Critical Essay Sample on 1984 by George Orwell

Paper Type:  Book review
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  1965 Words
Date:  2021-03-03


George Orwell's 1984 is a story about a man's struggle to maintain his humanity in a world that strives to eliminate individuality and promotes inhumanity. Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party. Members of the party are held in high esteem and are expected to behave according to the rules of the party and Big Brother's desires. Big Brother is the all-seeing and all-knowing persona that is in charge of monitoring all people (Mattias 1). With Big brother, there is no privacy. Big brother has fitted two-way televisions and listening devices all over the country. It is impossible to act or speak outside the rules without the knowledge of Big Brother. The novel is full of symbols that represent ideas, ideas, and realism that have been used to portray a what-if scenario of human interaction. Orwell’s 1984 examines human character from a perspective of freedom, humanity, and the environment of absolute power.

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Themes of 1984 by George Orwell

What Is Real Betrayal in 1984?

The theme of betrayal is outstanding in Orwells 1984. The first form of betrayal is depicted when Julia and Winston are betrayed by OBrien. In the beginning, OBrien is a trusted friend to Winston. He pretends to sympathize with Winston and also pretends to understand the contempt he has towards the party (George 13). He turns out to be Winston's interrogator. He violates the trust that Winston has in him. He tortures him into betraying Julia. Julia is also seen to betray the junior anti-sex league by getting intimate with Winston. Being a member of the league, she is not supposed to engage in any sexual relations. She uses the league to conceal her secret affair with Winston.

Psychological Manipulation in 1984

The theme of psychological manipulation is depicted in 1984. The party subjects its members to psychological stimuli whose aim is to overwhelm the mind's capacity for independent thought. Big brother has contributed majorly to the development of this theme. This is through the installation of giant televisions in every citizen's room that monitors their behavior and restricts their freedom of movement (George 3). The party undermines the family structure by inducting children into junior spies, an organization that encourages them to spy on their parents and report any cases of disloyalty to the party. In addition to that, the party forces members to suppress their sexual desires and treats sex purely as a procreative activity which might lead to the creation of new party members. The waist Sashi is made purposefully to uphold this rule, where they are long worn to symbolize chastity.

Music as a Theme in 1984

Songs appear throughout the novel, most often when Winston is reflecting on the state of the world. It appears to motivate Winston and incites him to see exquisite and simplicity in an otherwise ugly and savaged world.

1984 George Orwell and Technology

Technology has been emphatically brought forth through the use of machines and advanced equipment. The use of televisions to monitor the behavior of people is an advanced method of data collection. Through technology, Big Brother is able to monitor and identify those who have intentions and thoughts against the party.

Examples of Physical Control in 1984

Lastly, physical control is a major theme as the persona highlights how the party controls the bodies of its objects. The party constantly watches for any signs of disloyalty. The slightest provocation against the party is rendered punishable, even by death. The party members are also forced to attend mass each and every morning.

Symbolism in 1984

Symbolism has been used in room 101. The room is the terminal stage of suffering and rehab at the Ministry of love. The room symbolizes one thing that terrifies each person. It symbolizes the fear and helplessness experienced by a person when faced with their greatest fear. O’Brien describes it as the worst thing in the world. When Winston gets confined in room 101, he is strapped to a chair in a way that renders him completely immobile. With rats being his worst nightmare, they were caged right in front of him. O’Brien threatens to open the cages if Winston does not talk. He goes ahead to open the cages and Winston then agrees to betray Julia as it is no longer a matter of choice. His degradation is completed in room 101 and the cage is once again closed.

Symbolism has also been used through the scarlet sash. The scarlet sash is a symbol of chastity in the book. Julia wears it to conceal her true actions as she has a secret intimate affair with Winston and is forbidden and punishable. The scarlet sash was supposed to discourage citizens from engaging in intimate affairs.

Winstons mother represents the better days. Winston dreams about her and his little sister. they are non -existing characters in the book. She only appears in Winston's dreams yet she has a great effect on the occurrences of actions in the novel. Winston dreams of them drowning and sinking down and this gets him wondering if he could be the cause of their downfall. Winston experiences another dream that portrays his mother as noble and one of high purity simply because the standards that she followed were private ones. Winston draws a sense of life in the past and hopes for the future. Despite being just a memory, she greatly affects Winston's actions.

Owen has been portrayed to be a metaphysical realist. In his thoughts long before his arrest, he writes in his diary how the notion of external reality was denied by the party's philosophy. This subject matter weighs his heart down as he writes. He talks of the favors granted to the party intellectuals such as in debates where he would be easily overthrown in a debate with subtle arguments. Regardless of being right and the intellectuals being wrong, the intellectuals are always given the lead.

Interaction Between O’Brien and Winston

In an exchange between Winston and O’Brien, O’Brien challenges Winston by telling that he is not a metaphysician. He goes ahead to tell him how he has put no effort to get a deep understanding of existence and says that they control all records and memories. Winston says it is only written down in records and in the mind of human memories. He adds that the universe is a speck of dust and that the stars are out of reach forever. This shows that Winston has completely surrendered to the rule of the party and has no intentions of overruling it.

The setting of 1984 is one that makes a character feel disgruntled. It is a fictional book set in Oceania. This is currently in the past but then, it was a future possibility (George 2). The country is depicted to be in a continuous and constant state of wars and bombings. The bombings become so frequent that Julia says that the war was not really happening with Eurasia and that the rocket bombs were just a ploy by the party to persuade people of impending danger (Brett 1). The peoples living conditions are of low standards, so low that the food is synthetic and rationally administered to the citizens. As the novel starts, the hallways are described to be smelling of boiled cabbages and old rag mats. The electricity current is cut off during the daylight hours rendering the lift useless. One had to go for the plight of chairs.

The citizens are deprived of their privacy through the installation of televisions that monitor their behavior both visually and audibly. None of the citizens knew when they were being watched. This created the urge to be always cautious before uttering any word. There were several inscriptions of Big Brother is watching that constantly reminded the people that they were being watched at all times (Orwell 3). An organization of spies was created and mainly constituted of children. Their work was to investigate any forms of disloyalty to the party and report those who had any plan whatsoever of overthrowing the party. This included their family members. This eventually leads to the destruction and death of the family unit.

The glass paperweight has been used metaphorically to represent Winston and Julia's relationship. Their relationship is old-fashioned and isolated in a room which is above the shop. The shattering of the glass paperweight is also a metaphor for the termination of their relationship. Winston betrays Julia when he is taken to room 101 where he gets strapped to a chair and gets tortured with rats which are his worst nightmare. Although the novel does not mention how Julia betrays Winston, she betrays him by hating him as they had made a promise not to stop loving each other ( Joan1). It gets to a point where Julia has a contemptuous attitude towards Winston. The betrayal, therefore, lies in breaking the promise of love they had made towards each other. Winston betrays Julia for his personal gain.

1984 Plot Summary

Generally, the theme of betrayal is a major key to the plot development of 1984. The betrayal starts with the government's manipulation which causes the citizens to betray each other or discover any other forms of betrayal towards Big brother. The creation of the organization of the junior spies tore the families apart through betrayal. This is clearly seen in Parson’s case who says that his little girl nipped him off to the patrols. However, Parson is delighted at his daughter's achievement and carries her with pride. Room 101 develops the theme of betrayal as it is where citizens betray each other in an attempt to save themselves. You prefer someone else being tortured rather than you being tortured and end up saying anything that will set you free. Neither Julia nor Winston loved each other enough to stay loyal in room 101. Winston also betrays himself by writing his thoughts in his diary which causes him much trouble. It is in his diary that he expresses his attitude of contempt towards the party. This is used against him. Betrayal is also displayed by O’Brien who pretends to be Winston and Julia's friend but later turns his back against them and becomes their torturer and forces them to betray each other.

Abuse of power and urban decay has also been highlighted in the novel. The use of television has deprived the citizens of their freedom of expression and movement. They are restricted to a particular way of conduct and thought and any misconduct is punishable. The democracy of the people has been killed. Technology has been highlighted by the use of televisions. The use of advanced technology-enabled the party to monitor all the happenings among its citizens.


In conclusion, the novel reflects what happens in society. Abuse of power is a major form of moral decadency in the community today. 1984 provides a platform to deal with abuse of power, although the writer kills the hopes of the reader by allowing Winston and Julia to succumb to betrayal in room 101. The novel shows the extent people in authority go to in order to maintain their power and authority. They are willing to make people trample on each other provided that they face no opposition. They make the citizens feel inferior and also exploit them of their freedom of expression and hence kill democracy which is the very vital principle in the ruling of any society. The citizens stand to be judged and punished by what they say.

Works Cited

George, 1984. Copyright history today company publishers, 2016.

George,1984. Published by swignet classic,1977. Retrieved from

George .W.1984 symbolism, imagery and allegory.

Retrieved from, Jess .M. and Meg. Figurative language and stylistic devices.

Orwell .W. the collected essays, journalism and letters of George Orwell,. R...

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