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Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four

8. O’Brien

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we think about the character of O’Brien, Winston’s friend and (later) tormentor in the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) O’Brien’s relationship with Winston, both early in the novel, where he has ‘the appearance of being a person that you could talk to’, and later on, and later on, when he becomes his torturer in Room 101; (ii) the presentation of O’Brien as a kind of father-figure to Winston; (iii) the layers of irony in O’Brien’s character – his ‘impression of confidence … tinged by irony’, the ‘ironical gleam’ of his spectacles, etc.; and (iv) how our understanding of O’Brien’s character might allow us to think slightly differently about what happens to Winston in Room 101.

Course

In this course, Dr Nathan Waddell (University of Birmingham) explores George Orwell’s 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first two modules provide broad context for the novel: in the first, we think about Orwell’s writing of the novel and the reaction of his contemporaries, while in the second we think about Orwell’s life and career, and the experiences that contributed to the shape of the novel. After that, in the third and fourth modules, we think about the novel’s form, considering first (in the third module) the genre, structure and style of novel, and then (in the fourth module) the texts and traditions that had an influence on the novel. In the fifth module, we think about some of the key themes of the novel, before turning in the six, seventh and eighth modules to focus in more detail on the characters of Winston, Julia and O’Brien. Finally, in the ninth module, we think about the novel’s legacy, including its influence on other writings and its continued relevance today.

Lecturer

Dr Nathan Waddell is Senior Lecturer in Early Twentieth-Century and Modernist Literature at the University of Birmingham. He teaches and researches early twentieth-century literature, with a core emphasis on the life, work, and controversies of the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). His recent publications include Moonlighting: Beethoven and Literary Modernism (2019) and (as co-editor with J. Greenberg) 'Brave New World': Contexts and Legacies. (2016).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Waddell, N. (2020, January 04). Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four - O’Brien [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/orwell-nineteen-eighty-four/o-brien

MLA style

Waddell, Nathan. "Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four – O’Brien." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Jan 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/orwell-nineteen-eighty-four/o-brien