George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 is a perfect example of a futuristic totalitarian regime and a dystopia. Orwell’s tale expresses his vision of a government changing and becoming a totalitarian government. The government, in this story, is run by an unknown leader who goes by the title “Big Brother”. The concept of “Big Brother” is that someone is always watching, and people can never deceive the government. In Orwell’s idea of what may happen in the future, “Big Brother” monitors everything everyone does or even thinks.
Orwell was born with the name Eric Arthur Blair, in 1903, in Bengal, India. His father was Richard Walmesley Blair. He worked in the Opium department of the Indian Civil Service as a minor customs official.(Biography) When Orwell was four, his family returned to England. They then settled in a village near London, Henley. Soon after their move his father returned to India. Orwell was sent to a private elementary school in Sussex when he was eight years old. His experiences there influenced his views on the English class system. After finishing school there he went to two private secondary schools using scholarships.(Biography) He went to Wellington for one term and Eton for four and a half years.
Orwell later received training in Burma and became an Indian Imperial Police officer. He served there from 1922 to 1927. Orwell decided not to return to Burma while he was on leave in England. He had dreamed of becoming a writer ever since he was a child. He did not feel the Imperial Police was a suitable job for him.(Biography) He had also realized how imperialistic the Police unit was and rejected it. He resigned on January 1, 1928.
The opening of the book explains the setting of London, which is now Oceania, in the year 1984. London is described, as having a strict government that Orwell felt could have existed in 1984 if people did not listen to his warnings.(I Texas) It also tells of how citizens are monitored everywhere they go. There are “telescreens” in each room which constantly show pictures of “Big Brother” speaking, but they are also videotaping everything that is going on. As you progress into the book you discover the main character, Winston Smith, begins to want to revolt against “Big Brother.” As these rebellious urges progress he begins a love affair, which in this time is illegal, with a girl named Julia.(I Texas) The novel has a classic tale of betrayal when Winston discovers that O’Brien, who he thought was a rebel like himself, was actually a chief inquisitor for the inner party of “Big Brother.” The book is ended when Winston is captured, tortured, and basically brainwashed. The punishments Winston goes through eventually make him realize that he loves “Big Brother.”(I Texas)
There were many personifications, allegories, ironies, and symbolisms in 1984. Orwell’s character, Winston, was named after England’s great WWII leader Winston Churchill. An article Winston once wrote about freedom meaning that you could say that two and two makes four is used against him in the end. This shows some of the irony Orwell used in his writing. The story relates a great deal to what Hitler had been doing a few years before in Germany. The citizens are fed endless propaganda to ensure they will not go against the government.(I Texas) Orwell also was referring to NAZI Germany when he wrote about “Doublethink.” The theory behind “Doublethink” is the process that was used on Winston to make him believe two and two equal five. Orwell creates a symbolism between the separate states of 1984, and the separate countries during the time the book was written. He created Oceania to represent the United States, Urasia to represent Russia, and Eastasia to represent China.(I Texas) Another example of symbolism in this novel is the paperweight Winston buys in the old junk shop. It stands for the fragile relationship Winston shares with Julia. The coral in the inside of the paperweight represents Julia and Winston. In addition to the symbolisms, 1984 also includes some foreshadowing. The nursery rhymes do have a sentimental value to them, but they also create a foreshadowing of Julia and Winston’s betrayal to each other. Because they have been altered, the nursery rhymes do not always have the same meaning as they did before.(I Texas) For example, one of them ends with, “I sold you and you sold me.”
The story of 1984 can also be related to the present day government of the United States. One can already see that in our schools the freedom of speech is limited. Because of school shootings, student threats are being taken more seriously. Some schools however do not take it as seriously as others. However, it was not until September eleventh that it really became noticeable. After the tragedy in New York and Washington D.C., many precautions have been taken to ensure further terrorists acts do not happen again. Since the attacks, freedoms have been lessened. Phone conversations can now be recorded without permission, and one can be taken in for questioning just for something discussed on the phone. These are similar to the rights that are taken away while students are at school, but it is on a much larger scale. Security has been greatly increased in all forms of travel. This may not necessarily be a bad thing but it is time consuming. When traveling now on planes, all bags must be checked. This means one must arrive at the airport earlier to be sure to make the flight. It is understood that along with freedoms, come a certain amount of responsibilities.
George Orwell’s 1984 was an extremely good book. It really makes one think about how horrible it would be to live in a totalitarian society. It makes one seriously wonder if the United States is slowly becoming more of a totalitarian government. George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948.(I Texas) It has only been a little over 50 years. One should look at where our government has moved over the past 50 years. Just imagine where we will be in another 50 or 100 years. People should take into account that this could really happen and that it is a real threat.
George Orwell’s novel of a futuristic totalitarian regime and dystopia is a classic tale that acts as a warning to all governments, to guard against becoming more like “Big Brother.” It emphasizes many important symbolisms and allegories to ensure that something as horrific as NAZI Germany does not happen again. The United States has changed significantly since September 11, 2001. Would it be possible for 1984 to become a reality in the United States?
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There are tons of scary stories—ones filled with ghosts or vampires or zombies. But in my opinion, there’s nothing scarier than the stories that show what the world could be like if left in the hands of the wrong people.
One of the books that demonstrate this point the best is George Orwell’s 1984. And while the content of this book might scare some, writing an essay about it scares others.
But don’t worry—I’m here to help you break it down and write a great 1984 analysis essay.
First, Figure Out What Your 1984 Analysis Essay Will Be About
You can’t have an essay without a topic, so the first thing you have to decide is what yours will be about. You may be thinking, “We’ve already covered this—it’s about 1984.”
You’re thinking too big. What you want to do is narrow your focus on one element of the story—a theme or a character. You could also concentrate on a literary device like symbolism.
Don’t try to cram all the stuff you know about the book into your essay. It never works out well. What ends up happening is that you either start summarizing instead of analyzing, or you just don’t have the time or the page count to fully flesh out your ideas.
A good analysis is a focused one. But what can you focus on in your 1984 analysis essay? Here are just a few suggestions.
Focus on a Character
You can certainly write about the protagonist, Winston, if you connect more to him, but let’s talk about O’Brien for now.
O’Brien is an interesting character because he’s so mysterious. Winston looks up to O’Brien and thinks he’s a member of the Brotherhood, a supposed secret rebel group.
As the reader later discovers, O’Brien is actually a hardcore member of the Party. He ends up tricking Winston into admitting his disdain for the Party, which is a pretty big deal. But how can you focus your 1984 analysis essay on O’Brien?
As with any other character, you have to analyze O’Brien—instead of just telling the reader what he did in the story. Here are a couple directions you can take.
1. O’Brien as a father figure
Throughout the beginning of the story, Winston sees O’Brien as trustworthy and looks up to him. O’Brien is part of the Party’s innermost circle—he has power. And Winston thinks O’Brien is part of the resistance.
This establishes a friendship/mentorship. Even after O’Brien reveals his true intentions, he still acts as a type of father figure, though this time it’s a bit more malicious. He’s the one torturing Winston, but it comes from a place of caring.
O’Brien thinks he needs to purify Winston of his bad thoughts so that Winston can excel in society. After all, isn’t that what every father wants?
2. The Party got O’Brien long ago
While torturing Winston, O’Brien says that the Party got him long ago. Analyzing what this means can make a really great essay. His comment alludes to the fact that he might have once been as rebellious as Winston. It also alludes to how O’Brien realized that being powerful meant being obedient.
But does he buy into the Party’s ideology? Does he really prescribe to doublethink, or does he just put up the facade to avoid being tortured like Winston?
You can argue it either way in your 1984 analysis essay, but whichever stance you take, be sure to make it clear and back it up with evidence.
Need more help analyzing a character? Check out these posts:
Focus on a Theme
Themes are common in analytical essays, but they’re certainly not boring. Themes touch on certain truths the author wants to get across to the reader.
In the case of 1984, Orwell touches on several themes, but one that strikes me is the use of language to control people.
- Controlling what words people use: In the novel, the Party controls what people are and aren’t allowed to say, even in the privacy of their own homes. The Party bans words related to rebellion because, if there are no words for something, people can’t talk about it or spread ideas about it.
- Rewriting history: The Party also controls language through the rewriting of history. The Party “corrects” historical text to fit its latest whims, and because every reference is changed, what it writes becomes “truth.” This makes individuals rely less on their memories and perceptions, and more on what the Party says is true. That’s how the Party controls people.
Need more help with writing about a theme in your 1984 analysis? Try one of these posts for additional guidance and tips:
Don’t Forget Your Outline
The importance of creating an outline cannot be understated. Outlines are maps that guide you much more easily through the writing process.
Not only do you know where you’re going, but you also know every checkpoint you have to hit along the way. Without all the detours into unnecessary rambling, you can write faster and make your analysis a lot clearer.
Your outline doesn’t have to be super detailed, but it should lay out your argument and the evidence backing up your thesis. The example below is based off the discussion above about themes:
- Thesis statement: By controlling language, the Party was able to control the masses.
- Monitoring speech
- Ban on words related to rebellion
- No way to spread ideas
- No way to argue points against the Party
- Rewriting history
- Propaganda becomes truth
- People not able to trust their own memories
- Must rely on the Party for what’s “true”
You can have as many or as few body paragraphs as you need, and as many or as few supporting details as you need. The more time you spend on your outline now, the less time you’ll spend worrying about the details later.
Write a Killer Thesis Statement and Don’t Lose Steam
I’ve always found that starting an essay is the hardest part. But with a strong thesis statement, you set yourself up for a strong essay.
When writing a thesis statement, you want to be direct—take a firm stance, and explain exactly what you’ll be writing about in the body of your essay. This lets your readers know what they’re in for and gives you a reference point throughout your essay.
My thesis statement for the 1984 analysis essay outlined above might look something like this:
In 1984, George Orwell shows how language can be used as a form of control. The Party monitors and bans some language and rewrites history so that it can be seen as the only source of truth.
After you write your thesis statement, just follow your outline. Flesh it out with full sentences, details, and references to specific parts of the book. With a strong thesis and detailed outline, you can keep your momentum going until you wrap up your essay.
There are tons of things you could write about in a 1984 analysis essay, and just reading the couple of examples I’ve provided might not be enough for you. (Don’t worry, I don’t take offense to it.)
To give you a little more inspiration, here are some 1984 analysis essay examples you can look at:
Once you’re done with your essay, you can have the Kibin editors look over it. They’ll help you with more than just spelling and grammar—they’ll make sure you have a strong thesis and supporting details.
And don’t worry—they won’t turn you into the thought police for any rebellious things you write.
Now get to writing!
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