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A reader's guide to 1984

Updated Sunday, 1st February 2004

Is there anything left to say about Orwell's seminal work on Authoritarian states? Yes, there is.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell's dark vision of the future, published in 1949. In it Orwell expresses his fears of the increasing nature of state control and surveillance. Its influence on today's society is obvious - not only do we have CCTV cameras, monitoring and information tracking, we also entertain ourselves with TV programmes such as 'Room 101' and 'Big Brother'. Open University academic Stephanie Forward has compiled this list of thought provoking questions to consider as we read.

1. What are the main themes of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’?
2. Which symbols does Orwell use in the novel?
3. How does the Party control the people?
4. Dreams feature in the novel. Do Winston’s dreams, and his reflections upon them, inform you about his character?
5. Betrayal is an idea in the book. Does Winston betray Julia? Does she betray him?
6. Do some aspects of Winston’s own character contribute to his downfall?
7. How effective is the threat of a Room 101? What would be in YOUR Room 101?
8. Do you feel that the Party will ever be overthrown ultimately?
9. According to the ‘Big Read Book of Books’, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was the top choice of people aged 17-31? Does this surprise you?
10. Does this novel still have relevance to us today?

From the National Media Museum's 3 June 2009 live performance of George Orwell's 1984 Creative commons image Icon National Media Museum under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license
A live performance of 1984 at the National Media Museum, Bradford, featuring John Hurt





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