Winston seems to find corruption almost erotic, hence his proclamation the more people you’ve had the more I love you to Julia. It shows that the system he despises is crooked. This is a stark contrast with the affair in The Handmaid’s Tale. Offred despises the system for denying her all her individual rights as a woman, also for separating her daughter from her and Luke, declaring her marriage void. It seems she is not seeking to make a political act like in 1984, but no longer wants to feel empty.
She finds love nourishing in the same way Winston finds sex fulfilling. A reason for Offred’s secretiveness in the novel is that she is falling in love with Nick, hence her three abridged versions of their first night together as she reasons the way love feels is always only approximate. This is the fundamental difference between the relationships. Whereas both affairs seek solace in sex, it is a political act for Winston and Julia, for they know that [they] are the dead, for this rebellion. This motif is used with some consistency throughout the book to show fatalism.
However fatalistic view is not shared by Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale, now that she has Nick [she] no longer want[s] to leave, escape; being in love again is a refuge for her. This is a paradox, as she talks of Nick giving her freedom, yet he is the reason she now wants to stay. Neither her nor Nick use the word love, symbolising romance, which in their society would be optimism, which Offred considers to be bad luck. One can now see a change in Offred’s tone, now that her life has changed slightly.
Her narrative has turned into a more feminine emotive style; she is no longer factual, but longing, wishing she has paid more attention in the past to things. There is a noticeable difference between the personalities of both Offred and Nick and Winston and Julia. It is interesting in 1984 to see how completely different Julia is to Winston, he is an intellectual with a sense of the past and a belief that the Brotherhood exists, while she accepts the Party’s rule and rebels only at the level of her own personal freedom, having no belief that it could be possible or even worthwhile to overthrow the system.
Moreover she refused to believe that widespread, organised opposition existed or could exist. She is portrayed as a very selfish person in ways; however they appear to have a symbiotic relationship. We know that Winston had grown fatter, so his health had significantly improved and also that his varicose ulcer had subsided. Indeed the process of life had ceased to be intolerable, which is comparable to Offred’ mother saying that one can adapt to anything, as long as there are a few compensations. Offred described Nick in the beginning as too casual, thus insinuating that he was perhaps an uncaring figure.
When alone, he talks little and barely asks questions, which can be mistaken for his disinterest in her, she insists [she] talk[s] too much and divulges information that [she] shouldn’t. However, she notes he seems indifferent to what she has to say, which includes her real name, implying a strong trust in him, considering him an idol. Perhaps the way he watches her when she talks is what wins us round to thinking he is interested in her, in what she has to say, that he listens thus showing he does truly care.
But the lack of information leaves us with little to compare him with Offred, especially when one notes that their love making is more suggestive than explicit, as no real detail at all is given, therefore Nick remains a mysterious figure. He gives her an identity, and for a brief time she experiences something real, just as Julia has done for Winston in 1984. To conclude, the parallels and the dissimilarities are apparent throughout both the books. Both Winston and Julia, and Offred and Nick were two separate quantities thrown together with suspicion and chance.
Both couples were suppressed in regimes where they had no extrinsic control, but together sought hope from each other in order to maintain a level of sanity whilst living in testing conditions assessing their degree of trust in one another. Yet through the use of narration, imagery and language we pick up the major and sometimes subtle differences in these two different, yet significantly similar relationships; how they as people are so alike yet incongruent at the same time.