not understand or choose not to understand, the nature of their oppression. While they far out number Party members, they remain powerless against their own ignorance.
Rats symbolism in 1984 – Winston learns the meaning of Room 101 when O’Brien tortures him with rats. Room 101 represents a person’s worst fear and Winston’s worst fear is rats. So on one level rats represent fear. On another level, however, rats represent depravity. Throughout history, humans have associated rats with squalor and pestilence. Rats carry disease and thrive on human garbage. Rats rank among the world’s most “beastlike” (as opposed to “humanlike”) creatures. Winston’s universe is filled with humans who act like and are treated like beasts. Outer Party members and Proles all eventually become drones-meaningless, inhuman cogs in the Party’s machine. In essence, Winston and his fellow citizens become rats, trapped in Big Brother’s cage. If people allow forces such as those represented by Big Brother to rule, then they will become no better than mindless, multiplying rats.
Song/Music symbolism in 1984 – Orwell inserts verses of music and poetry throughout 1984. Winston hears propaganda music created by the Party and sung by a Prole and finds it oddly beautiful. He also hears a bird singing in a meadow and finds himself awake and hopeful for the first time. Songs play an important role in this book. Not only do songs foreshadow events and reveal details about the past, they represent culture. When chanted by crazed, Big Brother fanatics, propaganda music sounds to Winston like war cries. But when carelessly hummed by a Prole woman (who has no affiliation with the Party) as she works, the same music sounds sweet and uplifting to Winston. Winston longs for a time when music and culture belonged to people and nature rather than to the state.
Dreams in 1984 – Winston’s dreams reveal critical information about his past and foretell his future. Winston dreams about meeting O’Brien in a place “where there is no darkness” foreshadow his torture at O’Brien’s hands. Winston’s dreams of the Golden Country foreshadow his love affair with Julia. But dreams also represent history, and the freedom associated with history. The Thought Police can see everything except Winston’s inner beliefs so Winston may go anywhere and think anything while dreaming as long as his outward behavior remains neutral. Through brainwashing and shock treatment, the Party ultimately controls Winston’s dreams. Only then do they truly control Winston.
Winston’s Mother – Winston often dreams about his mother. His mother and sister sacrificed themselves to save Winston. He remembers a time when war broke out and his mother protected him and gave him her food rations despite his ingratitude and selfishness. Winston’s mother represents loss and human contact. As a child, he did not understand or appreciate his mother’s love but as an adult, Winston feels deep loneliness created by the loss of his mother and of natural human contact. Alienation and loss characterize Winston’s entire existence.