Revising Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty Four, is a dismal and brutal dystopian novel about a future in which protagonist Winston Smith attempts to remain human.

‘If you want an image of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever’.

Winston, lives in a world without personal freedom but in an act of personal rebellion he begins to write a diary. ‘Thoughtcrime’ in Oceania society is one that is punishable by death.

‘Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.”

Orwell created his novel as a warning to society about the dangers of totalitarianism:

‘What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ” I am going to produce a work of art.” I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience.

Why I Write’ 1944 article

Some of the themes of the novel that we have looked at are:

  • the destruction of history
  • the attack on sex
  • the appreciation of the past
  • the importance of memory.
  • the attack on privacy
  • the fallibility of the human mind
  • alienation
  • love
  • individuality/freedom of thought and speech
  • governmental control
  • appearance vs. reality

Symbols discussed include:

  • scarlet sash
  • dreams
  • paperweight
  • Room 101
  • chess pieces
  • art work
  • nursery rhymes

More on Themes, Motifs and Symbols here.

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