Thursday, March 3, 2016

Orwell & Contraception

Dan Hitchens: Orwell and Contraception.
~ Click on the link above to read Dan Hitchens's analysis of Orwell ~

"The lord of all, the money-god,
Who rules us blood and hand and brain,
Who gives the roof that stops the wind,
And, giving, takes away again.
Who binds with chains the poet's wit,
The navy's strength, the soldier's pride,
And lays the sleek, estranging shield
Between the lover and his bride."
-George Orwell: "St. Andrew's Day, 1935": (Hitchens 19)

One area Orwell holds profound insight concerns contraception, keenly believing in its atrocity. Dan Hitchens, professor at University of Oxford, says a friend of Orwell--Christopher Hollis--claims Orwell thought, "that people who desired intercourse without desiring children were guilty of a profound lack of faith in life, and that a generation which slipped into the way of thinking such a desire legitimate was inevitably damned" (19). Orwell perceives capitalism as malevolent, for it is the anxiety money perpetuates that individuals find contraception justifiable. Considering this, Orwell's recurring--constant--theme of social, political writing throughout all his writing works, is narrowed in terms of capitalist contraception. Through the poetic excerpt above, Hitchens analyzes Orwell's subtle writing techniques with regards to his views on contraception. Hitches explains that, "the money-god of capitalism strips human life of its color" (19), limiting thoughts and dreams. However, she clarifies that the true revelation of malevolence lies in the last line--as many Orwell pieces do, leaving final sentences as climaxes. Here Hitchens references the word 'shield,' signifying its opposing implications: shield implying protection, and a shield's protection implying protection for a fight. She then references 'sleek, estranging field,' isolating the word 'sleek.' She pinpoints its scarce possibility of being read--interpreted--as innocent: "It implies suspicion, an uncertain feeling that one is being deceived. By such means the money-god turns lovers into strangers" (20).

Even more, Orwell encompasses this poem for effect in his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying. It is within the main character--whom Orwell frames as the poem's composer, Gordon Cornstock--and his wife's argument over having children that ultimately provokes Gordon to pinpoint money's overpowering influence--in contraception particularly. This leads to Hitchens's next point:

"In each of Orwell's novels, his own private ideal is voiced by his characters: [...] Outside the window of his rented room, a hiding place from the authorities, Winston Smith has sometimes heard a woman singing. She is 'a monstrous woman, solid as a Norman pillar,' doing the laundry for (Winston supposes) a vast number of children and grandchildren. Just before the Thought Police burst in and the novel descends into horror, Winston looks at her again as she hangs up diapers on the washing line: 'It struck him for the first time that she was beautiful. It had never before occurred to him that the body of a woman of fifty, blown up to monstrous dimensions by childbearing, then hardened, roughened by work till it was coarse in the grain like an overripe turnip, could be beautiful, but it was so.'" (Hitches 21).

Here Hitchens uses Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four as illustration. Orwell practices clever diction and figures of speech for meaning, as'Winston Smith'--the novel's protagonist--seeing a 'monstrous woman' whom had "blown up to monstrous dimensions by childbearing" (21) is no coincidence of language. Via stylistic content, it is not even the characters blatantly revealing Orwell's ideas, but the way Orwell reveals the characters. The scene described above does not depict Winston nor the woman saying they believe sex should be morally beautiful, but Orwell cleverly conveying how Winston's standpoint transformed conveys Orwell's belief in the beauty of sex enough.