Choose one of the following essay topics and write a well-developed essay (no less than two typed pages, double-spaced in 12 pt. standard font such as Roman Times or Georgia). This essay is due the first day of school.
1. Describe Winston’s character as it relates to his attitude toward the Party. In what ways might his fatalistic streak contribute to his ultimate downfall? Cite examples from the text to prove your opinions.
2. How does technology affect the Party’s ability to control its citizens? In what ways does the Party employ technology throughout the book? Cite examples from the text to prove your opinions.
3. Discuss the idea of Room 101, the place where everyone meets his or her worst fear. Keeping in mind that for most of Winston’s time at the Ministry of Love, he does not know what he will find in Room 101, what role does that uncertainty play in making Room 101 frightening? Does the cage of rats break Winston’s spirit, or does it merely play a symbolic role? Cite examples from the text to prove your opinions.
4. What role does Big Brother play within the novel? What effect does he have on Winston? Is Winston’s obsession with Big Brother fundamentally similar to or different from his obsession with O’Brien? Cite examples from the text to prove your opinions. Study Questions
1. 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?
Some of the most important symbols and motifs in 1984 include Winston’s paperweight, the St. Clement’s Church picture and the rhyme associated with it, the prole woman singing outside the window, and the phrase “the place where there is no darkness.” In addition to unifying the novel, these symbols and motifs represent Winston’s attempts to escape or undermine the oppressive rule of the Party. Winston conceives of the singing prole woman as an incubator for future rebels; she symbolizes for him the eventual overthrow of the Party by the working class. The St. Clement’s Church picture is a double symbol. For Winston it symbolizes a stolen past, but it also symbolizes the Party’s complete power and betrayal of humanity, since the picture hides the telescreen by which the Party monitors Winston when he believes himself to be safe. The St. Clement’s song is a mysterious, ominous, and enigmatic relic of the past for Winston and Julia. Its ending—“Here comes the chopper to chop off your head!”—foreshadows their eventual capture and torture. Salado High School English Department
Winston’s paperweight is another symbol of the past, but it also comes to represent a kind of temporal stasis in which Winston can dream without fear, imagining himself floating inside the glass walls of the paperweight with his mother. The phrase “the place where there is no darkness” works as another symbol of escapist hope throughout the novel, as Winston recalls the dream in which O’Brien tells him about this place and says that they will meet there one day. The phrase therefore orients Winston toward the end of the novel, when the phrase becomes bitterly ironic: the place where there is no darkness is the Ministry of Love, where the lights remain on in the prisons all day and all night.
2. Discuss the idea of doublethink. How important is doublethink to the Party’s control of Oceania? How important is it to Winston’s brainwashing?
One of the most compelling aspects of 1984 is Orwell’s understanding of the roles that thought and language play in rebellion and control. In Newspeak, Orwell invents a language that will make rebellion impossible, because the words to conceive of such an action cease to exist. Doublethink, the ability to maintain two contradictory ideas in one’s head simultaneously and believe them both to be true, functions as a psychological mechanism that explains people’s willingness to accept control over their memories and their past. Doublethink is...
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