Doublethink Is Stronger Than Orwell Imagined

What 1984 means today

critical essay 1984

No novel of the past century has had more influence than George Orwell’s 1984 . The title, the adjectival form of the author’s last name, the vocabulary of the all-powerful Party that rules the superstate Oceania with the ideology of Ingsoc— doublethink , memory hole , unperson , thoughtcrime , Newspeak , Thought Police , Room 101 , Big Brother —they’ve all entered the English language as instantly recognizable signs of a nightmare future. It’s almost impossible to talk about propaganda, surveillance, authoritarian politics, or perversions of truth without dropping a reference to 1984. Throughout the Cold War, the novel found avid underground readers behind the Iron Curtain who wondered, How did he know?

critical essay 1984

It was also assigned reading for several generations of American high-school students. I first encountered 1984 in 10th-grade English class. Orwell’s novel was paired with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World , whose hedonistic and pharmaceutical dystopia seemed more relevant to a California teenager in the 1970s than did the bleak sadism of Oceania. I was too young and historically ignorant to understand where 1984 came from and exactly what it was warning against. Neither the book nor its author stuck with me. In my 20s, I discovered Orwell’s essays and nonfiction books and reread them so many times that my copies started to disintegrate, but I didn’t go back to 1984 . Since high school, I’d lived through another decade of the 20th century, including the calendar year of the title, and I assumed I already “knew” the book. It was too familiar to revisit.

Read: Teaching ‘1984’ in 2016

So when I recently read the novel again, I wasn’t prepared for its power. You have to clear away what you think you know, all the terminology and iconography and cultural spin-offs, to grasp the original genius and lasting greatness of 1984 . It is both a profound political essay and a shocking, heartbreaking work of art. And in the Trump era , it’s a best seller .

critical essay 1984

The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 , by the British music critic Dorian Lynskey, makes a rich and compelling case for the novel as the summation of Orwell’s entire body of work and a master key to understanding the modern world. The book was published in 1949, when Orwell was dying of tuberculosis , but Lynskey dates its biographical sources back more than a decade to Orwell’s months in Spain as a volunteer on the republican side of the country’s civil war. His introduction to totalitarianism came in Barcelona, when agents of the Soviet Union created an elaborate lie to discredit Trotskyists in the Spanish government as fascist spies.

critical essay 1984

Left-wing journalists readily accepted the fabrication, useful as it was to the cause of communism. Orwell didn’t, exposing the lie with eyewitness testimony in journalism that preceded his classic book Homage to Catalonia —and that made him a heretic on the left. He was stoical about the boredom and discomforts of trench warfare—he was shot in the neck and barely escaped Spain with his life—but he took the erasure of truth hard. It threatened his sense of what makes us sane, and life worth living. “History stopped in 1936,” he later told his friend Arthur Koestler, who knew exactly what Orwell meant. After Spain, just about everything he wrote and read led to the creation of his final masterpiece. “History stopped,” Lynskey writes, “and Nineteen Eighty-Four began.”

The biographical story of 1984 —the dying man’s race against time to finish his novel in a remote cottage on the Isle of Jura , off Scotland—will be familiar to many Orwell readers. One of Lynskey’s contributions is to destroy the notion that its terrifying vision can be attributed to, and in some way disregarded as, the death wish of a tuberculosis patient. In fact, terminal illness roused in Orwell a rage to live—he got remarried on his deathbed—just as the novel’s pessimism is relieved, until its last pages, by Winston Smith’s attachment to nature, antique objects, the smell of coffee, the sound of a proletarian woman singing, and above all his lover, Julia. 1984 is crushingly grim, but its clarity and rigor are stimulants to consciousness and resistance. According to Lynskey, “Nothing in Orwell’s life and work supports a diagnosis of despair.”

Lynskey traces the literary genesis of 1984 to the utopian fictions of the optimistic 19th century—Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888); the sci-fi novels of H. G. Wells, which Orwell read as a boy—and their dystopian successors in the 20th, including the Russian Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924) and Huxley’s Brave New World (1932). The most interesting pages in The Ministry of Truth are Lynskey’s account of the novel’s afterlife. The struggle to claim 1984 began immediately upon publication, with a battle over its political meaning. Conservative American reviewers concluded that Orwell’s main target wasn’t just the Soviet Union but the left generally. Orwell, fading fast, waded in with a statement explaining that the novel was not an attack on any particular government but a satire of the totalitarian tendencies in Western society and intellectuals: “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you .” But every work of art escapes the artist’s control—the more popular and complex, the greater the misunderstandings.

Lynskey’s account of the reach of 1984 is revelatory. The novel has inspired movies, television shows, plays, a ballet, an opera, a David Bowie album , imitations, parodies, sequels, rebuttals, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Black Panther Party, and the John Birch Society. It has acquired something of the smothering ubiquity of Big Brother himself: 1984 is watching you. With the arrival of the year 1984, the cultural appropriations rose to a deafening level. That January an ad for the Apple Macintosh was watched by 96 million people during the Super Bowl and became a marketing legend. The Mac, represented by a female athlete, hurls a sledgehammer at a giant telescreen and explodes the shouting face of a man—oppressive technology—to the astonishment of a crowd of gray zombies. The message: “You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’ ”

The argument recurs every decade or so: Orwell got it wrong. Things haven’t turned out that bad. The Soviet Union is history. Technology is liberating. But Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning. And it’s as a warning that 1984 keeps finding new relevance. The week of Donald Trump’s inauguration, when the president’s adviser Kellyanne Conway justified his false crowd estimate by using the phrase alternative facts , the novel returned to the best-seller lists. A theatrical adaptation was rushed to Broadway. The vocabulary of Newspeak went viral. An authoritarian president who stood the term fake news on its head, who once said, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” has given 1984 a whole new life.

What does the novel mean for us? Not Room 101 in the Ministry of Love, where Winston is interrogated and tortured until he loses everything he holds dear. We don’t live under anything like a totalitarian system. “By definition, a country in which you are free to read Nineteen Eighty-Four is not the country described in Nineteen Eighty-Four ,” Lynskey acknowledges. Instead, we pass our days under the nonstop surveillance of a telescreen that we bought at the Apple Store, carry with us everywhere, and tell everything to, without any coercion by the state. The Ministry of Truth is Facebook, Google, and cable news. We have met Big Brother and he is us.

Trump’s election brought a rush of cautionary books with titles like On Tyranny , Fascism: A Warning , and How Fascism Works . My local bookstore set up a totalitarian-themed table and placed the new books alongside 1984 . They pointed back to the 20th century—if it happened in Germany, it could happen here—and warned readers how easily democracies collapse. They were alarm bells against complacency and fatalism—“ the politics of inevitability ,” in the words of the historian Timothy Snyder, “a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done.” The warnings were justified, but their emphasis on the mechanisms of earlier dictatorships drew attention away from the heart of the malignancy—not the state, but the individual. The crucial issue was not that Trump might abolish democracy but that Americans had put him in a position to try. Unfreedom today is voluntary. It comes from the bottom up.

We are living with a new kind of regime that didn’t exist in Orwell’s time. It combines hard nationalism—the diversion of frustration and cynicism into xenophobia and hatred—with soft distraction and confusion: a blend of Orwell and Huxley, cruelty and entertainment. The state of mind that the Party enforces through terror in 1984 , where truth becomes so unstable that it ceases to exist, we now induce in ourselves. Totalitarian propaganda unifies control over all information, until reality is what the Party says it is—the goal of Newspeak is to impoverish language so that politically incorrect thoughts are no longer possible. Today the problem is too much information from too many sources, with a resulting plague of fragmentation and division—not excessive authority but its disappearance, which leaves ordinary people to work out the facts for themselves, at the mercy of their own prejudices and delusions.

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, propagandists at a Russian troll farm used social media to disseminate a meme: “ ‘The People Will Believe What the Media Tells Them They Believe.’  — George Orwell.” But Orwell never said this. The moral authority of his name was stolen and turned into a lie toward that most Orwellian end: the destruction of belief in truth. The Russians needed partners in this effort and found them by the millions, especially among America’s non-elites. In 1984 , working-class people are called “proles,” and Winston believes they’re the only hope for the future. As Lynskey points out, Orwell didn’t foresee “that the common man and woman would embrace doublethink as enthusiastically as the intellectuals and, without the need for terror or torture, would choose to believe that two plus two was whatever they wanted it to be.”

We stagger under the daily load of doublethink pouring from Trump, his enablers in the Inner Party, his mouthpieces in the Ministry of Truth, and his fanatical supporters among the proles. Spotting doublethink in ourselves is much harder. “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” Orwell wrote . In front of my nose, in the world of enlightened and progressive people where I live and work, a different sort of doublethink has become pervasive. It’s not the claim that true is fake or that two plus two makes five. Progressive doublethink—which has grown worse in reaction to the right-wing kind—creates a more insidious unreality because it operates in the name of all that is good. Its key word is justice —a word no one should want to live without. But today the demand for justice forces you to accept contradictions that are the essence of doublethink.

For example, many on the left now share an unacknowledged but common assumption that a good work of art is made of good politics and that good politics is a matter of identity. The progressive view of a book or play depends on its political stance, and its stance—even its subject matter—is scrutinized in light of the group affiliation of the artist: Personal identity plus political position equals aesthetic value. This confusion of categories guides judgments all across the worlds of media, the arts, and education, from movie reviews to grant committees. Some people who register the assumption as doublethink might be privately troubled, but they don’t say so publicly. Then self-censorship turns into self-deception, until the recognition itself disappears—a lie you accept becomes a lie you forget. In this way, intelligent people do the work of eliminating their own unorthodoxy without the Thought Police.

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Orthodoxy is also enforced by social pressure, nowhere more intensely than on Twitter, where the specter of being shamed or “canceled” produces conformity as much as the prospect of adding to your tribe of followers does. This pressure can be more powerful than a party or state, because it speaks in the name of the people and in the language of moral outrage, against which there is, in a way, no defense. Certain commissars with large followings patrol the precincts of social media and punish thought criminals, but most progressives assent without difficulty to the stifling consensus of the moment and the intolerance it breeds—not out of fear, but because they want to be counted on the side of justice.

This willing constriction of intellectual freedom will do lasting damage. It corrupts the ability to think clearly, and it undermines both culture and progress. Good art doesn’t come from wokeness, and social problems starved of debate can’t find real solutions. “Nothing is gained by teaching a parrot a new word,” Orwell wrote in 1946. “What is needed is the right to print what one believes to be true, without having to fear bullying or blackmail from any side.” Not much has changed since the 1940s. The will to power still passes through hatred on the right and virtue on the left.

1984 will always be an essential book, regardless of changes in ideologies, for its portrayal of one person struggling to hold on to what is real and valuable. “Sanity is not statistical,” Winston thinks one night as he slips off to sleep. Truth, it turns out, is the most fragile thing in the world. The central drama of politics is the one inside your skull.

This article appears in the July 2019 print edition with the headline “George Orwell’s Unheeded Warning.”

​When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

George Orwell

  • Literature Notes
  • The Mutability of History
  • 1984 at a Glance
  • Book Summary
  • Character List
  • Summary and Analysis
  • Part 1: Chapter 1
  • Part 1: Chapter 2
  • Part 1: Chapter 3
  • Part 1: Chapter 4
  • Part 1: Chapter 5
  • Part 1: Chapters 6-7
  • Part 1: Chapter 8
  • Part 2: Chapter 1
  • Part 2: Chapters 2-3
  • Part 2: Chapter 4
  • Part 2: Chapters 5-6
  • Part 2: Chapters 7-8
  • Part 2: Chapters 9-10
  • Part 3: Chapter 1
  • Part 3: Chapters 2-3
  • Part 3: Chapters 4-5
  • Part 3: Chapter 6
  • Part 3: Appendix
  • Character Analysis
  • Winston Smith
  • Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein
  • Character Map
  • George Orwell Biography
  • Critical Essays
  • The Role of Language and the Act of Writing
  • The Purpose of Newspeak
  • The Role of the Author
  • Full Glossary
  • Essay Questions
  • Practice Projects
  • Cite this Literature Note

Critical Essays The Mutability of History

One of the issues raised in 1984 is the idea that history is mutable or changeable, that truth is what the Party deems it to be, and that the truths found in history are the bases of the principles of the future. Some Fascist German leaders of the time boasted that if you tell a lie loud enough and often enough, people will accept it as truth. The Stalinists perfected this modus operandi by re-writing people and events in and out of history or distorting historical facts to suit the Party's purposes. "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past," runs the Party slogan in 1984.

Winston Smith 's position in the Ministry of Truth is that of creating or forging the past into something unrecognizable to any person with an accurate memory (even memory is controlled in 1984 ) so that each forgery "becomes" historic fact. One moment, Oceania is and always has been at war with one enemy, the next moment it is and has always been at war with another, and the people of Oceania accept the information as true. It is an exaggeration of a phenomenon that Orwell observed in his own time and reported with true clarity in 1984 : People most readily believe that which they can believe most conveniently.

The novel makes the distinction between truth (the actual issues and circumstances of an event) and fact (what are believed to be the issues and circumstances of an event) and then explores the social-political-ethical-moral nuances of the evil manipulation of facts in order to control individuals and societies for political gain. Orwell was concerned that the concept of truth was fading out of the world. After all, in the arena of human intercourse of which politics is a part, what is believed is much more powerful than what is actual. If the leaders of nations are the people dictating the what, where, when, who, and how of history, there can be little question that lies find their way into the history books, that those lies are taught to school children, and that they eventually become historical fact.

This concern is quite obvious in 1984 . During Orwell's time as a resistance fighter in Spain, he experienced this rewriting of history first-hand: He noticed that newspaper stories were often inaccurate: There were often reports of battles where no fighting had occurred or no report at all of battles where hundreds of men had died. Orwell conceded that much of history was lies, and he was frustrated by the fact that he believed that history could be accurately written.

This "rewriting" of events is not reserved for totalitarian governments. Even in our own time, candidates for all levels of government, including those for President, "remember" things differently, and politicos nationwide attempt to put their "spin" on events that affect us all. It is as if an event can be stricken from history if the population does not remember it. And again, at all levels, non-specific or ambiguous language is used to shade or change the actual events to favor the candidates' or leaders' position or ideology. With every era, our "heroes" are disclaimed, and history books rewritten. As the culture and the ideology change, history changes. Sometimes these distortions are innocent and innocuous differences of perspective; other times, they are deadly dangerous.

Previous The Role of the Author

Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Books — 1984

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Essays on 1984

Hook examples for "1984" essays, the dystopian warning hook.

Open your essay by discussing George Orwell's "1984" as a prophetic warning against totalitarianism and government surveillance. Explore how the novel's themes are eerily relevant in today's world.

The Orwellian Language Hook

Delve into the concept of Newspeak in "1984" and its parallels to modern language manipulation. Discuss how the novel's portrayal of controlled language reflects real-world instances of propaganda and censorship.

Big Brother is Watching Hook

Begin with a focus on surveillance and privacy concerns. Analyze the omnipresent surveillance in the novel and draw connections to contemporary debates over surveillance technologies, data privacy, and civil liberties.

The Power of Doublethink Hook

Explore the psychological manipulation in "1984" through the concept of doublethink. Discuss how individuals in the novel are coerced into accepting contradictory beliefs, and examine instances of cognitive dissonance in society today.

The Character of Winston Smith Hook

Introduce your readers to the protagonist, Winston Smith, and his journey of rebellion against the Party. Analyze his character development and the universal theme of resistance against oppressive regimes.

Technology and Control Hook

Discuss the role of technology in "1984" and its implications for control. Explore how advancements in surveillance technology, social media, and artificial intelligence resonate with the novel's themes of control and manipulation.

The Ministry of Truth Hook

Examine the Ministry of Truth in the novel, responsible for rewriting history. Compare this to the manipulation of information and historical revisionism in contemporary politics and media.

Media Manipulation and Fake News Hook

Draw parallels between the Party's manipulation of information in "1984" and the spread of misinformation and fake news in today's media landscape. Discuss the consequences of a distorted reality.

Relevance of Thoughtcrime Hook

Explore the concept of thoughtcrime and its impact on individual freedom in the novel. Discuss how society today grapples with issues related to freedom of thought, expression, and censorship.

Examples of Paradoxes in 1984

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Tranquility in George Orwells 1984

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1984 by George Orwell: Literary Devices to Portray Government Controlling Its Citizens

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A World Without Love: The Ramifications of an Affectionless Society in 1984

On double-think and newspeak: orwell's language, the theme of survival and selfishness in the handmaid's tale in 1984, government surveillance in 1984 by george orwell: bogus security, george orwell's 1984 as a historical allegory, exploitation of language in george orwell's 1984, how orwell's 1984 is relevant to today's audience, the relation of orwel’s 1984 to the uighur conflict in china, symbolism in 1984: the soviet union as representation of the fears people, parallels to today in 1984 by george orwell, the relationship between power and emotions in 1984, proletariat vs protagonist: winston smith's class conflict in 1984, a review of george orwell’s book, 1984, o'brien as a dehumanizing villain in 1984, family in 1984 and persepolis, the philosophy of determinism in 1984, orwell's use of rhetorical strategies in 1984, control the citizens in the orwell's novel 1984, dangers of totalitarianism as depicted in 1984, dystopian life in '1984' was a real-life in china.

8 June 1949, George Orwell

Novel; Dystopia, Political Fiction, Social Science Fiction Novel

Winston Smith, Julia, O'Brien, Aaronson, Jones, and Rutherford, Ampleforth, Charrington, Tom Parsons, Syme, Mrs. Parsons, Katharine Smith

Since Orwell has been a democratic socialist, he has modelled his book and motives after the Stalinist Russia

Power, Repressive Behaviors, Totalitarianism, Mass Surveillance, Human Behaviors

The novel has brought up the "Orwellian" term, which stands for "Big Brother" "Thoughtcrime" and many other terms that we know well. It has been the reflection of totalitarianism

1984 represents a dystopian writing that has followed the life of Winston Smith who belongs to the "Party",which stands for the total control, which is also known as the Big Brother. It controls every aspect of people's lives. Is it ever possible to go against the system or will it take even more control. It constantly follows the fear and oppression with the surveillance being the main part of 1984. There is Party’s official O’Brien who is following the resistance movement, which represents an alternative, which is the symbol of hope.

Before George Orwell wrote his famous book, he worked for the BBC as the propagandist during World War II. The novel has been named 1980, then 1982 before finally settling on its name. Orwell fought tuberculosis while writing the novel. He died seven months after 1984 was published. Orwell almost died during the boating trip while he was writing the novel. Orwell himself has been under government surveillance. It was because of his socialist opinions. The slogan that the book uses "2 + 2 = 5" originally came from Communist Russia and stood for the five-year plan that had to be achieved during only four years. Orwell also used various Japanese propaganda when writing his novel, precisely his "Thought Police" idea.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” “Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” “Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn't matter; only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you-that would be the real betrayal.” “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” "But you could not have pure love or pure lust nowadays. No emotion was pure, because everything was mixed up with fear and hatred."

The most important aspect of 1984 is Thought Police, which controls every thought. It has been featured in numerous books, plays, music pieces, poetry, and anything that has been created when one had to deal with Social Science and Politics. Another factor that represents culmination is thinking about overthrowing the system or trying to organize a resistance movement. It has numerous reflections of the post WW2 world. Although the novella is graphic and quite intense, it portrays dictatorship and is driven by fear through the lens of its characters.

This essay topic is often used when writing about “The Big Brother” or totalitarian regimes, which makes 1984 a flexible topic that can be taken as the foundation. Even if you have to write about the use of fear by the political regimes, knowing the facts about this novel will help you to provide an example.

1. Enteen, G. M. (1984). George Orwell And the Theory of Totalitarianism: A 1984 Retrospective. The Journal of General Education, 36(3), 206-215. ( 2. Hughes, I. (2021). 1984. Literary Cultures, 4(2). ( 3. Patai, D. (1982). Gamesmanship and Androcentrism in Orwell's 1984. PMLA, 97(5), 856-870. ( 4. Paden, R. (1984). Surveillance and Torture: Foucault and Orwell on the Methods of Discipline. Social Theory and Practice, 10(3), 261-271. ( 5. Tyner, J. A. (2004). Self and space, resistance and discipline: a Foucauldian reading of George Orwell's 1984. Social & Cultural Geography, 5(1), 129-149. ( 6. Kellner, D. (1990). From 1984 to one-dimensional man: Critical reflections on Orwell and Marcuse. Current Perspectives in Social Theory, 10, 223-52. ( 7. Samuelson, P. (1984). Good legal writing: of Orwell and window panes. U. Pitt. L. Rev., 46, 149. ( 8. Fadaee, E. (2011). Translation techniques of figures of speech: A case study of George Orwell's" 1984 and Animal Farm. Journal of English and Literature, 2(8), 174-181. ( 9. Patai, D. (1984, January). Orwell's despair, Burdekin's hope: Gender and power in dystopia. In Women's Studies International Forum (Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 85-95). Pergamon. ( 10. Cole, M. B. (2022). The Desperate Radicalism of Orwell’s 1984: Power, Socialism, and Utopia in Dystopian Times. Political Research Quarterly, 10659129221083286. (

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Critical Essay 1984

Profile image of Fernando Alfayate Fernández

In this essay, we are exploring the book 1984, published on the 8 th June 1949 by George Orwell. He participated in the Spanish Civil War and wrote extensively about dystopian societies and reflections on certain ideologies.

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critical essay 1984

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Darko Suvin

Orwell, as he himself said, came from a lower, professional service fraction of the English and imperial ruling class that was “simultaneously dominator and dominated” (R. Williams), so that a combination of State and monopoly power became his major nightmare. His horizon was as of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 a revolutionary socialism committed to freedom and equality, opposed both to Labourite social-democracy and to Stalinist pseudo-communism. I concentrate on 1984, drawing on narratology (its agential system, spacetime descriptions, and composition -- “the Winston story,” the “Goldstein excerpts,” and the Appendix on Newspeak) and historical lessons. I conclude that 1984 has an interesting but limited “Tory anarchist” stance and horizon: being revolted against the rulers but not believing the revolt can succeed (in direct polemic with the Communist Manifesto). In Orwell‘s view there are “three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle and the Low,” but the mindless and passive Low reduce this to the Middle against the High, or intellect and impotence vs. cynical power. No economics entails here no class struggle and a fair amount of misogyny. Orwell‘s textural skill was penetrating, but his thematics very limited. Still, he was one of the first to notice the long-duration slide of politics toward fascism is, even if he drew a wrong consequence from it, as evident in his early conflation of Stalinism and Nazism into the untenable “totalitarianism.” 1984 remains a concerned, appealing, and in some ways useful text that lacks wisdom.

Robert Osenenko

Nineteen Eighty-Four (commonly abbreviated to 1984) is a dystopian novel by the English writer George Orwell, and first published by Secker and Warburg in 1949 (but written in ’48). The book tells the story of Winston Smith and his attempt to rebel against the totalitarian state in which he lives. ---Was unavail. for many years can be used to decipher and summarizes the plot to counter the Ministry of Information.

Tasnima Yasmin

A robust novel in terms of narrative structure, plot, themes and writing style, 1984 was chosen by TIME magazine in 2005 as one of the 100 best English language novels from 1923 to 2005. Retrospectively, TIME's November 23, 1983 issue ran the title heading 'Big Brother's Father' featured with a charcoal colour sketch of George Orwell's mugshot looking towards the ominous one eye. Early January of 2017, Orwell's 1984 shot up to the position of Amazon's best seller. It indicated a sceptical, apprehensive yet an inquisitive readership that was bowled over to discover the astounding modern-day relevance the book displayed. Declared as a 2017 must-read by the New York Times, authoritative scholarship and research regarding 1984 has been abundant.Yet, the novel continues to enthral, stimulate and puzzle. However, at the heart of the novel is a blossoming love story that is often overlooked if not side lined. Firstly, this paper analyses the features of a post-modern world in 1984 manufactured under the patronage of oligarchical capitalismthatleads to the dismantling of regular human interactions. Secondly, it dissects the protagonist, Winston Smith's loss of family and sense of belonging. Thirdly, it highlights the elements of a romance in1984.

Keith Bateson

This paper demonstrates that, despite popular labeling of "1984" as a dystopia, George Orwell's structured the novel as a carnival.

yahia hamane

Sydney Studies in English, 2, 38-63

Michael Wilding

Orwell's 1984 and its rewriting of earlier utopias and anti-utopias

A discussion of Pinker and Rorty's different interpretations of Orwell's novel 1984

Sinkwan Cheng

(draws from Nietzsche, Freud, Camus, Arendt, Lacan, and Lefort to analyze totalitarianism as portrayed by George Orwell)


This paper is a critical study of “1984”, a novel by George Orwell. It specifically aims to study how language is used by the dominant authority in the fiction to oppress and to exert power over the population in the country. The analysis focuses on how the totalitarian system limits conversations and prevents freedom of speech through imposing on the characters to speak a language which is strange to them and very limited in terms of vocabulary. To achieve this objective, the study will focus on the sentences and paragraphs which show how language is used to frighten and oppress people. In certain cases, the dialogues which occur between the characters will be explored so as to clearly manifest the role of language in controlling the actions and the minds of the population. To manifest the relationship between language and power, the analysis is conducted within the framework of stylistics and critical discourse analysis. The researcher explores the linguistic features in some paragraphs and dialogues selected from the entire text so as to show how the government of Oceania controls the minds and actions of its inhabitants. Through such a framework of analysis, the thesis concludes that the totalitarian government manipulates language to dominate people, and language is not a social practice but it has political dimensions and regarded as a threat to the government if people can use it freely. Keywords: 1984, stylistics, critical discourse analysis, language, power



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  1. Higher English sample critical essay George Orwell's 1984 and 'A

    critical essay 1984

  2. 1984 Essay

    critical essay 1984

  3. 1984 Essay

    critical essay 1984

  4. 📚 Critical Essay Sample on 1984 by George Orwell

    critical essay 1984

  5. Pin on Academic Writing Online

    critical essay 1984

  6. 1984 Essay

    critical essay 1984


  1. How to write and develop critical essays

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  3. Critical Essay on Current Political Affairs 20 March 2024 (War in Ukrain)

  4. John Ohelo

  5. Why You Should Read George Orwell's 1984

  6. 1984


  1. 1984 Critical Essays

    Winston knows that life is not meant to be lived as it is in Oceania, and he tries to construct his ideal society out of fragments of dreams, nursery rhymes, and his love for Julia. Their affair ...

  2. 1984: A+ Student Essay: Is Technology or Psychology More ...

    Of the many iconic phrases and ideas to emerge from Orwell's 1984, perhaps the most famous is the frightening political slogan "Big Brother is watching.". Many readers think of 1984 as a dystopia about a populace constantly monitored by technologically advanced rulers. Yet in truth, the technological tools pale in comparison to the ...

  3. 1984, by George Orwell: On Its Enduring Relevance

    Lynskey traces the literary genesis of 1984 to the utopian fictions of the optimistic 19th century—Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888); the sci-fi novels of H. G. Wells, which Orwell read ...

  4. george orwell 1984 Critical commentary

    1984. Critical Commentary. There are relatively few good essays concerning 1984 specifically, and to date there has, at least in the opinion of the author of the present study, been no definitive critical biography or critical study of George Orwell. The material on the relation of James Burnham's The Managerial Revolution to 1984 is of major ...

  5. Critical Essays The Mutability of History

    Critical Essays The Mutability of History. One of the issues raised in 1984 is the idea that history is mutable or changeable, that truth is what the Party deems it to be, and that the truths found in history are the bases of the principles of the future. Some Fascist German leaders of the time boasted that if you tell a lie loud enough and ...

  6. An Essay on George Orwell's 1984: The Role of the Past in Examining

    Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash. G eorge Orwell's novel, 1984, is a dystopian novel which takes place in a time where the government, otherwise known as The Party, controls everything. In the novel, a certain interpretation of truth can be perceived from the Party's view of the past. This interpretation is different from the one we look to when we examine truth through history.

  7. Critical Analysis Of 1984 By George Orwell Free Essay Example

    The novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" or commonly known as "1984" was published by English author George Orwell in 1949. This dystopian novel set in 1984 provided a riveting description of citizen's lives being in constant war, oppressive government surveillance, rule, and propaganda. "George Orwell is one of the leading novelists of ...

  8. Totalitarianism in "1984": a Critical Analysis

    George Orwell's acclaimed novel "1984" has been a staple of high school and college literature courses for decades, and for good reason. The oppressive political regime depicted in the book, known as Ingsoc, is often used as an example of totalitarianism at its worst. "1984" presents a dystopian future in which pervasive government surveillance and propaganda perpetuate a society devoid of ...

  9. 1984: Suggested Essay Topics

    1. Describe Winston's character as it relates to his attitude toward the Party. In what ways might his fatalistic streak contribute to his ultimate downfall? 2. How does technology affect the Party's ability to control its citizens? In what ways does the Party employ technology throughout the book? 3. Discuss the idea of Room 101, the place ...

  10. Orwell's 1984: A+ Student Essay Examples

    1 page / 514 words. Set in a future society where the government, known as the Party, exercises complete control over every aspect of its citizens' lives, 1984 paints a bleak picture of a world where individuality is a threat to the ruling regime. This essay will examine the theme... 1984 George Orwell. 2.

  11. Orwell's "1984" from Theoretical Views (An Essay)

    An excellent literary piece that provides plentiful material for analysis is George Orwell's 1984. The novel has been considered a classic work of literature because "1984 has come and gone ...

  12. 1984 Critical Lens Essay

    1984 Critical Lens Essay. 1349 Words6 Pages. Adam Huang AP Literature and Composition Critical lens: New Historicism February 23th, 2017 1984: A book of George Orwell and 20th Century History The last book of George Orwell, 1984 is always considered by scholars to be a "Life Summary of Orwell". However, the book is not merely about what ...

  13. 1984: Full Book Analysis

    Full Book Analysis. 1984 follows a three-part linear narrative structure that enables the reader to experience Winston's dehumanization along with him, creating tension and sympathy for the main characters. Time in 1984 generally proceeds in a linear fashion, except for a few flashbacks to Winston's career at the Ministry of Truth, his ...

  14. Critical Analysis Of 1984 By George Orwell

    1078 Words. 5 Pages. Open Document. 1984: Critical Analysis Hopelessness, deep and gaping ever lasting hopelessness. If the course of humanity fails to change, to this everyone will succumb. That is the message that George Orwell has left for the future, and it would be in humanity's best interest to heed. Winston Smith of 1984 lived in a world ...

  15. Critical essays on Orwell's 1984

    Critical essays on Orwell's 1984. An overview of 1984 Another overview of 1984 Guardian of the Human Spirit': The Moral Foundation of Nineteen Eighty-Four The Hell of Nineteen Eighty-Four Truth and Freedom in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four Utopia as Nightmare Discipline and its Discontents.

  16. Critical Essay on Technology in George Orwell's '1984'

    As previously mentioned, '1984' contains many important topics that the masses of people are unconscious about. Technology is one important theme that human minds are unable to escape from due to the opinion that we are living in George Orwell's envisioned society involved with digital screens. In the novel, people live in fear of telescreens.

  17. (PDF) Critical Essay 1984

    Critical Essay 1984 In this essay, we are exploring the book 1984, published on the 8th June 1949 by George Orwell. He participated in the Spanish Civil War and wrote extensively about dystopian societies and reflections on certain ideologies. In 1984, we see a world were three super countries rule the world and are at constant war.

  18. 1984 Critical Essay

    1984 Critical Essay. Good Essays. 1507 Words. 7 Pages. Open Document. 1984 Critical Essay The novel I have chosen to write about that is set in a different time but is still relevant to this day is "1984" by George Orwell. Orwell effectively uses theme, characterisation, imagery and symbolism to help us appreciate the themes he runs ...

  19. Themes of '1984': Critical Essay

    Themes of '1984': Critical Essay. This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples. Personally, I enjoyed reading 1984 by George Orwell. I really liked the storyline and plot, I enjoyed the characters and the themes shown throughout most of the novel ...