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.
Reality Control Theme Icon

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 members will report them to the Thought Police. Another way the Party controls the minds of the people is by destroying historical evidence that contradicts what the Party wishes the people to believe: for instance, when the Party reduces the chocolate ration, it also eliminates any information that would make it possible for anyone to verify that the chocolate ration had once been larger. Winston and his fellow employees in the Records Department are given the task of rewriting news articles and other literature in order to bring the written record into compliance with the version of history supported by the Party, a never ending job, since the Party constantly changes facts in order to support its policies. Books that describe the past in a way that does not conform with Party ideology are destroyed or translated into Newspeak, a form of English designed by the Party to lack words that are considered unnecessary or dangerous, and which thereby prevents revolutionary thoughts.

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

Reality Control Quotes in 1984

Below you will find the important quotes in 1984 related to the theme of Reality Control.
Book 1, Chapter 1 Quotes
There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any given individual wire was guesswork. It was conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying. It was merely a few words of encouragement, the sort of words that are uttered in the din of battle, not distinguishable individually but restoring confidence by the fact of being spoken. Then the face of Big Brother faded away again, and instead the three slogans of the Party stood out in bold capitals:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Related Characters: Winston Smith
Related Symbols: Big Brother
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 3 Quotes
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word "doublethink" involved the use of doublethink.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
The process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs—to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every predication made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
“Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 4 Quotes
Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.
Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
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 5 Quotes
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. […] Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”
Related Characters: Syme (speaker), Winston Smith
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

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:
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 8 Quotes
And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, The Old Prole Man
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
What appealed to [Winston] about it was not so much its beauty as the air it seemed to possess of belonging to an age quite different from the present one. The soft, rainwatery glass was not like any glass that he had ever seen. The thing was doubly attractive because of its apparent uselessness, though he could guess that it must once have been intended as a paperweight. It was very heavy in his pocket, but fortunately it did not make much of a bulge. It was a queer thing, even a compromising thing, for a Party member to have in his possession. Anything old, and for that matter anything beautiful, was always vaguely suspect.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, Mr. Charrington
Related Symbols: The Glass Paperweight
Page Number: 95-96
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 7 Quotes
The terrible thing that the Party had done was to persuade you that mere impulses, mere feelings, were of no account, while at the same time robbing you of all power over the material world. When once you were in the grip of the Party, what you felt or did not feel, what you did or refrained from doing, made literally no difference. Whatever happened you vanished, and neither you nor your actions were ever heard of again.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 9 Quotes
Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
Related Characters: Emmanuel Goldstein (speaker)
Page Number: 212
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:
The blissful feeling of being alone with the forbidden book, in a room with no telescreen, had not worn off. […] The book fascinated [Winston], or more exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden. The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, Emmanuel Goldstein
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Chapter 2 Quotes
“We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
Related Characters: O'Brien (speaker), Winston Smith
Page Number: 256
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:
Book 3, Chapter 6 Quotes
"They can't get inside you," she had said. But they could get inside you. "What happens to you here is forever," O'Brien had said. That was a true word. There were things, your own acts, from which you could never recover. Something was killed in your breast; burnt out, cauterized out.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker), Julia/The Dark-Haired Girl (speaker), O'Brien (speaker)
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:
"Sometimes," she said, "they threaten you with something—something you can't stand up to, can't even think about. And then you say, ‘Don't do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to so-and-so.' And perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and that you just said it to make them stop and didn't really mean it. But that isn't true. At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think there's no other way of saving yourself, and you're quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don't give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself."
"All you care about is yourself," he echoed.
"And after that, you don't feel the same towards the other person any longer." — "No," he said, "you don't feel the same."
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker), Julia/The Dark-Haired Girl (speaker)
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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: