1984 Essay Examples

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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

How To Write 1984 Essay Example

George Orwell's 1984 is one of the greatest literary works of dystopian fiction. It's a novel that captivates its readers with a thrilling, yet also the bleak story of extreme totalitarian life whereby people live under authoritarian rule, guided by a figure called Big Brother. Ordinary people are at the mercy of Big Brother and, if rules are not followed, one can end up being severely punished by the Thought Police and Big Brother’s people. Members of society live in an intense personality cult and are slaves to a party for which they are expected to pledge allegiance to and give everything they have towards. The novel follows the central protagonist, Winston Smith, through a journey of rebellion against the party that ultimately leads him confronting his worst fears. There are a lot of thrilling novels out there but what could be more exciting than a tale of a fear mongering party and the authoritarian superpower that watches over your every move? Orwell's iconic piece of literature provides the perfect essay topic for writing a great analysis essay. Packed full of tyranny, socialist fiction, and plotting, this novel employs some of the greatest themes imaginable to analyze in great detail.

What’s Your Essay All About?

Of course, your essay will be about Nineteen Eighty-Four, that's obvious! However, this is not going to cut it for a deep and meaningful analytical essay. Having read this novel, ask yourself what have been the most memorable parts for you? Are there any sections of this novel that have made a significant impact on you? If you can answer these questions and find something interesting for you to narrow your focus down on, you’re halfway there to writing a decent analytical essay. Narrow down your focus, perhaps, think about one particular element in the story - you may believe that you know it all and that there are too many things you’d like to talk about but put your focus on only a few ideas. As a suggestion, you could try basing an essay on various literary devices that have been used such as the main symbols in the story. 1984 contains numerous powerful themes that you could discuss at great length, from totalitarianism and the control of information to technology - there’s a lot of things up for discussion. It’s all about getting a hot topic, so what are you most passionate about? Let’s explore a few suggestions.

Focusing on a Character

From Winston the main protagonist to Mr. Charrington, the characters in Orwell’s novel each have a unique outlook personality and attributes that make them shine. There are many things to talk about each character, but one favorite that you’re likely to provide real in-depth analysis on is O’Brien. He is, of course, the mysterious member of the inner party whom Winston trusts to be part of the anti-establishment rebel group but later betrayed his trust; however, you’ll need to go deeper than a pure description when making an analysis.


Winston looks up to O’Brien at the beginning of the novel, seeing him as more of a father figure that he can trust. He trusts him implicitly and believes that the two of them will be good friends that can work together on a common goal of rebellion. Even after O’Brien reveals himself as a traitor to Winson, in an odd kind of way he even seems to torture him with a certain degree of care. This caring attribute is a part of O’Brien’s character and a usual attribute of many fathers and parents. Within the purification process, O’Brien does whatever any good father wants and tries to get Winston to love Big Brother because he thinks this is the best thing for him, even if it involves torture. Interestingly, O’Brien’s character follows more of devolution than an evolution throughout the novel. The reader begins by finding out more and more about O’Brien but after his betrayal, we begin to learn less and less about who he is - there’s more left to the reader’s imagination as O’Brien becomes increasingly mysterious. By the end of the novel, the reader is left wondering exactly who O’Brien is. The mystery of O’Brien is, perhaps, best encapsulated by the phrase “they got me long ago”. What can be meant by this? This further adds to the reader’s imagination, Orwell intending the reader to ponder the meaning of this phrase. Does it mean that O’Brien was once a dissident and that party tortured him until he became more passive? Perhaps, this is the case, but possibly this is just another lie that O’Brien is commanding as to gain Winston’s trust and make brainwashing an easier process. It is also possible that O’Brien is putting on a facade, claiming that the party got him so that he avoids being tortured just like Winston.


Thematic analysis is one of the best common literary examinations that you can employ, giving you the ability to discuss the insight or message throughout a piece of work. There are several universal ideas that Orwell explores in Nineteen Eighty-Four that run throughout the work.

The Perils of Totalitarianism

Orwell was a socialist himself, but he has always objected to serious totalitarian society. He saw first hand what totalitarian regimes changed in Russian and Spanish governments, and this novel is a reflection of his animosity towards these regimes. In 1984, Orwell paints the perfect picture of a pure totalitarian society, with absolute power and all people being subservient towards the party and Big Brother. Big Brother is the ultimate dictator watching over everything that people do, commanding total control. Even though the identity of Big Brother is not revealed throughout the novel, everything revolves around this person or entity and allegiance towards it is mandatory. Even the title of the novel is symbolic, outlining that this is the way that things would pan out if totalitarianism wasn't confronted. The novel was published almost thirty years before the year Nineteen Eighty-Four and so Orwell viewed this scenario as highly plausible and a real possibility for society by that time. Disloyalty to the party is completely forbidden and against the law, with Winston, unfortunately, succumbing to the ultimate of punishments for disobeying the totalitarian regime.


The novel of 1984 was written well before the forefront of modern technology, but references to technology are continuously made. All throughout the novel, there are hidden microphones all over the city, complex torture devices, hidden screens and typewriters. Orwell wanted to show just how much of a force-technology plays in totalitarian society and ideas of absolute control. Information is gathered easily, the means of production are controlled, and torture is inflicted for manipulation, all through the use of technology and machinery.

Control of People

The party very easily controls individuals' minds, as well as their physical selves. Members of the party always keep their eyes peeled for anyone being dishonest, even nuanced facial expressions and bodily movements can be signs of dishonesty. Not only this but the party force everyone to go through mass exercise routines called Physical Jerk’s, and make them work grueling hours in government positions until they become exhausted. Everything about a person is controlled in their living and working environment by the party - the true call of a totalitarian regime. Anybody, who defies the regime, is forced to go through re-education programmes and is subjected to physical torture. The party can achieve true mind control, even getting Winston to believe that blatantly illogical things are true, such as two plus two equals five.

Essay Structure and Flow

So now that you’ve got a good understanding of what you can write about, it’s time to put everything together in a way that will flow and logically cohere. What’s the best way to structure your analytical arguments? Never lose sight of structure and plan for a solid piece of writing that’s free from unnecessary verbal diarrhea and ramblings. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way.


Your analytical piece should open with something that can grab the reader’s attention. Intice your reader’s in with a catchy opening hook. Something needs to get your reader thinking around the topic from the get-go, for instance, this could be a line about the book in general, totalitarianism or, perhaps, Orwell’s vision. The rest of your introduction can flow after you’ve won over the reader’s attention. A good start should be brief and succinct, with a clear thesis statement showing what the writer intends to discuss throughout. Make sure your thesis statement is one of the strongest parts of your work, clearly outlining your argument or main intentions. As an example, you could include something along these lines: “In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell makes the reader aware of how totalitarian regimes use language to control their audience. The party bans traditional language and rewrites it so that it conforms with their ideology and makes it easier to monitor, so it seems as this is the one source of truth.”


All of your main points should go in the body of the text. This is where you flesh out all your arguments with good examples, some quotes and evidence. Although it’s tempting to write about all you remember, keep the number of points you talk about quite brief and only put in what is most important. As this is an analytical essay you’ll want to include some real analysis - remember that analysis is not the same as description. It’s no use just describing what happens without breaking it apart.


What should a reader understand at the end of the essay? The conclusion is the time for a summary of the main points, so no new information should be included here. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to reference back to your thesis statement in some way to show that you have achieved what you set out to do. This will also give your essay more of a flowing through the structure, connecting the reader to the beginning of the essay.

Final Remarks

The thought police aren’t going to get you - you’re free to write whatever you please! Just make sure your essay is structured and makes good points. Do Orwell’s vision justice and put his work under the best analysis it deserves.