There are tons of scary stories—ones filled with ghosts or vampires or zombies. But in my opinion, there’s nothing scarier than the stories that show what the world could be like if left in the hands of the wrong people.
One of the books that demonstrate this point the best is George Orwell’s 1984. And while the content of this book might scare some, writing an essay about it scares others.
But don’t worry—I’m here to help you break it down and write a great 1984 analysis essay.
First, Figure Out What Your 1984 Analysis Essay Will Be About
You can’t have an essay without a topic, so the first thing you have to decide is what yours will be about. You may be thinking, “We’ve already covered this—it’s about 1984.”
You’re thinking too big. What you want to do is narrow your focus on one element of the story—a theme or a character. You could also concentrate on a literary device like symbolism.
Don’t try to cram all the stuff you know about the book into your essay. It never works out well. What ends up happening is that you either start summarizing instead of analyzing, or you just don’t have the time or the page count to fully flesh out your ideas.
A good analysis is a focused one. But what can you focus on in your 1984 analysis essay? Here are just a few suggestions.
Focus on a Character
You can certainly write about the protagonist, Winston, if you connect more to him, but let’s talk about O’Brien for now.
O’Brien is an interesting character because he’s so mysterious. Winston looks up to O’Brien and thinks he’s a member of the Brotherhood, a supposed secret rebel group.
As the reader later discovers, O’Brien is actually a hardcore member of the Party. He ends up tricking Winston into admitting his disdain for the Party, which is a pretty big deal. But how can you focus your 1984 analysis essay on O’Brien?
As with any other character, you have to analyze O’Brien—instead of just telling the reader what he did in the story. Here are a couple directions you can take.
1. O’Brien as a father figure
Throughout the beginning of the story, Winston sees O’Brien as trustworthy and looks up to him. O’Brien is part of the Party’s innermost circle—he has power. And Winston thinks O’Brien is part of the resistance.
This establishes a friendship/mentorship. Even after O’Brien reveals his true intentions, he still acts as a type of father figure, though this time it’s a bit more malicious. He’s the one torturing Winston, but it comes from a place of caring.
O’Brien thinks he needs to purify Winston of his bad thoughts so that Winston can excel in society. After all, isn’t that what every father wants?
2. The Party got O’Brien long ago
While torturing Winston, O’Brien says that the Party got him long ago. Analyzing what this means can make a really great essay. His comment alludes to the fact that he might have once been as rebellious as Winston. It also alludes to how O’Brien realized that being powerful meant being obedient.
But does he buy into the Party’s ideology? Does he really prescribe to doublethink, or does he just put up the facade to avoid being tortured like Winston?
You can argue it either way in your 1984 analysis essay, but whichever stance you take, be sure to make it clear and back it up with evidence.
Need more help analyzing a character? Check out these posts:
Focus on a Theme
Themes are common in analytical essays, but they’re certainly not boring. Themes touch on certain truths the author wants to get across to the reader.
In the case of 1984, Orwell touches on several themes, but one that strikes me is the use of language to control people.
- Controlling what words people use: In the novel, the Party controls what people are and aren’t allowed to say, even in the privacy of their own homes. The Party bans words related to rebellion because, if there are no words for something, people can’t talk about it or spread ideas about it.
- Rewriting history: The Party also controls language through the rewriting of history. The Party “corrects” historical text to fit its latest whims, and because every reference is changed, what it writes becomes “truth.” This makes individuals rely less on their memories and perceptions, and more on what the Party says is true. That’s how the Party controls people.
Need more help with writing about a theme in your 1984 analysis? Try one of these posts for additional guidance and tips:
Don’t Forget Your Outline
The importance of creating an outline cannot be understated. Outlines are maps that guide you much more easily through the writing process.
Not only do you know where you’re going, but you also know every checkpoint you have to hit along the way. Without all the detours into unnecessary rambling, you can write faster and make your analysis a lot clearer.
Your outline doesn’t have to be super detailed, but it should lay out your argument and the evidence backing up your thesis. The example below is based off the discussion above about themes:
- Thesis statement: By controlling language, the Party was able to control the masses.
- Monitoring speech
- Ban on words related to rebellion
- No way to spread ideas
- No way to argue points against the Party
- Rewriting history
- Propaganda becomes truth
- People not able to trust their own memories
- Must rely on the Party for what’s “true”
You can have as many or as few body paragraphs as you need, and as many or as few supporting details as you need. The more time you spend on your outline now, the less time you’ll spend worrying about the details later.
Write a Killer Thesis Statement and Don’t Lose Steam
I’ve always found that starting an essay is the hardest part. But with a strong thesis statement, you set yourself up for a strong essay.
When writing a thesis statement, you want to be direct—take a firm stance, and explain exactly what you’ll be writing about in the body of your essay. This lets your readers know what they’re in for and gives you a reference point throughout your essay.
My thesis statement for the 1984 analysis essay outlined above might look something like this:
In 1984, George Orwell shows how language can be used as a form of control. The Party monitors and bans some language and rewrites history so that it can be seen as the only source of truth.
After you write your thesis statement, just follow your outline. Flesh it out with full sentences, details, and references to specific parts of the book. With a strong thesis and detailed outline, you can keep your momentum going until you wrap up your essay.
There are tons of things you could write about in a 1984 analysis essay, and just reading the couple of examples I’ve provided might not be enough for you. (Don’t worry, I don’t take offense to it.)
To give you a little more inspiration, here are some 1984 analysis essay examples you can look at:
Once you’re done with your essay, you can have the Kibin editors look over it. They’ll help you with more than just spelling and grammar—they’ll make sure you have a strong thesis and supporting details.
And don’t worry—they won’t turn you into the thought police for any rebellious things you write.
Now get to writing!
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
Part 1, Chapter 1
1. Discuss the omnipresent posters of Big Brother in terms of his physical appearance as well as the phrase “Big Brother Is Watching You.” What does the caption imply about the society in which Winston Smith lives? Are these implications supported by evidence from Chapter 1?
2. Discuss the three party slogans and what each statement implies about this society. What does the public’s easy acceptance of these mottos suggest about the populace at this stage of the story
Part 1, Chapter 2
1. Examine the ways in which the Party makes itself stronger by influencing the youth of Oceania. Discuss the daily lives of the Parsons’ children. What are their favorite games? How do they like to dress? What seems to be their attitude toward thoughtcrime?
2. Discuss Winston’s need to continue his diary despite the obvious implications of capture and punishment.
Part 1, Chapter 3
1. Describe the circumstances surrounding the death of Winston’s mother. What are his conflicting emotions? Tell why her death is doubly tragic, in view of societal changes since Winston’s childhood.
2. Discuss the implications of Winston’s dreams as acts of thoughtcrime.
Part 1, Chapters 4 and 5
1. Discuss the function of the Ministry of Truth. What is ironic about its title? Explain what Winston does there and how he feels about his work. Explain how the creation of Comrade Ogilvy supports the Party motto.
2. How would you explain both Parsons’ and Syme’s acceptance of obvious propaganda? Discuss the reasons.
Part 1, Chapters 6 and 7
1. The Party’s influence on marriage and family life has been profound. What is the Party’s official position on marriage and children? To what extent was Katharine affected by this position?
2. How does the Party acknowledge that the sexual instinct may not always be controlled? Evaluate Winston’s feelings about his visit to the prostitute.
Part 1, Chapter 8
1. Explore Winston’s attempts to hold on to the past. Tell why his conversation with the old man only increases his frustrations.
2. What does the upstairs room at Charrington’s shop mean to Winston? Why does he buy the paperweight? How might this action be interpreted symbolically?
Part 2, Chapter 1
1. From the beginning, the circumstances surrounding this love affair suggest its doom. Explain how Winston first learns of Julia’s interest in him. Detail their difficulties in arranging a meeting. Why can they not meet in the open? Why had Winston initially distrusted Julia, and why do his feelings change?
2. Discuss Winston’s fearing Julia while at the same time wanting to help her because she is a human being.
Part 2, Chapter 2
1. Orwell makes use of several symbols here, especially those occurring in Winston’s dream of the Golden Country. List and explain the common elements in the dream and in Winston and Julia’s first sexual encounter. Focus especially on the landscape, the girl’s gesture, and the thrush as symbols.
2. Explain how the establishment of a relationship between Winston and Julia has many levels of meaning—personal, political, etc.
Part 2, Chapter 3
1. Orwell has placed major emphasis on the character...
(The entire section is 1434 words.)