1984

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Big Brother Symbol Icon
Big Brother represents the totalitarian government of Oceania, which is controlled by the Party and therefore synonymous with it. Winston learns in Goldstein's book that Big Brother is not a real person but an invention of the Party that functions as a focus for the people's feelings of reverence and fear. Worship of Big Brother also provides a substitute for organized religion, which has been outlawed by the Party.

Big Brother Quotes in 1984

The 1984 quotes below all refer to the symbol of Big Brother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet Classics edition of 1984 published in 1961.
Book 1, Chapter 7 Quotes
It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you—something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

Winston has been staring at a picture of Big Brother on the cover of a children's book, reflecting on the way that the Party controls his thoughts. He describes the pressure to conform to Party ideology at the expense of his own logic as a kind of physical force, so powerful that it could lead him to believe that 2+2=5. Indeed, this statement accurately foreshadows the moment when O'Brien eventually does convince Winston through torture that 2+2=5 at the end of the novel. 

In this passage, Orwell conveys the idea that reality control is even more horrifying than death. Perhaps because he has little to live for, Winston does not fear death; however, his words suggest that the ability to reason is the most important thing in life, and without that, he might as well be dead. With this in mind, Winston's eventual fate at the end of the novel is even more tragic than if he had been killed. At the same time, this passage shows that Winston knows such a fate is "inevitable." 

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Book 3, Chapter 4 Quotes
To die hating them, that was freedom.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:

After months of torture, Winston has accepted the Party's control over reality and over his own mind. However, he still dreams of the past, of his mother, and of Julia, and has awoken realizing that despite the fact that he has accepted doublethink, he still loves Julia and thus his emotions are still free from the Party's control. He realizes that he wants to die hating the Party and Big Brother, because even if the Party controls every other aspect of his life, this hatred will prove that he died a person with at least a tiny modicum of dignity and agency.

This sentence tragically foreshadows the remainder of the narrative, where Winston loses his emotional freedom, including his love of Julia and hatred of the Party. This is reflected in the final sentence of the novel, which is "He loved Big Brother." 

Book 3, Chapter 6 Quotes
He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final paragraph of the main narrative, Winston is drunk from gin at the Chestnut Tree Cafe and gazes lovingly at a picture of Big Brother. He regrets all the time he spent struggling against the Party, and feels relieved that he now accepts the Party and loves Big Brother. The two exclamations beginning with "O" use over-the-top poetic language to convey Winston's drunkenness, and this impression, along with his total surrender to the Party, highlight the fact that he is not the same person as he was at the beginning of the novel. His ability to think and feel autonomously has totally disappeared, and he is now simply a vehicle of obedience to the Party. 

Appendix Quotes
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis:

In the appendix to the novel, Newspeak is explained in detail, including the plan to replace Oldspeak entirely with Newspeak by 2050. The aim of this transition is crimestop, a concept introduced in Emmanuel Goldstein's book, which means preventing the possibility of subversive thought. This passage shows that just the existence of Oldspeak (the English language we know) is a threat to the total dominance of the Party, as it is possible to express an infinite variety of thoughts and feelings in Oldspeak, most of which do not confirm to Party ideology. 

Given this information, if the novel were set in 2050 instead of 1984 almost none of the events that take place in the narrative would be possible. Winston's critical thoughts about the Party, his writing in the diary, and Julia's note that says "I love you" would not be able to be expressed in Newspeak. However, the final phrase "at least so far as thought is dependent on words" might suggest a note of ambiguity about the possibility of future resistance. Recall that, even after Winston has been tortured into abandoning reason, he is still able to love Julia through his dreams and to maintain the feeling of hating Big Brother. While subversive thought might cease to exist after the adoption of Newspeak, perhaps subversive emotions could survive because emotions are not necessarily dependent on language.

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Big Brother Symbol Timeline in 1984

The timeline below shows where the symbol Big Brother appears in 1984. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 1
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
...the enormous face of a man with a black mustache, with a caption that reads, BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. (full context)
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
...As Winston looks out the window at the cold, colorless city, he sees posters of Big Brother plastered on every corner and the word "INGSOC" written on a wall. A police helicopter... (full context)
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
As the crowd reached a frenzied hatred of Goldstein, Big Brother appeared on the telescreen along with the Party slogans: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
...opinions when it's ideologically convenient. Winston tries to remember the year he first heard of Big Brother and realizes that the past has been destroyed, not merely altered. He does not even... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...by 20 percent, and reports that people are demonstrating in the streets in gratitude to Big Brother for having raised the chocolate ration. Winston is appalled that doublethink has made it possible... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...He takes a coin out of his pocket and looks at it. The face of Big Brother stares back at him. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 5
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
...holding a machine gun is displayed all over the city, outnumbering even the portraits of Big Brother . (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 2
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
...O'Brien says she betrayed Winston and was quickly converted through torture. Next Winston asks if Big Brother exists in the same way that he, Winston, does. O'Brien responds that Winston does not... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 4
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
...made intellectual but not emotional progress. He asks Winston what his true feelings are toward Big Brother . Winston answers that he hates him. O'Brien says Winston must love Big Brother, and... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 6
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
...his brain as he walks down a corridor. He looks up at the portrait of Big Brother on the wall, which fills him with a sense of happiness and safety. He knows... (full context)