Winston is impressed by a man named O'Brien who is supposed to be very powerful member of the party, but he believes in his heart that O'Brien is actually a member of the Brotherhood which is a group dedicated to overthrowing the Party (Orwell, 1977).
Winston looks to O'Brien in the same way that Bromend looks to McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. O'Brien is someone that Winston comes to admire and follow.
He is still afraid to rebel himself at first. He has thought crimes about the way he is paid to change the history books so they will fit the Party's version of history but he is afraid to speak up about his own memories which tell a completely different story.
Winston uses every evening to walk through the poor neighborhoods where the lowest members of society live. They live extremely poverty stricken lives but because they are so unimportant they are not monitored by the Party the way Winston's class is (Orwell, 1977).
Winston has an affair with Julia without the Party's permission and they are told eventually by O'Brien that he is indeed a Party hater and a Brotherhood member. He gives them a book to read about the Brotherhood's intent but as they are reading it the door breaks in and they are seized. The book is written by Emanuel Goldstein who the Party has insisted for years is an evil man (Orwell, 1977). It turns out he is not evil, he is trying to get the Party overthrown so people can have free thoughts and free will (Orwell, 1977).
Winston and Julia are arrested by the thought police, which is very similar to what happens in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest when anyone dares to defy or speak out against a staff members ideas or orders.
Winston is very dismayed to find that O'Brien was actually a member of the Party who only tricked him into defiance by pretending to be with the Brotherhood (Orwell, 1977). While McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest does not deceive or lie to get patients in trouble, when he found out initially that the staff had the key to his releae he did betray them by suddenly obeying Nurse Ratched which made them feel as betrayed as Winston felt to discover O'Brien's true colors.
In the book 1984, O'Brien actually turns into a Nurse Ratched...
Winston defies and resists over and over again in the same way that McMurphy continued to resist. O'Brien forces Winston to confront his worst fears in the same way that Ratched made the patients poke at their group members' most vulnerable areas of emotion.
When O'Brien arranges to have rats eat Winston's face, Winston admits it is his worst fear and asks that it be done to Julia instead of him (Orwell, 1977).
O'Brien has won in the same way that Ratched won with the lobotomy on McMurphy.
Once this happens Winston is released to the world again but has been completely brainwashed to accept the Party as the overseer of his life. He loves Big Brother and when he sees Julia he feels nothing for her (Orwell, 1977).
This is also similar to the reaction of McMurphy after the lobotomy. He now accepts the hospital doctrine and will no longer fight against it. He feels nothing at all for the other patients the same way that Winston feels nothing for Julia.
Each story tells of a totalitarian society that creates one mindset for all who live there. While the first book is in a hospital setting and the other book is in a "free society" they both tell the story of total and complete oppression. Thought police in 1984 are staff members in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. They are identical in function and willingness to break the spirit of anyone who defies their desire to control.
Both books provide a scary and realistic picture of what can happen if society lets its guard down and allows a government or entity to have that much control over its decisions.
It is very eye opening to place the two stories side by side and see that a controlled society is really no different than an abusive mental ward.
McMurphy and Winston are both thinkers and that thinking got them punished into submission.
The reader will walk away from the stories with a renewed sense of concern and the resolve to fight against any hint of oppression…
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