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1984 by George Orwell, Essential Revision Notes

1984, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Context 5

Summary 6

Characters 8

Winston Smith 8

Julia 8

O’Brien 9

Big Brother 10

Mr. Charrington 10

Syme 10

Parsons 10

Emmanuel Goldstein 10

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols 11

Themes 11

The Dangers of Totalitarianism 11

Psychological Manipulation 11

Physical Control 11

Control of Information and History 12

Technology 12

Language as Mind Control 12

Motifs 12

Doublethink 12

Urban Decay 13

Symbols 13

Big Brother 13

The Glass Paperweight and St. Clement’s Church 13

The Place Where There Is No Darkness 14

The Telescreens 14

The Red-Armed Prole Woman 14

Important Quotations Explained 15

1. 15

2. 15

3. 16

4. 16

5. 16

Sample Answers 18

1984 is full of images and ideas that do not directly affect the plot, but nevertheless attain thematic importance. What are some of these symbols and motifs, and how does Orwell use them? 18

Discuss the idea of doublethink. How important is doublethink to the Party’s control of Oceania? How important is it to Winston’s brainwashing? 19

Describe Julia’s character as it relates to Winston. How is she different from him? How is she similar to him? How does Julia’s age make her attitude toward the Party very different from Winston’s? 20

Language as the “Ultimate Weapon” in 1984 21

Context

Born Eric Blair in India in 1903, George Orwell was educated as a scholarship student at prestigious boarding schools in England. Because of his background—he famously described his family as “lower-upper-middle class”—he never quite fit in, and felt oppressed and outraged by the dictatorial control that the schools he attended exercised over their students’ lives. After graduating from Eton, Orwell decided to forego college in order to work as a British Imperial Policeman in Burma. He hated his duties in Burma, where he was required to enforce the strict laws of a political regime he despised. His failing health, which troubled him throughout his life, caused him to ...

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