The abundant use of contrasting imagery in 1984 also profoundly helps in developing the meaning of the story and the bases of the plot. The conditions in society are described as desolate, empty, barren, and colorless. The infrastructure is made of steel and grey cement. There is an omnipresent odor of sweat and frustration in the air. The food is dry and bland and nothing – not even the “Victory gin” that they drink to make themselves feel temporarily good – tastes even remotely edible. All of this paints a painstakingly terrible picture of a society that has lost any and all form of happiness. The only thing that emanates beauty in this dead society are the few remnants of the past like the coral glass paperweight. The dire depiction of the world in which Winston lives serves to highlight the sorrowful condition of the society and also further accentuates the warning in the tone of Orwell’s writing against an authoritative regime.
The nuances in Winston’s character also reveal the restless nature of the society. With every form of happiness suppressed by the party, the people are forced to exert their unkempt energy in the devotion to their country. Winston is depicted as an intelligent man who constantly questions the motives of the party and yearns for a time past when things were possibly better. But he too, like the rest of the people, is frustrated with the gory and unsatisfactory nature of the society. Mere service to the Party does not fulfill his wants and he directs this frustration in thoughts of violence. This is particularly evident when he conjures up a picture of himself bashing Julia on the head with a brick, not only because he is scared that she is an agent of the Thought Police, but also because she represents something that he can never have: fulfillment of his physical desires. Winston’s character, as a whole, represents the dilapidated nature of the society that he lives in.
Through 1984, George Orwell is able to scrutinize the effects of a non-democratic, totalitarian political system on the functioning of a society and on the minds of the public. No one who dissents the political system is allowed to survive. Orwell captures this extremist nature of the system through his veritable use of literary devices.