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Mastering the Art of Crafting a Powerful 1984 Thesis Statement

Mastering the Art of Crafting a Powerful 1984 Thesis Statement

In the world of literary analysis, one novel has remained a towering figure for over 70 years: George Orwell’s “1984”. Its chilling portrayal of a dystopian society controlled by a powerful party leaves readers spellbound and sparks endless discussions and studies. However, crafting a strong thesis statement about this masterpiece is no easy task. But fear not, for in this article, we will show you how to create a rock-solid thesis statement that will captivate your readers and set the tone for your entire essay.

Before we dive into the finer details of creating a magnificent thesis statement, let’s step back for a moment and analyze the key themes and ideas that make “1984” such a thought-provoking piece of literature. At its core, the novel is about the controlling power of language and the manipulation of history by the ruling party. As readers, we are forced to confront our own thoughts and confront the terrifying possibility of losing our freedom and identity.

So, how can we craft a thesis statement that captures the essence of this powerful novel? First, it is important to have a clear understanding of the main character, Winston Smith, and his struggle against the oppressive party. Your thesis statement should be able to effectively convey the theme of rebellion and the consequences of individual thoughts in a society determined to suppress them.

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To help you on this journey, let’s explore some examples of strong thesis statements about “1984”. Remember, a strong thesis statement gives direction to your essay and leaves no room for weak or mediocre analysis. Here are two examples to get you started:

  • “In George Orwell’s ‘1984’, the character of Winston Smith serves as a symbol of resistance against the party’s oppressive regime, highlighting the power of individual thought in a society ruled by fear and manipulation.”
  • “Through the character of O’Brien, Orwell explores the sinister motivations behind the party’s control and the dangers of unchecked power in ‘1984’, ultimately illustrating the futility of rebellion against an all-powerful entity.”

As you can see, these examples not only focus on the central theme and character of the novel but also present a clear argument that can be explored and supported throughout your essay. They provide a solid foundation for a captivating and well-structured analysis, keeping your readers engaged from start to finish.

Need help with your thesis statement or writing in general? Kibin is here to lend a helping hand. Our team of experienced editors provides expert advice and guidance to students just like you. Don’t let weak writing spoil your essay; let Kibin help you take it to the next level. Tags: 1984, analysis, essays, George Orwell, literary analysis, thesis statements.

A Sample Weak Thesis

“In George Orwell’s 1984, the party’s use of propaganda is scary-good.”

This weak thesis statement lacks clarity and specificity. It does not provide a clear focus or direction for the essay, making it difficult for the reader to understand what the author intends to analyze.

Another issue with this weak thesis statement is its lack of depth. The statement simply states that the party’s use of propaganda is scary-good without further expanding on this claim. It does not provide any analysis or identify the specific qualities that make the propaganda in 1984 powerful.

In order to create a stronger and more powerful thesis statement, it is important to analyze the language, character development, and historical context of 1984. A rock-solid thesis statement will be able to withstand thorough analysis and provide a clearer and more insightful focus for the essay.

Understanding the Importance of a Strong Thesis Statement

One example of a strong thesis statement for a 1984 essay might be: “By analyzing the character of O’Brien and the Party’s control of language, this essay will demonstrate how the Party seeks to control and manipulate people’s thoughts.” This thesis statement not only identifies the key elements to be discussed in the essay (O’Brien and language control), but also provides a clear focus on the theme of power and control in the novel.

To craft a stronger thesis statement, you may want to consider approaching it from a different angle or focus on a different aspect of the novel. For instance, you could analyze the role of propaganda in controlling the masses or examine the importance of history and its manipulation by the Party.

In order to create an outstanding thesis statement, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the novel and its themes. Take the time to do some close reading and thoughtfully analyze the characters, language, and literary devices used in 1984. This will help you identify the finer details and subtleties that can make your thesis statement even stronger.

Don’t be afraid to check out some sample essays or seek help from resources like Kibin. They’re a great way to get a better sense of what a powerful thesis statement looks like and how it can be supported throughout your essay.

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Analyzing the Elements of a Powerful Thesis Statement

Identifying the theme, character, and irony.

In order to create a powerful thesis statement for your analysis of 1984, it is important to first identify the key elements of the novel. This includes understanding the theme of the novel, the development of the main character, as well as the use of irony throughout the story. By focusing on these elements, you can expand your analysis and create a stronger thesis statement.

Analysis of Propaganda and Control

One of the most important aspects of 1984 is its exploration of propaganda and the party’s control over its citizens. A powerful thesis statement will delve into the finer details of how the party uses propaganda to manipulate its citizens and maintain control. By analyzing examples from the novel, you can create a thesis statement that goes beyond a simple observation and provides a deeper understanding of the themes and messages of the book.

The Role of O’Brien and the Father in 1984

Another way to create a powerful thesis statement is to focus on the role of specific characters in the novel, such as O’Brien and the father. By examining their actions and motivations, you can analyze how they contribute to the overall themes and messages of the book. This gives your thesis statement more depth and makes it more engaging for your reader.

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Check out this sample thesis statement for a better idea of what a powerful thesis statement looks like:

“In George Orwell’s 1984, the party’s use of propaganda and control tactics, as exemplified through the character of O’Brien, reveals the damning consequences of a totalitarian regime on individual freedom and the human spirit.”

By analyzing the different elements of 1984 and crafting a rock-solid thesis statement, you will be well on your way to writing an outstanding analysis essay that gives justice to Orwell’s magnificent work.

So don’t forget to analyze the history, themes, and literary qualities of the novel, and above all, make sure your thesis statement is strong and powerful. With the help of this guide, you’ll be able to create a thesis statement that is both scary-good and propels your essay to new heights.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the task of writing a powerful thesis statement. With the right approach and a bit of practice, you can master the art of crafting strong and impactful statements. So go out there and create something outstanding!

For more examples and tips on writing a powerful thesis statement, check out the Kibin blog.

Now that you know what makes a powerful thesis statement, 1, 2, 3, get out there and start crafting your own! Good luck!

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Crafting a 1984 Thesis Statement

1. losing focus on the party’s controlling language.

One common mistake is losing focus on the Party’s controlling language. The way the Party uses language to manipulate and control the thoughts of its citizens is a central theme in 1984. When crafting your thesis statement, be sure to address how the Party’s manipulation of language shapes the world of the novel.

2. Crafting Mediocre Statements without Analysis

Another mistake is crafting mediocre thesis statements without thorough analysis. A powerful thesis statement should go beyond stating the obvious. Instead, it should offer a unique perspective or interpretation of the novel. Be sure to analyze the text and provide evidence to support your claims.

For example, instead of a statement like “1984 is about the dangers of totalitarianism,” try something more specific and engaging like “In 1984, Orwell uses the character of O’Brien to symbolize the Party’s absolute control and the loss of individual freedom.”

3. Ignoring the Father-Son Relationship as a Key Theme

Many writers overlook the importance of the father-son relationship in 1984. The strained relationship between Winston and his own father serves as a symbol for the Party’s ability to destroy familial bonds and control the emotions of its citizens. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this theme in your thesis statement.

For example, you could craft a thesis statement like “In 1984, the Party’s control over the father-son relationship reveals the devastating effects of totalitarianism on familial connections and personal identity.”

4. Failing to Craft an Outline before Writing

One mistake that can lead to a weak thesis statement is failing to craft an outline before diving into the writing process. Without a clear plan, your ideas may be scattered and your thesis may lack coherence. Take the time to outline your main points and the evidence you will use to support them. This will help you create a stronger and more focused thesis statement.

Remember, the purpose of a thesis statement is to guide the direction of your essay and provide a clear argument. Don’t rush through this step!

Why is a strong thesis statement important in an essay?

A strong thesis statement is important in an essay because it gives the reader a clear understanding of the main point or argument of the essay. It helps to provide direction and focus to the essay, making it easier for the reader to follow and comprehend the content.

What are the key characteristics of a powerful thesis statement?

A powerful thesis statement should be clear, concise, and specific. It should clearly state the main point or argument of the essay and provide a roadmap for the reader to follow. Additionally, a strong thesis statement should be arguable, meaning that it can be supported or refuted with evidence and analysis.

How can I craft a powerful thesis statement for an essay on the novel “1984”?

To craft a powerful thesis statement for an essay on the novel “1984,” you can focus on a specific theme or aspect of the novel and make a strong argument about it. For example, you can argue that the manipulation of language and the control of information are powerful tools of oppression in the novel. Your thesis statement can then outline the evidence and analysis you will use to support your argument.

Can a thesis statement be longer than one sentence?

Yes, a thesis statement can be longer than one sentence. While it is generally recommended to keep the thesis statement concise, sometimes a more complex argument may require multiple sentences to fully articulate the main point or argument. However, it is important to ensure that each sentence contributes to the overall clarity and coherence of the thesis statement.

What should I do if I’m struggling to come up with a powerful thesis statement?

If you’re struggling to come up with a powerful thesis statement, it can be helpful to first brainstorm and gather your thoughts on the topic. Consider the main points or arguments you want to make in your essay and try to identify a central theme or focus. From there, you can draft a few different versions of a thesis statement and then choose the one that best captures your main argument and provides a clear roadmap for your essay.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a concise and clear statement that presents the main argument or point of view of an essay or research paper. It is usually placed at the end of the introduction and serves as a guide for the reader throughout the entire piece of writing.

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Doublethink Is Stronger Than Orwell Imagined

What 1984 means today

1984 novel thesis

No novel of the past century has had more influence than George Orwell’s 1984 . The title, the adjectival form of the author’s last name, the vocabulary of the all-powerful Party that rules the superstate Oceania with the ideology of Ingsoc— doublethink , memory hole , unperson , thoughtcrime , Newspeak , Thought Police , Room 101 , Big Brother —they’ve all entered the English language as instantly recognizable signs of a nightmare future. It’s almost impossible to talk about propaganda, surveillance, authoritarian politics, or perversions of truth without dropping a reference to 1984. Throughout the Cold War, the novel found avid underground readers behind the Iron Curtain who wondered, How did he know?

1984 novel thesis

It was also assigned reading for several generations of American high-school students. I first encountered 1984 in 10th-grade English class. Orwell’s novel was paired with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World , whose hedonistic and pharmaceutical dystopia seemed more relevant to a California teenager in the 1970s than did the bleak sadism of Oceania. I was too young and historically ignorant to understand where 1984 came from and exactly what it was warning against. Neither the book nor its author stuck with me. In my 20s, I discovered Orwell’s essays and nonfiction books and reread them so many times that my copies started to disintegrate, but I didn’t go back to 1984 . Since high school, I’d lived through another decade of the 20th century, including the calendar year of the title, and I assumed I already “knew” the book. It was too familiar to revisit.

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So when I recently read the novel again, I wasn’t prepared for its power. You have to clear away what you think you know, all the terminology and iconography and cultural spin-offs, to grasp the original genius and lasting greatness of 1984 . It is both a profound political essay and a shocking, heartbreaking work of art. And in the Trump era , it’s a best seller .

1984 novel thesis

The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 , by the British music critic Dorian Lynskey, makes a rich and compelling case for the novel as the summation of Orwell’s entire body of work and a master key to understanding the modern world. The book was published in 1949, when Orwell was dying of tuberculosis , but Lynskey dates its biographical sources back more than a decade to Orwell’s months in Spain as a volunteer on the republican side of the country’s civil war. His introduction to totalitarianism came in Barcelona, when agents of the Soviet Union created an elaborate lie to discredit Trotskyists in the Spanish government as fascist spies.

1984 novel thesis

Left-wing journalists readily accepted the fabrication, useful as it was to the cause of communism. Orwell didn’t, exposing the lie with eyewitness testimony in journalism that preceded his classic book Homage to Catalonia —and that made him a heretic on the left. He was stoical about the boredom and discomforts of trench warfare—he was shot in the neck and barely escaped Spain with his life—but he took the erasure of truth hard. It threatened his sense of what makes us sane, and life worth living. “History stopped in 1936,” he later told his friend Arthur Koestler, who knew exactly what Orwell meant. After Spain, just about everything he wrote and read led to the creation of his final masterpiece. “History stopped,” Lynskey writes, “and Nineteen Eighty-Four began.”

The biographical story of 1984 —the dying man’s race against time to finish his novel in a remote cottage on the Isle of Jura , off Scotland—will be familiar to many Orwell readers. One of Lynskey’s contributions is to destroy the notion that its terrifying vision can be attributed to, and in some way disregarded as, the death wish of a tuberculosis patient. In fact, terminal illness roused in Orwell a rage to live—he got remarried on his deathbed—just as the novel’s pessimism is relieved, until its last pages, by Winston Smith’s attachment to nature, antique objects, the smell of coffee, the sound of a proletarian woman singing, and above all his lover, Julia. 1984 is crushingly grim, but its clarity and rigor are stimulants to consciousness and resistance. According to Lynskey, “Nothing in Orwell’s life and work supports a diagnosis of despair.”

Lynskey traces the literary genesis of 1984 to the utopian fictions of the optimistic 19th century—Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888); the sci-fi novels of H. G. Wells, which Orwell read as a boy—and their dystopian successors in the 20th, including the Russian Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924) and Huxley’s Brave New World (1932). The most interesting pages in The Ministry of Truth are Lynskey’s account of the novel’s afterlife. The struggle to claim 1984 began immediately upon publication, with a battle over its political meaning. Conservative American reviewers concluded that Orwell’s main target wasn’t just the Soviet Union but the left generally. Orwell, fading fast, waded in with a statement explaining that the novel was not an attack on any particular government but a satire of the totalitarian tendencies in Western society and intellectuals: “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you .” But every work of art escapes the artist’s control—the more popular and complex, the greater the misunderstandings.

Lynskey’s account of the reach of 1984 is revelatory. The novel has inspired movies, television shows, plays, a ballet, an opera, a David Bowie album , imitations, parodies, sequels, rebuttals, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Black Panther Party, and the John Birch Society. It has acquired something of the smothering ubiquity of Big Brother himself: 1984 is watching you. With the arrival of the year 1984, the cultural appropriations rose to a deafening level. That January an ad for the Apple Macintosh was watched by 96 million people during the Super Bowl and became a marketing legend. The Mac, represented by a female athlete, hurls a sledgehammer at a giant telescreen and explodes the shouting face of a man—oppressive technology—to the astonishment of a crowd of gray zombies. The message: “You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’ ”

The argument recurs every decade or so: Orwell got it wrong. Things haven’t turned out that bad. The Soviet Union is history. Technology is liberating. But Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning. And it’s as a warning that 1984 keeps finding new relevance. The week of Donald Trump’s inauguration, when the president’s adviser Kellyanne Conway justified his false crowd estimate by using the phrase alternative facts , the novel returned to the best-seller lists. A theatrical adaptation was rushed to Broadway. The vocabulary of Newspeak went viral. An authoritarian president who stood the term fake news on its head, who once said, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” has given 1984 a whole new life.

What does the novel mean for us? Not Room 101 in the Ministry of Love, where Winston is interrogated and tortured until he loses everything he holds dear. We don’t live under anything like a totalitarian system. “By definition, a country in which you are free to read Nineteen Eighty-Four is not the country described in Nineteen Eighty-Four ,” Lynskey acknowledges. Instead, we pass our days under the nonstop surveillance of a telescreen that we bought at the Apple Store, carry with us everywhere, and tell everything to, without any coercion by the state. The Ministry of Truth is Facebook, Google, and cable news. We have met Big Brother and he is us.

Trump’s election brought a rush of cautionary books with titles like On Tyranny , Fascism: A Warning , and How Fascism Works . My local bookstore set up a totalitarian-themed table and placed the new books alongside 1984 . They pointed back to the 20th century—if it happened in Germany, it could happen here—and warned readers how easily democracies collapse. They were alarm bells against complacency and fatalism—“ the politics of inevitability ,” in the words of the historian Timothy Snyder, “a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done.” The warnings were justified, but their emphasis on the mechanisms of earlier dictatorships drew attention away from the heart of the malignancy—not the state, but the individual. The crucial issue was not that Trump might abolish democracy but that Americans had put him in a position to try. Unfreedom today is voluntary. It comes from the bottom up.

We are living with a new kind of regime that didn’t exist in Orwell’s time. It combines hard nationalism—the diversion of frustration and cynicism into xenophobia and hatred—with soft distraction and confusion: a blend of Orwell and Huxley, cruelty and entertainment. The state of mind that the Party enforces through terror in 1984 , where truth becomes so unstable that it ceases to exist, we now induce in ourselves. Totalitarian propaganda unifies control over all information, until reality is what the Party says it is—the goal of Newspeak is to impoverish language so that politically incorrect thoughts are no longer possible. Today the problem is too much information from too many sources, with a resulting plague of fragmentation and division—not excessive authority but its disappearance, which leaves ordinary people to work out the facts for themselves, at the mercy of their own prejudices and delusions.

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, propagandists at a Russian troll farm used social media to disseminate a meme: “ ‘The People Will Believe What the Media Tells Them They Believe.’  — George Orwell.” But Orwell never said this. The moral authority of his name was stolen and turned into a lie toward that most Orwellian end: the destruction of belief in truth. The Russians needed partners in this effort and found them by the millions, especially among America’s non-elites. In 1984 , working-class people are called “proles,” and Winston believes they’re the only hope for the future. As Lynskey points out, Orwell didn’t foresee “that the common man and woman would embrace doublethink as enthusiastically as the intellectuals and, without the need for terror or torture, would choose to believe that two plus two was whatever they wanted it to be.”

We stagger under the daily load of doublethink pouring from Trump, his enablers in the Inner Party, his mouthpieces in the Ministry of Truth, and his fanatical supporters among the proles. Spotting doublethink in ourselves is much harder. “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” Orwell wrote . In front of my nose, in the world of enlightened and progressive people where I live and work, a different sort of doublethink has become pervasive. It’s not the claim that true is fake or that two plus two makes five. Progressive doublethink—which has grown worse in reaction to the right-wing kind—creates a more insidious unreality because it operates in the name of all that is good. Its key word is justice —a word no one should want to live without. But today the demand for justice forces you to accept contradictions that are the essence of doublethink.

For example, many on the left now share an unacknowledged but common assumption that a good work of art is made of good politics and that good politics is a matter of identity. The progressive view of a book or play depends on its political stance, and its stance—even its subject matter—is scrutinized in light of the group affiliation of the artist: Personal identity plus political position equals aesthetic value. This confusion of categories guides judgments all across the worlds of media, the arts, and education, from movie reviews to grant committees. Some people who register the assumption as doublethink might be privately troubled, but they don’t say so publicly. Then self-censorship turns into self-deception, until the recognition itself disappears—a lie you accept becomes a lie you forget. In this way, intelligent people do the work of eliminating their own unorthodoxy without the Thought Police.

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Orthodoxy is also enforced by social pressure, nowhere more intensely than on Twitter, where the specter of being shamed or “canceled” produces conformity as much as the prospect of adding to your tribe of followers does. This pressure can be more powerful than a party or state, because it speaks in the name of the people and in the language of moral outrage, against which there is, in a way, no defense. Certain commissars with large followings patrol the precincts of social media and punish thought criminals, but most progressives assent without difficulty to the stifling consensus of the moment and the intolerance it breeds—not out of fear, but because they want to be counted on the side of justice.

This willing constriction of intellectual freedom will do lasting damage. It corrupts the ability to think clearly, and it undermines both culture and progress. Good art doesn’t come from wokeness, and social problems starved of debate can’t find real solutions. “Nothing is gained by teaching a parrot a new word,” Orwell wrote in 1946. “What is needed is the right to print what one believes to be true, without having to fear bullying or blackmail from any side.” Not much has changed since the 1940s. The will to power still passes through hatred on the right and virtue on the left.

1984 will always be an essential book, regardless of changes in ideologies, for its portrayal of one person struggling to hold on to what is real and valuable. “Sanity is not statistical,” Winston thinks one night as he slips off to sleep. Truth, it turns out, is the most fragile thing in the world. The central drama of politics is the one inside your skull.

This article appears in the July 2019 print edition with the headline “George Orwell’s Unheeded Warning.”

​When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

What Orwell’s ‘1984’ tells us about today’s world, 70 years after it was published

1984 novel thesis

Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Washington

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Stephen Groening does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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1984 novel thesis

Seventy years ago, Eric Blair, writing under a pseudonym George Orwell, published “1984,” now generally considered a classic of dystopian fiction .

The novel tells the story of Winston Smith, a hapless middle-aged bureaucrat who lives in Oceania, where he is governed by constant surveillance. Even though there are no laws, there is a police force, the “Thought Police,” and the constant reminders, on posters, that “Big Brother Is Watching You.”

Smith works at the Ministry of Truth, and his job is to rewrite the reports in newspapers of the past to conform with the present reality. Smith lives in a constant state of uncertainty; he is not sure the year is in fact 1984.

Although the official account is that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, Smith is quite sure he remembers that just a few years ago they had been at war with Eastasia, who has now been proclaimed their constant and loyal ally . The society portrayed in “1984” is one in which social control is exercised through disinformation and surveillance.

As a scholar of television and screen culture , I argue that the techniques and technologies described in the novel are very much present in today’s world.

‘1984’ as history

One of the key technologies of surveillance in the novel is the “telescreen,” a device very much like our own television.

The telescreen displays a single channel of news, propaganda and wellness programming. It differs from our own television in two crucial respects: It is impossible to turn off and the screen also watches its viewers.

The telescreen is television and surveillance camera in one. In the novel, the character Smith is never sure if he is being actively monitored through the telescreen.

1984 novel thesis

Orwell’s telescreen was based in the technologies of television pioneered prior to World War II and could hardly be seen as science fiction. In the 1930s Germany had a working videophone system in place , and television programs were already being broadcast in parts of the United States, Great Britain and France .

Past, present and future

The dominant reading of “1984” has been that it was a dire prediction of what could be. In the words of Italian essayist Umberto Eco, “at least three-quarters of what Orwell narrates is not negative utopia, but history .”

Additionally, scholars have also remarked how clearly “1984” describes the present.

In 1949, when the novel was written, Americans watched on average four and a half hours of television a day; in 2009, almost twice that . In 2017, television watching was slightly down, to eight hours, more time than we spent asleep .

In the U.S. the information transmitted over television screens came to constitute a dominant portion of people’s social and psychological lives.

‘1984’ as present day

In the year 1984, however, there was much self-congratulatory coverage in the U.S. that the dystopia of the novel had not been realized. But media studies scholar Mark Miller argued how the famous slogan from the book, “Big Brother Is Watching You” had been turned to “Big Brother is you, watching” television .

Miller argued that television in the United States teaches a different kind of conformity than that portrayed in the novel. In the novel, the telescreen is used to produce conformity to the Party. In Miller’s argument, television produces conformity to a system of rapacious consumption – through advertising as well as a focus on the rich and famous. It also promotes endless productivity, through messages regarding the meaning of success and the virtues of hard work .

1984 novel thesis

Many viewers conform by measuring themselves against what they see on television, such as dress, relationships and conduct. In Miller’s words, television has “set the standard of habitual self-scrutiny.”

The kind of paranoid worry possessed by Smith in the novel – that any false move or false thought will bring the thought police – instead manifests in television viewers that Miller describes as an “inert watchfulness.” In other words, viewers watch themselves to make sure they conform to those others they see on the screen.

This inert watchfulness can exist because television allows viewers to watch strangers without being seen. Scholar Joshua Meyrowitz has shown that the kinds of programming which dominate U.S television – news, sitcoms, dramas – have normalized looking into the private lives of others .

Controlling behavior

Alongside the steady rise of “reality TV,” beginning in the ‘60s with “Candid Camera,” “An American Family,” “Real People,” “Cops” and “The Real World,” television has also contributed to the acceptance of a kind of video surveillance.

For example, it might seem just clever marketing that one of the longest-running and most popular reality television shows in the world is entitled “ Big Brother .” The show’s nod to the novel invokes the kind of benevolent surveillance that “Big Brother” was meant to signify: “We are watching you and we will take care of you.”

But Big Brother, as a reality show, is also an experiment in controlling and modifying behavior. By asking participants to put their private lives on display, shows such as “Big Brother” encourage self-scrutiny and behaving according to perceived social norms or roles that challenge those perceived norms .

The stress of performing 24/7 on “Big Brother” has led the show to employ a team of psychologists .

Television scholar Anna McCarthy and others have shown that the origins of reality television can be traced back to social psychology and behavioral experiments in the aftermath of World War II, which were designed to better control people.

Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram , for example, was influenced by “Candid Camera.”

In the “Candid Camera” show, cameras were concealed in places where they could film people in unusual situations. Milgram was fascinated with “Candid Camera,” and he used a similar model for his experiments – his participants were not aware that they were being watched or that it was part of an experiment .

Like many others in the aftermath of World War II, Milgram was interested in what could compel large numbers of people to “follow orders” and participate in genocidal acts. His “obedience experiments” found that a high proportion of participants obeyed instructions from an established authority figure to harm another person, even if reluctantly .

While contemporary reality TV shows do not order participants to directly harm each other, they are often set up as a small-scale social experiment that often involves intense competition or even cruelty.

Surveillance in daily life

And, just like in the novel, ubiquitous video surveillance is already here.

Closed-circuit television exist in virtually every area of American life, from transportation hubs and networks , to schools , supermarkets , hospitals and public sidewalks , not to mention law enforcement officers and their vehicles .

1984 novel thesis

Surveillance footage from these cameras is repurposed as the raw material of television, mostly in the news but also in shows like “America’s Most Wanted,” “Right This Minute” and others. Many viewers unquestioningly accept this practice as legitimate .

The friendly face of surveillance

Reality television is the friendly face of surveillance. It helps viewers think that surveillance happens only to those who choose it or to those who are criminals. In fact, it is part of a culture of widespread television use, which has brought about what Norwegian criminologist Thomas Mathiesen called the “viewer society” – in which the many watch the few.

For Mathiesen, the viewer society is merely the other side of the surveillance society – described so aptly in Orwell’s novel – where a few watch the many.

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1984 Summary and Analysis

Home » Literature Explained – Literary Synopses and Book Summaries » 1984 Book » 1984 Summary and Analysis

Book Introduction

The novel 1984 by George Orwell is a dystopian classic following the main character, Winston Smith, who is a socially low-ranking individual as he navigates his frustrations with the ever-watching Big Brother which forbids any sort of individuality. Crimes of individual expression and/or rebellion are punishable to the highest extent, but Winston illegally journals his hatred of the ruling party and begins a forbidden love affair in secret. His downfall comes as the oppressive ruling party breaks him down utterly and completely.

This novel was written in a direct response to George Orwell’s mistrust of governmental parties and authoritative regimes due to his observations about the Spanish Civil War. The novel is Orwell’s statement that overly authoritarian rule is closer to happening than most people might want to admit.

Literary Elements of 1984

1984 book notes

Type of Work: Fiction/novel

Genres : Dystopian, Science Fiction

Published Date: 1949

Setting: London, 1984 (assumed because of the title but not confirmed in the text.)

Main Characters: Winston Smith, Julia, O’Brien, Big Brother

Protagonist/Antagonist: Protagonist – Winston Smith/Antagonist – The Thought Police

Major Thematic Elements: Perils of totalitarianism, psychological and physical control/manipulation, censoring of information and history, advanced technology, restrictions on language to control and manipulate, loyalty and resistance to power, revolution and independence, identity

Motifs: Doublethink, urban decay

Exposition: Explanation of Big Brother and how the new government regime has altered Winston’s life in drastic ways

Plot: Three parts, linear narrative structure

Major Symbols: Big Brother, the glass paperweight, St. Clement’s Church, the telescreens, the place where there is no darkness, red-armed prole woman

Climax: Julia hands Winston a note confessing her love and now Winston must go from passively objecting to The Party to actively committing acts of rebellion and defiance.

Literary Significance of 1984

1984 cliff notes

1984 is a powerful message about the dangers of political suppression and totalitarian powers. 1984 details the dangers of the rising technological advances mixing with the wrong kinds of political leaders. Published at the dawn of the nuclear age, there were very real fears across the globe that unchecked technological advances in such times of unrest could lead to further oppression of the individuals living under oppressive regimes.

Although much of Orwell’s fears never materialized and democracy overcame oppressive government structures, the novel remains an important and widely-taught novel that serves as a warning for what could happen under the wrong circumstances. The novel is much more than a sci-fi thriller, it contains very real implications for unchecked governmental power and unbridled control.

1984 Book Summary

1984 chapter summary

Winston found a diary in an antique shop in the district where the very poor (the proles) live and the Party does not monitor as closely, believing them to be insignificant. Winston writes in his diary even though he knows it is a punishable act of rebellion. Winston daydreams and when he looks down, sees he has written “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” over and over and has committed thoughtcrime, the crime of having rebellious thoughts against the Party. Winston realizes that nothing will be the same.

As time goes on, Winston continues to write in his diary, knowing full well that it will lead to his downfall. He writes that he longs for revolution against the Party and that the proles will be the key to a successful revolution since they make up such a large number of the population. He believes the Party’s oversight and dismissal of the proles is the key to starting a revolution. Winston thinks about the Party official O’Brien and believes that he may be a player in a potential rebellion effort. He dreams about O’Brien and a place where there is no darkness.

In chapter 8, Winston goes to the prole neighborhoods to try and find out what life was like before the Party but cannot get much information. He goes back to the antique store where he bought his journal and purchases a glass paperweight. The shop owner shows Winston a room above the shop with no telescreen and a picture of St. Clement’s church. On the way home, Winston believes he is being followed by Thought Police and resolves to commit suicide before they can even catch him.

Book Two begins with Winston seeing the pretty brown-haired woman at work. She falls and he helps her up. In doing this, she passes him a note that simply reads “I love you.” Winston is conflicted as he has suspected her of being a spy this whole time. This note changes Winston’s desire to find a way to commit suicide. He resolves to live. The two plan a secret meeting and find much pleasure in being alone together.

In chapter 3, Winston rents the room with no telescreen above the antique shop. This is his and Julia’s go-to meeting place. Winston begins to be frustrated with being kept apart from Julia and longs intensely for a leisurely and romantic life with her. The room with the glass paperweight and picture of St. Celement’s church becomes a symbol of the past for Winston and he thinks about it when he is working and stuck doing other things as a type of refuge.

In chapter 6, O’Brien makes contact with Winston. Convinced that he is being invited to join the rebellion, Winston accepts that he is now really going down a road that will lead to his being killed by the Party. He accepts this and agrees to meet with O’Brien anyway. Winston’s emotions are greatly stirred at this point and he remembers memories from his childhood of leaving his family behind during the political struggles. He believes his is responsible for his mother’s death. Julia and Winston begin to realize the great chances that they will be caught and tortured, and they know that they should stop renting the room but they cannot. They vow to still love each other, no matter what happens. Later, in chapter 8, Winston and Julia meet with O’Brien and declare themselves enemies of the Party.

In chapter 10, Julia and Winston are admired the red-armed prole woman who does her laundry outside their window. They believe her and her children are the keys to revolution. Suddenly, a voice speaks to them in the room and they realize that there has been a telescreen behind the picture of St. Clement’s church. Police storm the room and arrest them. It turns out the owner of the antique shop was a member of the Thought Police.

Book Three begins with Winston being contained in a bright cell that always has the lights on. Winston is tortured for some time and wishes for an opportunity to kill himself. O’Brien meets with Winston and reveals that he was actually acting as a spy and set Winston and Julia up to reveal themselves. O’Brien says that the torture will fix Winston.

After some time, Winston’s torture begins to work, and he agrees to things that he knows are not true. He is being brainwashed and even agrees that “two and two make five.” In a fit of misery after many weeks of confinement and torture, he can’t help but yell Julia’s name over and over. Winston backtracks and tells the guards that he hates Big Brother. In chapter 5, Winston’s greatest fear, rats, are used against him. As the guards prepare to strap a cage of rats to Winston’s head so that they can eat his face off, Winston gives up and tells them to take the rats to eat Julia’s face instead. O’Brien is satisfied and Winston is released back into the real world. Winston is fully in support of the Party, he has been fully broken during his time imprisoned. When Winston sees Julia again, he finds her repulsive. When he sees posters about Big Brother, he feels safe and happy.

Introduction of 1984

The novel , 1984, was published back in 1949 in June, is a dystopian fiction by George Orwell . It spellbound generations and it continues to do so since its first appearance. The novel was a myth breaker, but it also proved prophetic in giving out the truth and the predictions and forebodings of futuristic political instability, especially mass surveillance. The novel revolves around Winston Smith and his co-worker, Julia, who hated their Party. However, they could not leave it on account of constant surveillance of ‘Big Brother’. They even prove tools to surveil each other.

Summary of 1984

The novel starts in 1984 when the world, after having witnessed wars and revolutions, is finally having a break. There is peace in the three states, among which Oceania is one, where the Party is in the government. Its Ingsoc is being led by Big Brother, an elusive party demagogue, who is meant to watch everybody. This is the condition of Airstrip One, an Oceania province. To uproot dissidents, the Thought Police is active through Telescreens, removing dissidents from the scene.

Winston Smith, a middle-class worker of the Outer Party, is now living in the London urban center and doing a job in the Ministry of Truth. His job is to revise history to conform to Ingsoc’s demands. His task involves revising The Times, a magazine, and destroying its older versions. Interestingly, he harbors dreams of changing or opposing the rules of the Thought Party but also feels guilty of being a ‘thought-criminal’. He is aware that someday he is vulnerable to arrest. It happens that his meeting with Mr. Charrington, an antique connoisseur, leads him to write an anti-party and anti-Big Brother diary, saying that hopes lie with the public.

However, his disappointment reaches new heights when his visit to a prole transpires him about these crackpots . He talks to an old man, who seemed to be suffering from amnesia. As Julia is working with him on a novel, he suspects her for espionage against him. Even his boss, O’Brien, too, is a suspect of doing the same. However, he seems to be a formal member of the Brotherhood, the resistance movement against the Party organized by Emmanuel Goldstein, the opponent of Big Brother. When Smith talks to Syme, another worker, who is engaged in revising Newspeak, comes to know that he would disappear. He seems intelligent and has learned the prospect of revising a newspaper, whose objective, he states is to reduce the thinking capacity of human beings. Following this, he meets his neighbor, Parsons, from whom he learned about the Hate Week preparation.

Winston is immersed in these thoughts when Julia hands over to him a letter confessing her love for him. However, their love affair proves stifling, for intimacy minus descendants is merely an exercise they go through every day. He comes to know that Julia is also a secret opponent of the Party, though, she has no desire to put a political front against the Party, as she knows it is futile. After they believe that they may get caught for their love and meeting, they start dating in a room they rent above the shop of Mr. Charrington. During these love meetings, he also recalls his family and the disappearance of his siblings during the civil war. Although he is a married man having no love for his wife, Katharine, and he cannot divorce her. He knows that the Party does not approve of it. Soon he comes to know that Syme has also disappeared after which O’Brien visits him to invite him to his residence.

When Winston visits him, he is impressed by his luxurious flat but is stunned to know that O’Brien is an active dissident of the Party and the Brotherhood member. Finding no response, O’Brien, later, sends him Goldstein’s book to learn about oligarchical practices. When the Hate Week of the country arrives, suddenly Winston observes the change of enmity toward Eastasia from Eurasia after which the minister recalls him to make new changes in the historical records. Following this, Winston meets Julia and reads the book about how the Party keeps hold of the people, how it moves the people through sloganeering, and how it manages wars to make people stay busy. The main argument , however, lies in that it also seeks to overthrow the Party through proles, though, the book lacks the answer why.

As expected, soon Julia and Winston are arrested when Mr. Charrington is revealed to be an agent of the Thought Police. Although Winston comes into interaction with his other arrested colleagues, he soon meets O’Brien, who proves another agent of the department, having part of the operation to hook him in this supposed crime. During his imprisonment, he undergoes severe torture, starvation, and treatment that intends to indoctrinate him. During this new indoctrination, Winston learns from O’Brien that the Party demonstrates the authority to display their undeniable power . Though, Winston argues his case that he accepts everything but that the Party has not succeeded in coercing him to betray Julia to whom he is associated. He also thinks that he would emerge even after his execution that would be his moment of triumph against the Party.

Infuriated, O’Brien brings him to 101 room where indoctrination reaches its final stage of re-education. Here the prisoner is forced to confront his worst fear or paranoia. Winston soon sees facing a cage full of rats, a creature he is afraid of. He expresses his willingness after this punishment to betray Julia and work for the Party. However, when he comes face to face with Julia, he feels that she betrays the same feelings. On the other hand, Oceania’s victory against Eurasia is announced through media at which Winston echoes indoctrination in his slogan that he loves Big Brother.

Major Themes in 1984

  • Totalitarianism: 1984 shows totalitarianism in its true shape and also warns the readers of its consequences of robbing human beings of the very emotions that make us. The curb on civil liberties and personal freedom are reflected through Julia and Winston’s love affair that, though they try their best, yet their consummation is the betrayal from both sides. Another feature of this totalitarianism prevalent in Oceania is the one-party system of the Party where all and diverse groups are involved in worshiping the elusive Big Brother. Everything can be compared to having a cult personality. Everybody proves an agent of the Party, spying on everybody else with no room for peaceful co-existence. The final slogan of Winston that he loves Big Brother is his frustration at having no freedom.
  • Propaganda : The novel also shows the use of organized mass propaganda initiated by the Party through its Ministry of Truth where revision of history books and old magazines is underway. It is Winston’s and his friends’ responsibility to twist facts and create fictions to make the Party seem true. The public feeding system has a very strong establishment to continue with which the Party and Big Brother want to feed the public.
  • Love/Sexuality: The loss of love and suppression of sensual desires is another thematic strand that runs throughout the novel. When Winston shows an inclination to befriend Julia, he also shows his neutral feelings toward his wife. On the other hand, Julia, too, does not show the same passion and soon forgets him when he is trapped in trouble. In fact, love and intimacy have undergone depersonalization through an excessive passion for “duty to the Party” which is a means to give birth to the party loyal workers rather than having it enjoyment of the conjugal life. Failure of Winston’s conjugal life with Katharine and unfortunate love for Julia points to this theme .
  • Independence : The theme of personal freedom and independence is too obvious through the character of Winston who, though, works independently, does not feel that every other person could be the Party agent. Even O’Brien and Julia belong to the group who yearn for freedom. Though Winston considers O’Brien sympathetic to his ideas in the beginning.
  • Identity: The novel shows that most of the characters have names but no identities. The most popular is Big Brother who has the power to know the ideas, thinking, and percepts of the subjects of Oceania. When Winston asks O’Brien that after all, he is a man during his torture, he responds to him with his own argument that he is the last one on this earth. It shows how totalitarian regimes rob a person of his identity and freedom to think.
  • Political Loyalty : The surveillance of Big Brother is powerful, inescapable, and intrusive. When Winston starts thinking about rebellious ideas, everything starts working against him. When he comes to know that Mr. Charrington’s flat is bugged, Winston is horrified and then it turns out that Charrington is also the Party agent including O’Brien who is his co-conspirator. That is why seeing no way out by the end Winston raises the slogan of loyalty to Big Brother.
  • Poverty vs. Wealth : Although it is a socialist system, the Party shows this contradiction in the living standard through its inner and outer circles in that the inner circle lives in luxury and wealth with servants and other gadgets at their beck and call , while the inner circle is trapped in a routinized lifestyle. The ordinary members have to lead a low-quality life with ordinary food, devoid of love, and family pleasures. That is why Winston finds new love and O’Brien looks at London with nostalgia .
  • Technification of Society : The novel also shows the theme of the technification of society in such a way that the people are not immune to propaganda. They do not have an option to think freely. The Thought Police have intrusive sources of telescreens to measure public thinking and change it likewise. However, it is ironic that despite showing such technological progress, some of the mechanical tasks are still lying in the realm of human beings such as Winston’s revision of history, printing machines in the Ministry of Truth, and living in apartments. Perhaps, as the book was written before the technology was discovered the author had given his best guess regarding today’s technical advances. Now, we have GPS and it is easy to trace anyone.
  • Use and Abuse of Language: The novel shows the use of language in controlling the public. The party uses several sources such as the Ingsoc system, Newspeak magazine, and doublethink strategy to change the thinking of the people. Winston and O’Brien are employed for this very task in the Ministry of Truth to abuse language to hoodwink the public.

Major Characters in 1984

  • Winston Smith: Winston Smith, is the protagonist and main character of 1984. He is a 39 years old man, working in the Party office in Oceania. His task includes correction of errors in the documents of the Party and revision of the history in the old magazines. However, his lurking animosity for the Party’s authoritarianism leads him to befriend the Party agents who pose them as rebels working to overthrow Big Brother. Despite his marriage, he falls in love with Julia and has an affair, another Party worker, though this affair ends prematurely. Winston is caught, and he does not seek disagreement when he is given up by agents. He undergoes severe physical and mental torture. Seeing no way out, he secures his release by raising a slogan in support of Big Brother. He knows that with excessive surveillance nobody can slip out of the Party clutches. Though he carries his old feelings, after the release he suppresses it and becomes animated just like everyone.
  • Julia: Julia, a young woman, and the Party Worker, also works with Winston in the same department and almost in the same capacity. Although she responds to Winston’s advances with positive overtures, her frigidness, demonstrated later, shows that she might have alerted the Party high command about Winston’s rebellious nature. Despite demonstrating some opposing ideas, she does not think it an ideal course of action to stage overthrow of the Party. That is why she also undergoes torture but demonstrates much improvement after they win release. She also proves more loyal than before after her release.
  • O’Brien: O’Brien is the inner party member and holds a top position. He suspects that Winston might be rebellious, and he becomes alert. He immediately plans to hook Winston through his espionage and gets him arrested. Working as a dedicated government servant, O’Brien has various natural contradictions in his character except for his fidelity and loyalty to the Party and Big Brother.
  • Big Brother: Big Brother is an elusive character and the main leader of the Party. He is also the ruler of Oceania, who is popular for his omnipresent surveillance capabilities. The phrase “ BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU ” is the catchword in Oceania. Although some of the citizens, like Winston, think that he does not exist, it seems that somebody has adopted this name to terrify the population into submission. He seems the symbol of the all-powerfulness of the ruling faction.
  • Parsons: Mrs. Parsons is the second female character after Julia. As a neighbor of Winston, she seems to be tired of this rule despite being a mother of the two children working in the Spies and Youth Language. She later, hands over both of their parents to the Thought Police for their political edification.
  • Tom Parsons: Tom Parsons’ significance in the novel lies in his being a jolly and simple neighbor of Winston. He despises Parsons for his all-acceptance mentality. He becomes the victim of his children’s espionage activity who hands him over to the Thought Police for the edification of his political ideas.
  • Charrington: Charrington’s significance in the novel lies in his secretive nature of work for the Thought Police. Surprisingly and sadly, Winston, he seems a simpleton antique shopkeeper. Winston does not know his reality when he meets Julia in the apartment on the upper floor of his shop. However, the truth is only revealed after their arrest.
  • Katharine: She is Winston’s wife, though he does not discuss her much and she appears only when his flirtation with Julia starts. Katharine is loyal to the Party and the government and is only interested in childbearing responsibility.

Writing Style 1984‎

George Orwell is popular for his pithy, symbolic, and well-knit writings as a seasoned writer and a veteran political commentator. His authorial intrusions in his narratives are prominent, as he often employs foreshadowing about political predictions and future events. The most important is the use of symbols, phrases, and suitable diction that make his narrative effective though this futuristic outlook sometimes looks far-fetched. It has won him a great readership across the globe. His style is also marked with the short, curt and concise slogans, which have now become popular catchphrases in the political circles.

Analysis of Literary Devices in 1984

  • Action: The main action of the novel comprises the conflict of Winston Smith with the oppression of the Party in Oceania. The rising action occurs when he starts dating Julia and meeting O’Brien about dissidence and resistant movement. The falling action occurs when he faces arrest and subsequent torture with the final sloganeering in support of Big Brother.
  • Adage : It means the use of a statement that becomes a universal truth. The novel, 1984, shows this use of the statement in its famous sentence given in all capitals; “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.” (Chapter-1)
  • Allegory : 1984 shows the use of allegory in its political story that demonstrates that totalitarianism is unsuitable for human beings, power brings corruption and absolute power brings absolute corruption. It also shows that some characters may not exist without their ideational representation such as Big Brother, while others have been made to represent abstract ideas. Surprisingly, this allegory is very much applicable to current times.
  • Antagonist : At first, it appears that Big Brother is the main antagonist of 1984 in the opening chapters. However, as the story progresses O’Brien is revealed to be the antagonist later when he leads the arrest of Winston Smith after becoming his confidant in resistance against the Party.
  • Allusion : There are various examples of allusions given in the novel, 1984. However, some of these may be modern allusions Orwell might not have in mind when writing it such as surveillance tools used by the internet companies, the rise of Communism, and the implementation of the communist system. The references of Ingsoc, Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia are to the Russian communist system, while the three states refer to the Managerial Revolution written by James Burnham and published in 1941.
  • Conflict : The are two types of conflicts in the novel, 1984. The first one is the external conflict that starts among Winston Smith, the Party, and its agents in which he faces defeat when he faces arrest after O’Brien betrays him. The second is the internal conflict that is going on in his mind about his ideas of freedom and rights, and the system of the Party in which he is living and working.
  • Characters: 1984 presents both static as well as dynamic characters. Winston Smith is a dynamic character who changes, though, he becomes the same again. However, all the rest of the characters are merely puppets of the Party. Hence, they are all static or flat characters .
  • Climax : The climatic in the novel occurs in the second chapter when the love of Julia and Winston reaches its peak and both start dating each other, but the Thought Police arrest them.
  • Foreshadowing : The first example of foreshadowing in the novel occurs when the first chapter opens as “It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week” (Chapter-1). The slogan of “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” is also a type of foreshadowing which heralds the use of telescreens, the Thought Police, and the siblings spying on the parents.
  • Hyperbole : Hyperbole or exaggeration occurs at several places in the book. For example, i. The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting three hundred million people all with the same face. (Chapter-1) ii. He knew what it meant, or thought he knew. The place where there is no darkness was the imagined future, which one would never see, but which, by foreknowledge, one could mystically share in. (Chapter-1)
  • Imagery : Imagery means the use of five senses for the description. For example, i. The person immediately ahead of him in the queue was a small, swiftly-moving, beetle-like man with a flat face and tiny, suspicious eyes. (Chapter-1) ii. From over scrubby cheekbones eyes looked into Winston’s, sometimes with strange intensity, and flashed away again. (Chapter-1) iii. The sunlight, filtering through innumerable leaves, was still hot on their faces. (Chapter-1) The first example shows images of sight, the second one of sound and color, and the third one also shows of color.
  • Metaphor : 1984 shows good use of various metaphors . For example, i. Chocolate normally was dullbrown crumbly stuff. (Chapter-1) ii. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour” (Chapter-1) iii. Folly, folly, his heart kept saying: conscious, gratuitous, suicidal folly. (Chapter-1)
  • Mood : The novel, 1984, shows a satirical tone . However, it also shows characters to be sarcastic and ironic at times according to the circumstances and contexts . It, however, becomes tense during the love affair of Winston and Julia.
  • Narrator : The novel, 1984 is told from a third-person point of view . It is also called an omniscient narrator who happens to be the author himself as he can see things from all perspectives . Here George Orwell is the narrator of 1984.
  • Personification : Personification means to attribute human acts and emotions to non-living objects . For example, i. ‘If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that even, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture. (Chapter-1) ii. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. (Chapter-4) iii. Both of these examples show the Party and power personified.
  • Protagonist : Winston Smith is the protagonist of the novel. He enters the novel from the very start and captures the interest of the readers until the last page.
  • Paradox : 1984 shows the use of paradox in slogans such as war is peace , freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength (Chapter-1)
  • Rhetorical Questions : The novel shows good use of rhetorical questions at several places. For example, ‘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.’ (Chapter-4) This example shows the use of rhetorical questions and their answers given by the same character, O’Brien.
  • Theme : A theme is a central idea that the novelist or the writer wants to stress upon. The novel, 1984, not only shows the futuristic thematic idea but also demonstrates human sufferings, love, hate, political ideals and several others.
  • Setting : The setting of the novel, 1984, is further Oceania state and its city of London.
  • Simile : The novel shows good use of various similes. For example, i. His tiny sister, clinging to her mother with both hands, exactly like a baby monkey. (Chapter-1) ii. He clung to O’Brien like a baby, curiously comforted by the heavy arm around his shoulders. (Chapter-2) The first simile compares the girl, Winston’s sister, to a tiny monkey and second Winston to a baby.

Related posts:

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  • 10 Imaginative Similes in 1984
  • Big Brother is Watching You
  • War is Peace
  • Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree
  • Ignorance is Strength
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  • Animal Farm Quotes
  • George Orwell
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Ministry of Truth

The Ministry of Truth is one of four ministries in Oceania in George Orwell’s novel ‘1984.’

The Definitive Glossary for 1984


Written by William Green

A Level in English Literature, Masters Degree in Automotive Engineering.

The Ministry of Truth, like the other three ministries, has an ironic name. It purports to be focused on the pursuit of truth when in fact, the ministry is concerned with erasing the truth of the past and present and replacing it with whatever the Party deems “correct.” Those in charge of the ministry decide what “truth” is.

Explore The Ministry of Truth

  • 1 The Ministry of Truth Definition
  • 2 What are the Four Ministries in Oceania?
  • 3 Where is The Ministry of Truth Used in 1984?
  • 4 Winston’s Job at the Ministry of Truth
  • 5 The Ministry of Truth Symbolism
  • 7 Related Terms in 1984
  • 8 Other Resources

The Ministry of Truth Definition

The name “Ministry of Truth” is a misnomer. It is misnamed as those within its walls actually serve the opposite purpose, to falsify history and the present in order to suit the beliefs and intentions of the Party.

When describing the ministry, Orwell wrote: 

[The Ministry of Truth] was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:  WAR IS PEACE  FREEDOM IS SLAVERY  IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

He adds that the building contained, or so people said, “three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below.” 

The ministry is also responsible for the language of the Party, Newspeak . This new language whittles down traditional English, one word at a time. It is the Party’s intention that language becomes so minimal that no one is capable of thinking anything other than what the Party wants them to. This would mean that betraying the Party or thinking independent thoughts is going to be impossible. 

What are the Four Ministries in Oceania?

The four ministries are: 

  • The Ministry of Peace  
  • The Ministry of Love 
  • The Ministry of Truth 
  • The Ministry of Plenty  

When writing what they were concerned with, 1984 states:

The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty , which was responsible for economic affairs. 

Of the four, George Orwell says, the Ministry of Love “was the really frightening one.”

Where is The Ministry of Truth Used in 1984 ?

The main character of 1984 , Winston Smith , works at the ministry. He spends his days at the Records Department. It is one branch of the ministry. Those who work there are tasked with taking information and changing it. Their primary job was: 

not to reconstruct the past but to supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen Free eBooks at Planet 55 programmes, plays, novels—with every conceivable kind of information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to a slogan, from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from a child’s spelling-book to a Newspeak dictionary. 

There were chains of workers dealing with entertainment for the proles , or proletariat. They created entertainment that most readers are going to recognize. This included films “oozing with sex,” “sentimental songs composed entirely by mechanical means,” and “sensational five-cent novelettes.” 

There was also a department in the ministry, Pornosec , that created “the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at.” 

Winston’s Job at the Ministry of Truth

At the ministry, Winston sits at a desk with a pneumatic tube. Messages slide out of the tube, and Winston works on them, disposing of them as he finishes each job. Sometimes he consults the Newspeak dictionary on the shelf. He uses the “ speakwrite ” to write with, and he describes his job as the “greatest pleasure in [his] life.” It was “tedious,” but it had a routine that he enjoyed, one that he could lose himself in. 

One message that Winston receives that instructs him on a job he has to do reads: 

times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling

This message, written in Newspeak, tells Winston to change The Times for December 3rd, 1983. It references “non-existent persons” or “unpersons,” He needs to rewrite it and submit his draft to the higher authority. He read the article and noted that it praised “A certain Comrade Withers, a prominent member of the Inner Party , [who] had been singled out for special mention and awarded a decoration, the Order of Conspicuous Merit, Second Class.” 

The comrade was no in disgrace, having been disappeared. It’s Winston’s job to change the article and remove all references to him. 

The Ministry of Truth Symbolism

The Ministry of Truth symbolizes the Party’s belief that power is the most important commodity that they have access to. And the power over what people believe (which includes power over the past) is part of that equation. As they change the past, they are ensuring that no one ever comes upon information that contradicts the persona Big Brother has and the concept the citizens have of the strength of their government. 

The ministry can make truth whatever they want it to be, something that comes back around at the end of the novel when O’Brien is attempting to make Winston see that 2+2=5. 

What is ironic about the Ministry of Truth in 1984 ?

Ironically, the Ministry of Truth is engaged in falsifying the past. They are deciding what they want the truth to be rather than attempting to preserve what the truth really is. 

What phrase does the Ministry of Truth use?

All the ministries use the same three-phase slogan. It reads: “War is Peace, Freedom is slavery, and Ignorance is strength.” 

What are the job responsibilities that Winston has at the Ministry of Truth?

He updates newspaper articles with “correct” information. This requires him to have an understanding of Newspeak and be able to think creatively, creating new articles that convincingly replace older ones.

Related Terms in 1984

  • Big Brother : the leader of Oceania and the face of the Party. He’s desired as a war hero, inventor, and more. He may also not be real. 
  • INGSOC : newspeak for English Socialism, the governing system used throughout Oceania. 
  • Syme : a character in 1984 and the man responsible for the newest addition of the Newspeak dictionary. 
  • Doublethink : cognitive dissonce. Or the act of thinking two contradictory things at once. Or believing that the two things are true. 
  • Newspeak : the language used to diminish the range of thought in Oceania. 
  • Ministry of Love : responsible for brainwashing the citizens of Oceania. 

Other Resources

  • Read: 1984 Summary
  • Read: Characters in 1984
  • Read: 1984 by George Orwell


About William Green

Will founded Book Analysis back in 2020 to help others understand and enjoy books, just like he does. After studying an A Level in English Literature, Will completed Masters degree in Automotive Engineering and now works full time on Book Analysis, and similar sites alike.

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You are at: Thesis Writing Thesis Statements Articles 1984 Thesis Statement

1984 thesis statement.

It will not be difficult to make thesis statement once you have gone through the novel 1984 carefully. All it takes is to mark out the important events and character descriptions. Later on you can develop thesis statements by focusing on the important selected areas.

Thesis Statement For 1984 #1

In the novel 1984, there is a description of a society which is controlled in almost every sense; even the most innate impulses like sex and love too. It is all caused by a system created through a variety of types of media in society which broadcasts distrust and suspicions strongly among people that even the blood relatives don’t believe in one another. This shows how natural impulses are controlled and oppressed in the society. Your thesis statement could revolve around this oppression and its effects and consequences.

In this novel, you will observe that everybody in the whole society is watched and has no privacy in whatsoever conditions. Every individual is constantly under surveillance. This makes people frustrated who want to live a free and individual life but it seems to be an impossible task to accomplish to lead to individualism. Here you can focus that in what ways this constant watch affects the life of every individual as well as the whole society.

Thesis Statement For 1984

Another focused area in the novel to write the thesis statement is about the role of women. In the tyrannical and oppressive society, there is no significantly romantic role of women in the novel 1984 like other literature works. Examine the role of women paying attention the issues like Winston’s Wife, the Junior Anti-Sex League, and other women’s role. Develop your thesis statement focusing how the role of women differs from the other novels in 1984.

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  1. 1984: Study Guide

    Overview 1984 by George Orwell was published in 1949 and remains a dystopian classic. Set in the imagined totalitarian state of Oceania, the novel follows a man named Winston Smith, as he rebels against the oppressive Party led by Big Brother.

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  3. Mastering the Art of Crafting a Powerful 1984 Thesis Statement

    One example of a strong thesis statement for a 1984 essay might be: "By analyzing the character of O'Brien and the Party's control of language, this essay will demonstrate how the Party seeks to control and manipulate people's thoughts."

  4. How to Write a Scary-Good 1984 Analysis Essay

    1. O'Brien as a father figure Throughout the beginning of the story, Winston sees O'Brien as trustworthy and looks up to him. O'Brien is part of the Party's innermost circle—he has power. And Winston thinks O'Brien is part of the resistance. This establishes a friendship/mentorship.

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    Title: Nineteen-Eighty-Four: A Novel, later republished as 1984. When/where written: Orwell wrote the book in Jura, Scotland from 1945-1949. Published: June 1949. Literary Period: Late Modernism. Genre: Novel / Dystopian / Science Fiction. Point-of-View: Third-person omniscient. Setting: London/Oceania in 1984.

  7. (PDF) George Orwell's "1984": A Corpusbased Analysis of the Novel and

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  9. 1984 Summary and Analysis

    1984 Book Summary. In Book One, the novel begins with the main character, Winston Smith, returning home to his uncomfortable and dilapidated apartment. It is a cold day in April and as he returns home, he is greeted by a poster that warns, "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.". Context is set in the first chapter that Winston is a low-ranking ...

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    Of the many iconic phrases and ideas to emerge from Orwell's 1984, perhaps the most famous is the frightening political slogan "Big Brother is watching." Many readers think of 1984 as a dystopia about a populace constantly monitored by technologically advanced rulers. Yet in truth, the technological tools pale in comparison to the psychological methods the Party wields, which not only ...

  11. 1984

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  12. Nineteen Eighty-four

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  13. 1984 And George Orwell's Thesis For Modern Culture

    5 Pages Open Document Essay Sample Check Writing Quality Show More The basis for human knowledge revolves around stories and lessons passed down over time, and many novels throughout history have both stood the test of time as well as sparked conversation within the present.

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    Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Forced Repression of Natural Impulses in 1984 Nearly every aspect of the society presented in 1984 by George Orwell is controlled, including the most natural impulses of sex and love.

  15. PDF Successful Thesis Statements

    This thesis statement is concise and organized. Great! However, like the last one, it is hard to find an example of a character NOT doing something. Focus on what Winston DOES do for your proof. In George Orwell's 1949 novel "1984" Winston cannot be considered an archetypal hero because at no point during the novel did Winston preform any

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    We can help you master your essay analysis of 1984 by taking you through the summary, context, key characters and themes. We'll also help you ace your upcoming English assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or online! We've supported over 8,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students ...

  17. The Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984

    Related Terms in 1984 . Big Brother: the leader of Oceania and the face of the Party.He's desired as a war hero, inventor, and more. He may also not be real. INGSOC: newspeak for English Socialism, the governing system used throughout Oceania.; Syme: a character in 1984 and the man responsible for the newest addition of the Newspeak dictionary. ...

  18. 1984 thesis statement

    Thesis Statement For 1984 #1 In the novel 1984, there is a description of a society which is controlled in almost every sense; even the most innate impulses like sex and love too.

  19. Nineteen Eighty-Four

    Nineteen Eighty-Four (also published as 1984) is a dystopian novel and cautionary tale by English writer George Orwell. It was published on 8 June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final book completed in his lifetime.

  20. 1984: Suggested Essay Topics

    1. Describe Winston's character as it relates to his attitude toward the Party. In what ways might his fatalistic streak contribute to his ultimate downfall? 2. How does technology affect the Party's ability to control its citizens? In what ways does the Party employ technology throughout the book? 3.

  21. 1984: Themes

    1984: Themes | SparkNotes By Section By Character Next Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. The Dangers of Totalitarianism 1984 is a political novel written with the purpose of warning readers in the West of the dangers of totalitarian government.

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  23. Douglas McCarthy Obituary (1984

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    What Does the Ending Mean? After Winston has been broken by the rats in Room 101 and has offered Julia up for torture in his place, the final chapter of the book follows Winston for an afternoon sometime following his release from the Ministry of Love. The reader learns that Winston now leads a life of easy, meaningless work, and that when he ...