George Orwell

Although he saw himself as merely a writer, at best, a political writer, George Orwell was, in the end, far more. Culminating in his last two novels, Animal Farm and finally Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell's entire body of work portrays a complete philosophy, encompassing the political, social, economic and, on an even deeper level, the psychological interplay between the individual and the group. (The idea of the "group", as opposed to the larger and more generic "society", is compelling in Orwell's work, because of the group's more pervasive and immediate importance to the individual's well being.)

While on a less fundamental level, Orwell's writing may be seen as merely concerned with the struggle between the individual and the group, Orwell's deeper view is a more integrated one. It is, at base, that the individual's relationship to the particular group in which he or she lives and functions, and, in turn, the group's attitude toward the individual will ultimately determine the individual's autonomy, that is, his freedom to be himself; to be.

As his view of the writings of Charles Dickens was simply that "If men would behave decently, the world would be decent", Orwell implores that our most basic individual responsibility is not merely to stand against the tyranny of the group, when it should occur, but, as individuals within the group, to act in such a way as to make the group a nurturing, viable entity in which the individual can thrive.

As Winston Smith so indelibly and painfully illustrates, given our human psychological constraints, to ask anything more of the individual is to imagine something that cannot be. Thus, Orwell believes, and Nineteen Eighty-Four demonstrates that only when we create groups in which the individual is valued will each individual be safe and able to survive and thrive. And, only then, will the individual be capable of supporting the enlightened values of the group itself.

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