A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
George Orwell's 1984 is one of the most influential satires of the 20th century. Its vocabulary has become part of everyday discourse, from "Big Brother" to "Thought Police" to "doublethink." Its themes remain especially relevant at a time of when personal privacy is at a premium and when governments large and small manipulate language to promote their own particular ends.
Despite his failings, Winston Smith finds the courage to keep a diary, take a lover, and think of working to overthrow the Party and Big Brother.
Positive Role Models
The protagonist, Winston Smith, has been beaten down by decades under the all-seeing eye of Big Brother. Nevertheless, he finds the courage for small acts of rebellion. As he begins to take bigger risks, he becomes more likeable, until the reader is rooting for him against all odds.
Violence & Scariness
Oceania exists in a constant state of war, so violence is a daily part of life. Bombs rain from the sky. Disgraced members of the Party are executed for their supposed crimes. Worse is the emotional violence inflicted upon a populace constantly under surveillance and forced to report the slightest infraction. Winston Smith is tortured in the Ministry of Love, in scenes that are physically wrenching, but there are still worse things that await him in Room 101.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Winston Smith and his younger lover, Julia, engage in an illicit sexual relationship, presumably away from the attentions of Big Brother. The description of their lovemaking is not explicit, but there is no doubt that theirs is a thoroughly adult, physical relationship.
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Citizens of Oceania are forbidden from using objectionable language, but a few "hells" and "damns" slip out.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Members of the Party are encouraged to smoke Victory cigarettes and Victory gin, but no one really seems to enjoy them. The poverty-stricken Proles partake in alcohol consumption as a form of "entertainment" provided by the Party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 1984 presents an unblinking portrait of life lived under constant surveillance and stands as one of the great dystopian satires of the 20th century. Author George Orwell also wrote Animal Farm, a satirical allegory about the abuse of power.
Is It Any Good?
Narrated with infinite precision, 1984 is one of the most famous dystopian satires in the English language. Its vocabulary -- "doublethink," "Big Brother," "down the Memory Hole," "Thought Police," "unperson" -- has become part of popular culture. Winston Smith's quest for freedom under the gaze of all-seeing, all-knowing Big Brother still resonates strongly today, when privacy is hard to come by and governments adopt intrusive policies, supposedly to keep their citizens safe.
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Our Editors Recommend
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