1984 Critical Essay

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

“1984”a novel, constructed carefully by the author George Orwell expresses deep themes of manipulation. The thirst and conquer of power, spawn from cryptic methods of controlling a community and the extreme forcefulness of communistic beliefs placed upon an unstable society after the cold war, concocts a progression of integrated fear within life resulting in a totalitarianism state of living. The ministries described in this novel are corrupt and extorted, however convey distinct parallels to our present society. These ministries truly fathom fear itself. Unconsciously the humans in this book are fearful to live a life of choice therefore will listen to authority and remain dorment to rebel. Recognising these statement to be true great power is conquered and held, ultimately allowing for extreme governing of the law as well as total control of the mind. “Big Brother” is the pinnacle of control, exerting physical and psychological fear within air strip one, removing individualism and oppressing leisurely sexual contact. Our protaganist Winston is an undesirable product of this society as thoughts of rebelling fill his mind through use of language. George Orwell’s integration of language portrays strongly his prediction of a utopian future however it is clear a warning is contacts within his chosen words. This constructed written warning is ultimately a correct prediction of further war within our society, the oppression of speech, thought and the objectifying of women and feministic beliefs that are present within our world


Implementing constant images of a powerful large, somewhat ‘hero’ in constant eyesight of your daily movements scrutinising your actions. This higher power is a reminder of status, hiraki within 1984. Big brother is the poster boy of fear, the reminder of where you stand and your purpose for this structured society. Winston patently illustrates this through his development of underlying hate for the system he is surrounded by. In the opening chapter is becomes adamant to the reader that Winston battles constantly with his thoughts,

“Any sound that winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. ”

Total access to the mind and body is the ultimate recipe for successful control, complete control. The sort of control where one would abolish all morals and risk bodily harm in the chance of pleasure and defence towards the controller, without further doubt or question to this authority of ‘leaders’. This is the desired control of the utopian state where Winston subsides. Their methods, just like many in history focus on conquering and abolishing freedom.  In 1984 the totalitarianism state utilises the freedom of individual speech and oppresses it, advertises it like a disease, educates the society of its horrid ways and locks it away forever, like a prisoner, a terrorist. Society, covered by the hands of corruption, views the act of speaking freely with the eyes that stamped it in a negative way, an enemy of the state, the cause war leads to unhappiness and fear. This view remains this way. Trust for the government has accumulated, the people have labelled them as the saviour and the answer to there problems. Members of society grasp anything they say to become affluent once again. Large quantities of what is contained in the text of 1984 are similar to the contents of what governments use in the present day. Donald Trump a conflicting 21st century figure with surprising manipulative methods similar to those utilised by the ministries within the novel, tells us that George Orwell’s utopian prediction has come true and the presence of using fear to control communities and countries are still prominent and needs to be recongisnised sooner than later.

Newspeak is developed in the ideological needs of Ingsoc and the english socialism. Newspeak was created to make all modes of thought impossible,  to provide a medium of expression for the world view and distinguish mental habits proper to the devoted followers of Ingsoc, ultimately replacing the old language labeled Oldspeak , with the goal of replacing the old speak language as a whole by 2050. A heretical thought this was for the ministries controlling Oceania. The removal of the past is hard to extinigsh from the minds of millions without antiquate methods, dark toliutariusm methods. Destroying the past, rewriting the future was legitmently what happened. Winston was dished the job of destroying any paper forms of the past. Articles are thrown the memory holes at the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth, contradicting to their name, the memory holes are not to be remembered but to be destroyed. George Orwell’s use of language in this particular chapter is symbolic to Winston as a person. Winston describes items and processes antithetically to their proper intents and ultimate purpose and thereby painting Winston’s world in a frighting way. Winton as a character is the pinnacle of George Orwell’s use of underlying language use. The contradicting use of words to hide their ultimate intentions is prominent throughout the novel.




These slogans paraded and posted by the ministries and big brother surround the township. George Orwell has carefully chosen these slogans in relation to  develop a greater character understanding and deliver an underlying warning to the future. These contradicting terms are only recognised for there true intentions by Winston, members of the public are metaphorically described by George Orwell as “a million people with the same face” and ultimately the same mind.

“Any sound that winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up on”. This exclaimed fear of speech that Winston shares tells us that he is constantly aware of the means that the government has in order to listen to him and detect slight methods of rebellion as well as the recongonistion he has for the contents that come from his thoughts in verbal or written form. “so long as he remained within the field of vision the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard.” Winston illustrates the methods of which the thought police and big brother watches over the people. The use of mechanical instruments to watch and listen to a society is a prominent method within the book. This draws a distinct parallel to our present world. The increase in technological presence within our homes, towns and Cities allows for greater powers , still described as “big brother” physically manipulates us. George Orwell’s utopian prediction is in turn a warning to us. Obsessed with technology our lives are unconuoiusly documented by various cameras and microphones without our own consent and knowledge. Without being educated I believed that just like the members of the 1984 tolitaridsm state we will also meet a same fate. “Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed- no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres in your skull.” Rings true to todays happenings.

“He disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always the women and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the party”.

1984 a book that amongst dark themes of a corrupt government and control through fear also portrays the thirst for love, sexual desire and attention. 1984’s integration of female gendered characters and the purpose they hold within the storyline can be critically examined in a feminist lens. 39 year Winston states his extreme hate for women within the community very prematurely into the novel therefore George Orwell must believe this is an important aspect of what winston struggles with , “He disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones”. This extreme hate for women can be explained through the deepest of Winston’s thoughts. Winston is deprived of sexual contact and affection. It becomes adamant that Winston’s hate has been created by the ministries placing boarders upon him resulting in unfulfilled desires. Sexual frustration is caused by the regime that Winston is apart of. The parties have created unpleasant idea of marriage and sex are enforced openly for reproduction. Sex is not leisurely and should purely serve the government. This hate for sex started from his wife Katherine who hated physical intimate contact with Winston but continued to press with the act. It was labelled by her to “fulfil their duty to the Party”. Therefore when Julia, Winston’s love interest is first acknowledged, he describes demoralising and vile ideas towards her.


“…..Winston succeeding in transferring his hatred from the face on the screen to the dark haired girl behind him”. “Vivid, beautiful hallucinations flashed through his mind”. “He would flog her to death with a rubber truncheon.” “He would tie her naked to a stake and shoot her full of arrows like Saint Sebastian.” He would ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax”. “Better than before; moreover, he realised why it was that he hated her”.                           “He hated her because she was young and pretty and sexless, because he wanted to go to bed with her and would never do so, because around her sweet supple waist, which seems to ask you to encircle it with your arm , there was only the odious scarlet sash, aggressive symbol of chastity.”

Julia 26, labelled as the love interest of Winston, is a character purely present for the introduction of sexual themes and betrayal to the text. “He would ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax” this conveying of rape represents the lack of sexual freedom Winston is feeling, he sees women as another instrument for repression within his society. George Orwell uses women in this text as a symbol of desire, merely just an object that dishes out sexual favours. This can be seen through the physical description of Julias body through Winstons mind “her sweet supple waist, which seems to ask you to encircle it with your arm”. Male thoughts towards women are displayed largely within Winston’s thoughts, some would say it is a correct portrayal on how majority of males view women as an object of desire not a being of intellect. I believe that George Orwell was unaware demoralising aspects of the oppression of women present in his work. Threrfore I label this warning as a mistake, a good mistake. George Orwell’s novel 1984 has been critically acclaimed to be a warning to the future politics and controlling methods of governments to the  unconscious mind, I agree with this, however when analysing this novel with a feminist approach it is apparent that  this text is male centred and the voice, value and attitude of Julia is not represented at an advanced educated level on which Winston’s were described. This adds confidence to the Bechdel test, a test which draws attention to the presence of women within movies and literature. To past this test the movie must past certain criteria. Have at least two women named in it, who talk to each other about something other than a man. 1984 does not pass. This failure is a distinct parallel to our society at present, women continue to be objectified. The oppression of women is far from over.


1984 a compelling text, portraying one mans prediction of a dystopian future, a true warning to the power that can become when fear is controlled. “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother”. The hope of Winston overcoming the ministry and big brother itself was wishfully prolonged, however unsuccessful. This last quote above solely tells us that the fight is still continuing and the manipulation is still presence. It is truly a war, an unconscious war. A war that will be conquered once all are educated.

One Comment

  1. Ella,

    The ideas and scope of this piece are great. There are some complexities to your expression that stand in the way of clarity that I’d like to go over with you before I formally assess it.


Respond now!