Literature Analysis

George Orwell 1984

The book 1984 was written and published in 1949 by George Orwell – an outstanding English writer and master of dystopia. This novel is probably one of those books, each line of which is dismantled on the quotations. The first publication of 1984 shook the world with its straightforwardness and harsh future reality. And even today, in 2016, the book continues to influence every generation of readers and has a constant reflection in popular culture.

1984 Summary

The actions in the book take place in London, Oceania – a state that was previously called England. All the citizens are under a tough control of the Party and its leader Big Brother, whose existence is not even proved. All the same the posters with his face and a caption “Big Brother is watching you” are everywhere in the city. But Big Brother not only watches everybody, but he also controls the thoughts, development of the state’s history, current news, culture and is penetrated in the private and intimate life of every citizen.

In this harsh and oppressed world lives the protagonist of the story Winston Smith. He works as an editor of historical records in the Ministry of Truth. Coming across some files, Winston starts to suspect something and having no opportunity to share his thoughts with anybody else, he starts a journal. Soon, he falls in love with Julia, who shares his ideas and also supports the destruction of the Party. Together they meet O’Brien, who is said to be a secret underground agent of the Brotherhood, swear allegiance to it. O’Brien turned out to be a member of Thought Police and both Winston and Julia fall under arrest, get tortured and think of the memories of his previous life as lies. Big Brother wins, but it does not bother Winston any more.

1984 Quotes – Main George Orwell 1984 Quotes

“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.”

This quotation is significant to the novel as a whole, as it describes the notion of the term ‘doublethink’ that is seen throughout the work. ‘Doublethink’ is the policy of the Party that ruled Oceania. The term was introduced in the novel in order to denote deterministic totalitarian society stereotype, perverted rules shown in the system of language and linguistic expression. The stereotype that could cause the tough behavior that was unacceptable by the ruling Party. Orwell in his dystopia suggested that the totalitarian society of the future – there will be a new ideology that unites thought and word. Sacred ‘doublethink’ of Big Brother governs all thoughts of society.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

The quotation is one of the most recognizable. It also describes one of the policies of the Party and is their slogan. It is concluded in the liquidation of the past history, events and any information about each person, dates of birth, the year people are living in, photographs – to erase all the memories and to prevent the emergence of thoughts and thinking. The government invaded all the areas of the life of the people of Oceania in order to ease the control over them, their action and thoughts. The Party’s plan was to create a citizen that is completely devoted to his country.

“Big Brother is Watching You.”

It is a quote that is also dedicated to the ruling Party of Oceania. Big Brother is the sole leader of the Party and the state. Even though, he never comes to existence and event may not be a real person. He is a symbol of Orwell’s dystopia and is the center of it. Big Brother symbolizes the totalitarian regime of Oceania. He embodies the fear and angst of the citizens – his eyes and ears are everywhere, he sees and hears everything. There is a slight irony in his name. Usually, a big or elder brother watches you over in a sense that he protects and guards you. But in the novel, Big Brother just observes, controls and spies in the negative meaning

“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”

This quotation can be named as a slogan for people, who are different from others, feel unconfident and shy about their real identity, about who they are. This quote is very important in the novel, as it justifies Winston, his rebellious actions and thoughts referred against Big Brother and the Party. Winston illuminated to himself that he does the correct things and even if he walks that path alone – he is on the right way and it does not make him mad or crazy.

1984 Essay Ideas For Inspiration

Explain how the Party uses logical fallacies, manipulation of language, and propaganda to maintain power and control over the citizens of Oceania. Give several detailed examples from the novel. Why is the control of language, especially “doublethink,” so important to the Party? After reading this novel, do you think language can control human thought?

The government represented by the Party and Big Brother as a leader is shown in the novel as the components of the totalitarian regime that existed in Oceania. In order to strengthen and reinforce their power and control of the state, they created and used a range of rules and regulations that are to be followed by each citizen. Such a policy is directed on every sphere of the human’s life – political, economic, private, sexual and leisure. It included – doublethink, newspeak, historical revisionism, Thought Police and so on. Winston Smith is the protagonist of the novel. He works in the Ministry of Truth and with the help of this character all the Party’s manipulations are revealed to the reader. The Party used language as a strong weapon in manipulating the thoughts of people. The created newspeak and doublethink are eagerly learned by the citizens due to peer pressure and to receive approval, respect and an honorable place within the Party’s ranks. To be its member is considered very reputable. By manipulating the language the government tries to change the people’s manner of thinking. The Party altered some words and created some new instead. Consequently, the absence of the words in the language makes it difficult to describe a particular thought, thus it also makes thinking as a hard process, as well as communication. That results in a lack of independent thoughts. “In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it” (Orwell). The only conclusion I can make is that control of thought is possible through the control of language. As newspeak shortened human’s memories and narrowed thoughts.

Discuss real-world parallels to the ideas, characters, and events of 1984. For example, do the Thought Police, Big Brother, the Junior Spies, control of information, constant warfare, etc. have real-life counterparts? What does Orwell’s novel suggest we need to do to safeguard ourselves from the dystopian future he imagines?

The only association that occurs in my mind, while reading the novel, is a parallel to nowadays’ Russia. The country is ruled by the dictator president, who managed to insinuate himself into the people’s favor through the control of mass media – television, radio, Internet and press. The information people see and hear every day, concerning the situation in Ukraine and Syria is deceitful and lies. The citizens think that Putin’s policy is directed to help and aid, but unfortunately, it is aimed at destruction, war and making a parade of his power and readiness to military actions. Even the little children are aware of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and Syria, but find Putin as a good president, who protects. Putin’s manipulations with people thoughts are lead to people’s denying of everything else they can find on the Internet. Even the fact that the whole world criticized and condemns his actions is not accepted by Russians. The communism and former USSR norms still rule the country, but they are hidden and well planned in order not to arise suspicion.
The other example is today’s North Korea with a totalitarian dictatorship. The only one ruling party, atheism instead of religion and never changing government serve as a proof. The people are scared of the government and are also controlled through the intrusion in all people’s spheres of life. There is no freedom of thought, speech or any expression.
Any person in any country, who decided to fight against the regime and express his own views and thoughts, can be seen as a prototype of the character of the novel 1984. Also under this category falls any leader of any movement that is created to defend the rights and freedoms of people.
In order to safeguard ourselves from such a dystopian future people should have taken measures long ago. Dystopia is in progress. The control of people, their thoughts and actions are done in the same way – through all the types of media, gadgets, and language. The only way to stop it, according to Orwell, is to rise against the government, not alone but as a unity.

What is the major theme of 1984? Discuss how Orwell uses symbols throughout the novel to illustrate his theme.

The major theme of the novel 1984 is the idea of freedom and a harsh and thorny path that leads to it. Through the novel, Orwell uses some symbols to illustrate the main idea.
The first one and very important is the occurrence of The Golden Country in the novel. It appeared in Winston’s dreams many times and stands for a utopia, a safe and free place for the protagonist.
The lady he sees in his dream can be treated as an allusion to the painting Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix. “With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm.” (Orwell)
The appearance of the mother in Winston’s dreams is also a reminder of good days that were before the establishment of Big Brother’s government. The memories of her instill in Winston the idea of a better life and hopes of freedom.
The other symbols are the names of some products and places in the novel –“Victory Gin”, “Victory Cigarettes”, “Victory Coffee”, “Victory Mansions”, and “Victory Square”. Everything hints on Winston’s future self-victory over the regime.
The next significant symbol is the red-armed prole woman. The protagonist sees her as an embodiment of freedom. Her singing gives Winston a hope for a better future.