What is thoughtcrime in Orwell's 1984?
Thoughtcrimes in the society described by Orwell in 1984 are essentially deviations from acceptable Party doctrine. It is "the essential crime that contained all others in itself." Even if one did not act on these thoughts (and action against Big Brother was almost inconceivable) people, or at least Party members, believed that Thoughtcrime was impossible to conceal forever. It could be betrayed by facial gestures (Facecrime) or simply through ill-considered remarks. The nearly ubiquitous presence of telescreens, and the possibility that one was always under surveillance allowed the Party to create the impression that one was always being watched. On another level, children were encouraged to turn in their parents for alleged Thoughtcrime, and it was important at public gatherings (like the Two Minutes' Hate) to appear enthusiastic (though not overly so) out of fear that others might report unusual behavior. The fact that Thoughtcrime was punishable by death, and the perceived reality of ubiquitous surveillance, explains why Winston's decision to start a journal was such a radical and dangerous idea.