1984

by

George Orwell

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on 1984 can help.
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.
Class Struggle Theme Icon

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 believe that the aim of the Middle group is to change places with the High, which they do by enlisting the support of the Low group. After the Middle group seizes power in a revolution, they become the High and thrust the Low back into servitude. Eventually a new Middle group splits off and the cycle begins again. At various points in the narrative, Winston entertains the hope that the proles will become conscious of their oppressed state and initiate a revolution. At other times, he despairs that since the proles cannot rebel until they become conscious, and cannot become conscious until only after they have rebelled, such a development is extremely unlikely.

Related Themes from Other Texts
Compare and contrast themes from other texts to this theme…
Get the entire 1984 LitChart as a printable PDF.
1984 PDF

Class Struggle Quotes in 1984

Below you will find the important quotes in 1984 related to the theme of Class Struggle.
Book 1, Chapter 4 Quotes
There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime, and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even a whole sub-section—Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak—engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at.
Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 6 Quotes
Tacitly the Party was even inclined to encourage prostitution, as an outlet for instincts which could not be altogether suppressed. Mere debauchery did not matter very much, so long as it was furtive and joyless, and only involved the women of a submerged and despised class. The unforgivable crime was promiscuity between Party members.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, Katharine
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

That, [Winston] reflected, might almost have been a transcription from one of the Party textbooks. The Party claimed, of course, to have liberated the proles from bondage. […] But simultaneously, true to the principles of doublethink, the Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules.

Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 7 Quotes
They were governed by private loyalties which they did not question. What mattered were individual relationships, and a completely helpless gesture, an embrace, a tear, a word spoken to a dying man, could have value in itself. The proles, it suddenly occurred to [Winston], had remained in this condition. They were not loyal to a party or a country or an idea, they were loyal to one another. For the first time in his life he did not despise the proles or think of them merely as an inert force which would one day spring to life and regenerate the world. The proles had stayed human.
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 9 Quotes
The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.
Related Characters: Emmanuel Goldstein (speaker)
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:
The heirs of the French, English, and American revolutions had partly believed in their own phrases about the rights of man, freedom of speech, equality before the law, and the like, and have even allowed their conduct to be influenced by them to some extent. But by the fourth decade of the twentieth century all the main currents of political thought were authoritarian. The earthly paradise had been discredited at exactly the moment when it became realizable. Every new political theory, by whatever name it called itself, led back to hierarchy and regimentation. And in the general hardening of outlook that set in round about 1930, practices which had been long abandoned, in some cases for hundreds of years--imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions, the use of hostages, and the deportation of whole populations--not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive.
Related Characters: Emmanuel Goldstein (speaker)
Page Number: 204-205
Explanation and Analysis:
The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely. In no other way could the ancient cycle be broken. If human equality is to be for ever averted—if the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently—then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.
Related Characters: Emmanuel Goldstein (speaker)
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:
The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, O'Brien, Emmanuel Goldstein
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 10 Quotes
If there was hope, it lay in the proles! Without having read to the end of the book, he knew that that must be Goldstein's final message. The future belonged to the proles. And could he be sure that when their time came the world they constructed would not be just as alien to him, Winston Smith, as the world of the Party? Yes, because at the least it would be a world of sanity. Where there is equality there can be sanity. Sooner or later it would happen, strength would change into consciousness. The proles were immortal; you could not doubt it when you looked at that valiant figure in the yard. In the end their awakening would come. And until that happened, though it might be a thousand years, they would stay alive against all the odds, like birds, passing on from body to body the vitality which the Party did not share and could not kill.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Red-Armed Prole Woman
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Chapter 3 Quotes
[Winston] knew in advance what O’Brien would say: that the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail, cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. That the Party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, O'Brien
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis: