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1984 by George Orwell

Multiple Choice
Identify the choice that best completes the statement or answers the question.


Which of the following expresses the “simple” moral to be drawn from the “dangerous nightmare situation” of 1984 according to George Orwell?
“Mind your own business and everything will be fine.”
“Love conquers all.”
“Spy or die.”
“Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.”


A form of government which exercises complete control over its citizens: no opposing parties exist; individual rights are not protected.


Which of the following best describes how setting functions in a work like 1984?
It sets only the time and place of the action so readers can follow the story.
It gives the exposition of the play, the conflict, and the theme.
It produces mood and atmosphere; both character and plot develop from setting.
It uses plates, forks, spoons, knives, napkins, and placemats to create the finest dining experience.


Which of the following best describes methods Orwell uses to satirize the abuse of language he was concerned about?
Syme’s ever decreasing dictionary
Existence of Doublethink
Restrictions of Newspeak
all  of the above


Which is the best lesson and warning from 1984 about the abuse of language?
The real danger is that if we don’t learn to use standard English, education will be stymied.
The power and abuse of language is not a valid means of control. The real issue is with actions, not thoughts.
The real danger behind imprecise, meaningless, and euphemistic language is that it can also control and corrupt one’s thoughts.
Swearing or cussing or throwing subversive ping pong balls from taxi windows is an unacceptable form of communication. (This actually happened in China in 2012.)


Big Brother, as depicted in 1984, is best defined as
Head of the Party, who is idolized as the protector and savior of the people; may not be real but only a symbolic figurehead who is godlike in qualities.
An older sibling of the main character, Winston Smith, who advises him about love, laughter, and life and who provides him with a means to meet his girlfriend without fear of the Thought Police.
A television show that portrays the finest qualities of human behavior as the contestants manipulate, lie, bargain, complain, and generally humiliate themselves in front of cameras for millions of viewers in the spirit of Lord of the Flies.
The only restaurant hotel in the Proles territory that Winston trusts because the proprietor, Mr. Charrington, was a trained sushi chef in Eurasia.


The Proles are best described as
a secret underground organization that is trying to defeat Big Brother; an underground resistance movement
85% of the population; the masses who are not under surveillance and live in relative freedom; are controlled through poverty, military attacks, and ignorance
small minority of Party members who determine how the government should be run; the “brains” or controlling force of the government; wear black overalls and receive special treatment
population of people who migrated from Proland to Oceania to fight in the war with Eurasia


Which best describes the nature of Winston’s and Julia’s rebellion?
Winston and Julia are perfectly matched in their rebellion. They both want to ensure a bright future for humanity based on the bright past, a time before the Party, that they each remember.
Their motives do not match their personalities: Winston is interested primarily in sexual intercourse as a form of rebellion; Julia is interested in reading the literature of the Brotherhood to learn more of the organization’s philosophies.
The rebellion bonds them together permanently. Even after undergoing torture, when they see each other again, their rebellious spirits are renewed.
Winston rebels for ideological and cultural reasons, for the future of humanity; Julia rebels for purely personal reasons against the constraints the Party imposes on her natural impulses.


The two central goals of the Inner Party
to fight the threats of outside domination; to provide its inhabitants with all of their needs
to advance science and technology for the betterment of human existence; to employ its people in meaningful work
to alter the past to show that the Party has its citizens best interests at heart; to help its people learn and grow
to extinguish all independent individual thought and therefore, to control all people


Which are valid reasons for our present society to remember the past with historical truths?
to learn from it
to have objective criteria from which to judge the present
to grow to become better as a people
all of the above

Indicate whether the statement is true or false.


Winston is considered a lunactic by his society because he is a minority of one.


After succumbing to torture, Winston refuses to write “Freedom is Slavery; Two and Two Make Five; and God Is Power.”


The controlling force of the Party is fear.


The atmosphere and mood of the setting provide an ironic contrast to the quality of life of the inhabitants of the city.

Match each description with a name from the following list. A name may be used more than once. Some may not be used at all.
Winston Smith
Mrs. Parsons
Tom Parsons
Big Brother
Christopher Hitchens
Mr. Charrington
Vlad Putin


Called the “enemy of the people”; this character is the head of the Brotherhood


High-ranked Party member for whom Winston is writing his diary


Antique shop owner who sells Winston the diary


The “human soundtrack” who believes that one’s duty to the Party is to produce children for the state


A 45-year-old man with a black mustache and ruggedly handsome features who is the figurehead for the Party


Frail 39-year-old man who suffers from a varicose ulcer and works for the Ministry of Truth


The scapegoat and target for the Two Minutes Hate


Wears a sash of the Anti-Sex League and is initially hated and feared by Winston


A burly, intelligent looking Inner Party member whom Winston hopes secretly questions the Party’s doctrines


The character who is reprimanded by the telescreen for not exercising properly


Remembers stealing chocolate from a sibling in a dream


A scholarly expert on 1984 and its author, George Orwell who, in a radio interview, explained 3 primary targets of Orwell’s criticism


A character whose only memories of life before the Revolution come from a grandfather who suddenly disappeared


Questions the Party’s doctrine when personally affected by its teachings but is not concerned with the truth or the future


Believes he/she is already dead and only lives so that the people of future societies may one day know the truth


Has a servant and luxuries


Responsible for work on Party’s ever-decreasing dictionary
Choose the best word from the list as a definition, or complete each sentence below by supplying the best word from the list.


A seemingly contradictory statement that is nonetheless true. The three slogans of the Party -- War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength -- would be examples of this if they were not, in fact, doublethink.


“Big Brother” is an example of a  ______________.


When Winston says that it is useless to destroy the diary because the Thought Police will inevitably get him for the thoughtcrime, this is an example of _______.


The fact that each new edition of the official Newspeak dictionary is much smaller than the last edition is an example of _______________.


When Winston writes/dreams about his wife and the older prostititute, these are examples of ____________.


The fact that the Ministry of Truth is in the business of rewriting history and altering the facts of past events is an example of ______________.


When Parsons says to Winston that the Ministry of Plenty has done very well this year and then asks to borrow a razor blade because blades can’t be found anywhere is an example of ___________.
Match the item as defined in 1984 with its description.
peek-a-boo camera
memory hole


to extinguish a person not only from life but to remove all records of a person’s past experience


the technological device used to monitor people at all times


the device used to destroy written documents of the past


a form of mind control where a person can believe two contradictory ideas at the same time and not be conscious of such an act


the offical language used by the Party

Short Answer
Read each question below and answer it in a word or short phrase. Make sure to answer all parts of each question.


Whom does Winston believe is the only hope to rebel against the Party? Why? (Give at least 2 reasons.)


What country/super state does Winston live in?


Explain what “Room 101” is used for. Give its general usage and its usage specific to Winston.


Discuss one symbol from the novel. Identify it, describe it, and explain what it represents.


Name one of the two historic leaders from World War II who are models for Big Brother.


What is the sadistic image that shows the brutal violence and senseless power of the Party as it crushes the lives and identities of its subjects?


What is the Party’s motive for power?

Essay - 25 points


In the following passage, the contemporary social critic Neil Postman contrasts George Orwell’s vision of the future, as expressed in the novel 1984 (written in 1948), with that of Aldous Huxley in the novel Brave New World (1936). Read the passage, considering Postman’s assertion that Huxley’s vision is more relevant today than is Orwell’s. Then, using your own critical understanding of contemporary society as evidence, write a carefully argued essay that agrees or disagrees with Postman’s assertion.

Make sure to
write a thesis statement which clearly identifies your stand on Postman’s assertion (either agree or disagree with his assertion).

Use specific examples to support your thesis. Don’t just regurgitate or summarize the prompt, or don’t use examples from the prompt as justification for your own thesis. Of course you will use Postman’s/Orwell’s/Huxley’s ideas as a way of creating a structure for your essay, but you need to come up with your own ideas and examples from contemporary society to back up your thesis.

You may use the template we used from “Deep Thoughts” to guide your response if you wish.

In my view, X belief is wrong/right, because _______________. More specifically, I believe that _______________. For example, ___________. Another reason I believe that __________ is ____________. Furthermore, _______________________.
Although X people who have a different point of view might object that __________, I maintain that _______________because ________________. Therefore, I conclude that ____(restate your position in a fresh way)___________.

Excerpt from Postman’s essay:

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another—slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to the common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.     (1985)

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