1984 test preparation

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1984 – Questions for test preparation
What is important about the title 1984?
The book was written in 1948 by the communist George Orwell, he swapped the numbers. In
that time, George Orwell was a communist, but he was against the form of communism that
had power. He really believed that if the communist party would continue to have the power
in the nation the future could look like presented in 1984.
What are the conflicts in 1984? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual,
emotional) are in this novel?
There are multiple conflicts in the book 1984. One of the biggest conflicts in the book is the
intellectual conflict of Winston. Although he does remember the past and therefor knows that
there used to be a different (better) way of living, he didn’t live long enough in that society to
actually believe it. This causes a conflict because he feels oppressed in the society he lives
in because he can partly remember the past, but he doesn’t exactly know what was different
in the past, so he can’t determine what’s wrong in the present.
Another conflict in the book is the way Winston feels about O’brien. In the beginning he
admires him and the moment their eyes lock in the two minute hate, he feels a bond with
him. He believes that O’brien is a member of the brotherhood and therefor he just blindly
trusts O’brien, especially after he is invited to O’Brien’s house. O’brien isn’t a member of the
brotherhood however but Winston doesn’t feel betrayed because he still feels the same bond
with O’Brien, even during the torture. This is an emotional conflict, because he felt
something was wrong during the whole story and in the end he finds out what.
One last conflict I want to address is the physical conflict of Winston during the torture.
Although he knows 2 and 2 makes 4, he is made to believe it makes 5. By the heavy torture
O’Brien puts him through, his body actually starts seeing 5. In the beginning this forms a
conflict because he knows it’s 4, but he doesn’t see it that way, the fingers get blurry.
How does George Orwell reveal character in 1984?
George Orwell reveals character in 1984 by Winston. Winston is just an average guy in the
outer party, living how he is told to do. Like George Orwell was meant to do as well. But
Winston starts doubting the party and slowly starts rebelling against it as well. George
Orwell, for being a communist, so being against the ideas of the government at that time had
to fled or he would have been arrested. So in some ways, Winston is a representation of
George Orwell.
What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and the characters?
Some of the themes in 1984 are: oppression, rebellion, fear and technology. Oppression
occurs throughout the story because no one in Oceania isn’t being watched. Everybody lives
under the power and influence of Big Brother and no one really lives his own life. No one has
privacy and no one can speak their minds, therefor everybody in Oceania is oppressed.
Another theme is rebellion because that’s what Winston and Julia are doing throughout the
story. It develops slowly, as they don’t actually fight against the party but the actions they
have are rebellious. Whenever they meet each other it’s an act of rebellion and this rebellion
in completed when they go and meet O’Brien to join the brotherhood.
Fear is also a big theme in 1984 because it is the means by which the party keeps control of
the society. Anyone committing thought crime or any other sort of crime has the risk of
getting arrested and vaporized. Being vaporized isn’t the worst this however, it’s the torture
before you get vaporized that brings fear into everyone in the society, because although it is
never really said, everybody knows what happens inside the ministry of love.
And the last theme I want to address is technology. All the technology in 1984 enables the
party to watch and keep track of everyone in Oceania, especially the party members. This is
done through the telescreens and microphones and they occur all over Oceania.
What are some symbols in 1984? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
There are two big symbols in the book 1984: The glass paperweight and big brother.
Big brother symbolises the party, the rulers of the country. No one actually knows who rules
the country, but everyone thinks it’s big brother. Big brother has two sides, one of them being
heart-warming, the other being power. The name big brother suggest he can take care of you
and therefor it has a positive effect on the citizens but the line ‘is watching you’ and the gaze
of the poster create fear.
Winston buys the glass paperweight in the antique store because it is something from the
past. The glass paperweight symbolises Winston’s effort to remember and connect to his
own past. The paperweight also shatters the moment Winston gets arrest, this symbolises
the fact that he’ll never find his past.
Is Winston consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?
Winston isn’t really consistent in his actions. In the beginning of the book he is already
doubting whether he should write in his diary or not, because it is an act of thought crime but
as soon as he has, he starts engaging in more rebellion acts because he is sure he’ll get
caught. His cautiousness slowly changes from incredibly paranoid to not caring. He is a
developed character however because this is what George Orwell wanted to show us. The
influence of the party and the way the people in Oceania think. By letting Winston change his
mind, George Orwell shows the changes in thinking.
Do you find the characters likable? Would you want to meet the characters?
I don’t find the characters likable because of their actions. Logically I dislike O’Brien and Mr.
Charrington because they are part of the party but I also dislike Winston and Julia. Winston
does quite a few stupid things in my opinion throughout the book. He knows the thought
police will get him, but he still risks his own Julia’s lives by renting the room, meeting her etc.
Julia isn’t likable either because she doesn’t have a good reason to rebel against the party.
She just rebels for fun instead of the reasons Winston has.
I would like to meet Winston, to discuss his way of thinking. I am curious as to why he does
the things he does in the book and why. For example why does he rent the room although he
knows it’s impossible to keep secret and that renting the room will only increase the risk of
getting caught.
Does the story end the way you expected? How? Why?
The story does end the way I expected because I have seen the movie before I’ve read the
book. But in general, before watching the movie I wouldn’t have expected this kind of end.
Most books have a happy ending so that is what I was expecting. I hoped Winston would get
free, but would still be against the party in his thoughts, but this wasn’t the case.
What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or
meaningful?
The purpose of the story is illustrating the people how the world could be if omniscient parties
had the power in countries like the United Kingdom. This purpose is both important and
meaningful because it is a good warning to the public. In the time the book was written, there
was a risk of this actually happening and this was George Orwell’s view on how it could end.
By this story people can start thinking about the influence the government has on them and
whether they actually agree with it or not in the past and in the future.
How does this novel relate to dystopian literature? Is Winston a strong character?
This novel relates to dystopian literature because the London in the book is a dystopia. No
one has freedom, everyone is poor and there is a continuous war going on. This is one way
you could imagine a Dystopia. A Dystopia is a place where the condition of life is extremely
bad and that’s exactly the case in 1984.
Winston isn’t a strong character because he is just an example of all the people living in this
Dystopian world. There are more like him, so he isn’t a hero or any of the kind. He is just the
main character to show the reader what kind of influence the party has and how it works.
How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere
else? In any other time?
The setting is quite essential to the story because The United Kingdom is an island. The
government in 1984 could isolate the people in the book better because of this. People didn’t
know what the people of the other countries looked like or how they thought so it was easier
for the party to create extreme hate. The time the story takes place in is also important
because it was the period where technology was just beginning to develop. People didn’t
exactly know what it was about so it was perfect for the party to use technology as a way to
spy people. If the story would have taken place in a later, people would have been more
aware of technology. The story could have taken place anywhere else but it would be more
difficult to demonstrate the isolation of the people.
What is the role of the women in the text? Is love relevant? Are relationships
meaningful?
There are only a few women in the text and most of them have to do with sexual desire.
Winston describes a prostitute he once had sex with, and Julia is there as well because of
their mutual sexual desire. Women don’t have much more meaning than that in the society.
They are mostly there to create children, love is also forbidden. Love isn’t relevant because it
is only a weakness which will make it easier for the thought police to get you. Relationships
aren’t of much value either. In the society relationships only exist to create new life and the
relationship between Julia and Winston doesn’t include more than their sexual desires and
mutual hatred for the party.
Why is 1984 controversial? Why has it been banned?
The book is controversial because is illustrates a society which one day might actually exist.
Governments still have a lot of power and are still omniscient in some countries. For example
if the you think of North Korea, it’s kind of the same as in the book. People are constantly
shown propaganda on the news and they are made to love their leader, although they know
that their way of government differs from other countries and is probably bad. The book can
still create discussions about whether this is acceptable or not.
1984 has been banned because it contains pro-communist and sexual context according to
several different countries. Many people believe the book is pro-freedom and anti-communist
however and many people believe everyone should be exposed to the idea of a totalitarian
government to have a educated view on their own governments. The novel has been
accused of anti-Semitism because the character Goldstein's face is described as Jewish.
Why does 1984 relate to current politics/society etc.?
Nowadays technology is a very big aspect in everyday life. Almost everyone owns a
electronic device and televisions. There have been and will be many discussions about
privacy concerning this matters. For example the government in the Netherlands wants to be
able to access everyone’s computer or laptop to search for criminal activity like child
pornography or fraud. 1984 shows us that it could be dangerous to allow the government this
kind of access because we, the people can’t control whether this is really the only the
government looks for. It is impossible for us to know what the governments of a country
really want and what kind of influence it will have on us. Books like 1984 warn us for the bad
circumstances that could occur.
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