What are some important themes in 1984?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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One major theme is totalitarianism, symbolized by Big Brother. Whether or not Big Brother is a real person, there is no doubt that he is absolutely ubiquitous in the lives of the people of Oceania. His face stares at people from posters, coins, billboards, and virtually everywhere else. Orwell uses Big Brother to show how completely totalitarian government could insinuate itself into the lives of the people under its rule. Juxtaposed against totalitarianism is free will and human agency, the continued existence of which necessitate constant vigilance by the state. This is why Big Brother seeks out and punishes "thoughtcrime," trying to manipulate the very thoughts of the people. Technology in the form of two-way screens is used to monitor even their facial expressions in an attempt to sniff out subversive thought and emotion. Finally, a major theme is truth, or the ability to manipulate the truth. Winston himself is employed in altering history to conform with the Party line, working at the ironically named Ministry of Truth. The subjective nature of truth is best demonstrated by the Party motto, which is "WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH."


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danylyshen | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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1984 is one of the more important books of our time because of the following themes:

1. One theme is about the control and repression of totalitarian governments. we should be wary of governments who wish to repress and control as Winston is repressed in the novel.

2. The plight of the individual in repressive cultures and societies. Winston is an unhappy man looking for a society that he can believe in and exist in.

3. How one man is isolated and alienated from himself, other people and his past. Winston experiences all of these.

There are many others. Check here to see the enotes themes in detail.

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mmz | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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well i think that CHESS is the main theme in 1984.This is clear through the following quote:

“He examined the chess problem and set out the pieces. It was a tricky ending, involving a couple of knights.
'White to play and mate in two moves.'
Winston looked up at the portrait of Big Brother. White always mates, he thought with a sort of cloudy mysticism. Always, without exception, it is so arranged. In no chess problem since the beginning of the world has black ever won. Did it not symbolize the eternal, unvarying triumph of Good over Evil? The huge face gazed back at him, full of calm power. White always mates.” 

simply in this quote the white knight is the party and the big brother as the white knight "always mates" so does the party no matter how many thought crimes are committed the party will know about it and reform the guilty and after he or she TRULY loves big brother more that anyone else even him/herself the party will grant hin/her death and they will die LOVING big brother and 100% faithful to him, while the black knight is the thinkers and those who commit thought crime including winston smith of course as they may think that they outwitted the party which is pure imagination which can never be true and they'll all end up exactly like winston as he truly loved big brother after reformation as he changed from a thought criminal into a "good thinker" and accordingly received his death penalty.To sum up, EVERY SINGLE PERSON WILL DIE LOVING Big Brother which means that "White always mates". 

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