What is the signifigance and idea of religion in 1984? I have to use quotations from the novel to support this. 

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danylyshen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The only religion in 1984 is Big Brother and the religion espoused by the party. Even though religion is alluded to only three or four times specifically in the novel, the WHOLE novel is about religion since religion is about consciousness, spirit, dedication, and devotion--things the party aims to control, repress or eliminate entirely. Even the rule of the Catholic Church in the middle ages was tolerant by the standards of Oceania today (214). O'Brien's interrogation of Winston is the best example, however. "We are the priests of power," says O'Brien, "God is power. But at the present power is only a word so far as you are concerned. It is time for you to gather some idea of what power means. The first thing you must realize is that power is collective" (276). O'Brien is equating the party with God and religion, since the party seeks to be all powerful and control the minds, bodies, and spirit of its subjects. A few pages later, O'Brien says "the real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not the power over things, but over men" (278).O'Brien asks Winston if he believes in God (282) and Winston responds in the negative. Since Winston does not believe in God (or the party as God) then he is reprogrammed at the novel's end.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You will notice in 1984 that religion, in the sense that we understand it, does not exist. Priests and prayers, for example, are not a part of the society in Oceania. There are a couple of reasons for this and they can be understood with the following quote from O'Brien in Part Three, Chapter Three:

"We are the priests of power."

In other words, the Party has made itself so powerful that the citizens of Oceania do not need religion. Instead, the Party has created Big Brother, a God-like figure who demands total submission from his people.

In addition, for the Party, religion would be problematic because it would take people's attention and loyalty away from Big Brother and transfer it to God. The Party would, therefore, never allow such a personal loyalty to exist because it poses a threat to its own supremacy.

Remember that power is the Party's only interest. It cares not about the people, only about being in total control. It is for that reason that religion is not a feature of life in Oceania.

rblystone | Student

I think it has everything to do with the novel. Below is an excerpt from my essay (link to full article at the bottom):

I willingly admit that on the surface, Orwell wrote 1984 as a political thriller about a dystopian society ruled by an oligarchical dictatorship and what that might actually look like in the very near future (a mere 35 years from its original publication). Behind the veneer, I trust that Orwell wrote 1984 with the purpose of warning the world, especially the West, of the inherent dangers of totalitarianism, the absolute necessity of clarity in language, and to advocate for democratic socialism. On a much deeper level, I fantasize that Orwell was describing, in great detail, what life might actually be like if God were absent and instead, Satan was in control of the people. It is this very concept in which I wish to elaborate.


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