8th March 2018

Nineteen eighty-four quotes

“It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.”

This is one of the first signs that the characters in this novel are told and shown how to feel and operate. It shows the robot like mannerisms of the people living in the airstrip and how they work under the eye of the telescreen. The word contrived suggests that the people of Oceania in the novel have little control over their emotions. The word contrived means deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously. By taking away one’s ability to recognise natural and spontaneous fate, you are, to some extent, taking away a human’s instincts.
The poster having ‘eyes that follow you’ is significant. The eyes are seen as the most symbolic sensory organ of all. They are seen to represent one’s clairvoyance and are often referred to as ‘the gateway into the soul’. Eyes also demand attention, when you are talking to somebody, it is seen as polite to look them in the eyes. In my opinion, eyes have a level of intimacy about them. This is because they show a lot about how a person is feeling, and they represent how people perceive you. People, without noticing, often act differently when they know they’re being watched. This directly relates to the level of which the people of Oceania may express themselves while having the sensation of the posters around their area watching them.
Most modern people would view their big brothers as somebody who you look up to, someone who is a protector and someone that can give sound advice. By calling this figure in the novel ‘Big Brother’, Orwell creates an illusion that the people of airstrip one have a strong bother figure to aspire towards and look up to. By using Big Brother as somebody who is controlling and constantly watching you, the author has contradicted the stereotypical big brother figure.

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

The term ‘contradictory’ means mutually opposed or inconsistent. By expressing the term ‘doublethink’ as holding two contradictory beliefs, Orwell has expressed to the readers that Oceania is a split society. The word doublethink is a term of Newspeak. It is a portmanteau. The word portmanteau is described as joining two sounds of words together. Similar to how the two beliefs are held/merge in the citizen’s minds, causing confusion. Doublethink is also an example of neologism. Neologism is the term used to express a word that is new and has merged into everyday use. Obvious examples of doublethink in the novel are the party slogans. This is because they hold different beliefs against each other (logic against logic) for example… War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”


“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”





Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. This is a good straightforward exploration of the meaning of the (well selected) quotation you’re working with.

    Here are some suggestions for further lines of inquiry:

    1) Look further into the notion of contrived. Even to the extent of quoting a dictionary definition, and then speculate about what this might be telling us about the whole society of Oceania.

    2) Look for other words or phrases that have interesting connotations. For example, the image of “eyes” is a very rich one. Explore the possibilities of the choice by Orwell to describe the presence of the image of a pair of eyes in the world of Airstrip One.

    3) Big Brother is another term that is worth expanding. It’s alliterative, which makes it slogan-like. What is your big brother meant to be to you. Is this Big Brother like that? Examine the contradiction there.



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