What does the Paperweight Symbolize in 1984: Metaphor for Loss of Individuality

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What does the Paperweight Symbolize in 1984: Metaphor for Loss of Individuality

In George Orwell’s “1984”, the paperweight is a significant symbol, representing the protagonist’s attempt to connect with the past and his own individuality in a repressive regime. This essay will analyze the paperweight’s symbolism, discussing how it embodies Winston’s longing for a more authentic, uncontrolled existence. It will explore how the paperweight’s shattering signifies the loss of individuality and hope under totalitarian rule. By examining this key symbol, the essay aims to deepen the understanding of Orwell’s critique of totalitarianism and its impact on personal identity and memory. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Fiction.

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“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows” (Orwell 81). George Orwell wrote a book called 1984 about Winston and how he lives in an oppressive government. The government manipulates them so much that they have no freedom and no way to express themselves. They cannot even say 2+2=4. Imagery, symbolism, and figurative language are used to convey the theme of the loss of individuality by totalitarianism.

Metaphor for Fragility and Hope

Imagery is used to help support the theme of loss of individuality by using descriptive words that help show what was happening and how their uniqueness is being taken away.

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Winston is writing in his journal secretly because he knows he cannot express himself and is scared of Big Brother. “They’ll shoot me, I don’t care, they’ll shoot me in the back of the neck. I don’t care down with big brother. They always shoot you in the back of the neck. I don’t care down with big brother-” (19). When Winston is writing, it allows people to imagine how scared he is but also does not care. The autocratic government, Big Brother, is not allowing him to express himself, making him do it secretly and making him have no real human emotions. Winston and Julia are above the antique shop and see a prole that is a woman and how free she is. “Her thick arms reaching up for the line, her powerful mare-like buttocks protruded,… blown up to monstrous dimensions by childbearing, and then hardened, roughened by work till it was coarse in the grain like an overripe turnip, could be beautiful” (219). Winston is looking and describing a prole that allows the reader to see an image of her in their minds because of the descriptive word choice. The woman looks happy and is free, which is what Winston wants to be, but the dictator, Big Brother, controls him and does not allow him to be himself or free. The imagery made it possible to see an image of how unhuman-like emotions Winston had while writing in his diary and the free prole that Winston wishes he could be helped by the theme of loss of individuality.

Yearning for Freedom

Symbolism is shown through the ways Orwell thought a message should be represented by an object to show how people cannot be themselves. Syme, who likes New Speak and is devoted to The Party, is talking with Winston about Winston’s writing. “‘You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston…Even when you write it, you’re still thinking in Old Speak… In your heart, you’d prefer to stick to Old Speak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning’” (51-52). Newspeak in 1984 is a language that decreases the number of words in the English language. Newspeak is a symbol of how the government is limiting people’s language so they cannot think freely and causes them to be unable to rebel. The thought police are arresting Winston and Julia after they get caught in the apartment above the antique shop. “There was another crash. Someone had picked up the glass paperweight and smashed it to pieces on the hearthstone” (223). The paperweight represents how love and the past existed, but when the paperweight is smashed, it is how Big Brother is in command and that they rule everything. Nobody could be their own person. Newspeak and the paperweight are both symbols that help George Orwell show how the government controls everybody and what they do.

Throughout 1984, the author uses figurative language like similes, personification, metaphors, etc., to show how people do not have the freedom to be themselves and are too scared to do anything. While Winston and Julia are in a bed in the apartment, they are talking about The Party. “Not rebelling against its authority, but simply evading it, as a rabbit dodges a dog” (131). That compares people evading the government as a rabbit would do to avoid a dog. Although, in this case, the dog knows everything and simply allows the rabbit to think it is dodging it, in reality, it is manipulating it and will catch it when it wants to. The government controls them and does not allow them to do anything that they choose. Winston is doing his exercise routine, and while doing that, he thinks about his job and how he changes the past and the present. “If The Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that event, it never happened” (37). The party cannot actually thrust its hand, making it personification. If The Party can change history easily, then they can probably govern people and what they do by “thrusting its hand” into their minds and telling them what they can and cannot do. Figurative language helped compare and show things about how an undemocratic government can manipulate them and not let them be themselves.


Imagery, symbolism, and figurative language are all shown in the book 1984 to help portray the theme of the loss of individuality by totalitarianism. Imagery allowed us to imagine what was happening and how the government dominated people. Symbolism shows ways that the author puts hidden meanings in the book. Figurative language showed how a government-controlled people. Orwell is giving a warning as to what can happen if an oppressive government is in charge. Will the world actually turn out the way the author wrote it if a tyrannical government ruled?


  1. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
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What Does the Paperweight Symbolize in 1984: Metaphor for Loss of Individuality. (2023, Aug 28). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/what-does-the-paperweight-symbolize-in-1984-metaphor-for-loss-of-individuality/