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

2 Answers

danylyshen's profile pic

danylyshen | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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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.

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rblystone | eNotes Newbie

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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.