Suggested Essay Topics

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Part 1, Chapter 1 1. Discuss the omnipresent posters of Big Brother in terms of his physical appearance as well as the phrase “Big Brother Is Watching You.” What does the caption imply about the society in which Winston Smith lives? Are these implications supported by evidence from Chapter 1?

2. Discuss the three party slogans and what each statement implies about this society. What does the public’s easy acceptance of these mottos suggest about the populace at this stage of the story

Part 1, Chapter 2 1. Examine the ways in which the Party makes itself stronger by influencing the youth of Oceania. Discuss the daily lives of the Parsons’ children. What are their favorite games? How do they like to dress? What seems to be their attitude toward thoughtcrime?

2. Discuss Winston’s need to continue his diary despite the obvious implications of capture and punishment.

Part 1, Chapter 3 1. Describe the circumstances surrounding the death of Winston’s mother. What are his conflicting emotions? Tell why her death is doubly tragic, in view of societal changes since Winston’s childhood.

2. Discuss the implications of Winston’s dreams as acts of thoughtcrime.

Part 1, Chapters 4 and 5 1. Discuss the function of the Ministry of Truth. What is ironic about its title? Explain what Winston does there and how he feels about his work. Explain how the creation of Comrade Ogilvy supports the Party motto.

2. How would you explain both Parsons’ and Syme’s acceptance of obvious propaganda? Discuss the reasons.

Part 1, Chapters 6 and 7 1. The Party’s influence on marriage and family life has been profound. What is the Party’s official position on marriage and children? To what extent was Katharine affected by this position?

2. How does the Party acknowledge that the sexual instinct may not always be controlled? Evaluate Winston’s feelings about his visit to the prostitute.

Part 1, Chapter 8 1. Explore Winston’s attempts to hold on to the past. Tell why his conversation with the old man only increases his frustrations.

2. What does the upstairs room at Charrington’s shop mean to Winston? Why does he buy the paperweight? How might this action be interpreted symbolically?

Part 2, Chapter 1 1. From the beginning, the circumstances surrounding this love affair suggest its doom. Explain how Winston first learns of Julia’s interest in him. Detail their difficulties in arranging a meeting. Why can they not meet in the open? Why had Winston initially distrusted Julia, and why do his feelings change?

2. Discuss Winston’s fearing Julia while at the same time wanting to help her because she is a human being.

Part 2, Chapter 2 1. Orwell makes use of several symbols here, especially those occurring in Winston’s dream of the Golden Country. List and explain the common elements in the dream and in Winston and Julia’s first sexual encounter. Focus especially on the landscape, the girl’s gesture, and the thrush as symbols.

2. Explain how the establishment of a relationship between Winston and Julia has many levels of meaning—personal, political, etc.

Part 2, Chapter 3 1. Orwell has placed major emphasis on the character of Julia in this chapter. Evaluate her statement that she is “not clever.” What evidence refutes this statement?

2. What does Julia’s position on Party doctrine reveal? How does this position contrast with Winston’s views?

Part 2, Chapter 4 1. The coral paperweight becomes a major symbol in this novel. When Julia asks about the paperweight, how does Winston explain its significance? What has the paperweight come to symbolize to Winston himself? Give evidence to support the fact...

(This entire section contains 1434 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

that the room, like the paperweight, has become a sanctuary or refuge for Winston and Julia.

2. Discuss Winston’s reaction to the peasant woman’s song. What is ironic about its source? What additional qualities of the peasant woman does Winston admire?

Part 2, Chapter 5 1. As the novel progresses, we see several physical changes in Winston. Describe these changes, and explain why Orwell believes they are happening. Contrast these changes and Winston’s overall delight in the affair with the increasing mood of hatred as the preparations for Hate Week continue.

2. Contrast Winston’s and Julia’s attitudes toward Party doctrine, rebellion, and Big Brother. Tell why it is unlikely that Winston and Julia will ever successfully rebel.

Part 2, Chapter 6 1. In many respects, O’Brien is the most important character in the novel, although at this point Orwell has not characterized him with the same depth as either Winston or Julia. On what pretense does O’Brien approach Winston? What inferences suggest that O’Brien might be less than honest? What concrete evidence does Winston have that a Brotherhood does exist?

2. What is foreshadowed by the chilling sensation Winston feels as he talks with O’Brien? Besides fear, what other emotions might have provoked these sensations?

Part 2, Chapter 7 1. Orwell interweaves the themes of betrayal and hope in this critical chapter. Discuss how Winston has arrived at his conclusion that the hope for the future lies in the proles. What has Winston learned about universal human emotions from his dreams? What belief dominates Winston and Julia’s belief that they will not betray one another?

2. Discuss the additional insights into his mother’s feelings for her family that Winston gains from his latest dreams of her disappearance.

Part 2, Chapter 8 1. How Winston so easily accepts O’Brien as a political conspirator is a problem for readers who accept his intelligence and intuitiveness. Analyze the reasons for Winston’s willingness to believe in O’Brien. What details imply that O’Brien is not what he seems?

2. Discuss the implications of the recurring phrase “place where there is no darkness,” versus O’Brien’s statement that Winston will “always be in the dark.”

Part 2, Chapter 9 1. What effect does the book have on Winston? What does he learn from reading it? What is the unanswered question? What does he learn about himself?

2. What is Julia’s interest in the book? In view of the way Orwell has developed her character, are you surprised by her reaction? Why or why not?

Part 2, Chapter 10 1. Many of the developments in this chapter revolve around Winston’s newly-formed acceptance of the universality of all people. Explain how Winston comes to that realization. How does the sight and sound of the prole woman affect Winston? Why does Winston believe that the future lies with the proles?

2. Tell how the events in this chapter are an extension of the “Big Brother Is Watching You” motif.

Part 3, Chapter 1 1. In this chapter we finally learn the full meaning of the recurrent phrase, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” Explain the literal interpretation of this phrase. How might the phrase be interpreted symbolically? Under what circumstances was the phrase introduced early in the novel?

2. What is ironic about the function of the Ministry of Love?

Part 3, Chapter 2 1. The focus is on O’Brien in these chapters. Explain what Orwell is saying about the power-hungry through him. What character traits does O’Brien possess? Why does he claim to enjoy talking to Winston? Why do you think he allows Winston to question him?

2. Contrast O’Brien’s definition of “reality” with that of Winston. What do you think is the foundation of each man’s belief?

Part 3, Chapter 3 1. Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man is a central element of the theme as the effects of Winston’s torture begin to make themselves known. What does O’Brien tell Winston about the history behind man’s suffering? What is the foundation of the Party’s philosophy?

2. Describe Winston’s physical state. What words and phrases are suggestive of death? Explain why O’Brien seems to take pleasure in Winston’s deterioration.

Part 3, Chapters 4 and 5 1. Describe Winston’s physical state in comparison to his emotional state. Suggest reasons for his dreams and constant lethargy as he begins his recovery.

2. Room 101 as a symbol of the thing most feared has remained a mystery to this point. What is in Room 101? In what way do the events occurring in Room 101 relate to the concept of the mind as a shaper of reality? What earlier chapter foreshadowed the events that transpire here? Explain.

Part 3, Chapter 6 1. As Winston sits at the Chestnut Tree Cafe sipping his gin, we are reminded of the unfortunate Syme who had been vaporized some time before. Based on previous descriptions of Syme, what most likely will happen to Winston? Evaluate Julia’s belief that “They can’t get inside you” in light of the conclusion.

2. Cite examples to prove that life goes on as usual in Oceania after Winston’s defeat. What does Orwell imply about the fate of others who might try to rebel against the Party?


Teaching Approaches


Topics for Further Study