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Title: Milestones on the road to dystopia : interpreting George Orwell's self-division in an era of 'force and fraud'
Author: Al-Jubouri, Firas Adnan Jabbar
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 8985
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2011
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his thesis aims to examine self-division as an Orwellian trait which was the product of living through turbulent political times and which became for George Orwell a method to critique the ideologies of his contemporary political milieu. Orwell witnessed the defining struggles of the twentieth century: the hypocrisy of colonial exploitation, the ideological battle between Fascism and Communism during the Spanish Civil War and its effects on the trends of totalitarian power politics in the Thirties and Forties, and all these influenced his vision of a future dystopia. Orwell reflects on these struggles and draws his major subject matter from them: the abuse of power through 'force and fraud'. He uses the phrase 'force and fraud/cunning' to both represent and condemn totalitarian strategies for gaining and retaining power. The thesis explores Orwell's journey to dystopia, using major texts as milestones. The analyses in this thesis have two objectives. The more specific is to highlight Orwell's 'self-division' or 'divided self', examining how these terms apply to the contradictions and inconsistencies that exist in his oeuvre as a whole, and how they arise from integrity rather than cynicism and hypocrisy. The other objective is a broader analysis of Orwell's political thought in the context of the politics of the period. Throughout the thesis, this broader investigation illustrates how authoritarian systems and totalitarian regimes exploit power and pretence, alloyed by contradictions, in order to divide the self and force individuals, and consequently society, into submission. Orwell's self-division and the character of totalitarian thought are further illuminated by comparing his views on the use of 'force and fraud' with those advanced by Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) in The Prince (1532), where he uses the phrase in promoting viii the use of totalitarian tactics in attaining and holding power. Orwell's critique of James Burnham (1905-1987), in his 'Review of The Machiavelians by James Burnham' (1944) and his essay 'Second Thoughts on James Burnham' (1946), is used to show Orwell's divided opinions. Although he criticises Burnham's Machiavellian beliefs about the use of force and fraud to dominate and deceive people, stating that these tactics are coming to an end, evidence of the efficacy and success of such strategies permeates the major works discussed in this thesis. This thesis comprises six chapters and a conclusion. Chapter One provides backgrounds and contexts for Orwell's self-division and political opinions. It reviews Orwell's distinctive style, where he often mixes non-fiction and fiction in order to establish equilibrium between the socio-political and imaginative aspects of his writing. The chapter then presents an assessment which explores the influence of Orwell's reputation on, and its relevance to, the Cold War and the occupation of Iraq, showing how viewing events through an Orwellian lens reveals that the strategies of force and fraud flourished and still flourish in twenty-first century world politics. The last section of the chapter provides a basis for the analyses that follow by reviewing the extreme political turmoil of the Thirties, its impact on the Auden generation and on Orwell's intellectual and political development. Chapter Two defines Orwell's self-division and interprets his paradox. It discusses how using paradox as a rhetorical device and establishing a pseudonym are manifestations of his self-division, and explores Orwell's adoption of the pseudonym as a persona in his writing and as an author outside it, with emphasis on his pseudonym's reputation and its significance in purging class prejudice. This chapter also assesses Orwell's views of Machiavelli by focusing on his criticism of Burnham's eulogising of Machiavelli's politics, and examines what these views, conveyed through questioning Burnham's political thought, reveal about Orwell's self-division. Although several critics have tried to identify Orwell's self-division and others have seen paradox as fundamental to Orwell's work, they have all overlooked ix the connection between the two, and instead offered differing, yet limited, views of the origins of his self-division and paradox. The chapter presents a new perspective that interprets the close relationship between self-division, paradox and the use of a pseudonym, demonstrating how they help in understanding Orwell's character, works and the nature of totalitarian politics. The remaining chapters of the thesis analyse self-division in both its specific and broader contexts in some defining works in the Orwell canon, using his summary of Burnham's Machiavellian worldview as a basis for comparisons between the Orwell texts and Machiavelli's political principles in The Prince. Chapter Three investigates Orwell's formative years at St Cyprian's preparatory school as documented in his controversial and anti-authoritarian memoir 'Such, Such were the Joys' (c. 1948). Chapter Four discusses Burmese Days (1934) as Orwell's personal, historical account of the abuse of power and exploitation of people by the colonial regime in Burma. Chapter Five focuses on Homage to Catalonia (1938) to reveal the dangers of betrayal and the power struggle in revolutionary Spain. Chapter Six examines Nineteen Eighty- Four (1949) as an example of using power politics and self-division as prerequisites of totalitarianism. Here, by creating a semi-fictional place and time, Orwell represents the ultimate dystopian horror of such politics taken to extremes and of humanity in extremis. The conclusion then summarises the findings and interprets Orwell from a present-day perspective. x.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available