1984

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Themes and Colors
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Class Struggle Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in 1984, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, not as a prediction of actual future events, but to warn the world against what he feared would be the fate of humanity if totalitarian regimes were allowed to seize power as they had done recently in Germany under Hitler and in the Soviet Union under Stalin. In the aftermath of World War II, Anglo-American intellectuals were reluctant to criticize the Soviet regime, despite evidence of Stalin's despotism, because…

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One way a totalitarian regime seeks to stay in power is by denying human beings their individuality, eradicating independent thought through the use of propaganda and terror. Throughout Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston tries to assert his individual nature against the collective identity the Party wishes him to adopt. He keeps a private diary, engages in a forbidden sexual relationship, and insists that his version of reality is the truth, as opposed to what the Party…

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The Party controls the citizens of Oceania through a combination of surveillance, terror, and propaganda. Although there are no laws to punish crime, the party can indiscriminately use torture, imprisonment, or vaporization on anyone whose thoughts or actions indicate that they may commit a crime in the future. The presence of telescreens in every room reminds citizens that they are constantly being observed, and all live in fear that their neighbors, coworkers, or even family…

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As Julia observes, the Party polices sexual relationships because it realizes that the hysteria caused by sexual frustration can be harnessed into war fever and leader-worship. Because of this, when Winston and Julia make love they think of it as a political act, "a blow struck against the Party." The sadistic fantasies Winston has about Julia before they begin their affair indicate the strong link between sexual repression and violence. The red sash Julia wears…

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In Nineteen Eighty-Four, society is made up of three distinct social classes: the elite Inner Party, the industrious Outer Party, and vast numbers of uneducated proles. When Winston reads Goldstein's book, he learns that the history of humankind has been a cyclical struggle between competing social groups: the High, the Middle, and the Low. This theory was originated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the 19th century and became known as Marxism. Marxists…

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