Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for 1984 by George Orwell that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in Orwell's 1984 and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for offer a short summary of 1984 in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from 1984 by George Orwell, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Forced Repression of Natural Impulses in 1984Nearly every aspect of the society presented in 1984 by George Orwell is controlled, including the most natural impulses of sex and love. The suppression of these innate urges is encouraged through a program instituted by various forms of media in society in 1984 by George Orwell that propagates mistrust so severe that even mothers and fathers cannot trust their own offspring—another supposedly natural bond and impulse. Throughout the novel there are many examples of oppression of natural reactions and they cause a number of problems, not just for the main characters, but for the society at large. For this essay, you could provide detailed examples of how natural impulses are stifled and what consequences there are.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Lack of Privacy and The Effect of No IndividualismPersonal privacy and space is never granted throughout 1984. Every person is always subject to observation, even by their own family members and friends. Furthermore, since Big Brother is always watching and the Thought Police are always on the lookout, it is impossible for any kind of individualism to flourish. For this essay you can look at the ways this occurs and how various characters attempt (successfully or not) to subvert it. Then move out to consider how this lack of privacy (and by proxy, individualism) influences individuals and society as a whole.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Role and Representation of Women in 1984
Although it's often considered to be an “easy” topic choice for a paper, examining the role of women would make for an excellent essay, especially since many of things that make women what they are in many novels (adhering to ideas of romantic love, sex, femininity, marriage, etc) are subverted by the totalitarian society. For this essay, look at the depictions of women, keeping in mind such issues as the Junior Anti-Sex League, Winston's Wife who is the “human soundtrack,” and others. All of the women or groups of women presented offer a very twisted view of all of the things typically associated with women in literature. Look at why this is and offer numerous examples.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Power of Words and Rhetoric in 1984
Rhetoric, words, and language have enormous power in this society. Consider the phrase, “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength” as well as the fact that the state of war and who it is with is constantly shifting. In this society (much like ours) reality is based on information and Orwell's novel, the information is all related by words. The power of language in this novel (just as in Animal Farm, another novel by George Orwell) is one of the most potent forces that exists and as a result, the state goes through great lengths to influence and control language. For this essay, find a number of examples of contradictory, misleading, or otherwise bad rhetoric and how it is used to manipulate the population. A good essay might include three examples and then use one paragraph for each to fully pick apart the language and discuss the effects it has.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5: 1984 in Historical Context: How Current Events Shaped the Themes in the Novel
In some cases, it is not always feasible or worth it to consider too heavily the time period during which a novel was written. This is not the case in 1984. In fact, the historical context is of the utmost importance as the threat of totalitarianism, fascism, and domination based on skilled rhetoric was at the forefront of public fears during Orwell's time. Written in 1949, 1984 reflects the period as fascist empires were growing and the effects of others were becoming more clear with each passing day, such as was the case Germany. For this essay, make sure you include some biographical information about Orwell and what he witnessed during his lifetime and make reference to the many fascist regimes that are reflected in the novel.
* For an excellent article on the influence of the media on the society in 1984, click here *
George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 is a perfect example of a futuristic totalitarian regime and a dystopia. Orwell’s tale expresses his vision of a government changing and becoming a totalitarian government. The government, in this story, is run by an unknown leader who goes by the title “Big Brother”. The concept of “Big Brother” is that someone is always watching, and people can never deceive the government. In Orwell’s idea of what may happen in the future, “Big Brother” monitors everything everyone does or even thinks.
Orwell was born with the name Eric Arthur Blair, in 1903, in Bengal, India. His father was Richard Walmesley Blair. He worked in the Opium department of the Indian Civil Service as a minor customs official.(Biography) When Orwell was four, his family returned to England. They then settled in a village near London, Henley. Soon after their move his father returned to India. Orwell was sent to a private elementary school in Sussex when he was eight years old. His experiences there influenced his views on the English class system. After finishing school there he went to two private secondary schools using scholarships.(Biography) He went to Wellington for one term and Eton for four and a half years.
Orwell later received training in Burma and became an Indian Imperial Police officer. He served there from 1922 to 1927. Orwell decided not to return to Burma while he was on leave in England. He had dreamed of becoming a writer ever since he was a child. He did not feel the Imperial Police was a suitable job for him.(Biography) He had also realized how imperialistic the Police unit was and rejected it. He resigned on January 1, 1928.
The opening of the book explains the setting of London, which is now Oceania, in the year 1984. London is described, as having a strict government that Orwell felt could have existed in 1984 if people did not listen to his warnings.(I Texas) It also tells of how citizens are monitored everywhere they go. There are “telescreens” in each room which constantly show pictures of “Big Brother” speaking, but they are also videotaping everything that is going on. As you progress into the book you discover the main character, Winston Smith, begins to want to revolt against “Big Brother.” As these rebellious urges progress he begins a love affair, which in this time is illegal, with a girl named Julia.(I Texas) The novel has a classic tale of betrayal when Winston discovers that O’Brien, who he thought was a rebel like himself, was actually a chief inquisitor for the inner party of “Big Brother.” The book is ended when Winston is captured, tortured, and basically brainwashed. The punishments Winston goes through eventually make him realize that he loves “Big Brother.”(I Texas)
There were many personifications, allegories, ironies, and symbolisms in 1984. Orwell’s character, Winston, was named after England’s great WWII leader Winston Churchill. An article Winston once wrote about freedom meaning that you could say that two and two makes four is used against him in the end. This shows some of the irony Orwell used in his writing. The story relates a great deal to what Hitler had been doing a few years before in Germany. The citizens are fed endless propaganda to ensure they will not go against the government.(I Texas) Orwell also was referring to NAZI Germany when he wrote about “Doublethink.” The theory behind “Doublethink” is the process that was used on Winston to make him believe two and two equal five. Orwell creates a symbolism between the separate states of 1984, and the separate countries during the time the book was written. He created Oceania to represent the United States, Urasia to represent Russia, and Eastasia to represent China.(I Texas) Another example of symbolism in this novel is the paperweight Winston buys in the old junk shop. It stands for the fragile relationship Winston shares with Julia. The coral in the inside of the paperweight represents Julia and Winston. In addition to the symbolisms, 1984 also includes some foreshadowing. The nursery rhymes do have a sentimental value to them, but they also create a foreshadowing of Julia and Winston’s betrayal to each other. Because they have been altered, the nursery rhymes do not always have the same meaning as they did before.(I Texas) For example, one of them ends with, “I sold you and you sold me.”
The story of 1984 can also be related to the present day government of the United States. One can already see that in our schools the freedom of speech is limited. Because of school shootings, student threats are being taken more seriously. Some schools however do not take it as seriously as others. However, it was not until September eleventh that it really became noticeable. After the tragedy in New York and Washington D.C., many precautions have been taken to ensure further terrorists acts do not happen again. Since the attacks, freedoms have been lessened. Phone conversations can now be recorded without permission, and one can be taken in for questioning just for something discussed on the phone. These are similar to the rights that are taken away while students are at school, but it is on a much larger scale. Security has been greatly increased in all forms of travel. This may not necessarily be a bad thing but it is time consuming. When traveling now on planes, all bags must be checked. This means one must arrive at the airport earlier to be sure to make the flight. It is understood that along with freedoms, come a certain amount of responsibilities.
George Orwell’s 1984 was an extremely good book. It really makes one think about how horrible it would be to live in a totalitarian society. It makes one seriously wonder if the United States is slowly becoming more of a totalitarian government. George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948.(I Texas) It has only been a little over 50 years. One should look at where our government has moved over the past 50 years. Just imagine where we will be in another 50 or 100 years. People should take into account that this could really happen and that it is a real threat.
George Orwell’s novel of a futuristic totalitarian regime and dystopia is a classic tale that acts as a warning to all governments, to guard against becoming more like “Big Brother.” It emphasizes many important symbolisms and allegories to ensure that something as horrific as NAZI Germany does not happen again. The United States has changed significantly since September 11, 2001. Would it be possible for 1984 to become a reality in the United States?
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