1984: Fishbowl Discussion
1. In V for Vendetta, V says that “people should
not be afraid of their governments.
Governments should be afraid of their people.” How has the
Party and the idea of Big Brother distorted this belief? How
does the government benefit from their people being fearful?
Do we see those in power using this tactic of fear against us?
When is it effective? Ineffective? What are the
consequences/effects of a society living in fear? Alternatively,
is fear necessary? Would we want to live in a society where
our fellow citizens had a fundamental lack of fear (of the
government or each other)?
2. In Winston’s world, he is always being watched. What makes
someone a threat in Oceania, and what does this reveal about
their values? Consider the same questions about our own
society. How would constant surveillance affect you? Your
relationships? What circumstances might allow the
limiting/removal of personal privacy to become acceptable or
even advantageous? How much would you be willing to give
up (of your personal life, your personality, your point of view)
for the “greater” or common good? What are the broader
implications of the new social media for personal privacy,
particularly information created and shared in the digital
3. Orwell’s novel makes the point that the media uses language
to manipulate the truth. Some have discussed that “language
is the ultimate weapon” of a totalitarian government. In what
ways is this true in Nineteen Eighty-Four? In particular,
consider the significance of names and the use of propaganda
in the novel and in our own society. Is it possible to ever
discover the “truth”? Or is the truth always subjective? How
should we navigate through the half-truths and misleading
facts presented in the media? Is it important to find
alternative points of view—and where can we find them?