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Orwell's 1984: Themes & Symbols of Book 1

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Ben Armbruster

on 14 November 2013

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Transcript of Orwell's 1984: Themes & Symbols of Book 1

1984 Book 1: Themes & Symbols
As the reader comes to understand, The Party uses a number of techniques to control its citizens,
each of which is an important theme of its own in the novel.


These include:
Symbols:

The
universal

ideas
,
concepts
, or fundamental
arguments
a literary piece explores...
Tracking Themes
Several major themes emerge in 1984 Book ONE.


As we continue to read, notice whether these themes, their prevalence, or circumstances surrounding them change or stay the same.

This will reveal Orwell's message about these themes.
Dangers of Totalitarianism
1984 is a political novel warning readers of the dangers of totalitarian government.


Dangers of Totalitarianism
Having, in WWII, witnessed the horrific lengths to which totalitarian governments would go in order to increase their power, Orwell wrote 1984 to sound the alarm for Western nations still unsure about how to approach the rise of communism
Dangers of Totalitarianism
Orwell portrays the perfect totalitarian society, the most extreme realization imaginable of a modern-
day government with absolute power
Dangers of Totalitarianism
If totalitarianism were not opposed, Orwell warned, some variation of the world he describes in the novel could become a
reality
Other Themes Emerge
Psychological Manipulation
The Party overwhelms subjects with
psychological stimuli
designed to overwhelm the mind’s capacity for
independent thought
Telescreens in every home
blast constant propaganda
designed to
make failures
and shortcomings
of the Party
seem like
successes
Telescreens also monitor citizen behaviors.
Everyone knows unorthodox thoughts are punishable by eath...The
24/7 invasion of privacy
though government spying forces people do as they are told,
or die.
Psychological Manipulation #3
Posters Everywhere
Psychological Manipulation #1
Psychological Manipulation #2
The Party undermines family by brainwashing children to spy on their parents and report any suspected disloyalty to
the Party
Psychological Manipulation #4
The Party also forces individuals to
suppress sexual desires,
treating
sex as merely a "duty"
whose goal is ONLY the
creation of new
Party members
.
Psychological Manipulation #5
Psychological Manipulation #6
The Party then
channels people’s pent-up frustration
and emotion into intense, ferocious displays of hatred
against the Party’s political enemies.
Many of these enemies have been invented by the Party expressly for this purpose.
Physical Control
In addition to manipulating their minds, the Party also controls the bodies of its subjects.


Physical Control #1
The Party constantly
watches body language

for any sign of disloyalty,
to the point , as Winston observes, even a
tiny facial twitch could lead to an arrest.
Physical Control #2
The Party
forces
its members to undergo mass morning-exercises called the
Physical Jerks
, before working long, grueling days at government agencies.
this keeps people in a constant state of exhaustion
Winston himself comes to the conclusion that
nothing is more powerful than physical pain
— no emotional loyalty or moral conviction can
overcome it.
The Power of Pain
Complete Information Control
Those who controls the past, control the future...
The Party controls every source of information
Information Control #1
The
Party manages ALL
data
, allowing the Ministry of Truth to
changes the content
of
old newspapers, press releases, obituaries and historical accounts
for its own benefit.
Information Control #2
The Party does
not allow individuals to keep
records of their past, such as
photographs
or
documents
. As a result,
memories become fuzzy and unreliable,
and out of fear of being unorthodox citizens are willing to believe whatever the
Party tells
them.
By controlling the present, the Party is able to manipulate the past.

By controlling the recorded past, the Party can justify all of its actions in the present.
Information Control #3
Technology
Through technology such as telescreens , street cameras, and hidden microphones across the city, the Party is able to monitor its members almost all of the time.
Technology
The Party uses complicated
data management systems
to exert large-scale
control on economic production
and sources of
information
Technology
Fearsome machinery and
torture devices
are
used to inflict pain, suffering and torture
upon those the Party deems
enemies
Technology
1984 reveals that
technology
, which is
supposed to used for good
,
can also facilitate

the most diabolical
evil
.
The Party has
manipulated so many historic records
and has
issued so much continuous propaganda
, that it becomes nearly
impossible for people to remember what is real
and what has been made up by the Party.

Eventually,
most people just give up trying to keep track of things.
It becomes so much mentally
easier to
just believe whatever the
Party says.
Glass Paperweight:
A symbol is a person, place, or thing that represents a something else, an idea, or a concept.
Big Brother:
1. The face of Big Brother
symbolizes the Party
2. The
warmth of his name

suggests his ability to protect
Oceania's citizens. He
provides
a sense of
"reassurance"
to most people.
3. He also
represents
an
open threat
to anyone against the Party.
He is everywhere
and
ALWAYS watching
;
no

one can escape
his gaze or reach... EVER!
It is
impossible to know who really rules Oceania,
what life is like for the upper party rulers, or why they even act as they do.
The
paperweight is an antique.
It is
"real"
and no matter what
the Party
does it
can never alter
the object's
authentic

history
nor its direct connection to an era that people have forgotten.
4. Big Brother also
symbolizes
the
"man behind the curtain"

He
might be real
,
he might not
and that uncertainty reflects the uncertainty of what goes on in the higher ranks of the Party.
Telescreens:
The book’s
most visible symbol
of the Party’s
constant monitoring
of its subjects. In their dual capability to
blare constant propaganda
and
observe citizens
, telescreens also
symbolize how totalitarian governments abuse technology
for its own ends instead of using its knowledge to improve civilization.
Prole Woman:
Only concerned about her own existence, Winston views the red-armed prole woman as
civilization's only hope.




She is
fertile and healthy
and her children and grand children "might" one day overthrow Big Brother and
the rest of the Party
Glass Paperweight:
To Winston,
the paperweight
symbolizes
his desire to
remember and reconnect with the past.
Junior Spies League
Telescreen Propaganda
24/7 Surveillance
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!
Posters continuously remind citizens that authorities are scrutinizing them, ALWAYS!
Destruction of Pleasure
Two-Minutes Hate
Theme:
Themes
are
JUST
the recurring
ideas
,
concepts
, and
arguments...
Authors
create a theme
within their stories
by repeating it
over and over.
...NOT the author's message about them
Different authors can treat the same themes in different ways
For Example:
With which characters does the theme seem to be mostly associated? Is the world in which the story takes place better or worse for the protagonists as a result? How does the theme affect the lives of other characters?

Once these questions are considered, it becomes easy to spot the author's feelings about the theme
Theme:
LOVE
Message:
Love is so warm and wonderful
Lyrics:

Lonely days of uncertainty, they disappear when you're near me. When you're around my life's worthwhile, and now I long to see you smile.
Theme:
LOVE
Message:
Love is phony, short-lived and just not worth the time.
Different authors can treat the same themes in different ways
Lyrics:

We're all going to die alone. You can't sing to a pile of bones and there isn't such a thing called love.
VS.
"How does the author treat the theme of ___ ?"
"How does the author develop the theme of ___?"
"How does the author treat the development of
the theme of ___ ?"
is simply asking you to
explain
how the repetition of that theme
, as related to the story events and characters,
adds up to reveal
the author's

message
about that concept, idea, or argument.
Readers

examine

the
placement
and
prevalence
of

themes

to figure out
the author's message
about them.
A Question Asking:
...in order to
present readers
with a
message
,
warning
, or
personal viewpoint
about a
social issue
or other aspect of
human nature
.
Full transcript