by George Orwell
Victory Gin, Victory Cigarettes
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Discontented with his life, Winston turns to vices as a means of escape and self-medication. In Winston’s case, it’s alcohol and cigarettes. He drinks gin to sedate his paranoia, like that time he downs a shot or two before finally writing in his journal. He smokes cigarettes for a similar reason: to calm himself down. These common vices help Winston check his doubts and paranoia at the door.
OK, sure, that sounds great – but it’s really not that simple. Once again, we see some irony here. Winston’s "vices" aren’t personal decisions, nor are they small acts of individuality or rebellion. Rather, his vices have been assigned to him. Which kind of defeats the purpose of vices altogether. There was a Simpsons episode where Marge tells Bart he can’t have vegetables until he finishes his ice cream. The result? Ice cream is not so enjoyable anymore. Same deal here.