Describe common themes between 1984 by George Orwell and The Matrix. 

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One shared theme between both works is the power of centralized authority.  The structure of the matrix and Big Brother feature uncompromising visions of centralized authority.  The authority of both governments are all- encompassing, controlling both private thoughts and public actions of the individuals.  Big Brother's power controls individuals who are conscious of being controlled or not.  The matrix controls everything about an individual, most of the times without their own knowledge.  In both works, the theme of centralized authority using power to an unprecedented degree is prominent.

Another theme between both works is the role of resistance.  Winston seeks to be a force of resistance.  His being as one who wishes to challenge the precepts of Big Brother is one that thrusts him in the role as an agent of political resistance.  Neo is another example of resistance.  Neo seeks to destabilize the matrix and, in the process, find himself.  While Winston asserts his resistance capacity throughout the narrative only to have it taper off in the end, Neo is uncertain about his capacity and propensity for political resistance until the end, when he understands that being an agent of resistance is intrinsic to his being.

Finally, both works are animated by the theme of appearance and reality. In both settings, the controlling force of authority wishes to present an image of how life should be lived.  The agent of resistance in each work probes to find how life actually is. Part of the characterization in each work is for the protagonist to struggle in illuminating what exists underneath the surface.  It is in this light where reality is a condition that must be unearthed in the face of what is presented as reality.  This theme is dominant in both works.