George Orwell's 1984: Themes, Analysis, Characters

George Orwell’s novel 1984 is often touted as one of the greatest novels written in the English language. This mind map gives a structured overview on themes, characters and analysis.

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George Orwell's 1984: Themes, Analysis, Characters by Mind Map: George Orwell's 1984: Themes, Analysis, Characters

1. Main Characters

1.1. Winston Smith

1.1.1. The main protagonist

1.1.2. Thin, frail, contemplative, intellectual, and fatalistic thirty-nine-year-old.

1.1.3. A minor member of the ruling Party in near-future London.

1.1.4. He resents the authoritarian regime of the Party and tries to rebel, but is finally crushed in body and soul.

1.1.5. He hates the totalitarian control and enforced repression that are characteristic of his government.

1.1.6. He harbors revolutionary dreams.

1.2. Julia

1.2.1. Winston’s girlfriend

1.2.2. She also starts out with a strident anti-party stand and is suppressed in the same way as Winston is.

1.2.3. Beautiful dark-haired girl working in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth

1.2.4. Julia enjoys sex, and claims to have had affairs with many Party members.

1.2.5. Julia is pragmatic and optimistic.

1.2.6. Her rebellion against the Party is small and personal, for her own enjoyment, in contrast to Winston’s ideological motivation.

1.3. O’Brien

1.3.1. A prominent, mysterious, powerful, and sophisticated member of the Inner Circle of the Party.

1.3.2. Winston believes he is also a member of the Brotherhood, the legendary group of anti-Party rebels.

1.3.3. He traps Winston into betraying his unorthodox views and presides over his torture and degradation.

2. Analysis

2.1. 1984, George Orwell’s bleakly dystopian novel about the dangers of totalitarianism, warns against a world governed by propaganda, surveillance, and censorship.


2.2.1. Today, Orwellian phrases like “Big Brother” and “doublespeak” have become common expressions.

2.2.2. This is more irony. "Big Brother" should be a nice guy that still has your back on the playground. But since war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength, Big Brother is also a controlling and not remotely brotherly guy.

2.3. Narrator Point Of View

2.3.1. Third person, Limited Omniscient

2.3.2. This is Winston’s story, and we only get information through his eyes. Why does this work? Part of what makes 1984 awesome is that we feel the same emotions as its protagonist. If Winston feels confused about history, we are likewise confused as we try to understand the system of Oceania.

2.4. Genre

2.4.1. Drama; Dystopian Literature; Parody; Science Fiction

2.5. Tone

2.5.1. Pessimistic, matter-of-fact, sharp

2.5.2. Written in a gloomy tone, with a very matter-of-fact, unornamented style.

2.5.3. The environment is dismal; speech is restricted. Like the text itself. This is more of the "Orwell makes you experience Winston’s experiences" deal.

2.5.4. The style is rather uniform, except for the long political tirade from Goldstein’s manifesto that is written in a different fashion.

2.6. Plot

2.6.1. Initial Situation We get the sense that Winston’s life has always been boring and banal, and he’s finally gotten to the point of expressing that frustration.

2.6.2. Conflict Winston has gained an ally in his covert acts of rebellion against the Party. Julia’s involvement adds a second dimension to our protagonist’s life.

2.6.3. Complication It gets complicated once the enigmatic Inner Party member got involved.

2.6.4. Suspense He undergoes a series of torturous interrogations by O’Brien, but still does not know what waits for him in Room 101.

2.6.5. Denouement Room 101, where one confronts one’s worst fear, has arrived. This is where the last inkling of rebellion the last backbone of Winston’s subversion is broken.

2.6.6. Conclusion The rebel has been reformed and now loves the Party he attempted to overthrow. His being at the Chestnut Tree signifies the ending also – that’s the spot where old Party members go to spend their retirement. His chance meeting with Julia, the former love of his life and muse to his soul, was apathetic.

3. Themes

3.1. Totalitarianism and Communism

3.1.1. Orwell's main goal was to warn of the serious danger totalitarianism poses to society.

3.1.2. In the novel, INGSOC represents the worst features of both the Nazi and Communist regimes.

3.1.3. The Party's ultimate ambition is to control the minds as well as the bodies of its citizenry, and thus control reality itself.

3.1.4. Totalitarianism was an outgrowth of Socialism, which arose as a response to industrialization, and sought to create more equitable societies by centralizing production and abolishing private property in favor of collective ownership.

3.2. Propaganda

3.2.1. A major factor in the Party's rule over Oceania lies in its extremely well organized and effective propaganda machine.

3.2.2. The Ministry of Truth, which is ironically where Winston works, is responsible for disseminating all Party publications and information. The Party chooses exactly what to tell the public.

3.3. Love/Sexuality

3.3.1. The Party works to quell all physical sensations of love, and depersonalizes sex to the point where it is referred to as a "duty to the Party" Some Party organizations even advocate complete abstinence and procreation only through artificial insemination. Winston is only able to rebel against the Party through his affair with Julia, even though this love is destroyed in the end.

3.4. Independence/Identity

3.4.1. Through its effective psychological manipulation tactics, the Party destroys all sense of independence and individuality. Life is uniform and orderly.

3.4.2. Through this ultimate loss of individual thought, we witness Orwell's warning against embracing any version of totalitarian rule.

3.5. Music

3.5.1. Songs appear throughout the novel, most often when Winston is reflecting on the state of the world. Music appears to inspire Winston and allows him to see beauty and simplicity

3.6. Loyalty

3.6.1. The Party is fueled by loyalty, and thus demands that its citizens support any and all actions it takes in pursuing a greater Oceania. For the Party, loyalty means accepting without question or hesitation.

3.6.2. Winston is loyal to the Brotherhood, even if that means murdering innocents.

3.6.3. Winston is also loyal to Julia

3.7. Poverty vs. Wealth

3.7.1. Oceanian society presents a clear dichotomy in living conditions. The small Inner Party lives luxuriously. The industrious Outer Party live in run-down single-room apartments with no amenities and low-quality, tasteless food. The uneducated proles live in absolute poverty.

3.7.2. Orwell presents this dichotomy to demonstrate how totalitarian societies promote the wealth of the ruling regime while decreasing the quality of life for all other members of society.

3.8. Technology

3.8.1. Technology is an extremely important tool that the Party uses to maintain control over its citizens. Without telescreens, the Thought Police would not be nearly as effective, and propaganda would not be so widespread. The constant supervision of the telescreen effectively imprisons citizens of Oceania in their daily lives: they are always under observation.

3.9. Language

3.9.1. Newspeak plays an extremely important role in Oceanian society and in the Party's control over its population.

3.9.2. The Party works to form a language around itself rather than naturally accepting and assuming the language of the people that make up the country. Language is used as yet another mechanism of mind control. Redefining and forcing a language on a population denies that society its individuality.

4. About This Book

4.1. In 1984, George Orwell presents his vision of dystopia, a world consisting of three massive totalitarian states constantly at war with each other and using technological advancements to keep their respective Party members and masses under careful observation and control. Written in 1948 and published in 1949, this novel is often touted as one of the greatest novels written in the English language.

4.2. Author

4.2.1. George Orwell Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) was a British journalist and author, who wrote two of the most famous novels of the 20th century 'Animal Farm' and 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'.