'There are three stages in your reintegration,' said O'Brien. 'There is
learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance. It is time for
you to enter upon the second stage.'
As always, Winston was lying flat on his back. But of late his bonds were
looser. They still held him to the bed, but he could move his knees a
little and could turn his head from side to side and raise his arms from
the elbow. The dial, also, had grown to be less of a terror. He could
evade its pangs if he was quick-witted enough: it was chiefly when he
showed stupidity that O'Brien pulled the lever. Sometimes they got through
a whole session without use of the dial. He could not remember how many
sessions there had been. The whole process seemed to stretch out over a
long, indefinite time – weeks, possibly – and the intervals between the
sessions might sometimes have been days, sometimes only an hour or two.
'As you lie there,' said O'Brien, 'you have often wondered – you have even
asked me – why the Ministry of Love should expend so much time and trouble
on you. And when you were free you were puzzled by what was essentially
the same question. You could grasp the mechanics of the Society you lived
in, but not its underlying motives. Do you remember writing in your diary,
"I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY"? It was when you thought about
"why" that you doubted your own sanity. You have read THE BOOK,
Goldstein's book, or parts of it, at least. Did it tell you anything that
you did not know already?'
'You have read it?' said Winston.
'I wrote it. That is to say, I collaborated in writing it. No book is
produced individually, as you know.'
'Is it true, what it says?'
'As description, yes. The programme it sets forth is nonsense. The secret
accumulation of knowledge – a gradual spread of enlightenment – ultimately
a proletarian rebellion – the overthrow of the Party. You foresaw yourself
that that was what it would say. It is all nonsense. The proletarians will
never revolt, not in a thousand years or a million. They cannot. I do
not have to tell you the reason: you know it already. If you have ever
cherished any dreams of violent insurrection, you must abandon them. There
is no way in which the Party can be overthrown. The rule of the Party is
for ever. Make that the starting-point of your thoughts.'
He came closer to the bed. 'For ever!' he repeated. 'And now let us get
back to the question of "how" and "why". You understand well enough HOW
the Party maintains itself in power. Now tell me WHY we cling to power.
What is our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak,' he added as
Winston remained silent.
Nevertheless Winston did not speak for another moment or two. A feeling of
weariness had overwhelmed him. The faint, mad gleam of enthusiasm had come
back into O'Brien's face. He knew in advance what O'Brien would say. That
the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of
the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail,
cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and
must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger
than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and
happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better.
That the party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect
doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of
others. The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that
when O'Brien said this he would believe it. You could see it in his face.
O'Brien knew everything. A thousand times better than Winston he knew what
the world was really like, in what degradation the mass of human beings
lived and by what lies and barbarities the Party kept them there. He had
understood it all, weighed it all, and it made no difference: all was
justified by the ultimate purpose. What can you do, thought Winston,
against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your
arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
'You are ruling over us for our own good,' he said feebly. 'You believe
that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore – – '
He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body.
O'Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
'That was stupid, Winston, stupid!' he said. 'You should know better than
to say a thing like that.'
He pulled the lever back and continued:
'Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party
seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good
of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long
life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will
understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the
past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who
resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the
Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never
had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps
they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a
limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where
human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that
no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is
not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order
to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish
the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of
torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to
Winston was struck, as he had been struck before, by the tiredness of
O'Brien's face. It was strong and fleshy and brutal, it was full of
intelligence and a sort of controlled passion before which he felt himself
helpless; but it was tired. There were pouches under the eyes, the skin
sagged from the cheekbones. O'Brien leaned over him, deliberately bringing
the worn face nearer.
'You are thinking,' he said, 'that my face is old and tired. You are
thinking that I talk of power, and yet I am not even able to prevent the
decay of my own body. Can you not understand, Winston, that the individual
is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigour of the organism.
Do you die when you cut your fingernails?'
He turned away from the bed and began strolling up and down again, one hand
in his pocket.
'We are the priests of power,' he said. 'God is power. But at present
power is only a word so far as you are concerned. It is time for you to
gather some idea of what power means. The first thing you must realize
is that power is collective. The individual only has power in so far as
he ceases to be an individual. You know the Party slogan: "Freedom is
Slavery". Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is
freedom. Alone – free – the human being is always defeated. It must be so,
because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all
failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape
from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he IS the
Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for you to
realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body – but, above
all, over the mind. Power over matter – external reality, as you would call
it – is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute.'
For a moment Winston ignored the dial. He made a violent effort to raise
himself into a sitting position, and merely succeeded in wrenching his
'But how can you control matter?' he burst out. 'You don't even control
the climate or the law of gravity. And there are disease, pain, death – – '
O'Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. 'We control matter because
we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by
degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility,
levitation – anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if
I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must
get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We
make the laws of Nature.'
'But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet. What about
Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet.'
'Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we did not,
what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania
is the world.'
'But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny – helpless!
How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was
'Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older?
Nothing exists except through human consciousness.'
'But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals – mammoths and
mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever
'Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth-century
biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he
could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is
'But the whole universe is outside us. Look at the stars! Some of them are
a million light-years away. They are out of our reach for ever.'
'What are the stars?' said O'Brien indifferently. 'They are bits of fire
a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could
blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun and the
stars go round it.'
Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say
anything. O'Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:
'For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the
ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to
assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions
upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is
beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near
or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians
are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?'
Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer
crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he knew, he KNEW, that he was in the
right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind – surely there
must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been
exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he
had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O'Brien's mouth as
he looked down at him.
'I told you, Winston,' he said, 'that metaphysics is not your strong
point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are
mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like. But
that is a different thing: in fact, the opposite thing. All this is a
digression,' he added in a different tone. 'The real power, the power we
have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men.'
He paused, and for a moment assumed again his air of a schoolmaster
questioning a promising pupil: 'How does one man assert his power over
Winston thought. 'By making him suffer,' he said.
'Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is
suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his
own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing
human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of
your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are
creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that
the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a
world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not
less but MORE merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will
be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they
were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world
there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement.
Everything else we shall destroy – everything. Already we are breaking down
the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We
have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and
between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend
any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends.
Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from
a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual
formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm.
Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except
loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of
Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over
a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When
we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be
no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity,
no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be
destroyed. But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be
the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing
subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory,
the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a
picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.'
He paused as though he expected Winston to speak. Winston had tried to
shrink back into the surface of the bed again. He could not say anything.
His heart seemed to be frozen. O'Brien went on:
'And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be
stamped upon. The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be there, so
that he can be defeated and humiliated over again. Everything that you
have undergone since you have been in our hands – all that will continue,
and worse. The espionage, the betrayals, the arrests, the tortures, the
executions, the disappearances will never cease. It will be a world of
terror as much as a world of triumph. The more the Party is powerful, the
less it will be tolerant: the weaker the opposition, the tighter the
despotism. Goldstein and his heresies will live for ever. Every day, at
every moment, they will be defeated, discredited, ridiculed, spat upon and
yet they will always survive. This drama that I have played out with you
during seven years will be played out over and over again generation after
generation, always in subtler forms. Always we shall have the heretic here
at our mercy, screaming with pain, broken up, contemptible – and in the end
utterly penitent, saved from himself, crawling to our feet of his own
accord. That is the world that we are preparing, Winston. A world of
victory after victory, triumph after triumph after triumph: an endless
pressing, pressing, pressing upon the nerve of power. You are beginning,
I can see, to realize what that world will be like. But in the end you
will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome it, become
part of it.'
Winston had recovered himself sufficiently to speak. 'You can't!' he said
'What do you mean by that remark, Winston?'
'You could not create such a world as you have just described. It is a
dream. It is impossible.'
'It is impossible to found a civilization on fear and hatred and cruelty.
It would never endure.'
'It would have no vitality. It would disintegrate. It would commit
'Nonsense. You are under the impression that hatred is more exhausting
than love. Why should it be? And if it were, what difference would that
make? Suppose that we choose to wear ourselves out faster. Suppose that we
quicken the tempo of human life till men are senile at thirty. Still what
difference would it make? Can you not understand that the death of the
individual is not death? The party is immortal.'
As usual, the voice had battered Winston into helplessness. Moreover he
was in dread that if he persisted in his disagreement O'Brien would twist
the dial again. And yet he could not keep silent. Feebly, without
arguments, with nothing to support him except his inarticulate horror of
what O'Brien had said, he returned to the attack.
'I don't know – I don't care. Somehow you will fail. Something will defeat
you. Life will defeat you.'
'We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining that there
is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and
will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely
malleable. Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the
proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it out of your
mind. They are helpless, like the animals. Humanity is the Party. The
others are outside – irrelevant.'
'I don't care. In the end they will beat you. Sooner or later they will
see you for what you are, and then they will tear you to pieces.'
'Do you see any evidence that that is happening? Or any reason why it
'No. I believe it. I KNOW that you will fail. There is something in the
universe – I don't know, some spirit, some principle – that you will never
'Do you believe in God, Winston?'
'Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?'
'I don't know. The spirit of Man.'
'And do you consider yourself a man?'
'If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we
are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are ALONE? You are outside
history, you are non-existent.' His manner changed and he said more
harshly: 'And you consider yourself morally superior to us, with our lies
and our cruelty?'
'Yes, I consider myself superior.'
O'Brien did not speak. Two other voices were speaking. After a moment
Winston recognized one of them as his own. It was a sound-track of the
conversation he had had with O'Brien, on the night when he had enrolled
himself in the Brotherhood. He heard himself promising to lie, to steal,
to forge, to murder, to encourage drug-taking and prostitution, to
disseminate venereal diseases, to throw vitriol in a child's face. O'Brien
made a small impatient gesture, as though to say that the demonstration
was hardly worth making. Then he turned a switch and the voices stopped.
'Get up from that bed,' he said.
The bonds had loosened themselves. Winston lowered himself to the floor
and stood up unsteadily.
'You are the last man,' said O'Brien. 'You are the guardian of the human
spirit. You shall see yourself as you are. Take off your clothes.'
Winston undid the bit of string that held his overalls together. The zip
fastener had long since been wrenched out of them. He could not remember
whether at any time since his arrest he had taken off all his clothes at
one time. Beneath the overalls his body was looped with filthy yellowish
rags, just recognizable as the remnants of underclothes. As he slid
them to the ground he saw that there was a three-sided mirror at the far
end of the room. He approached it, then stopped short. An involuntary cry
had broken out of him.
'Go on,' said O'Brien. 'Stand between the wings of the mirror. You shall
see the side view as well.'
He had stopped because he was frightened. A bowed, grey-coloured,
skeleton-like thing was coming towards him. Its actual appearance was
frightening, and not merely the fact that he knew it to be himself. He
moved closer to the glass. The creature's face seemed to be protruded,
because of its bent carriage. A forlorn, jailbird's face with a nobby
forehead running back into a bald scalp, a crooked nose, and
battered-looking cheekbones above which his eyes were fierce and watchful.
The cheeks were seamed, the mouth had a drawn-in look. Certainly it was
his own face, but it seemed to him that it had changed more than he had
changed inside. The emotions it registered would be different from the
ones he felt. He had gone partially bald. For the first moment he had
thought that he had gone grey as well, but it was only the scalp that was
grey. Except for his hands and a circle of his face, his body was grey all
over with ancient, ingrained dirt. Here and there under the dirt there
were the red scars of wounds, and near the ankle the varicose ulcer was an
inflamed mass with flakes of skin peeling off it. But the truly frightening
thing was the emaciation of his body. The barrel of the ribs was as narrow
as that of a skeleton: the legs had shrunk so that the knees were thicker
than the thighs. He saw now what O'Brien had meant about seeing the side
view. The curvature of the spine was astonishing. The thin shoulders were
hunched forward so as to make a cavity of the chest, the scraggy neck
seemed to be bending double under the weight of the skull. At a guess he
would have said that it was the body of a man of sixty, suffering from
some malignant disease.
'You have thought sometimes,' said O'Brien, 'that my face – the face of a
member of the Inner Party – looks old and worn. What do you think of your
He seized Winston's shoulder and spun him round so that he was facing him.
'Look at the condition you are in!' he said. 'Look at this filthy grime
all over your body. Look at the dirt between your toes. Look at that
disgusting running sore on your leg. Do you know that you stink like a
goat? Probably you have ceased to notice it. Look at your emaciation. Do
you see? I can make my thumb and forefinger meet round your bicep. I could
snap your neck like a carrot. Do you know that you have lost twenty-five
kilograms since you have been in our hands? Even your hair is coming out
in handfuls. Look!' He plucked at Winston's head and brought away a tuft
of hair. 'Open your mouth. Nine, ten, eleven teeth left. How many had you
when you came to us? And the few you have left are dropping out of your
head. Look here!'
He seized one of Winston's remaining front teeth between his powerful
thumb and forefinger. A twinge of pain shot through Winston's jaw. O'Brien
had wrenched the loose tooth out by the roots. He tossed it across the
'You are rotting away,' he said; 'you are falling to pieces. What are you?
A bag of filth. Now turn around and look into that mirror again. Do you
see that thing facing you? That is the last man. If you are human, that is
humanity. Now put your clothes on again.'
Winston began to dress himself with slow stiff movements. Until now he had
not seemed to notice how thin and weak he was. Only one thought stirred in
his mind: that he must have been in this place longer than he had imagined.
Then suddenly as he fixed the miserable rags round himself a feeling of
pity for his ruined body overcame him. Before he knew what he was doing
he had collapsed on to a small stool that stood beside the bed and burst
into tears. He was aware of his ugliness, his gracelessness, a bundle of
bones in filthy underclothes sitting weeping in the harsh white light: but
he could not stop himself. O'Brien laid a hand on his shoulder, almost
'It will not last for ever,' he said. 'You can escape from it whenever you
choose. Everything depends on yourself.'
'You did it!' sobbed Winston. 'You reduced me to this state.'
'No, Winston, you reduced yourself to it. This is what you accepted when
you set yourself up against the Party. It was all contained in that first
act. Nothing has happened that you did not foresee.'
He paused, and then went on:
'We have beaten you, Winston. We have broken you up. You have seen what
your body is like. Your mind is in the same state. I do not think there
can be much pride left in you. You have been kicked and flogged and
insulted, you have screamed with pain, you have rolled on the floor in
your own blood and vomit. You have whimpered for mercy, you have betrayed
everybody and everything. Can you think of a single degradation that has
not happened to you?'
Winston had stopped weeping, though the tears were still oozing out of his
eyes. He looked up at O'Brien.
'I have not betrayed Julia,' he said.
O'Brien looked down at him thoughtfully. 'No,' he said; 'no; that is
perfectly true. You have not betrayed Julia.'
The peculiar reverence for O'Brien, which nothing seemed able to destroy,
flooded Winston's heart again. How intelligent, he thought, how
intelligent! Never did O'Brien fail to understand what was said to him.
Anyone else on earth would have answered promptly that he HAD betrayed
Julia. For what was there that they had not screwed out of him under the
torture? He had told them everything he knew about her, her habits, her
character, her past life; he had confessed in the most trivial detail
everything that had happened at their meetings, all that he had said to
her and she to him, their black-market meals, their adulteries, their
vague plottings against the Party – everything. And yet, in the sense in
which he intended the word, he had not betrayed her. He had not stopped
loving her; his feelings towards her had remained the same. O'Brien had
seen what he meant without the need for explanation.
'Tell me,' he said, 'how soon will they shoot me?'
'It might be a long time,' said O'Brien. 'You are a difficult case. But
don't give up hope. Everyone is cured sooner or later. In the end we shall