Form and Content (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series, Supplement)
Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s unswervingly grim vision of a dystopian future. The author always intended it as more warning than prophecy, so that even though its title date has passed, its lessons about the dangers of conformity, mental coercion, and verbal deception retain their validity and relevance. Orwell’s careful use of clear, understandable language makes the unfamiliar world of Nineteen Eighty-Four comprehensible to every level of reader, and his theme of personal individuality and human emotion, particularly love, trying to establish themselves in spite of the relentless pressure of the modern industrial state has perennial appeal to young adult audiences.
The novel depicts a world divided into three totalitarian superpowers that are constantly at war with one another: Oceania, dominated by the former United States; Eurasia, dominated by Western Europe; and Eastasia, dominated by China and Japan. Since the novel belongs to the genre of the dystopia, a negative Utopia, much of its content is necessarily involved in describing Oceanian society—not only in the features of its everyday life, much of which reflects British life in 1948 (a year whose inverted numbers may have suggested the novel’s title), but also in detailed explanations of the historical origins of Ingsoc and Oceania, as well as its official language, Newspeak. Orwell, rather clumsily in the view of some critics, gives much of this information in...
(The entire section is 625 words.)
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The Principles of Newspeak
This section defines Newspeak, the official language of Oceania, and sets forth its purpose: to meet the specific needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism while making all other methods of thought impossible. When Oldspeak has become obsolete, the last link with the past will have been destroyed.
The vocabulary of Newspeak has been built by inventing new words, eliminating old words, and stripping existing words of their finer shades of meaning. Newspeak, based on English, has three classes of vocabulary words:
1. “A” – words used for everyday life; reserved for simple thoughts, concrete objects, or physical actions.
2. “B” – words created for political purposes with the proper mental attitude; all are compound; made up without a plan.
3. “C” – supplementary; scientific and technical terms.
The straightforward manner of the appendix and the elaborate care taken to construct the grammar and vocabulary lend credibility to the existence of Oceania.
Some critics believe that Orwell was pointing out the importance of language as a shaper of thought and the inadvisability of narrowing vocabulary to limit its range. When we consider the nature of the words in the “B” vocabulary, the satirical purpose of the novel becomes more obvious, for words like “honor,”...
(The entire section is 541 words.)
The Plot (Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature)
Winston Smith begins a diary, an act tantamount to signing his own death sentence in a ruthlessly totalitarian state bent on eradicating individuality. He is determined to stay alive—and “human”—as long as he can. To do so, he must escape the all-seeing eye and all-hearing ear of the Thought Police behind the omnipresent telescreen.
Winston and Julia, who work in the Ministry of Truth, become lovers and find an illusory haven above Charrington’s shop in the district of the “proles,” or masses outside the Party. Earlier, the lovers revealed themselves to O’Brien, allegedly a member of the “Brotherhood” intent on toppling Big Brother. O’Brien sends them “the book,” supposedly written by Goldstein, Big Brother’s enemy. The Thought Police smash into the lovers’ refuge and drag them away to the Ministry of Love.
As he expected, Winston is maniacally tortured, but to his surprise his torturer is O’Brien, a self-styled therapist, determined to return Winston to “sanity.” Winston masters “doublethink,” or the capacity to believe that two plus two equals five, or any other number suggested. Confident that he has satisfied O’Brien’s insane demands without betraying the self that loves Julia, Winston is totally unprepared for the horror of what awaits him in Room 101. Knowing that Winston has a phobia of rats, O’Brien has devised a wire mask to fit over his head with a door his tormentors can open into a cage...
(The entire section is 283 words.)
Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*London. Capital of a future (from the perspective of 1949, when George Orwell wrote the book) political unit called Airstrip One in the superstate Oceania that is the setting for the novel. London’s skyline is dominated by four government ministries, whose enormous bulk and tasteless architecture distinguish them from the surviving historical structures surrounding them. Residential sectors of the city segregate members of the unnamed Party from proles (“proletarians”), but both Proles and Outer Party members live in crumbling tenement buildings that are unsanitary, crowded, and poorly maintained. Police patrols are highly visible; posters of Big Brother—the ever-present, seemingly loving personification of the state—are ubiquitous.
The city’s squalor is symptomatic of the Ingsoc government’s disdain for the welfare of its own citizens. This is the result of a change in the fundamental principles and core values of the society; human rights are nonexistent, and all available resources support building and maintaining government structures that administer and preserve the collective. The life of the individual is barren; this barrenness is suggested by lack of luxury, beauty, and privacy.
Inner Party member Winston Smith has a fascination with the past that he acts out by paying clandestine visits to the oldest and meanest areas of the city, where the proles live and work. Because the proles are...
(The entire section is 1246 words.)
In 1948, when Orwell’s 1984 was published World War II had just ended. One of England’s allies had been Russia, which was ruled by a despotic dictator named Joseph Stalin. Stalin ruled with an iron fist, and was famous for his midnight purges: he would round up hundreds of citizens at a time and murder them in deserted areas, much as Oceania citizens are “vaporized.” Stalin’s victims were his imagined enemies, such as political dissidents, artists, or Jews. Meanwhile Adolf Hitler in Germany, had slaughtered his enemies as well, in the end killing six million Jews plus nine million Slavs, gypsies, political dissidents, homosexuals, and mentally challenged people. Mao Tse-tung in China was fighting for communism against Chinese nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-shek. Mao would finally defeat the nationalists in 1949 and begin a long, oppressive totalitarian regime.
Other dictators of the time included Francisco Franco in Spain and Benito Mussolini in Italy. These oppressive rulers controlled citizens through propaganda and violence. This state of affairs prompted Orwell to create Big Brother, the ultimate totalitarian leader who dominates all political, social, and economic activities.
Socialism and Communism
(The entire section is 734 words.)
Point of View
Orwell’s 1984 is told in the third person, but the point of view is clearly Winston Smith’s. Through his eyes, readers are able to see how the totalitarian society functions, in particular how an individual deals with having illegal thoughts that can be detected easily by spies and telescreens that monitor one’s every movement. Because readers are in Winston’s head, they make the mistakes he makes in judging people. At one point he looks around a room at work and tells himself he knows just who will be vaporized within the next few years and who will be allowed to live. His perceptions of who is a loyal party member and who is not turn out to be inaccurate, however. In this way, Orwell shows that in a paranoid society, where personal relationships with others are at best only tolerated and at worst illegal, no one can really know his fellow man.
Winston is a well-drawn character with clear opinions (clear to the reader, that is; he cannot reveal his opinions to anyone in his society). Often, critics have claimed that these opinions echo George Orwell’s. For example, Winston admires the spirit of the proletariat, but looks down on them because they will never have the means or intelligence to change their lives and their government. On the other hand, he admires the sophistication of the wealthy, cultured O’Brien, even though he is an evil character. This may reflect Orwell’s own class prejudices,...
(The entire section is 975 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
1. When does the novel begin?
2. Where does the novel begin?
3. Cite the caption on the posters in Winston’s building.
4. What is Newspeak?
5. What does a telescreen do?
6. What are the Party’s three slogans?
7. Name the four Ministries of the government.
8. What is the purpose of the Two Minutes Hate?
9. What is thoughtcrime?
10. What is the penalty for thoughtcrime?
1. The novel begins at 13 o’clock on a day in April 1984.
2. The novel begins at Victory Gardens.
3. The caption on the posters reads “Big Brother Is Watching You.”
4. Newspeak is the official language of Oceania.
5. A telescreen monitors one’s every motion and sound.
6. The Party’s three slogans are: War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery and Ignorance Is Strength.
7. The four Ministries are Truth, Peace, Love, and Plenty.
8. The purpose of the Two Minutes Hate is to increase hatred of Emmanuel Goldstein, Enemy of the People.
9. Thoughtcrime is an all-inclusive crime.
10. The penalty for thoughtcrime is extermination.
(The entire section is 161 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 2 Questions and Answers
1. What form of address has replaced “Mrs.”?
2. What game are the Parsons’ children playing?
3. Give the crime the children accuse Winston of committing.
4. What popular spectacle took place that afternoon?
5. What is a “child hero”?
6. Who speaks in Winston’s dream?
7. What does the speaker in the dream tell Winston?
8. What is the bad news delivered via the telescreen?
9. Winston addresses his diary to whom or to what?
10. Explain why Winston washes his hands before he returns to work.
1. The new form of address is “Comrade.”
2. The Parsons’ children are playing Spies.
3. The children accuse Winston of committing thoughtcrime.
4. A public execution was the popular spectacle that took place that afternoon.
5. A “child hero” is an eavesdropper who has denounced his parents to the Thought Police.
6. O’Brien speaks in Winston’s dream.
7. The speaker in the dream tells Winston, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”
8. The bad news was that the chocolate ration would be reduced from 30 grams to 20.
9. Winston addresses his diary to a time when freedom of thought is the norm.
10. Winston washes this hands because ink stains might...
(The entire section is 196 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 3 Questions and Answers
1. How old was Winston when his mother disappeared?
2. What is the only thing Winston remembers about his father?
3. What does Winston surmise happened to his parents?
4. Where are Winston’s mother and sister in his dream?
5. Who appears in Winston’s second dream?
6. What is Winston muttering as he awakens?
7. What is Airstrip One?
8. With whom is Oceania at war?
9. What is the Party slogan?
10. What is Ingsoc?
1. Winston was 10 or 11 years old when his mother disappeared.
2. Winston only remembers the thin soles on his father’s shoes.
3. Winston believes his parents were probably swallowed up in one of the purges of the fifties.
4. Winston’s mother and sister are in the saloon of a sinking ship.
5. A dark-skinned girl who flings off her clothes appears in Winston’s dream.
6. Winston is muttering “Shakespeare” as he awakens.
7. Airstrip One was formerly known as England.
8. Oceania is at war with Eurasia.
9. The Party slogan is: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
10. Ingsoc is the Newspeak form of “English Socialism.”
(The entire section is 179 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 4 and 5 Questions and Answers
1. What is the official phrase for altering records?
2. What is the primary job of the Ministry of Truth?
3. What is “Pornosec”?
4. What is Winston’s greatest pleasure in life?
5. Who is Comrade Ogilvy?
6. What is Syme’s current project at the Records Department?
7. According to Syme, what is the whole aim of Newspeak?
8. What does Syme predict will have occurred by 2050?
9. Tell why Winston believes Syme will disappear one day.
10. Who does Winston believe is following him?
1. The official phrase for altering records is to “rectify” them.
2. Its primary aim is to supply information in all forms to the citizens of Oceania as well as to the proles.
3. “Pornosec” is the lowest kind of pornography, forbidden to Party members.
4. Winston’s greatest pleasure in life is his work.
5. Comrade Ogilvy is a war hero who actually never existed.
6. Syme’s current project is compiling the eleventh edition of the Newspeak dictionary.
7. According to Syme, the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought.
8. Syme’s prediction is that by 2050 all knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared.
9. Syme will disappear one day because of his intelligence, Winston believes....
(The entire section is 205 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 6 and 7 Questions and Answers
1. What does Winston believe is the most deadly danger of all?
2. What is the unforgivable crime?
3. What is the only recognized purpose of marriage?
4. Why did Winston call Katharine the “human soundtrack”?
5. Why does Winston believe a real love affair would be almost unthinkable?
6. What percent of Oceania’s population is comprised of proles?
7. What does Winston copy into his diary?
8. What is Winston’s proof that the confessions of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford were lies?
9. What happened to Winston’s proof?
10. To whom is Winston writing the diary?
1. The most deadly danger is talking in one’s sleep.
2. The unforgivable crime is promiscuity among Party members.
3. The only recognized purpose of marriage is to have children for the service of the Party.
4. Winston calls Katharine the “human soundtrack” because she repeated every Party slogan.
5. A real love affair would be almost unthinkable because chastity was an important aspect of Party loyalty.
6. Eighty-five percent of Oceania’s population consists of proles.
7. Winston copies a passage from a children’s history book into his diary.
8. Winston’s proof is a photo of the three men in New York at a time when they...
(The entire section is 217 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 8 Questions and Answers
1. Instead of spending a night at the Community Center, where does Winston go?
2. What does the Newspeak term “ownlife” imply?
3. After the bombing, what does Winston see lying in the street?
4. What is the one public event to which the proles pay attention?
5. What does Winston learn from the old man in the bar?
6. What does Winston buy at Charrington’s shop?
7. What is different about the room above Charrington’s shop?
8. Why does Winston plan to return to the shop?
9. Who seems to be spying on Winston as he leaves Char-rington’s shop?
10. What is Winston’s current interpretation of the phrase “place where there is no darkness”?
1. Winston heads into London.
2. The term implies individualism and eccentricity.
3. Winston sees a human hand lying in the street.
4. The proles pay attention to the Lottery.
5. The old man remembers nothing useful of the past.
6. Winston buys a glass paperweight with a coral center.
7. The room has no telescreen, and it has a print of St. Clement’s Church.
8. Winston plans to return to buy the print, jog Charrington’s memory, and, perhaps, to rent the upstairs room.
9. The girl from the Fiction Department seems to be spying on Winston....
(The entire section is 211 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
1. How much time has passed since Winston spotted the girl from the Fiction Department outside the junk shop?
2. What conflicting emotions does Winston feel before helping the girl?
3. Give the possible sources of the note.
4. Give the message on the note.
5. Tell why Winston no longer believes the girl is an enemy.
6. Where do Winston and the girl plan to meet?
7. Tell what Winston and the girl witness in the square.
8. When and where will the couple meet again?
9. What emotion prevails when Party members see foreigners?
10. What does the girl do right before she leaves?
1. Four days have passed.
2. Winston feels apprehensive but concerned for the girl’s well-being.
3. The note could have come from either the Thought Police or from the underground, as well as just from the girl herself.
4. The message was, “I love you.”
5. Winston saw how frightened the girl was as she handed him the note.
6. They plan to meet in Victory Square, near the monument.
7. They witness a convoy of Eurasian prisoners.
8. They will meet Sunday in a field somewhere outside the city.
9. Curiosity prevails when Party members see foreigners.
10. The girl reaches for Winston’s hand and squeezes...
(The entire section is 199 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 2 Questions and Answers
1. Tell why a person is no safer in the countryside than in London.
2. What does Winston confess?
3. What is Winston’s immediate feeling as he holds Julia in his arms?
4. What is Winston’s idea of a love offering?
5. What is the emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League?
6. Where did Julia obtain the chocolate?
7. What has attracted Julia to Winston?
8. Why is Winston shocked at the coarseness of Julia’s language?
9. What is Julia’s feeling about her many other lovers?
10. What is the one act of rebellion that could ruin the Party?
1. A person’s voice might be picked up by hidden microphone or his passport might be checked.
2. Winston confesses to his age, marital status, and his physical condition. He also admits that at first he thought she was a member of the Thought Police.
3. Winston’s immediate feeling is incredulity.
4. Winston’s idea of a love offering is to start off telling the truth.
5. The emblem is a scarlet sash worn about the waist.
6. Julia had obtained the chocolate from the black market.
7. Julia is attracted to Winston because she sensed something different about him, and that he was against the Party.
8. Winston is shocked because Party members do not use profanity....
(The entire section is 229 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 3 Questions and Answers
1. Tell why Winston does not need to know Julia’s surname or address.
2. What does Julia mean by “talking in installments”?
3. How does Julia spend much of her free time?
4. What does Julia do at the Fiction Department?
5. What special job was Julia selected for at work?
6. What is Julia’s only interest in Party doctrine?
7. Give Julia’s opinion of revolt against the Party.
8. What is Julia’s reaction when Winston tells her the details of his loveless marriage?
9. According to Julia, what does sexual privation produce?
10. What does Julia believe will help Winston and her to construct a secret world in which they can live?
1. Winston does not need this information because it is unlikely he and Julia could ever meet indoors or exchange letters through the mail.
2. Julia is referring to furtive conversations interrupted by the presence of telescreens or patrols.
3. Julia spends much of her free time in Party-related activities.
4. Julia services the electric motors of the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department.
5. Julia had been selected to work in Pornosec.
6. Julia was only interested in Party doctrine when it directly affected her.
7. Julia thought a revolt would be stupid and doomed to...
(The entire section is 241 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 4 Questions and Answers
1. What does Winston’s heart keep saying about the affair?
2. What does Winston see and hear under the window?
3. What is Winston thinking of as he awaits Julia?
4. What has Julia brought?
5. What does Winston see when he faces Julia?
6. Why does Julia throw a shoe into the corner?
7. What is Winston’s reaction when Julia describes the rat?
8. What is Winston’s opinion of the paperweight?
9. According to Winston, who might know the missing line to the nursery rhyme?
10. What has the paperweight come to symbolize for Winston?
1. Winston’s heart tells him the affair is suicide.
2. Winston sees and hears a huge prole woman who is singing as she hangs the laundry to dry.
3. Winston has been thinking of the surety of the cellars of the Ministry of Love.
4. Julia has brought coffee, sugar, bread, jam, and milk.
5. Winston sees that Julia is wearing make-up.
6. Julia throws a shoe at an intrusive rat.
7. Winston feels as if he were back in a nightmare.
8. Winston believes that the paperweight is a piece of history the Party has been unable to alter.
9. Charrington may know the missing line.
10. To Winston, the paperweight has come to symbolize his shared life with Julia...
(The entire section is 207 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 5 Questions and Answers
1. Who vanishes?
2. How is Winston preparing for Hate Week at work?
3. Who organizes the squads of volunteers?
4. What is pictured on the new poster appearing all over
5. What causes the proles to feel increasingly patriotic?
6. How does Winston regard the room over Charrington’s shop?
7. What does Julia take for granted?
8. What does Julia believe about the stories of Goldstein and the underground?
9. What is Julia’s impulse during the Two Minutes Hate?
10. What is Julia’s interest in the next generation?
1. Syme vanishes.
2. Winston is altering items from the back issues of the Times.
3. Tom Parsons organizes the volunteers.
4. The new poster pictures an Eurasian soldier pointing a submachine gun.
5. The proles feel more patriotic because there are more bombings than usual.
6. The room is a sanctuary where he and Julia are safe.
7. Julia takes for granted her belief that everyone hates the Party.
8. Julia believes these stories have been invented by the Party.
9. Her impulse is to laugh.
10. Julia is only interested in the present; the future, and the next generation, does not concern her.
(The entire section is 181 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 6 Questions and Answers
1. Where is Winston when O’Brien approaches him?
2. How does O’Brien compliment Winston?
3. Why does O’Brien refer to Syme only indirectly?
4. How does O’Brien turn Winston into his accomplice?
5. What does O’Brien think is an ingenious development in the tenth edition of the Newspeak dictionary?
6. What is O’Brien willing to lend Winston?
7. What happens to the paper with the address?
8. What prevents Winston from finding out O’Brien’s address on his own?
9. What is the one thing of which Winston is now certain?
10. What feeling does Winston experience as he talks with O’Brien?
1. Winston is in the corridor at the Ministry of Truth.
2. O’Brien compliments Winston on his knowledge of New-speak.
3. A direct reference to Syme would have been dangerous, because Syme is now an “unperson.”
4. They become accomplices through veiled references to Syme.
5. O’Brien thinks the reduction in the number of verbs is an ingenious development.
6. O’Brien is willing to lend Winston the dictionary.
7. Winston throws the paper down the memory hole.
8. Winston is prevented from finding the address because there are no directories in Oceania.
9. Winston is certain that a...
(The entire section is 207 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 7 Questions and Answers
1. What do the arm gestures made by Winston’s mother in the dreams have in common with one another?
2. What does Winston remember in his dream?
3. What does Winston believe the proles have retained, but Party members have lost?
4. How did Winston spend many of his childhood afternoons?
5. How did Winston’s mother react to her husband’s disappearance?
6. What did Winston do with his sister’s portion of the chocolate ration?
7. What did Winston find when he returned home?
8. What is a Reclamation Center?
9. In Winston’s mind, what would prove he had betrayed Julia?
10. According to Julia, what is the one thing the Party cannot do?
1. They were gestures of protection.
2. Winston had remembered his last glimpse of his mother.
3. Winston believes the proles have retained ordinary human emotions, yet Party members have not.
4. Winston spent many afternoons looking through garbage bins for food.
5. Winston’s mother only went through the motions of housekeeping and childrearing.
6. Winston stole his sister’s portion of the chocolate ration.
7. When he returned home, Winston discovered that his mother and sister were gone.
8. A Reclamation Center is a colony for homeless children.
(The entire section is 214 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 8 Questions and Answers
1. What does Winston fear as he travels to O’Brien’s apartment?
2. What is the only evidence that suggests O’Brien is a political conspirator?
3. Why can Winston not use the excuse that he had come for the dictionary?
4. What privilege is reserved for Party members?
5. To whom does the group drink a toast?
6. According to O’Brien, what is the most Winston will ever know about the Brotherhood?
7. What is Winston prepared to do for the Brotherhood?
8. Why will the Brotherhood never be destroyed?
9. What is in the book that O’Brien plans to send to Winston?
10. Where will O’Brien and Winston meet again?
1. Winston fears that guards will check his papers and send him home.
2. The sole pieces of evidence are an expression in O’Brien’s eyes and a single remark.
3. Winston cannot explain Julia’s presence.
4. Inner Party members are allowed to turn off their telescreens.
5. They drink a toast to their leader, Emmanuel Goldstein.
6. Winston will only know that the Brotherhood exists.
7. Winston says he is willing to do anything for the Brotherhood.
8. The Brotherhood is held together by an idea that is indestructible.
9. The book contains Goldstein’s message.
(The entire section is 210 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 9 Questions and Answers
1. With what power is Oceania now at war?
2. What has Winston been doing for the past six days at the Ministry of Truth?
3. What is the title of Goldstein’s book?
4. What are Goldstein’s three classes?
5. What does Goldstein’s book claim is the primary aim of modern warfare?
6. What is the only possible basis of a hierarchical society?
7. What are the two aims of the Party?
8. What happens to the most gifted proles?
9. Why must the past be altered?
10. Define doublethink.
1. Oceania is now at war with Eastasia.
2. Winston has been rectifying the political literature of the past.
3. The book is called The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism.
4. The three classes are High, Middle, and Low.
5. The aim of war is to use up products without raising the standard of living.
6. A hierarchical society exists based on poverty and ignorance.
7. The Party aims to conquer the earth and to destroy the possibility of complete thought.
8. The most gifted proles are eliminated.
9. The past must be altered to safeguard the Party’s infallibility.
10. Doublethink refers to the power of believing and accepting two contradictory ideas.
(The entire section is 190 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 10 Questions and Answers
1. What is the only way that the secret of the love affair would be passed on?
2. What occurs to Winston as he thinks of all people?
3. What does Winston conclude is Goldstein’s final message?
4. According to Winston, what kind of world would the proles create?
5. What makes Winston believe that proles are immortal?
6. How does Winston think he and Julia can share in the future?
7. What is behind the picture on the wall?
8. What follows the voice?
9. What happens to Winston’s paperweight?
10. What occurs to Winston as he looks at Charrington?
1. The secret is to be passed by word of mouth.
2. Winston realizes that all people are the same.
3. Winston thinks the message is that the future belongs to the proles.
4. The proles would create a world where equality would exist.
5. Winston thinks that the vitality of the proles would be passed from generation to generation.
6. Winston thinks they should keep their minds alive to pass on the news that two plus two make four.
7. Behind the picture is a telescreen.
8. The intrusion of soldiers follows the voice.
9. A soldier smashes the paperweight.
10. Winston realizes that he is looking directly at a member of the Thought...
(The entire section is 202 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
1. Where does Winston presume he is when he awakens?
2. What difference does Winston observe between Party prisoners and ordinary criminals?
3. Who does all the dirty jobs in the prisons?
4. Why does Winston think of O’Brien with hope?
5. What is the “place with no darkness”?
6. Why has Ampleforth been arrested?
7. Who has denounced Parsons?
8. What crime has Parsons committed?
9. What does the chinless man offer the skull-faced man?
10. Who is Winston’s surprise visitor?
1. Winston presumes he is in the Ministry of Love.
2. Party prisoners are quiet and terrified, but the ordinary criminals do not care.
3. The dirty work is done by political prisoners.
4. Winston hopes O’Brien will send the razor blade.
5. The “place with no darkness” is the Ministry of Love.
6. Ampleforth has been unable to take the word “God” out of a line of poetry.
7. Parsons has been denounced by his daughter.
8. Parsons has committed thoughtcrime.
9. The chinless man offers a scrap of bread.
10. O’Brien is the surprise visitor.
(The entire section is 166 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 2 Questions and Answers
1. What does Winston realize about his continuous beatings?
2. What is the aim of the Party torturers?
3. What becomes Winston’s only concern?
4. Who is in charge of Winston’s torture?
5. What does O’Brien think is wrong with Winston?
6. What does O’Brien throw down the memory hole?
7. What happens whenever Winston insists that O’Brien is holding up four fingers?
8. What was the Party’s purpose in bringing Winston to the Ministry of Love?
9. What does O’Brien predict will happen after Winston’s death?
10. According to O’Brien, what is the information Winston will never know?
1. Winston realizes the beatings are matter-of-course.
2. The torturers aim to humiliate Winston and destroy his power of reason.
3. Winston’s aim is to find out what the Party wants him to confess, confess to the crime, and avoid a beating.
4. O’Brien directs the interrogation.
5. O’Brien thinks that Winston suffers from a defective memory.
6. He throws the photo down the memory hole.
7. Winston is subjected to electric shock.
8. Winston has been brought here to be cured.
9. O’Brien predicts that no one will remember Winston, as if he had never existed.
10. Winston will never...
(The entire section is 201 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 3 Questions and Answers
1. Give the three stages of Winston’s reintegration.
2. What is O’Brien’s opinion of Goldstein’s book?
3. Why does the Party seek power?
4. What power is most important?
5. Where does O’Brien believe reality exists?
6. How does the Party exert its power over humans?
7. What is the foundation of the Party’s world?
8. What does Winston see when O’Brien forces him to look into the mirror?
9. What is the only degradation that has not yet happened to Winston?
10. What is the only certainty in Winston’s life?
1. The three stages of Winston’s reingetration are learning, understanding, and acceptance.
2. O’Brien says Goldstein’s book is preposterous.
3. O’Brien says the Party seeks power for its own sake.
4. The most important power is power over the mind.
5. O’Brien believes that reality exists inside the skull.
6. The Party exerts its power by making man suffer.
7. The foundation of the Party’s world is hatred.
8. Winston sees a skeleton when he looks in the mirror.
9. Winston has not betrayed Julia.
10. Winston’s only certainty is that he will be shot.
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Part 3, Chapters 4 and 5 Questions and Answers
1. What does Winston write on his slate?
2. What does Winston think of his few remaining contrary flashbacks?
3. Define “crimestop.”
4. What is Winston’s hallucination?
5. What is Winston’s immediate reaction after he cries out for Julia?
6. How must Winston change his feelings toward Big Brother before he can be released?
7. Where does Winston’s final torture occur?
8. What is the worst thing in the world for Winston?
9. What does Winston believe is the only way to save himself from his torture?
10. Who is the only person to whom Winston can transfer his punishment?
1. He writes “Freedom Is Slavery” and “Two and Two Make Five.”
2. He thinks these flashbacks are false memories.
3. It is the process of developing a blind spot in the mind whenever a contrary thought occurs.
4. Winston has a hallucination of Julia.
5. Winston wonders how he will be punished.
6. Winston must love Big Brother.
7. The torture occurs in Room 101.
8. The worst thing in the world for Winston is rats.
9. Winston believes he can interpose the body of another person between himself and the rats.
10. Julia is the only person.
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Part 3, Chapter 6 Questions and Answers
1. What is Winston’s new hangout?
2. What news is Winston awaiting?
3. What is Winston’s usual routine?
4. What does Julia’s body remind Winston of when they unexpectedly meet?
5. What do Winston and Julia admit to each other?
6. Why doesn’t Winston follow Julia through the streets?
7. What is Winston’s latest false memory?
8. What is the telescreen’s announcement?
9. Whose picture hangs in the cafe?
10. Whom does Winston now love?
1. Winston’s new hangout is the Chestnut Tree Cafe.
2. Winston awaits news of the war with Eurasia.
3. Winston sits alone in the corner as he drinks gin and stares at the chessboard.
4. Julia’s body reminds Winston of a corpse.
5. Winston and Julia admit to betraying one another.
6. Winston would rather drink gin at the cafe.
7. He remembers the time he played Snakes and Ladders with his mother.
8. The telescreen announces victory.
9. Big Brother’s picture hangs there.
10. Winston now loves Big Brother.
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Orwell arranged Nineteen Eighty-Four into three parts, devoting the first two thirds of the novel to creating the distorted identity of Oceania and establishing the liaison between Winston and Julia. The last third is comprised primarily of Winston's "re-education" interspersed with didactic polemic. Fusing realism and fantasy, Orwell presents a vivid impression of life as it could be in the future as well as a persuasive argument in favor of prevention. In addition, by utilizing religious metaphor to emphasize the transference of devotion into the extended arms of Big Brother, Orwell casts an ironic spell on the action of the novel. Written in direct, lucid prose, Nineteen Eighty-Four is unquestionably a technical achievement and deserving of its critical reputation as a modern classic.
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Compare and Contrast
• 1948: West Berlin, Germany, is blockaded by the Soviets. The Americans begin an airlift to help the stranded Berliners.
1984: The Berlin wall, built in 1961 to keep East Germans from defecting to the West, remains in place.
Today: East and West Germany are reunified, after the Berlin wall was taken down in 1990.
• 1948/49: Mao Tse-tung battles Chiang Kai-shek and his nationalist forces, finally defeating them in 1949 and establishing a totalitarian communist regime.
1984: China has survived the severe cultural purging of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. Opened to the West in the 1970s because of President Nixon’s visit in 1972, China is now trading with the West and incorporating some small democratic and economic reforms.
Today: In 1989, students demanding greater economic and civil rights reforms protested in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and were gunned down by Chinese troops. China continues to trade with the West, but its democratic movement has been slowed considerably.
• 1948/49: In September, 1949, President Truman announces that Russia, too, has the atom bomb, having developed the technology on its own.
1984: In 1991 the
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Topics for Further Study
• Explain how history is distorted and hidden from the citizens of Oceania. What is the result?
• Discuss how Newspeak works to alter the expression of thoughts in 1984. Give examples from today’s society of institutions and leaders that have used language to distort reality.
• Explain Winston’s feelings about the proletariat, its past, present, and future.
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Written in the tradition of the Utopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four is perhaps best defined as dystopia, literally the antithesis of perfect society. In this capacity, Orwell's novel shares a common identity with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) and more significantly Eugene Zamiatin's We (c. 1920), both of which Orwell had read prior to the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although considerably different in structural context, Orwell's novel is comparable in thematic design and development. Noticeably dissimilar is that Huxley and Zamiatin create futuristic societies totally unlike the present in which they were written, whereas Orwell deliberately constructed a remarkably realistic and recognizable future.
First published in 1924, Zamiatin's We was an early fictional narrative critical of emerging Soviet Russia. Strikingly similar to Nineteen Eighty-Four, the novel clearly influenced Orwell's perception of the totalitarian state and confirmed much of his political and creative ideology. Zamiatin's novel can certainly be credited with providing Orwell with thematic direction, character analysis, and conceivably the most effective vehicle with which to communicate his artistic message.
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Seven years after the publication of the novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four was made into a motion picture (produced by N. Peter Rathvon; directed by Michael Anderson; screenplay by William T. Templeton and Ralph Bettison; presented as a Holiday Film Production by Columbia Pictures in 1956). Released under the title 1984 with Edmond O'Brien, Jan Sterling, and Michael Redgrave in the major roles, the film version was considered an overly ambitious artistic undertaking. Critical reaction to the film was generally unfavorable, citing the creative difficulties in transferring the thematic complexities of the novel to the screen adaptation. However, the film was considered partially successful in capturing the ominous tone and paralyzing effect of Orwell's futuristic vision.
In 1984, preconceived to coincide and consequently capitalize on the arrival of apocalypse, a new screen version was released by Atlantic Releasing Corporation (directed and written by Michael Radford; director of photography, Roger Deakins; presented by Virgin Films/Umbrella-Rosenblum Films Production). Suffering from similar circumstances as the original version, Radford's 1984 was greeted with mixed critical reception. Due primarily to the inherent importance of language, or more specifically the corruption of language, in the sequential and thematic structure of the novel, it seems apparent that Orwell's narrative technique does not translate well into visual terms. Most...
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What Do I Read Next?
• Animal Farm (1945) was George Orwell’s 1945 fable about the inevitable course of all revolutions. In it, a group of animals revolt against the farmer who is their master and set up their own form of government. The most intelligent animals, the pigs, are in charge, and hopes are high when the animals write their own bill of animal rights. However, over time, these rights are eroded as the pigs begin changing the rules.
• Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1931) influenced Orwell’s own futuristic novel, 1984. Huxley’s totalitarian state, which exists in London six hundred years in the future, is less grim than Orwell’s, but its inhabitants are as powerless and oppressed as the citizens of Oceania. Huxley’s characterization and prose is less sophisticated than Orwell’s, but his novel is funny and fascinating. The inhabitants of his society are controlled from before birth by a handful of elite rulers with sophisticated technology. When a primitive person, the Savage, from outside the society is introduced, he confronts the shallow values of the citizens.
• This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (1970) is another futuristic novel about a totalitarian society with very different values from that of contemporary society. As in Brave New World, citizens dull their pain and...
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Bibliography and Further Reading
Quotations from 1984 are taken from the following edition:
Orwell, George. 1984. Afterword by Erich Fromm. New York: Signet, 1992. In addition, Fromm’s Afterword was indispensable to this study.
Alldritt, Keith. The Making of George Orwell. London: Edward Arnold Ltd., 1969.
Baruch, Elaine Hoffman. “The Golden Country: Sex and Love in 1984,” in 1984 Revisited: Totalitarianism in Our Century. Harper & Row, 1983, pp. 47-56.
Bloom, Harold, ed. George Orwell: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.
Christgau, Robert. “Writing for the People,” in The Village Voice, February 1, 1983, pp. 54–5.
Crick, Bernard. George Orwell: A Life. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1980.
Esslin, Martin. “Television and Telescreen,” in On Nineteen Eighty-Four, edited by Peter Stansky. W. H. Freeman & Co., 1983, pp. 126-38.
Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund. George Orwell & Nineteen Eighty-Four. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Gottlieb, Erika. The Orwell Conundrum: A Cry of Despair or Faith in the Spirit of Man? Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1992.
Hammond, J. R. A
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Atkins, John. George Orwell: A Literary Study. London: Calder and Boyars, 1971. A long and detailed account of Orwell’s climb to maturity as a political writer. Because it was written in 1954, this book presents a dated perspective on Orwell’s work.
Gardner, Averil. George Orwell. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Examines Orwell’s novels, his longer nonfiction, and his essays for theme, recurrent motifs, and critical response. Includes a chronology, an extended bibliography, and an index.
Hynes, Samuel, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of “1984”: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971. Offers both favorable and negative criticism and the particular angles of many different critics. The chapters are reviews, essays, and viewpoints; even a letter from Aldous Huxley to Orwell is included.
Lee, Robert A. Orwell’s Fiction. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1969. A chronicle of the development of Orwell’s career as a novelist. Themed sections include Orwell’s look at poverty and the stricken individual, social strife, and his apocalyptic vision as expressed in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Williams, Raymond, ed. George Orwell: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974. A...
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