What is the relation of the proles to the members of the Party in Nineteen Eighty-Four?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The proles are the industrial working-class citizens in Orwell's classic novel 1984. The proles are depicted as ignorant, passive members of Oceania's society and live relatively free lives. Even though the proles make up 85% of Oceania's population, they are considered harmless, because they are presumed to lack intelligence and motivation to rise up against the oppressive totalitarian regime. As the Party slogan reads, "Proles and animals are free." Winston Smith recognizes that if the proles ever became aware of their existence and power, they could easily defeat the Party, which is why he writes, "If there is hope ... it lies in the proles." However, the proles choose to play the lottery, drink alcohol, and argue with each other.

Unlike the proles, who are free to live as they please, Party members are subjected to constant surveillance and must participate in required community activities and events. They also live in fear of the Thought Police and recognize the terrifying nature of the Ministry of Love. Party members also practice doublethink, which is defined as the ability to hold two opposing beliefs simultaneously and is equivalent to mental gymnastics. The Party members also carry out important tasks and help the government function. Tragically, the proles are too poor and ignorant to recognize their strength, and the Party does not view them as a serious threat to the nation's stability, which is why they are left alone.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial