1984

by

George Orwell

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Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Analysis

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.
Totalitarianism and Communism Theme Icon

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 Russia had been an ally against Germany and Japan. Orwell, who witnessed firsthand the Soviet-backed Communists' brutal suppression of rival political groups during the Spanish Civil War, returned from the war an outspoken critic of Communism. For the rest of his life he worked tirelessly to expose the evils of totalitarianism and to promote what he called "democratic socialism." To reviewers who wished to see his book as a critique of Soviet Communism, Orwell maintained that he had set the book in Britain in order to show that totalitarianism could succeed anywhere if it were not fought against. In the novel, INGSOC represents the worst features of both the Nazi and Communist regimes. The Party's ultimate ambition is to control the minds as well as the bodies of its citizenry, and thus control reality itself. Totalitarianism was an outgrowth of Socialism, which arose as a response to industrialization, and sought to create more equitable societies by centralizing production and abolishing private property in favor of collective ownership. Emmanuel Goldstein's book, parts of which Winston reads in Book II, outlines the methods by which a totalitarian regime consolidates and extends its power.

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Totalitarianism and Communism Quotes in 1984

Below you will find the important quotes in 1984 related to the theme of Totalitarianism and Communism.
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:
The thing that [Winston] was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced-labor camp.
Related Characters: Winston Smith
Page Number: 6
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 2 Quotes
It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak—“child hero” was the phrase generally used—had overheard some compromising remark and denounced his parents to the Thought Police.
Related Characters: Winston Smith, Parsons, Mrs. Parsons
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Chapter 3 Quotes
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 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
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:
Book 2, Chapter 2 Quotes
That was above all what [Winston] wanted to hear. Not merely the love of one person, but the animal instinct, the simple undifferentiated desire: that was the force that would tear the Party to pieces.
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 3 Quotes
There was a direct, intimate connection between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party had turned it to account.
Related Characters: Winston Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, Chapter 5 Quotes
Now that [Winston and Julia] had a secure hiding place, almost a home, it did not even seem a hardship that they could only meet infrequently and for a couple of hours at a time. What mattered was that the room over the junk shop should exist. To know that it was there, inviolate, was almost the same as being in it. The room was a world, a pocket of the past where extinct animals could walk. Mr. Charrington, thought Winston, was another extinct animal.
Related Symbols: The Glass Paperweight
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:
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 two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought. There are therefore two great problems which the Party is concerned to solve. One is how to discover, against his will, what another human being is thinking, and the other is how to kill several hundred million people in a few seconds without giving warning beforehand.
Related Characters: Emmanuel Goldstein (speaker)
Page Number: 193
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:
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 2, Chapter 10 Quotes
There was another crash. Someone had picked up the glass paperweight from the table and smashed it to pieces on the hearthstone. The fragment of coral, a tiny crinkle of pink like a sugar rosebud from a cake, rolled across the mat. How small, thought Winston, how small it always was!
Related Symbols: The Glass Paperweight
Page Number: 223
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
". . . The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."
Related Characters: O'Brien (speaker)
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
[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:
“But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”
Related Characters: O'Brien (speaker), Winston Smith
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Book 3, Chapter 5 Quotes

And then—no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment—one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.

“Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!”

Page Number: 286
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: