George Orwell once said: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on the human face, forever". What does Orwell mean in this quote, and how does this quote hint at a dystopian...

George Orwell once said: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on the human face, forever".

What does Orwell mean in this quote, and how does this quote hint at a dystopian future?

-I already have many points for my essay such as power and total control by the government, utter submission, inequality, ignoarance etc. Anything else that I can add, please let me know. Thanks!

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

There are many questions we could ask, and interpretations that could be made, from this quote. We should be careful not to overdo it!

The symbolism of the boot is pretty clear; it represents power, authority, and so on. One thing that it unclear (and perhaps Orwell deliberately left it unclear), is to whom the boot belongs; is it government, military, or some other specific group? I don't think it is; I think it simply represents an abstract idea of subjugation and control. Orwell believes that the future of humanity lies in the suppression and control of the individual by some greater force.

We might also ask what he means by "the human face"; is he referring to a person, or all of humanity? I believe he's referring to all of humanity. By saying "the human face" he might as well say "the face of mankind". "The face" is "every face".

This quote hints at a dystopian future in several ways;

  • The invisible owner of the boots is unknown. We don't know who our "master" will be.
  • There is no sign of resistance to the stomping.
  • If the face is representative of all of humanity, then our entire species is powerless.
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