One of the most iconic books of the 21st century, George Orwell’s 1984 has long been a staple of English Language classrooms for many years. The novel was a dystopian story by writer George Orwell and was published in June 1949. Most of the themes in the novel are about the risk of government, totalitarianism and repressive regimes of all people, colours and creeds within society. The novel is set out in a dystopian future world in 1984 where much of it has fallen victim to oppressive government surveillance, perpetual war, propaganda and an extreme form of communism.
Throughout the novel, the reader is taken on a journey throughout airstrip one (Great Britain) which has become the head of state in the province called Oceania. Everything is ruled by ‘the Party’ who carry out their oppressive rule along with the thought police, a sub-branch of government that persecute any independent or individual thoughts that citizens may have. The leader of the party is something or someone called Big Brother, therefore the novel is about a cult of personality. Nobody even knows who or what Big Brother is or if it exists. The main protagonists, Winston Smith, is a party member who is diligent, intelligent and a skilful worker, however, he secretly despises the party and everything that it stands for. Smith tries to rebel against Big Brother and enters an exciting and forbidden relationship with his friend Julia. The novel takes us on a journey of hiding, running away and defying the government, with some pretty dire consequences for the characters involved.
There are numerous 1984 essay themes that one can write about and used to think of a topic. Let’s take a look at some of the major themes in the novel.
Totalitarian rule – this is a major theme and presents the kind of government that is unknown to the public. It is a warning to people to believe in all of the lies presented by the government. There is no actual proof of Big Brother throughout the novel, gets the party still manages to exercise control over their citizens.
Subverted reality – most people live in poverty within the novel and many people work against each other. There are spies everywhere and people are actually even told not to enjoy a life of love, only pledge their allegiance to the party. Reality is certainly subverted.
Propaganda – the novel shows how propaganda is used throughout to control its citizens. All well presents this vein through the vehicle of the Ministry of truth, an organisation part of Oceania. All throughout the novel, we are shown how the government uses propaganda time and time again to spread their message. We see slogans such as ‘Big Brother is watching’ everywhere.
Subversion of love the novel paints a dismal picture of how people are not to love each other according to the party. Everything should be a duty to the party and this really plays on people’s minds.
Identity – the loss of identity is a striking theme in the novel. Orwell shows that totalitarianism is able to rip people off their individualism and identity.
Loyalty – political loyalty is all so evident throughout 1984. Winston Smith is an employee that questions politics, however, he does still remain loyal to his job. Everyone in society has to remain loyal to Big Brother otherwise there will be major repercussions.
Class systems – a very prominent theme in the novel is that of class. One can see how Oceania is subdivided into separate classes. The inner party are the elites who have luxury lifestyles and servants around them. Ordinary class members such as Smith live in small apartments and have no permission to enjoy any familial or conjugal life. The poor class live in no-go areas where they are constantly bombarded with propaganda in order to subvert their minds to believe anything as truth. The party has complete control over the class.
The control of information – throughout Oceania, there is only one party and one leader called Big Brother. Everything is completely controlled, from the broadcast to rewriting history. Everything is done with Big Brother and the totalitarian regime in mind. You can see how Winston Smith has a very hard time and why he is struggling in his work.
Technology – the writer shows how technology is used to govern people and subvert their minds. Throughout the novel, the audience is presented with tales that involve terror screens and strange apparatuses as primary tools for controlling the public. There is even torture technology, especially in room 101.
Language – the abuse and the use of language is an important theme throughout 1984. The audience is shown how language is constantly used to exert physical and mental control over citizens. The party employs language and even has its own language called Newspeak which is designed to further harm people and control them.
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Now that we have touched on the themes, let’s have a look at various 1984 essay topics that you may find useful. With all of these topics, have a look and see what you would be interested in writing. You may want to take one of the topics without rephrasing or you can use them to formulate your own ideas. Let’s take a look at all the great topics and 1984 essay ideas that you can use!
Compare 1984 and Kite Runner – what are the different themes?
Compare and contrast 1984 with Huckleberry Finn. How does reading 1984 help understand all of the fields in Huckleberry Finn?
Make comparisons and contrast between George Orwell’s piece and Communist party in China. Are there some differences and similarities?
Compare 1984 with the movie, the lives of others. What kind of similarities are there?
What differences in technology are there between 1984 and V for Vendetta?
How does Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 share point about Marxism?
Compare and contrast 1984 with other dystopian novels.
How are the male characters portrayed in 1984 and in JG Ballard’s high-rise?
Compare and contrast 1984 with a work of JG Ballard.
How does crash by JG Ballard and George Orwell’s 1984 share common themes?
How does society become depicted in 1984 and how is it different from the society depicted in Panopticism by forecourt?
What kind of comparisons and contrasts can one make about 1984 and North Korea?
How are female characters betrayed in 1984 and in Brave New World?
What are some of the ways that the themes can be compared and contrasted between 1984 and The Giver by Lois Lowry?
What are some of the differences between the Shawshank redemption in 1984?
Compare and contrast the movie hunger games and the dystopian novel 1984. Think about all of the characters, ideas, themes and style that the story has been told in. How do you both novels differ in the way that they portray dystopia?
Are there any similarities between Children of Men and 1984?
What are the main ideas and connections between the Shawshank redemption and Orwell’s 1984?
Compare and contrast 1984 with the popular movie, the Truman show. What are the main differences between the plot, motifs, characters and themes?
How does the movie, the propaganda game, differ from 1984?
Is dictatorship amongst us at the moment? Compare current society to the society in 1984. Are there any parallels?
Are there any similarities between Lord of the flies and Orwell’s 1984? Can you see any connections between either of these books?
How does the book into the wild compare with 1984? Are there any similar themes?
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and almost 1984 compare and contrast.
Compare the ways that police brutality today is similar to how it is in 1984.
How can one compare the book, 1984, to society today? What countries have features that Oceania has in Orwell’s dystopian novel?
How have any of Orwell’s political views had an influence on his work?
The theme of subversion of love in 1984.
Analyse the setting, theme, and all the ways that the author is able to depict characters within the context of political predictions in 1984.
Make an analysis of propaganda use in 1984. How does the government achieve its goals through the use of sponsorship, technology and media?
What role does the Ministry of truth play in the novel? What is the government able to achieve by controlling the truth?
Are the Ministry of truth able to rewrite history successfully?
The theme of totalitarianism in 1984.
What kind of influence does Big Brother have on society?
What does Big Brother say about today’s surveillance and privacy?
What role does Newspeak have in 1984? How can we see language change throughout the story?
In the room above Charrington’s shop, what significance does this have on the story and Winston’s character?
What parallels can we draw between 1984 and racial profiling today
Why have the upper class in 1984 only allowed intellectual freedom to a certain number of people?
The theme of class in 1984.
What kind of dystopia and symbolism is used in 1984 to convey the message?
How has oppression and fear continue to thrive in today’s society? What parallels can you see between today and 1984?
What parallels are there between Carl Jung’s philosophy and the ideas in 1984?
Our Winston and Julia complimentary carriages?
The theme of the subversion of society throughout the novel.
Discuss the theme of technology in 1984.
What are the different views between Winston and Julia on morality, politics, ethics and history?
Make an analysis of chapter 11 in 1984. What kind of serious repercussions will there be for Winston and Julia?
What colour parallels can we draw between consumers and to and 1984 society?
How has 1984 betrayed the theme of alienation?
Can a society survive if it follows the rules of society in 1984?
1984 paint a picture of totalitarianism today. Discuss.
Many of today’s world leaders such as Trump and Marie Le Pen are much like the higher-ups in 1984.
Dehumanisation which is a theme in 1984 is often used today to subvert citizens.
Does 1984 help us to understand more about the popularity of nationalism in the 21st century?
What powers do common people have in 1984? How does Winston think about the higher-ups?
Winston is definitely against Big Brother throughout the whole novel. Discuss.
1984 can teach us many lessons about today’s society. Discuss.
The significance of memory in 1984.
Which parts of 1984 have come true in today’s reality? Were there any things that were exaggerated? Could any things in 1984 not become true in the future?
The social hierarchy of Oceania how does this strange hierarchy come to support the party and all of their goals?