Anatomy of a Book: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran. (p.5)

Few books have influenced the way people perceive society and governments more than this one.

Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover… he could be seen as well as heard. (p.6)

It sprouts the risk of control from government. The way a society can be manipulated by the control of information, history, knowledge, movement and language.

‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of though? (p.45)

Using Winston’s life it is a warning about giving power and not acting against the restrains of freedom. It is a bleak alternative present that was written over fifty years ago. This book gave the world many phrases and the term Orwellian future – for a society dominated by a restrictive regimen.

‘Our duty to the Party,’ said Julia promptly. (p.109)

It is also readable for it contains most elements of a classic story.

Changing Status:

We meet Winston as he beings his personal, subtle rebellion against the Party. This escalates as the story goes on, and Winston is changed. Ultimately he is completely changed.

High Stakes:

The fear of being caught by the spies of Big Brother is constant. Winston wants change for the betterment of people, and being stopped might stop that. It will also likely mean the death of Winston.

Page Turner:

There is always a fear of being discovered. However there is one long period where the entertainment is ceased.

Believable Characters:

The detail is there, making the world believable. There are explanations when required, so there is back story. Late in the story a sizable section is devoted to a fictional transcript of a book written by a member of the resistance movement. This text can be considered a backstory that is of little use within the actual story. Today writers would refer to it as an information dump – a load of detail only relevant to the world and not to the story. This section is a delay, and would be the kind of thing used today outside of the book on a supplementary blog or appendix.


This is a warning of what we should be wary of allowing our world to become.


Additional: the idea of Newspeak to control thought has evidence today. It is known that people who do not know words for certain things and actions are mostly unlikely to consider the concept independently. In societies where a word for stealing does not exist, or wanting for more, it is unlikely that the action would exist, as the consideration of the deed is nearly impossible. Restricting language can restrict thought.


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