Areas for discussion of 1984:

1984 by George Orwell
English IV (Spring 2012) – Ms. Plumb
1984 by George Orwell
Introductory Notes:
In 1949, George Orwell set his book 35 years into the future – 1984 – at a time in which
just three superpowers are running the world:
 Oceania = Britain (Orwell’s homeland), the U.S. and some others
 Eurasia = Soviet Union and its satellites
 Eastasia = China and its satellites
Orwell’s two theses:
 If a dictator can control the language, society’s rules under that dictator can and
will limit and/or direct how individuals think.
 A repressive society relies on isolation and alienation as a means to control its
Totalitarianism = absolute control by the state or a governing branch of a highly
centralized institution
Socialism = a theory of government in which all members of society share equally in
the production and distribution of goods
Utopia = an ideal place or state; any visionary system of political or social perfection
Dystopia = a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease,
and overcrowding.
Refer to the attached sheet for other Terms and Principles of Newspeak guide
Literary Terms:
1. Irony
2. Objective correlative
3. Parable (political)
4. Paradox
5. Satire
6. Science fiction
Possible Themes:
 Systematic dehumanization of people
 Appearance vs. Reality (i.e. the corruption of language)
 Alienation & Isolation (i.e. the failure of love)
 Suffering & Violence (i.e. the weakness of the individual when confronted with
the power of the State)
Areas for discussion of 1984 (possible essay topics):
We will examine in depth the following issues within the context of the novel. To come
up with an appropriate discussion and possible essay ideas, specific supporting
evidence from the novel is required. Be prepared to make connections to Erich Fromm’s
“Afterword”. Discussions (and possible essay ideas) should include the current state of
government, but only as applicable within the novel’s framework.
1. Privacy – includes surveillance, technology, restrictions by government,
business, and school.
2. Language – includes an understanding of Newspeak, doublethink, the three
vocabularies, and abuses by government, press, TV, and radio.
3. War/Peace – includes an understanding of Oceania’s war against…propaganda
in perpetuating the war, writing/rewriting history.
4. Power/Powerlessness – requires an understanding of Fromm’s comments,
equality/inequality, and other possible sources.
Possible Conclusions (possible essay topics):
Based on the discussion and your understanding of the novel, you should be able to
respond to questions beyond the outline of questions above. For example, how would
the sex impulse be dangerous to Big Brother and Oceania? How does using a word
such as “security” allow for invasions of privacy? How do the terms patriotism and
nationalism prevent rebellion?
1. Think of instances in which our thinking is controlled. Are there groups or
organizations that actively use mind control? How are they similar to or different
from “the Party”?
2. Are we once again living, in part, in the world of 1984? If you think that we are
not, why can the government exert the influence that it does? If you think that we
are, why is the government allowing 1984 to still be discussed?
3. Is there any way to overthrow the Party? What would have to be done to stop
their control? Would it work, or would it be futile?
4. What would George Orwell think of the current world scene? Would he be
pleased or displeased?