Written by: George Orwell

Type of Work: novel

Genres: utopian literature; social criticism

First Published: 1949

Setting: Oceania

Main Characters: Winston SmithJuliaO’BrienBig Brother/Emmanuel Goldstein

Major Thematic Topics: mutability of the past; the existence of fact through memory; memory; history; languageoppression of writers

Motifs: repressed sexuality; dreams

Major Symbols: Newspeak; prole woman; birds; telescreens; glass paperweight



George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1949. The dystopian novel is set in 1984 – Orwell’s near future and our recent past – but the novel is still relevant today, due to its depiction of a totalitarian government and its themes of using media manipulation and advanced technology to control people.

Winston Smith lives in London, but not the London we know. Instead of being a part of England, 1984‘s London is part of Oceania, one of the three huge governments that exist in the book’s world. Oceania is controlled by a powerful and mysterious elite. The government, referred to as ‘Big Brother,’ uses cameras and listening devices to constantly observe all of its citizens. There is also a secret police force dedicated to reporting both rebellious thoughts and general misbehavior to the appropriate authorities.

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