Published in 1949 by Secker & Warburg, 1984 is George Orwell’s ninth and final work. The story takes place in a dystopian future where most of the world’s inhabitants have fallen beneath oppressive government surveillance, propaganda, endless war, and historical denialism. It was an instant hit and has since been adapted into several films, television series, and stage plays.
It’s a popular piece of literary writing that finds its way in most high school curricula and is one of the first novels of serious literary merit that students encounter on their way to learning how to write argumentative writing. This article shows how to do so specifically for a 1984 George Orwell Essay.
A Short 1984 Plot Summary
The story focuses on Winston Smith a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in London, Oceania (formerly England). Smith is surveilled everywhere he goes, even his own home, by the Party’s leader, Big Brother. The Party uses surveillance, propaganda, war, and historical denialism to control the citizens of the country. This sets-up the opportunity for students that want to focus on a 1984 totalitarianism essay because the oppression of the Party mirrors a lot of Orwell was commenting on as it related to the Russian and Spanish regimes at the time.
Smith is displeased by the oppression of the government and secretly purchases a diary in which he writes his rebellious and criminal thoughts. He is also intrigued by a man named O’Brien, a powerful party member Smith believes is working to overthrow the Party through the work of the Brotherhood.
As Smith begins to take action to become a part of the Brotherhood, he is found out by those that supported him in efforts to align against the Party. After torture, Smith reveals a lover, Julia, as a coconspirator or sympathizer against the Party. Later the two meet again and discuss their histories and situations, but neither trusts or has feelings for the other and Smith has been manipulated so much to the point that he admits his love for Big Brother.
As you can see, there are several types of 1984 essays you can write about, including surveillance, theme, symbolism, analysis, and rhetorical. We will discuss each of these briefly later in this article. But first, let’s start with a writing process with any essay questions for 1984.
How to Write an Essay on 1984
Students are often asked to write a 1984 essay assignment in high school English classes when they are still honing their skills in the analysis of literary works and formulating arguments in a structured and logical way. Students can feel a bit overwhelmed with this kind of assignment because it challenges them to think critically and present an original and well-thought thesis reflecting their points of view on a given topic.
The following is a short but effective how-to-guide for writing a great essay about 1984 in just a few simple steps:
- Reading and Taking Notes for a 1984 Essay
Taking notes while reading the novel is an important part of all academic writing. There are many approaches to this, such as underlining and writing notes along the margin, keeping a separate notebook to copy down passages, phrases, or words. Whatever your preferred method, make sure you take good notes while reading 1984. If possible, re-read certain sections you find meaningful for an essay assignment.
- Developing a 1984 Essay Thesis
Your thesis should be specific, covering only what you will discuss in your essay. For instance, if you are writing a 1984 essay about big brother you need to focus on who this character is and the role he has within the novel. A thesis statement may focus on the fear he casts on other characters just by being mysterious and omniscient. Or you can focus on his representation of the government, as someone who represents every branch and can change courses at his will.
- Creating a 1984 Essay Outline
The next step is to take your notes and opinions and arrange them in an outline. Start with the body portion. Each point should address a single argument in support of your thesis statement. Sub-points (lower levels) should include examples or evidence to support your main points. Fill in the sections for your introduction and conclusion and use your outline as you write the first draft.
- Writing the Body for an Essay On 1984
When you write the first draft, you should aim to get it done in a single sitting. Don’t worry about sentence structure, grammar, or vocabulary. Get your thoughts down on the page as quickly and as efficiently as possible. You will have time to make corrections in later drafts. Each body paragraph should focus on a single point and go in-depth. You may find that you repeat thoughts, but this can be corrected later on in the writing process.
- Writing the 1984 Essay Introduction
Next, work on the introduction. Following the same process described in step 4, write quickly and efficiently. Make sure you incorporate any background information the reader needs to understand your thesis. Place your thesis at the end of your introduction. Your introduction should be about 5 to 6 sentences long but don’t focus on this number while you write the first draft.
- Writing the 1984 Essay Conclusion
In your conclusion, you must summarize and synthesize the main points you brought up in the body of your essay. It should also reiterate your thesis statement. Don’t simply cut and paste your thesis from your introduction. You should restate it in different words. You want to remind your readers of your argument and explain how your points make your argument sound and logical.
- Revising Your First Draft After Setting It Aside
When writing your 1984 critical essay, you should set your paper aside for a few days before making your revisions. The process of revising requires you to rethink or reimagine your thesis and arguments. This is easier when you approach your first draft with a fresh mind. Don’t hesitate to rearrange, add, or remove content. To revise is to make your assignment stronger.
- Editing and Proofreading the Revised Draft
Set your paper aside for at least another day before you start making your edits. The process of editing requires you to find ways to express your thoughts more concisely. Rewrite complicated sentences or phrases and always choose a shorter word rather than one that can trip up your reader. Proofread your draft to check for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. This will ensure you get the highest score possible.
1984 Essay Topics to Consider
The following 1984 essay prompts cover a wide variety of essay types that you can apply to most assignments. We list several ideas to help you brainstorm and choose a topic that challenges you but won’t overwhelm you. Most of these 1984 argumentative essay topics can be researched online and at your school library. Just be certain that you use only trusted sources when you make your arguments:
1984 Surveillance Essay
There are many elements of the novel that lend themselves to a great essay about surveillance. From two-way television screens to wiretapping, this novel takes elements of surveillance to create a world within the novel where people are being watched by Big Brother and cannot hide their actions or words against an oppressive ruling government.
1984 Themes Essay
Related to issues of surveillance, a 1984 theme essay can be written on the dangers of totalitarianism, specifically to those that Orwell witnessed in Russia and Spain at the time. Orwell wished to warn the Western world about the dangers of these nation’s governments. At the time, the Cold War had not reached a point to cause alarm and the West was largely interested in the experiment. Orwell was more concerned with the oppressions and cruelties that he witnessed in communist countries.
Symbolism In 1984 Essay
The 1984 writing style lends itself to a lot of what Orwell wanted to introduce in his use of symbolism. One never knows if Big Brother is real, but posters are plastered throughout neighborhoods to remind citizens that he is always watching. It is impossible to know who rules Oceania but we do know that there is a singular entity that controls the country.
1984 Literary Analysis Essay
When starting the process of writing a 1984 analysis essay, you need to conduct an in-depth analysis of its literary elements. This can include a 1984 character analysis of the people that drive the story forward. It can also focus on things that aren’t living but present imposing environments, such as the streets and homes that are wiretapped and surveilled by cameras in every corner.
Rhetorical Devices in 1984
There are several rhetorical devices in the novel which can be the focus of an essay, including characters, conflict, foreshadowing, imagery, and metaphor. Consider the use of the eyes throughout the novel: Smith is suspicious of everyone looking at him because he is aware of the constant surveillance that goes on in the world around him.
If you have more 1984 essay questions, we are always glad to help. Our customer support team is available 24/7 all year and we have literary experts who know how to research, write, edit and proofread assignments that earn our customers the highest possible scores. Additionally, if you need custom 1984 essay ideas, send us your assignment details and we will provide you with original lists of topics to fit your needs exactly.