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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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?
Book 3, Chapter 4 Quotes
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.
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.
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
Book 1, Chapter 3
...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
...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
Book 2, Chapter 5
Book 3, Chapter 2
...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
...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