Course Hero Logo


George Orwell

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "1984 Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 28 May 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2016, July 28). 1984 Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 28, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "1984 Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed May 28, 2023.


Course Hero, "1984 Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed May 28, 2023,

1984 | Discussion Questions 31 - 40


Compare and contrast the ways that Winston and Julia respond to the Party's oppressive policies in 1984.

Winston spends a great deal of time mulling over his thoughts and beliefs before he takes action. Indeed, were it not for Julia, readers would not know if he ever would have taken action against the Party. Julia, on the other hand, is not political and cares more about her own pleasure than the Party, but she's proactive. It is Julia who, in Chapter 1 of Book 2, invites Winston to the meadow, where he sees the bluebells, hears the birdsong, and makes love to Julia—a punishable act because it involves an individual choice and ownlife and is an expression of love for someone other than Big Brother. As Book 2 continues, it is obvious that Julia's approach to the Party's restrictive rules is simply to surreptitiously break them, to do what she likes out of sight of the Party's surveillance—something she is very good at doing. Winston, on the other hand, wants to find a way to actively overthrow the Party, even though he believes that such a revolution can only come from the proles, not through Outer Party members like him. Both Winston and Julia secretly break out of the Party's oppressive policies. However, Julia does it to ignore the Party's rules, while Winston does it as an act of civil disobedience.

How does the change in the singing prole woman's situation foreshadow what happens to Winston and Julia in 1984?

In Chapter 4 of Book 2, the singing prole woman beneath the window of the upper room at Mr. Charrington's symbolizes simpler times when people sang just for the enjoyment of it. In Chapter 10 of Book 2, Winston decides that she is a "solid unconquerable figure" representative of working-class people all over the world, "toiling from birth to death and still singing," and she symbolizes to him simple unconquerable humanity, freedom, and beauty. But, when Winston suddenly hears her stop singing and let out a cry of pain, and then he hears a tub being thrown and crashing, his and Julia's fate is foreshadowed. Something human and beautiful, their pleasure in each other, will be abruptly terminated and replaced by violence.

Orwell once said that he wanted to "make political writing into an art." Discuss this quotation in light of the role of literature in 1984.

Julia tells Winston that the books she and others write in the Ministry of Truth's Fiction Department are "ghastly rubbish," "boring," and produced to amuse the proles. The books are written by novel-writing machines, and her job is to service the machines. In the novel deep and meaningful ideas can never be expressed in literature because totalitarianism is the enemy of great literature and art. The role of literature in the novel is in direct contrast to Orwell's own approach to literature. His goal is to criticize totalitarianism, and his political views are elevated to art through his compelling ideas and precise prose.

Why does Winston believe that chastity is a symbol of political orthodoxy in 1984?

In Book 2, Chapter 3, Winston decides that there is a "direct, intimate connection between chastity and political orthodoxy." He asks how the fear, hatred, and absurd willingness to believe untruths could be kept at a frantic pitch unless the Party restricted or eliminated the powerful basic instinct of sexual pleasure. The Party thinks sex is dangerous because, if people were allowed to have it, they would not be tense and repressed enough to want to hate the "enemy." Sexual tension leads to more enthusiastic demonstrations of Party loyalty. Unable to release pent-up emotions through personal relationships, people channel their frustration and longing toward the ideals of good and evil the Party presents them. Political orthodoxy prevents people from connecting on an intimate level, and the group dynamic of fear and hatred is fueled by this basic lack of human connection.

What details support Winston's assertion in 1984 that "the proles are human beings. We are not human"?

Perhaps worse than robbing the populace of material goods, the Party has robbed them of feelings and natural impulses such as love, compassion, and friendship. Everything the Party does robs Inner and Outer Party members of their natural feelings. The proles, however, being mainly ignored by the Party, have retained their natural sympathies. They are still human because they still love, create families, and enjoy intimacy with each other. Winston remembers regretfully the time when he coldly kicked a severed hand into the street and feels as if this is an inhuman act. He believes that the Party will find him and kill him but knows that, as long as he can hold onto his feelings, they cannot kill his spirit. "If the object," he concludes, is not to stay alive "but to stay human, what difference did it ultimately make?" He believes he can choose to "stay human," although the Party's ultimate eradication of his humanity proves his belief false.

How does Mr. Charrington's appearance in the upper room at the end of Book 2 of 1984 affect Winston?

Up to this point in the novel, Mr. Charrington has seemed gracious, warm-hearted, and helpful. His cockney accent and unassuming nature signal he is a typical prole. At the end of Book 2, Winston sees a very different Mr. Charrington. He takes charge, his body has straightened, he looks much younger, and his cockney accent has disappeared. In Mr. Charrington, Winston sees the alert cold face of the Thought Police staring at him. With the exception of his feelings for Julia and about the woman singing in the yard below the room, any faith he'd had that among the weariness of life there was some goodness has now evaporated.

What does O'Brien mean when he tells Winston in Book 3 of 1984, "They got me a long time ago"?

When O'Brien tells Winston in Book 3, Chapter 1, "They got me a long time ago," he might be saying that he was once a dissident but has been turned into an orthodox Party member. However, this is unlikely, as dissidents are usually vaporized some time after they are tortured and released back into society. It is more likely that O'Brien is saying that he is a Party loyalist and that he has known for a long time that there is absolutely no escape from Big Brother. In fact, O'Brien says he helped write "the book" in order to figure out who is against the Party in order to eliminate them. In doing so he is serving as an effective instrument of the Party, helping to strengthen its power over the people.

What is the difference between the power Winston seeks and the power O'Brien describes in Book 3 of 1984?

When O'Brien asks Winston why the Party maintains power, Winston tells him what he thinks O'Brien wants to hear—that the Party maintains power for the good of the people. He tells him, "You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore—." Winston is startled when, instead of reducing the pain threshold, O'Brien dials it up. He thought that was what the Party believed and what O'Brien wanted to hear. Instead, O'Brien says that's stupid and that the Party only wants power for power's sake. Winston's idea of power is colored by his desire for independent thinking, love, and understanding. He wants the power to do what is best for humanity, and he believes, at first, that the Party is trying to force its idea of what's best for people on society. However, the Party's version of power doesn't have any real goal except to exist and grow. The power Winston seeks, in contrast, has social and emotional goals that would bring back happiness and humanity to the people.

In 1984 why doesn't the Party just shoot or hang dissidents when it captures them?

The Party wants to create "true believers." In Goldstein's treatise, he explains that past dictatorships and other oppressive regimes made the mistake of publicly executing people while the dissidents still held to their unorthodox beliefs. All this did was make the executed person a martyr and therefore create more rebels. For a totalitarian regime to hold onto power, they must brainwash the dissident so thoroughly that the rebellious person starts to believe in the dogma of the ruling party or group. Failing that, they must find a way to reduce the person to a shell of a human being so that the person has no impact on the world or desire to change it. In this way there are no martyrs; there are only true believers. The opposing voices have been silenced.

In 1984 how does Room 101 help O'Brien accomplish the Party's mission?

The Party's goal is to maintain its absolute power over people, and Room 101 breaks down even the most resistant of rebels by destroying their humanity and the dangerous emotions that threaten the Party's mission. In the room dissidents are tortured by whatever they fear most. This is the moment at which the Party breaks people down completely and forces them to accept Party dogma. For Winston this nightmare involves rats—which doesn't surprise the careful reader, because, earlier in the novel, Winston expresses fear of a rat in the room above the antique shop. Terrified beyond description at the prospect of having rats eat his face, Winston calls out, "Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what you do to her." When O'Brien hears this, he knows Winston has lost his humanity and will never defy the Party again.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about 1984? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!