“Early in life I had noticed
that no event is ever
correctly reported in a
• Dictators such as Adolf Hitler in Germany
and Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union
inspired Orwell’s hatred of totalitarianism
and political authority. 1984 was largely
written as a warning against totalitarian
• In Spain, Germany, and the
Soviet Union, Orwell personally
witnessed absolute political
authority and how regimes
used technology as a tool of
Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political
system that strives to regulate nearly every aspect
of public and private life.
Totalitarian regimes or movements maintain
themselves in political power by means of an official
all-embracing ideology and propaganda
disseminated through the state-controlled mass
media, a single party that controls the state,
personality cults, control over the economy,
regulation and restriction of free discussion and
criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and
widespread use of state terrorism.
Joseph Stalin may have been Orwell’s
inspiration for Big Brother
“…the poster gazed from the wall. It depicted simply an
enormous face, more than a meter wide: the face of a
man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache
and ruggedly handsome features."
• 1984 was published in 1949 and is a
dystopian novel about a collectivist
totalitarian oligarchy called Oceania
• The Party, which is closely patterned after
Soviet Bolsheviks, is lead by Big Brother
• The novel opens with the protagonist,
Winston Smith, committing thoughtcrime
by keeping an illegal diary which describes
his nightmarish life and hatred of The
• Winston falls deeper into his hatred of The
Party and begins to commit thoughtcrime
all the time.
• He falls in love with a woman named Julia
who also hates The Party.
• Eventually they both attempt to join an
anti-Party group called The Brotherhood
and this leads to some major problems for
Winston and Julia.
Big Brother is Watching YOU
The face of a man...with a heavy black moustache
and ruggedly handsome features Pg 3, 1984
Background to Nineteen Eighty-Four
• The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four is
based upon two totalitarian
dictatorships, Soviet Russia and Nazi
• The world of Ingsoc (English
socialism) bears strong resemblances
to the Soviet Union, but much of the
detail of the life comes from Germany.
EVER since I have been
scrutinizing political events, I
have taken a tremendous interest
in propagandist activity. I saw
that the Socialist-Marxist
organizations mastered and
applied this instrument with
astounding skill. And I soon
realized that the correct use of
propaganda is a true art which
has remained practically
unknown to the bourgeois
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Volume One - A Reckoning
The Nuremberg Rallies
After 1933, the rallies were held in the first
half of September under the label of
("National Day of the (Nazi)Party of the
German People"), which was meant to
symbolize the [apparent] solidarity
between the German people and the Nazi
• Like Stalin, Adolph Hitler denied his
subjects access to the truth. His Third
Reich “can be read as a war against
memory – an Orwellian falsification of
reality...” (Primo Levi) Oceania conducts
an unceasing war on memory-evidence
that conflicts with the latest official line is
systematically destroyed & a false trail is
laid in its place.
•We do not intend to use the radio only for our
partisan purposes. We want room for
entertainment, popular arts, games, jokes and
music. But everything should have a
relationship to our day. Everything should
include the theme of our great reconstructive
work, or at least not stand in its way. Above
all it is necessary to clearly centralize all
radio activities, to place spiritual tasks ahead
of technical ones, to introduce the leadership
principle, to provide a clear worldview, and to
present this worldview in flexible ways.
Children of the revolution
In the Soviet Union,young people were
encouraged to join the political group.
They were called Young Pioneers (aged
between 7-13) and later called
If you were a Komsomol member you got
into university automatically, so there was
great pressure to join.
• "My teaching is hard. Weakness has to be
knocked out of them. In my Ordensburgen a
youth will grow up before which the world will
shrink back. A violently active dominating,
intrepid, brutal youth - that is what I am
after". Youth must be all those things. It must
be indifferent to pain. There must be no
weakness or tenderness in it. I want to see
once more in its eyes the gleam of pride and
independence of the beast of prey. "I will
have no intellectual training. Knowledge is
ruin to my young men.
What does this remind you of?
“How easy it was, thought Winston, if you
did not look about you, to believe that the
physical type set up by the Party as an
ideal, - tall muscular youths and deep
bosomed maidens, blond haired, vital,
sunburnt, carefree –existed and even
Nineteen Eighty-Four p63.
“In the schools it is not the teacher, but the pupils,
who exercise authority. Party functionaries train
their children to be spies and agent provocateurs.
The youth organizations, particularly the Hitler
Youth, have been accorded powers of control which
enable every boy and girl to exercise authority
backed up by threats. Children have been
deliberately taken away from parents who refused
to acknowledge their belief in National Socialism.
The refusal of parents to ‘allow their children to
join the youth organization” is regarded as an
adequate reason for taking the children away.
• (School teacher letter to a friend 1938)
[But] men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and
who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked;
they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual
endowments must be reckoned a powerful share of
aggressiveness. (Sigmund Freud.)
Always …..there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of
trampling on an enemy who is helpless.
(O’Brien Nineteen Eighty-Four p.280)
Adolf Hitler's 1933 rise to power by democratic
majority in Germany made Freud a personal
historical witness to the phenomenon that he had
previously attempted to account for in
psychoanalytic terms in his writings.
and Nineteen Eighty-four
"I am beginning to comprehend," he wrote, "some of the
reasons for Hitler's astounding success. Borrowing a
chapter from the Roman [Catholic] church, he is restoring
pageantry and color and mysticism to the drab lives of 20th
Century Germans. This morning's opening meeting...was
more than a gorgeous show, it also had something of the
mysticism and religious fervor of an Easter or Christmas
Mass in a great Gothic cathedral. The hall was a sea of
brightly colored flags. Even Hitler's arrival was made
dramatic. The band stopped playing. There was a hush
over the thirty thousand people packed in the hall. Then the
band struck up the Badenweiler March...Hitler appeared in
the back of the auditorium and followed by his aides,
Göring, Goebbels, Hess, Himmler and the others, he slowly
strode down the long center aisle while thirty thousand
hands were raised in salute."
• A novel that is also an essay
• Winston’s experience is typical of what
happens to people in Ingsoc.
• Winston’s journey to the Ministry of Love
(Torture Chambers) is inevitable from the
time he picks up the diary.
Why keep a diary?
Anne Frank keeps a diary to explore what she feels and
reflect on what she knows.
She also keeps it as a way of comforting herself.
This activity is difficult for Winston because the activity of
diary writing becomes impossible.
No privacy exists.
‘Big Brother is watching you.’
• Surveillance and control
The people of this society are constantly
being watched by telescreens (monitors
that have an ability to project images and
take in images)
They are also watching each other. Any
small facial gesture or sigh can give you
It doesn’t matter if you are innocent
Big Brother is Watching
No joke or popular TV show – he really was watching!!!
Part I chapter 5 – key…
Syme ‘venemously orthodox.’
Ability of Syme’s brain to disengage from reality, to think
Parsons - pathetic, ignorant, manipulated.
The nightmare of his children.
People’s capacity to ignore present suffering.
Duckspeaker in the midst of noise.
Bad food, crowded lifts
The deprivation of privacy
The prohibition of sex.
The destruction of history.
The essential nature of memory.
An appreciation of the past.
The ultimate fallibility of the human mind.
The human need for freedom
• In the society Orwell imagines, people
– Love who they want
– Work where they want
– Walk where they want
– Eat what they want
– Write anything down
– Weren't allowed to have memories
What is someone willing to risk for freedom?
From Nineteen Eight-Four
• Freedom is the freedom to say that two
plus two makes four. If this is granted, all
• Thoughtcrime does not entail death,
thoughtcrime IS death.
Things you need to take note of
when reading the text:
• The “new” language. Any term that is
unfamiliar to you should be noted down
and defined. At the start of the novel most
words are defined or explained.
• Words/terms like: newspeak, minitrue,
thoughtcrime, proles, Ministry of Love,
Hate Week. Doubleplusgood, duckspeak,
The official language of Oceania.
Newspeak is "politically correct"
speech taken to its maximum
One of the 3 Superstates. (Political
System: Ingsoc) Winston Smith's
home. Comprised of North and South
America, Britain, Australia, and
southern portions of Africa.
Newspeak is the official language of
Oceania, but standard English is still
spoken by many.
• In the world of 1984, language is reduced,
so that thoughts are also reduced
• Don’t you see that the whole aim of
Newspeak is to narrow the range of
thought? In the end we will make
thoughtcrime virtually impossible, because
there will be no words to express it.
• “In fact there will be no thought. Orthodoxy
means not thinking. Orthodoxy is
• People believe what they are told because
doubting a fact means death. People just
The importance of history
• One of Winston’s jobs is to change the
past so that it “fits into” the present beliefs
of those in power.
• No one values history, even personal
history is worthless.
Memory and creativity
Remembers his mother.
His mother’s suffering.
His adult awareness of his mother’s suffering.
His mother’s loyalties.
The impossibility of feeling sorrow.
Julia and he make love because it is a political act
• Sex is seen as a nasty thing you do to
• “When you make love…you feel happy
and don’t give a damn about anything.
They can’t bear you to feel like that….If
you are happy inside yourself why would
you give a damn about Big Brother”
Loyalty to the party
transcends even family ties.
All marriages are arranged to produce
children to serve the state. From the time
that these offspring are very young, they
are trained as spies. Many children, turn
their parents in to the Thought Police.
Neither the parents nor the children are
supposed to have any love for one
another. There is no love in the world of
Buys diary to communicate with future.
‘You had to live, did live, from habit that became instinct –
in the assumption that every sound you made was
overheard and, except in darkness, every movement
Outraged by demands party makes on people’s intellects.
Outraged by party’s attempt to destroy sexual instinct.
Relationship with Julia allows him to feel human.
Capable of recalling and thinking.
‘These fragments have I shorn against my ruin,’
Not intellectual as is Winston
Resourceful, spontaneous, guiltless.
Natural, but has not thought to the degree Winston
Falls asleep as Winston reads Goldstein.
Does not care if the party invented aeroplanes or
Contrast between O’Brien’s burly physique and elegant
His manner draws Winston to him.
An indication of Winston’s despair.
When torturing, he adopts different personas.
Perfect at doublethink - the power to hold two completely
contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and
accept both of them.
• - Proletarians or lower, working classes. Approximately
85% of Oceania's population are in this class. Members
of the party viewed them as animals. They are not as
rigidly observed as members of the party, and very few
(if any) have telescreens in their home. They are
permitted to indulge in pornography, prostitution, and
other acts considered thoughtcrime, simply because it
would be impossible to observe all of them as rigidly as
the party observes its own members. Plus, allowing them
to indulge in these "little joys" helps to keep the masses
Is Nineteen Eight-Four
a novel of despair?
NO – George Orwell offers a political choice
between the protection of truth and a slide
into expedient falsehood for the benefit of
rulers and the exploitation of the ruled.
It is a subversive novel, a protest against
immoral rulers, the authoritarian in every
personality and unquestioning conformism
Nineteen Eight-Four can be
seen as an account of the
forces that endanger liberty and
the need to resist them
A scene from one of Winston's drug-induced hallucinations while in the Ministry of Love:
he and O'Brien look out upon the rolling hills of the Golden Country.
John Hurt as Winston Smith in the Chestnut Tree Café, in the final scene from Nineteen