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Literature / Nineteen Eighty-Four

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“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

This is the book. One of the most horrifying and depressing codifiers for the Dystopian genre, ever, notwithstanding its now-outdated title.

After reading Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian thriller We, George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Fournote  as a Pragmatic Adaptation of the novel for non-Russian audiences, with the addition of the then-new technology of television. Finished in 1948 (Orwell merely reversed the last two digits of that year to devise the title) and published the next year, it became one of the most iconic stories in the English language, and introduced the phrases "Big Brother Is Watching You," "thoughtcrime," "Thought Police," "Newspeak," and "doublethink" into the English lexicon (but not "doublespeak," "groupthink," or "wrongthink").

The book is set in London, the chief city of Airstrip One and part of the superpower of Oceania. Life sucks. Oceania is ruled by the totalitarian regime of "the Party", personified by the omnipresent figure of "Big Brother". Standards of living are low due to the Forever War Oceania is engaged in alongside their ally Eurasia against Eastasia (or is it the other way around?). Sex is banned for all Party members except for procreation, and only between state-approved couplings. Media, entertainment, and art are all heavily controlled and censored by the Party. And most importantly, Sinister Surveillance is omnipresent: nearly every space has some sort of monitoring device and it’s impossible to tell whether you are being watched or listened to at any time. The novel’s protagonist is Winston Smith, a member of the middle-class "Outer Party" who lives a dismal existence working for the Party's Propaganda Machine, secretly nursing thoughts of rebellion. Until one day, a chance encounter with a woman might prompt him to do something about it...

The book received multiple adaptations over the years. The first one came out shortly after the book's publishing (as in, within the same year) as an episode of the radio anthology series NBC Universal Theater, while the first visual adaptation was as part of another anthology show, CBS' Studio One, in 1953. The following year, The BBC adapted the book for television with a script by Nigel Kneale and Peter Cushing as Winston Smith. It resulted in probably the earliest large-scale eruption of protests about "taste and decency" involving a British TV programme. Questions were asked in the House of Commons when it was alleged that one viewer had actually died of shock while watching.

Two film versions were made, in 1956 and (appropriately) 1984 (in fact, the film was shot on the actual days from Winston's diary when possible). The 1956 version was directed by Michael Anderson and featured Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasence, Jan Sterling and Michael Redgrave; one of the deeply ironic things about it was that, like the 1954 film adaptation of Animal Farm, the CIA secretly funded and edited the film to suit the needs of the American government. Michael Radford's brilliant and depressing 1984 version of Nineteen Eighty-Four, starring John Hurt as Winston and Richard Burton in his final role as O'Brien, with a soundtrack by Eurythmics, is far more true to the original novel, but is often compared unfavourably to Terry Gilliam's surreal dystopian movie Brazil (which came out one year later, in 1985), which takes a much more subversive and blackly humorous view of Orwell's themes. In 2013, this novel was adapted into stage in West End, with a Broadway run premiering in June 2017. Other adaptations include audio dramas, an operatic production, and a ballet.

David Bowie planned to create a musical adaptation of the novel in The '70s, but the idea was rejected by the George Orwell Estate through Orwell's widow herself. The numbers "We Are the Dead", "1984", and "Big Brother" were later used on Bowie's eighth studio album, Diamond Dogs, itself heavily inspired by Orwell's novel (for one, just look at the titles of those three songs).

Also, this book is frequently compared to Brave New World as a way of showing the perspectives of the dystopian society. Note that Nineteen Eighty-Four shows that what we fear controls us, while Brave New World shows that what we love controls us.note 

Compare also with Jennifer Government, another Dystopian novel in which it's not the state or a single party, but corporations who control everything; and with The Handmaid's Tale in which the suppression of sex for any reason other than breeding is also a major element. Contrast Brave New World where hedonism instead of terror is used to control the populace, and Fahrenheit 451, where dystopia came about from the people while the government was less involved.

The book also inspired the trope Room 101, a Place Worse Than Death no person wants to be sent to. The book also inspired the TV Series, where celebrities send their pet hates into the room for all eternity.

All spoilers below are unmarked. Reader beware.

This novel and adaptations provide examples of:

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    Tropes A-M 
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Although apparently this was a case of invokedExecutive Meddling, supposedly Orwell wanted to set the book in 1948, but was told he couldn't, so he just switched the last two digits around to arrive at the new date/title. Winston comments that he can't be sure what year it is, due to the Party's constant editing of history.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The 1954 BBC adaptation notably added a scene not present at other adaptations where we get to see how a novel is being produced and made in the Pornosec.
  • Adaptational Name Change:
    • Syme was given the first name of 'Harold' in the 1984 adaptation. Before that, he was referred to as "Syme. B" in the 1954 BBC Adaptation.
    • Julia was given the last name of 'Dixon' in the 1954 BBC Adaptation. In the book, her last name was never revealed.
    • The 1956 film changes O'Brien's name to 'O'Connor', to avoid confusion with actor Edmond O'Brien (who played Winston).
    • In the Radford adaptation, the ironically named Ministry of Plenty is renamed Ministry of Production, or Miniprod.
    • The Radford film changes the Party honorific from "Comrade" to "Brother" (for men) and "Sister" (for women).
  • An Aesop: Don't be naive and trust nobody when living under a totalitarian regime; If you choose to rebel against a corrupt society, be extremely careful who you associate with since a lot of "nice" people are just agents putting on an act. Winston lets his guard down around the nice-seeming Charrington and O'Brien...and surely enough, they turn out to be undercover agents, dragging Winston and Julia into an absolutely hellish situation .
  • After the End: Ingsoc's rise was preceded by a nuclear war, albeit one that did not snuff out all civilization. All the same, the Party (and its two rivals) have permanently stalled all human progress, and even history itself:
    Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.
    • A major aversion of the common 1950s versions of this trope. Despite reference to a “nuclear exchange in the 1950s.... dropping a nuclear bomb on Colchester” (a minor, historic English County Town with a long history as a base for the British Army), there is no reference to radiation poisoning, nuclear winter, or related phenomena, though it would explain the general sickliness of the population.
  • Airstrip One: Trope Namer. It's the name given to Great Britain under Ingsoc.
  • The Alcoholic: Winston Smith ends not just brainwashed but also as a heavy drinker, spending a lot of time in the Chestnut Tree Café and drinking Victory Gin with clove-flavored saccharine, and keeping a bottle of the spirit by his bed. If the Party doesn't kill him, his liver will.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Because in Oceania, there's only one crime: Thoughtcrime, or failure to serve The Party with the utmost of one's labour and devotion. All other crimes as we'd know them are simply considered different expressions of this single offence.
  • All for Nothing: Winston learns the hidden history of the world around him, discovers that he's not alone in his resistance, and even starts to believe that the proles will someday overthrow Big Brother, only for Winston to be caught by the Party and tortured into near-mindless obedience, with it being explicit that he'll inevitably be vaporized into an Unperson.
  • All Nations Are Superpowers: The world in 1984 only includes three superpowers who are (or are not) unceasingly at war with each other.
  • Amalgamated Individual: Heavily implied. It is unknown whether Big Brother, the mastermind behind the Party and its draconic rule over Oceania, is a real person or a construct of all of the major Inner Party members created to instill fear and loyalty.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Because of the nature of the world and the Party's iron grip on all information, anything and everything that Winston doesn't personally witness is open to interpretation:
    • The Forever War between Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. The actual state of the world is so poorly known that (a) the idea that Oceania dominates the entire world, and the existence of the other states is simply a fiction to justify a war with which to keep people's expectations of a better life crushed, and (b) the idea that Oceania is little more than a Banana Republic consisting of only Airstrip One, and is applying propaganda to make its position on the world stage sound grander than it really is, are both equally valid interpretations of what might really be going on. The "Three states making only token attacks on each other" is just one other possibility which may or may not be the truth. Of course, we don't actually know anything of the other two powers, or indeed how finely balanced the Balance of Power actually is.
    • The existence of Big Brother, Emmanuel Goldstein, and the Brotherhood. Big Brother is the leader of Oceania, Emmanuel Goldstein is a traitor and public enemy number one, and the Brotherhood is Goldstein's rebel network. But we never actually see any of them in person. Big Brother is solely limited to pictures and posters with his face, Goldstein is never seen outside the Two Minutes Hate movies (which are explicitly state propaganda) and a book he wrote, and the Brotherhood is represented by O'Brien, who turns out to be luring Winston and Julia into a trap. It is heavily indicated that Big Brother is merely a fictitious strongman to serve as a symbol for the Party and the citizens to rally around, Emmanuel Goldstein is an equally fictitious example of The Scapegoat on which the blame for all things bad is placed upon, and the Brotherhood is merely a trap created by the Party, and their handbook was written by them. O'Brien himself leads a lot of credence to this possibility, but refuses to confirm to Winston either way.
    • The appendix. The end of the book contains an often overlooked appendix that refers to Newspeak in the past tense, possibly implying the Party will in fact fall eventually. Of course, this may not technically be part of the story, and invokedWord of God said it was open to interpretation if the Party does eventually fall. This isn't even getting into most of the story with how the Party keeps changing facts leaving it ambiguous as to what is truly real or not.
    • In-Universe, it is acknowledged that history has been manipulated and rewritten so much that it is unknown if it is even the year 1984.
  • Apathetic Citizens: The Proles are deliberately conditioned to not give a damn about anything except their daily lives, the state lottery, and all sorts of trashy, disposable fiction.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Big Brother is watching you," and on a different level, the slogan of the Party:
    • "Two plus two equals five."
    • ""Oranges and lemons," say the bells of St. Clement's."
    • "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."
    • "If there is hope, it lies in the Proles."
  • As Long as There Is One Man: Subverted. Even after being tortured for weeks (and possibly months) on end, Winston tells O'Brien that the Party will someday fall due to the "spirit of mankind", a conviction he holds onto with desperate faith alone (as Winston cannot argue that the Party could be defeated by anything else in existence). O'Brien responds coldly, by showing Winston his battered and malnourished body in a mirror and using it as a metaphor for humanity itself. What happened to Winston, he explained, is what would happen to anyone who would dare defy Ingsoc. "If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man." O'Brien's revelations about the Brotherhood or the future of the world may or may not have been lies designed to demoralize Winston and facilitate his brainwashing, but it is irrelevant either way, since the bad guys think it's important that members of the resistance feel alone, isolated, and doomed.
  • Assimilation Plot: The Party claims to be doing this.
    "You know the Party slogan 'Freedom is Slavery." Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone -free- the human being is always defeated. It must be so, because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal.
  • Author Tract: Orwell was never the slightest bit shy in admitting that he wrote primarily in defence of democratic socialism and against totalitarianism.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Floating Fortresses are introduced as unstoppable war machines that combine the entire naval might of the Ministry of Peace in a single point in the ocean. They are apparently unsinkable and loaded with enough firepower to make an ork green with envy. However, each one takes so long to build that it becomes obsolete by the time it's finished, so it ends up being scrapped before a new one is built. This is deliberate. The mass amount of labour and raw materials needed to construct one, said to be enough to build several hundreds of cargo ships, must be diverted toward the supposed war, and thus wasted on something that doesn't exist, lest they be used to benefit the population at all (see Goldstein's book).
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The whole point of this book is that moral and/or ethical standards are irrelevant to Realpolitik, and thus the good guys never will remake the world in their image. Ever. Within the story itself, O'Brien successfully captures Winston and brainwashes him into loving Big Brother.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Winston estimates half the population of Oceania goes barefoot, even though 57 million boots had supposedly been produced in the last quarter.
  • Bathroom Control: One of the methods used by the Ministry of Love officers holding Winston Smith was to deny him the ability to go to the bathroom to further humiliate him.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted. Everyone in Oceania is hard looking and rough around the edges. Winston is not even in his forties yet and he's already decrepit. Julia is only in her twenties, and yet Winston says that her lips are probably the only part of her he could genuinely call pretty. They fall in love, anyway. Meanwhile, Winston at first is struck by O'Brien's friendly, disarming demeanour and mannerisms, along with his 'prize fighter figure'... but eventually even he notices how tired and worn O'Brien looks.
  • Beneath Suspicion: The Party has this attitude towards the Proles, in the most condescending way. Unlike Party members, Proles can be permitted intellectual freedom precisely because they have no intellect. Any Proles who do show a potential to cause real trouble are targeted by the Thought Police.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: The Party encourages children to turn their parents in to the Thought Police for subversive behaviour. Parsons is arrested after his daughter (allegedly) hears him whispering "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep. Parsons is such a faithful Party member that he's actually proud of her for doing this.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: It never crosses Winston's mind that Charrington, the quiet, friendly little man he and Julia rent their room from, is actually a member of the Thought Police.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Winston finds the prole woman who sings the "Love Song" outside his apartment to be beautiful in her own way.
    Julia: She's a metre across the hips, easily.
    Winston: That is her style of beauty.
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: The Trope Namer. Winston works for the Party as a professional historical revisionist, rewiting historical documents so they line up with whatever the Party says.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Trope Namer. Between the telescreens in every home and workplace, microphones hidden everywhere, and the potential for anyone to be an undercover Thought Police agent, citizens live under the constant threat of being arrested if they show even a hint of suspicious behaviour.
  • Big Bad: O'Brien is the most significant villain seen in the story, and responsible for both Winston's and Julia's ultimate capture and Winston's conversion to Ingsoc. Big Brother is more of an unseen Greater-Scope Villain, if he even exists.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: When they are enrolling themselves in the Brotherhood, Winston and Julia agree to commit atrocities in order to topple Ingsoc, which already commits atrocities because it is utterly evil.
  • Blatant Lies: The whole purpose of the Ministry of Truth is to publish obvious lies and have them taken as truth. The scary thing is no one questions them.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • The original Finnish translation, but it was later remedied by a much better and accurate one.
    • During Winston and Julia's getaway to the proles district, the antique trader who sells them various knick knacks once refers a poem about "the death of poor Cock Robin". The original French translation translates the reference into "la mort du pauvre coq Robin", which is a technically correct word-by-word translation, but it changes the eponymous bird's speciesnote .
  • Bread and Circuses: The Proles, because "Proles and animals are free." The Ministry of Truth has a section that produces crappy entertainment for them (called "prolefeed" in Newspeak): newspapers that only contain crime, sports and horoscopes, sensationalistic novels, films "oozing with sex," sentimental songs made by machines, and porn. They can also do as they bloody well please, and Big Brother doesn't give a crap if they have orgies, until one of them proves intelligent enough to organize revolutions and thus gets marked down by the Thought Police.
  • Break the Cutie: O'Brien explains that this is the pure, final reason why they allow hopeful wide eyed idealists to exist.
  • Breather Episode: The whole of Part II (especially Chapters II and IV), when nothing threatening happens, and even a Hope Spot or two begins. Within Part II itself, special breather episodes are when Winston reads the book, because by definition there can be no threat.
  • Call-Back: At the end, the newsreader comments that the Oceanian war manoeuvre to bring the whole of Africa under its control "may bring the war within measurable distance of its end" — exactly the same thing said about another manoeuvre in the beginning. Whether this is meant to imply that the news report is just pure propaganda, or an actual coincidence, is up for debate.
  • Came Back Wrong: Crossed with Irony. The Party did a good deal to erase various things both good and ill (capitalism, nationalism, liberty and even peace) supposedly for the purpose of bringing about true proletarian power... only to re-purpose and regurgitate them all (including the "War is Peace" idea) for upholding the Party's power.
  • The Cameo: Blink and you'll miss it, but Eurythmics frontwoman Annie Lennox appears in the 1984 adaptation as a woman at a rally.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: In the Radford film version, there's a loudspeaker constantly announcing the various production quotas that have been met or exceeded.
  • Can't Stop The Signal: Yes, they can. They started it in the first place.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Winston's freakout when a rat shows up in the hiding place demonstrates his fear of rats... which O'Brien uses against him in Room 101, where a person's greatest fear is used to torture them.
  • Clock Discrepancy: The book plays with this idea. The main character looks at the clock which reads 8:00. He thinks it's still 8 PM, but instead it was actually 8 AM. In a broader sense, there might also be a calendar discrepancy, as Winston is not even sure the year is 1984. He believes he was born in 1944 or 1945 and is fairly sure his age is 39, but it all remains an estimation as nobody can be absolutely certain of the year anymore.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Ministry of Love specializes in this.
  • Color-Coded Castes: In Oceania, members of the governing body, the Party, are all dressed in overalls (for clarification for those in North America, that’s what we’d call “jumpsuits” or “coveralls” in Canada and America, not the pants with bibs and shoulder straps we know as “overalls” today) though members of the higher-ranking division, the Inner Party, dress in black, and members of the lower-ranking one (roughly equivalent to a middle class), the Outer Party, in blue.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: In a Manga adaptation of this novel, Winston Smith is drawn to look like a mixture of two of the actors who played him, Peter Cushing (1954 BBC Adaptation) and John Hurt (1984 film version).
  • Commie Nazis: The Party that rules Oceania combines the worst authoritarian aspects of Nazism and Communism, something explicitly referenced by O'Brien in his speech in the Ministry of Love. As a democratic socialist, Orwell considered Nazism and Communism to be very similar in their effects on the general populace.
  • Conversation Cut: Julia and Winston call this "talking in instalments." They will sometimes abruptly cut off their conversations mid-sentence if they think someone could hear them, and continue talking as if nothing had happened the next time they crossed paths.
  • The Constant: Notable London landmarks which exist in the year 1984 include Victory Square, which features a monument to Big Brother consisting of a large column with lions around the base and a statue of Big Brother on top, as well as a statue of Oliver Cromwell on horseback. A mere stone's throw away is a Party museum which showcases bits of war propaganda. Contrary to the lies of oldthinkers, all of these places have always been exactly the way they are now.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: Winston is reading Emmanuel Goldstein's book, and is just about to learn why the Party is so brutal and totalitarian — upon which he stops because Julia's fallen asleep, preventing both him and the reader from learning the reason (until later).
  • Crapsack Only by Comparison: Discussed; Goldstein's book within a book notes that it's much easier to oppress someone and get away with it when they have no metric of comparison and don't know they're being oppressed.
  • Crapsack World: O'Brien explains to Winston why the Party has made Oceania a place of such utter misery and terror:
    O'Brien: How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?
    Winston: [thinks] By making him suffer.
    O'Brien: Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own?
  • Creepy-Crawly Torture: Winston Smith gets tortured by releasing some vicious rats on him. Since Big Brother Is Watching, his torturers know about his secret phobia of rats.
  • Daydream Surprise: In the film, a twisted version of this occurs after Winston is taken to the Ministry of Love. He is shown standing in the idyllic Golden Country, staring into the distance as O'Brien lectures him about the Party and its motives. A few moments into this, the scene dissolves into - surprise! - Winston strapped to a table in an oppressive Ministry of Love cell, with O'Brien ready to begin his Electric Torture.
  • Deader than Dead: Those who become "un-persons" are executed and have all traces of their existence removed. It was as if their whole existence never happened.
  • Deconstruction: Of My Country, Right or Wrong and Patriotic Fervour. Orwell shows how easily the people can be manipulated into mindless patrotism and xenophobia.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Exaggerated. O'Brien talks about the Party as if it's its own justification, and as if nobody in it really matters; he goes into rhapsodies about how individual cells can die but the organism goes on, etc. The problem with this is that it's never really explained to us what's in it for the Party members themselves.
  • The Dictatorship: Oceania is under the control of a political party called English Socialism (known as "Ingsoc" in Newspeak), led by Big Brother, the omnipresent but shadowy dictator who nobody seems to ever see in the flesh and may or may not actually exist as a person. It's implied that its geopolitical rivals Eurasia and Eastasia practice the same style of government, if they exist at all and aren't just made up by the Party.
  • Diesel Punk: The tech level of Oceania is permanently stuck here.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The hell Winston Smith is put through is astonishing, considering that his rebellious acts — keeping a diary, having an affair and enjoying it — are so trivial and furtive that he would pose no threat to the Party at all if he were only left alone. Very likely he would never agitate, or publish samizdat tracts, or even whisper thoughtcrime to his acquaintances, much less commit any sabotage or terrorism. He would just go on in his humble way, writing lies for the Ministry of Truth, meeting up with Julia, and wondering wistfully if there is a Brotherhood, until his natural death. But for the Party, mere obedience is not enough.
    Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.
    • When one prisoner in the Ministry of Love offers a piece of bread to another one, a guard bashes him in the mouth hard enough to break his dentures in half.
    • As O'Brien explains to Winston in the Ministry of Love:
      "It is intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be. Even in the instant of death we cannot permit any deviation."
  • Don't Think, Feel: The Newspeak term for this is "bellyfeel," as in feeling Ingsoc in your belly.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Actively defied by the party in two ways. Normal operating procedure is to torture dissidents until they have no hatred of or resistance to the party left in them. They also have sting operations with Inner Party members posing as Goldstein supporters, and the oath they make them take is to renounce all ethics; this oath is recorded, and played back during Winston's time in Room 101.
    O'Brien: If, for example, it would somehow serve our interests to throw sulphuric acid in a child's face — are you prepared to do that?
    Winston: Yes.
  • Downer Ending: After his "rehabilitation" in the Ministry of Love and betraying Julia to his own Fate Worse than Death, Winston forsakes his first and earliest childhood memory and replaces it with pure hot-blooded devotion to the truly-proved-meaningless cause of war on the Party's behalf. He ends his life — or imagines the end of his life — in stupid ecstasy, after confessing to crimes he did not commit in order to alleviate guilt from the Party (the same lie of which others partook at the start of the novel being the incitement of his intellectual rebellion), he finally professes unconditional love for Big Brother. Perhaps the worst part of the ending is the fact that Winston's re-education is so successful that he actually mistakes it for a happy ending. The Michael Radford movie has a similarly bleak ending, having Winston look at the image of Big Brother, then thinking, "I love you."
    "He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
  • The Dreaded: Anything bearing the "Victory" brand. Victory Coffee is undrinkable swill; Victory Gin smells bad, tastes much worse, and hits like a club to the head; Victory Cigarettes are so badly made that the tobacco falls out half the time; and Victory Mansions are decades-old apartment buildings coming apart at the seams.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Winston once had a dream where he was walking in a pitch-black room, then heard O'Brien on his side say "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness". Years after that dream, Winston is certain that O'Brien is a heretic just like him, and that eventually they will meet in a place where they will be free. Winston meets O'Brien in the place where there is no darkness, but the place and O'Brien are nothing like Winston thought they would be. The place where there is no darkness is the Ministry of Love, where dissidents are tortured until they believe in the Party, and where there is no darkness because there are no windows and the lights are always on, to the point where it's impossible to tell if it's midday or midnight. O'Brien is not a rebel, but a mastermind of the inner party, and instead of freeing Winston's soul, O'Brien oversees his torture.
  • Droit du Seigneur: One element of The Party's propaganda is the claim that before Ingsoc there had existed a law "by which every capitalist had the right to sleep with any woman working in one of his factories."
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe. Winston sees horrible Newsreel footage of refugees being murdered, including a woman with a small child. The audience at the picture theatre laugh. A prole woman loudly objects to this, and is taken out of the theatre by the police.
  • Dying as Yourself: Defied. The Thought Police does not shoot Thoughtcriminals they catch. They torture them until they're just as brainwashed as anyone else, then shoot them, all purely to deny the victim even this minor victory.
  • Dystopia: Trope Codifier.
  • Dystopia Is Hard: A harsh aversion. Oceania is an airtight dystopia, with absolute control over its citizens. Even its inefficiencies are intentional and carefully used to reinforce the dystopia.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: The Party cares about power for its own sake more than anything. And rather than exerting their power to make things nicer for the people or even merely indulge in corrupt hedonism, the Party actively desires to make people suffer, believing that that is how one exerts power for its own sake.
  • Early Personality Signs: In-universe example. As part of his job, Winston writes a story about a fictitious war hero named Comrade Ogilvy. The story includes the detail that, from birth, he was so devoted to serving Big Brother that, as a three-year-old, the only toys he would play with were a drum, toy gun, and helicopter.
  • Electric Torture: Merely one tool of the Ministry of Love, along with gang-beatings, psychological abuse, starvation, brainwashing, and the most vicious sort of phobia exploitation.
  • The Empire: Oceania controls the entirety of North and South America, Australia, and parts of the other continents as well. At least, that's what's claimed. Perhaps Airstrip One is all there is to Oceania, or perhaps it dominates the whole world and bombs its own citizens to keep up the appearance of war. Winston (and the reader) never learn the truth.
  • Empty Shell: The Ministry of Love mass manufactures these out of thought criminals.
    "You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves."
  • Endless Daytime: The Ministry of Love is also known as "the place where there is no darkness": there are no windows, and the lights are never turned out, so there is an artificial endless daytime inside.
  • Enfant Terrible:
    • The Parsons children, the son in particular. They're little hellions whom Winston believes will kill their own mother one way or another within a couple of years. And that's before they turn their father — who is staunchly loyal to the Party — over to the Thought Police.
    • There is an evil version of the Boy Scouts called the Spies, who get specialized training to teach them to be fanatically loyal. And the only activity they do is stalk people who they think are suspicious and turn them over to the authorities, often regardless of whether they actually did anything or not.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Goldstein's book tells that the Party accepts Jews, blacks and Indios in their ranks, if only to avoid people feeling oppressed by specific other races/cultures/nationalities within Oceania.
  • Evil All Along: On his walks through a prole quarter, Winston discovers the little shop of Mr. Charrington, where he buys the diary in which he first notes down his hate of the Party. Winston forms a friendly acquaintance with Charrington and eventually rents a small room above his shop as a place to meet with Julia and share their true thoughts without fear of surveillance. Eventually Winston is arrested in this room, and realizes that Charrington is an agent of the thought-police; his shop and rentable room is a trap for thought criminals.
  • Evil Plan: O'Brien seeks to crush Winston and Julia's dissent by pretending to be a Rebel Leader himself.
  • Eviler than Thou: The Party actually looks down on the fascisms and communisms of the past, claiming that the fact that they cared about things like racial purity, communal property, or really anything other than remaining in power is the reason they all eventually fell.
  • Evil States of America: Played with. The story is set in dystopian Britain, but Oceania is primarily an American-based superstate according to the authorities, and the currency is the dollar not the pound, though there are no American characters in the novel and the government departments are all described in the British manner as Ministries and located in London. The other two superstates (successors of Russia and China) are, by all appearances, just as totalitarian and imperialistic, however.
  • Evil Will Fail:
    • This book is an infamous aversion of this trope: the evil Big Brother governments of the world have things so completely under control and so tightly locked into their plans, that the book ends with the "resistance" depicted as a myth and the protagonist of the story successfully brainwashed into obedience.
    • Of course, there's always the Newspeak appendix written in the past tense, which may or may not be in-universe. Not only does the Appendix place the Party and its creations in the past tense, but it's dated 2050 (well after the action in the book), mentions the name of Winston Smith (whom O'Brien stated would be forgotten), and even references Party-verboten things such as the Declaration of Independence in its examples.
  • Expanded States of America: Of the "Transcontinental American Empire" subtype, as apparently the USA absorbed Britain and the British Commonwealth along with the rest of the Americas to form Oceania.
  • Extreme Speculative Stratification: Probably one of the Trope Codifiers: the proles, who make up most of the population, are manual labourers with no privilege who live short and brutal lives, while Party members get all the perks. However, Party members are so intensely monitored and their lives so tightly controlled that they are effectively prisoners, whereas the apathetic Proles are allowed to cavort and debauch in relative freedom, just so long as they don't start organizing.
  • False Flag Operation: Julia believes that that Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia are basically ruled by the same ideology, and are bombing each other/themselves to create a Pretext for War and totalitarianism, and that the Party is using the Brotherhood to bait dissidents for capture. She's proven wrong, but that's not to say the powers don't use the warring to their own benefit internally, too.
  • False Friend:
    • O'Brien, as revealed in the third act.
    • Also, Charrington.
  • Fan Disservice: Winston's visit to a prostitute, in the book and especially the 1984 film.
    Winston: She had a young face, painted very thick. It was really the paint that appealed to me, the whiteness of it, like a mask, and the bright red lips. Party women never paint their faces. There was no one else on the street, and no tele-screens. She said: 'Two dollars'. I went with her through the doorway and across a backyard into a basement kitchen. There was a bed against the wall, and a lamp on the table, turned down very low. She threw herself down on the bed, and at once, without any kind of preliminary in the most coarse, horrible way you can imagine, pulled up her skirt. I turned up the lamp. When I saw her in the light, she was quite an old woman, fifty years old at least. But I went ahead and did it just the same.
    • In the 1984 film (and in the novel too), the Thought Police bursting in on Winston and Julia just after they've made love. Julia gets punched in the stomach and dragged off while still naked.
    • Parsons using the lavatory in the cells of Miniluv definitely qualifies as this.
  • Fantastic Underclass: The society of Oceania is divided into Inner Party members, Outer Party members, and the Proles. Though the latter are regarded as animals and living in squalor, there's actually one level below them occupied by the populations of the disputed territories between the three super-states: reduced to outright slavery, these unfortunates don't even have the Bread and Circuses granted to the Proles and are treated like a resource "to be expended like so much coal or oil". Ironically, this leaves them with the most realistic perspective on the ongoing Forever War, as they don't have the luxury of regarding it as something that will one day end: they know that they are inescapably trapped in an endless loop of being invaded, enslaved, liberated, and then invaded and enslaved by their "liberators," ad infinitum.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Played with. The only efficient organizations in Oceania are the Thought Police and the Ministry of Love. Every other aspect of society is left neglected and crumbling because of the Inner Party's belief that a prosperous and comfortable society would overthrow the ruling oligarchy.
  • Fate Worse than Death: It is the Trope Namer for a subtrope, after all.
  • Fictional Political Party: 'The Party.' Simply 'The Party' since they've long since gotten rid of the competition, forming a totalitarian regime. The Party's original name was 'The English Socialist Party,' but, when referred to as other than simply 'The Party,' it is now solely spoken of and written as 'Ingsoc' (Newspeak for 'English Socialism').
  • Fictionary: The Newspeak dictionary.
  • Flowers of Romance: Winston picks a bunch of bluebells for Julia when they meet in the countryside for the first time.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Big Brother.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Winston fatalistically accepts towards the beginning of the novel that the very fact he has bought a journal and dared to think for himself will eventually doom him. It turns out that he's right, as the Thought Police were on to him even before the novel even began. He also ends up dooming Julia along with him (assuming the Thought Police had not already been on to her too).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Julia, albeit unintentionally. "I bet that picture's got bugs behind it."
    • Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me...
    • O'Brien telling Winston and Julia about how they will risk being captured, tortured, and vaporized after joining the Brotherhood.
    • Winston once had a dream where he was walking in a pitch-black room, then heard O'Brien on his side say "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness". Years after that dream, Winston is certain that O'Brien is a heretic just like him, and that eventually they will meet in a place where they will be free. Winston meets O'Brien in the place where there is no darkness, but the place and O'Brien are nothing like Winston thought they would be. The place where there is no darkness is the Ministry of Love, where dissidents are tortured until they believe in the Party, and where there is no darkness because there are no windows and the lights are always on, to the point where it's impossible to tell if it's midday or midnight. O'Brien is not a rebel, but a mastermind of the inner party, and instead of freeing Winston's soul, O'Brien oversees his torture.
    • In the Ministry of Love, Winston sees one of his fellow prisoners get called to go to Room 101. As he frantically resists being dragged to his fate, he tries to convince them to punish someone else instead of him, thereby prefiguring what Winston ends up doing. In fact, just as the prisoner tries to sacrifice the only individual who had shown kindness towards him (the other prisoner who had offered to share his last piece of bread), Winston ends up sacrificing the only person who loved him, Julia.
    • The last two verses of the arc rhyme "Oranges and Lemons": "Here comes a candle to light you to bed." In the darkness that is Airstrip one, the bed in which he is free to love whom he loves in the room where he can think what he thinks comes as a light to Winston from Mr. Charrington. The line immediately after that goes "Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.". Mr. Charrington is a member of the Thought Police. There was a telescreen hidden behind a carving in the room the entire time. Because of that room, Winston and Julia are arrested, tortured until they lose all personhood, and then left destined to die by gunshot.
    • This edition of the book features a rat on the cover. Rats are Winston's worst fear, and threatening to unleash half-starved rats on him to eat him alive is what makes Winston do what he thinks the party can never make him do: stop him from loving Julia. He wants the rats to eat her alive instead and he means it, and then he can never see her the same way again.
    • When Winston and Julia are in the room over Mr. Charrington's shop, Winston panics after having seen a rat.
  • Forever War: One vital component of a totalitarian Hell.
  • Freud Was Right: Invoked. Julia theorizes that the Party keeps people in a state of warlike hysteria and power hunger by subjecting them to sexual deprivation. She even calls it "sex gone sour."
  • Future Food Is Artificial: In the Radford adaptation, Parsons comments that the meat in their stew likely isn't meat at all. But still doubleplusgood.
  • Futuristic Pyramid: The Ministry of Truth (and other ministries) is described as a huge pyramidal building of white concrete.
  • Gargle Blaster: Victory Gin. It has an oily smell, tastes like nitric acid, causes Winston's eyes to water profusely, and makes him feel as if he's been clubbed in the back of the head.
  • Genericist Government: The dystopian state in the novel doesn't have a specific ideology beyond naked totalitarianism. Oceania officially practices Ingsoc (English Socialism), while its rivals Eurasia and Eastasia respectively practice Neo-Bolshevism and an ideology that can best be translated as "Obliteration of the Self". However, there's no practical difference between them, and any illusion of such is just to keep the state of war between them active. A government agent of Oceania specifically defies the notion that they are successors to the Nazi Germans or Soviet Communists, since those groups still couched their murderousness behind utopian goals. Big Brother's regime, however, is solely concerned with power and making people suffer for its own sake.
  • Ghibli Hills: The 'Golden Country', a countryside landscape that appears often in Winston's fantasies, and the place where he and Julia had their first tryst.
  • The Good Guys Always Win: Completely averted; not only do the bad guys win, it's heavily implied that they will always do so.
  • Grand Inquisitor Scene: Part III is about O'Brien telling Winston about how the Party controls the populace, and where it is going in the future. Winston had also read part of Goldstein's book covering the same topics.
  • Great Offscreen War: There is supposedly a vast war raging between the three superstates, but it has no actual bearing on the novel's plot. It could just be made up to make the party's rule seem legitimate.
  • Happiness in Minimum Wage: While the Proles are materially worse off than Outer Party members, they enjoy far more freedom than bureaucrats like Winston since the government doesn't believe they are smart enough to rebel against their power.
  • Happiness in Slavery: The Proles are, ironically, freer than the Outer Party, since their lack of education and resources means they aren't closely monitored.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: And you love Big Brother and we are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The entire second part has Winston wondering if his intellectual rebellion can be extended or shared by others to overthrow the regime. He believes it seems possible with a resistance group outside Party control. Not coincidentally, this is the part of the book where he is having a love affair with Julia.
    • Within the 'Oranges and Lemons' motif. When O'Brien continues Winston's recitation of the rhyme a couple of lines beyond Winston's recollection of it, he exclaims 'You knew the last line!,' and O'Brien agrees (that it's the last line). But the rhyme as normally told continues a little more ("I'm sure I don't know, said the great bell of Bow," — that is, interestingly, Bow Bells, the Cockney Londoner's central point.) suggesting to an educated reader that the Inner Party is not as omniscient as it believes.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Subverted. The Party is fond of invoking human wave attacks and massive, costly campaigns. Goldstein's book, however, states that actual combat only takes place between small groups of highly-trained professionals, with the grandiose battles touted in propaganda being used instead to help justify the bloated military buildup.
  • Horrible Housing: The homes of the Outer Party members and the Proles are all filthy, dilapidated, and in a very poor state of repair. In particular, the Victory Mansion apartment block where Winston lives is in a constant state of breakdown: the lifts are always out of order, repairs around the apartments are strictly DIY, and the only thing that works are the omnipresent telescreens used to spy on the residents. Not that the Inner Party residences are much of an improvement...
  • The Horseshoe Effect: A major theme:
    • The ideology of the Party is called Ingsoc (English Socialism), yet the society it governs is a dystopia with a strictly regimented class system based upon a subservient working class and a hierarchical, dictatorial system of rule. Goldstein's book, which describes the society, puts it rather baldly:
      ...the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism.
    • The premise of the book postulates an ongoing Forever War between three superpowers, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, the political ideologies of which are, respectively, Ingsoc, Neo-Bolshevism, and what roughly translates as Obliteration of the Self. To the extent that the citizens of each superpower are aware of the other superpowers' political ideologies, they deride them as monstrous outrages upon common sense. However, as Goldstein notes, the three ideologies are functionally indistinguishable, as are the societies they support.
  • Huge Holographic Head: The face of Big Brother is displayed on huge screens to comfort the citizens after the Two Minutes' Hate is over.
  • Humans Are Bastards: It really does say something that Nineteen Eighty Four is one of the most horrific and depressing stories ever written, yet has no supernatural or impossibly science-fiction elements. All the world's suffering can be pinned on a bunch of insane, power-hungry psychopaths who happen to run everything... and those psychopaths only remain in power because everyone else is so mindlessly, fanatically obedient to them.
  • Hypocrite: In the original book and subsequently, in the film made in 1984, O'Brien claims that the German Nazis and Russian Communists (in his mind the closest groups of the past resembling Ingsoc) were hypocrites, arguing that they propagated their atrocities served a greater purpose, while openly admitting that the Party is only cruel for the sake of pure power, while Ingsoc tries to sell itself and Big Brother to the nation as benevolent and perfect, using Doublethink as justification. Although, technically, he's being Metaphorically True. The Inner Party is well aware of their intentions. The inevitable course of human societies (as discussed in Goldstein's book) is that there will always be: the high, the middle, and the low. The Inner Party has simply figured out how it will always be the "high" for now and for forever after.
  • Industrialized Evil: While the Party has very specifically created tortures for dissidents, their entire civilization is one huge example of human degradation for its own sake.
  • Infodump: Goldstein's book.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Anyone who swallows the Party line without question.
    • Winston doesn't even question that O'Brien and the Thought Police have had him under surveillance for years, and were aware of his treason at every stage. Actually, he’s probably right; it’s implied that the Party noticed his momentary hesitation when holding a news cutting which he destroys, but subsequently appears again in O’Brien’s hands during the torture sequence. The second-hand shop where he bought his journal, other curios and subsequently rented a room, was operated by a Thought Police agent (Mr Charrington). Winston doesn’t actually KNOW any of this in detail, but he is proven right in general terms.
    • Parsons expresses nothing but admiration for his daughter when she denounces him to the Thought Police for whispering, "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep. It doesn't even occur to him that his daughter probably made the whole thing up and he actually said nothing of the kind.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: During Winston's initial moments in the Ministry of Love (before any real torture has begun), it occurs to him that Julia is facing torture herself, and that if he could double his own pain to spare her, he should. Very soon after this, a guard whacks Winston with a truncheon hard enough to leave him writhing on the floor in agony, and he instead decides that no, under no circumstances should anyone ever choose an increase in pain.
  • Internal Retcon:
    • Winston's job is to receive reports of new articles that do not match the current party line and fix their "mistakes" or write new articles to replace Unpersons. He also notices the same being applied to announcements on telescreens, where some rations are cut back but still shown to be greater than last year.
    • At one point during a rally, the Party, having always been at war with Eurasia, suddenly has always been at war with Eastasia, in mid-speech (the speaker is handed a note with the change). And — as Winston notes with horror — the audience instantly goes along with it. The rally in question took tons of preparation, including creating banners and propaganda damning Eurasia, but once Eastasia has been named as the enemy, the crowd becomes aghast that their banners now falsely name Eurasia as the enemy and believe Goldstein's heretical group is to blame for them being wrong.
  • Interrogated for Nothing: When Winston is taken into the Ministry of Love, he is tortured into confessing not only the crimes he actually committed against the Party, but all kinds of crimes that he never did and that the interrogators know that he never did. Later in the process, O'Brien informs Winston that he will be vaporized as an unperson so that history will never learn of him, which makes the latter bitterly question the point of even torturing him. Justified, however, in that the Party's goal was never to obtain information, but to punish and destroy any instance of heretical thought, however powerless it may be.
  • Invincible Villain: Two instances, one merely discussed and the latter demonstrated in cruel detail.
    • Winston seems to be cognizant of, but not fully understanding or able to articulate, the oxymoronic nature of Emmanuel Goldstein's supposed evil; he is a despised and loathsome traitor and the main focal point of all Oceania's hatred, yet always remains the foremost enemy of Ingsoc in spite of the constant defeats and setbacks that he is claimed to have suffered.note 
      But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books — his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were — in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police.
    • The Party itself, which remains invincible simply because it has left itself no room for failure, no chance of being truly undermined or even diluted in potency, and no alternative to its existence. Its grasp on Oceania is absolute and crushing, it potentially creates entire resistance movements and false prophets just for the sake of internal threats that bolster the population's resolve, and is locked in a pointless, endless war with the two other countries over the last remaining disputed zone of land, where territory constantly changes hands and no real progress is ever made.
  • I Reject Your Reality: On a society-wide scale.
  • Ironic Echo:
  • Ironic Nursery Tune:
    • "Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!"
    • "Under the spreading chestnut tree / I sold you and you sold me."
  • It Won't Turn Off: The telescreens, which all Party members have in their homes, constantly broadcasting propaganda and keeping watch. Inner Party members can shut off the audio entirely for brief periods, while Outer Party members can only adjust the volume.
  • Jail Bake: Winston, after being imprisoned, thinks that the Brotherhood might send him a razor blade hidden in his food, not to escape but to kill himself with. It doesn't happen.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • Winston, in his youth. During a flashback he remembers how he was driving his family (mother and little sister) out of house and home and was generally a greedy brat who wanted to keep the family's scant food rations for himself. Julia says she shares this perception of his younger self, and says the same seems to apply to all children.
    • The children of Oceania are brought up to mistrust and spy on their own parents. Family values and loyalty are discouraged in favour of sadistically ratting out the other members of one's family.
    • Parsons' kids attack Winston with a catapult, accusing him of being a traitor and a thought criminal, and say they want to shoot him, vaporize him or send him to the salt mines. According to their mother, they're acting out because they can't go to a hanging. They end up turning in their father because they (supposedly) heard him say "down with Big Brother" in his sleep.
  • La Résistance: The Brotherhood, which may or may not actually exist, led by Emmanuel Goldstein, the supposed author of "the book" who also may or may not actually exist.
  • Language Equals Thought: The entire purpose of Newspeak is to reconfigure the way people think by controlling the language in which they express their thoughts; the intended logical conclusion of this is that thoughtcrime will eventually be impossible, because there will no longer be any words in which to express it, and what a person doesn't have words to describe, he can't think.
  • Laser-Guided Broadcast: There is such a scene at the beginning. Justified, since the televisions there are fitted with cameras and are openly used to watch people.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: The slogan of the Party has three key concepts: "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength." The latter is the only one in which the two terms are not polar opposites.
  • Least Rhymable Word: Ampleforth, one of Winston's co-workers in the Ministry of Truth is responsible for rewriting poems to make them align with Party propaganda. Winston eventually meets him in jail; Ampleforth thinks he was arrested because he left the word "God" in a Rudyard Kipling poem (probably McAndrew's Hymn) because he could not find another rhyme for "rod". He tells Winston: "Do you realize that there are only twelve rhymes to "rod" in the entire language? For days I had racked my brains. There was no other rhyme."
  • Left Field Description: The book starts off letting you know that something's not right with this quote: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen".
  • Lie Back and Think of England:
    • Party women are encouraged to do this when they have sex. "Goodthinkful" women are taught to call it "our duty to the Party." Men aren't really encouraged to enjoy it either. Marriages between Party members have to be approved by a committee which rejects couples who seem to be attracted to one another. The Party wants sex to be seen as a dirty but necessary act, like vomiting or getting an enema.
    • At one point, O'Brien claims the Party plans to abolish the orgasm ("Our neurologists are at work upon it now,") making sex a purely reproductive act devoid of pleasure for anyone.
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: One of Winston's tasks at the Ministry of Truth is to make up statistics, in order to make The Party look good. In one instance, he "corrects" an article that stated 145 million boots would be produced, to say that 57 million would be made. He has been told that 67 million were "actually" produced. Winston thinks it is possible that none at all have been made, as approximately half the population of Oceania goes barefoot; most likely nobody really knows or cares how many had been made.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • "The place where there is no darkness" is not a place you ever want to end up. Also, it's meant literally: It's a prison for political dissidents and the perpetual light is a method of sleep deprivation.
    • At the end, when Winston is already pretty far gone mentally, he muses that at no point in history black has ever triumphed over white in a published chess problem. This eternally-triumphant white is a metaphor for the eternally-triumphant Party.
  • Loners Are Freaks: The Party is trying to stamp out "ownlife", so Party members are encouraged to believe this trope.
  • Mess on a Plate: The stew served at the canteen (cafeteria) in the Ministry of Truth. It's pinkish-gray, with spongy bits of synthetic meat, and has a sour metallic odor. A puddle of the stuff spilled on a tabletop is described as a "filthy liquid mess that had the appearance of vomit."
  • Metaphorically True: The names of the Ministries (Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Love, Ministry of Plenty, Ministry of Peace) can be perfectly true from The Party's point of view, rather than ironic. Minitrue doesn't falsify or lie, it corrects the past to show the new truth, which having been corrected has now always been the truth; Minipax maintains internal peace by continually waging external war; the goal of Miniluv is for everyone to love Big Brother and The Party; and Miniplenty is in control of Oceania's economy, which appears to actually be very strong but is directed almost solely towards creating plenty of weapons and large public gestures which do not actually improve the lives of the population but keep their minds occupied.
  • The Metric System Is Here to Stay: Some focus is given to everybody having to use the metric system; for instance an old man in a pub wants a pint of beer, because half a litre is not enough and one litre is too much.note  Orwell was against the complete scrapping of Imperial, though he supported the use of the metric system in scientific work.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Played With in the '84 film adaptation. Many of Oceania's soldiers look very well-fed and with impeccable gear, but also seem rather paunchy for a professional military. The Thought Police, on the other hand, have more or less the same equipment and uniforms, but look far more intimidating and fit, further driving home who the Party is really waging war with.
  • Mind Rape: The Party is subjecting the entire Oceanian population to a form of Mind Rape, with the goal of making them mindless and obedient like cattle. Also, the last third of the novel may be the the most disturbing and prolonged Mind Rape ever put to paper.
  • Mind Screw: Doublethink is essentially a deliberately invoked instance of this, as it involves the wilful belief in the truth of mutually contradicting statements.
  • Mirroring Factions: Despite the ongoing war between them, Oceanian, Eurasian and Eastasian societies and ideologies are all functionally identical and all have the same goal: the ruling class creating a world built on entirely on suffering which they can rule over forever.
  • More than Mind Control: The Party wants to destroy even the capability of independent thought. They want you to really love Big Brother, and in the end, Winston does.
  • Mundane Luxury: O'Brien, being an Inner Party member, enjoys such exquisite goods like a working elevator and a bottle of wine.
  • Multiple Choice Form Letter: "...few people ever wrote letters. For the messages it was occasionally necessary to send, there were printed postcards with long lists of phrases, and you struck out the ones that were inapplicable."
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: While it's not made totally clear in the novel proper, according to invokedWord of God MAD is apparently a large part of the reason why Oceania is so messed up, being based on Orwell's rather pessimistic idea of what world peace, or at least a nuclear-enforced one, would actually be like, as laid out in his seminal essay You and the Atomic Bomb. Because Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia can't go to war without completely annihilating all three of them at once, their leaders have nobody to take out their sadistic tendencies on but their own people.
    • Ingsoc as well as their Eurasian and East Asian counterparts plan on doing this anyway once any of them have successfully perfected mind control.

    Tropes N-Z 
  • Narm Charm: In-Universe, Winston find the "Love Song" to be cheesy and boring... but still finds the dedication with which the woman who sings it to be quite moving.
  • Neologism: Invented terms like "Big Brother," "Thought Police," and "doublethink" and popularized "unperson." Just look at all the tropes this book has named.
  • Never Had Toys: At one point, Winston has to write an obituary for a nonexistent person named Comrade Ogilvy as part of his job. Part of the biography for Comrade Ogilvy states that as a child, he refused to play with most toys - the few toys he'd play with were military-oriented, such as a drum, toy gun, and toy helicopter. It is also stated that throughout his life, Ogilvy had no other hobbies or forms of recreation other than serving Big Brother. Given the totalitarianistic form of government that the novel is set in, this style of life is actually idealized by the citizens of Oceania.
  • Necessarily Evil: If O'Brien is correct, the Brotherhood has no choice but to commit the most heinous of acts to defeat The Party.
  • Noodle Incident: Exactly how did the Party come into power? Winston, at one point, muses that he doesn't really remember hearing of Big Brother before the 1960's. References are made to a war including a nuclear exchange having taken place in the 1950's during his childhood, leading to the breakdown of government and society and a period of chaos lasting for an indeterminate time (possibly including civil war; Winston remembers the streets being roamed by gangs of youths in different-coloured shirts) before the Party finally solidified its control.
  • No Sex Allowed: All intercourse within the Outer Party is strictly regulated only for procreation, and Julia belongs to an organization called the Junior Anti-Sex League that advocates total celibacy. There's a lecture in a part of the book talking about artificial insemination and trying to remove the orgasm to prevent any pleasure being derived from sex. For Julia, all these have a mere purpose of increasing frustration which can be channelled into war hysteria and orgiastic rallies. The Proles are allowed to have sex freely, though it's viewed in the same vein as farm animals mating.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: "Mr. Charrington," a Thought Police officer who pretends to be an old, harmless prole shopkeeper under that alias. The real him is so different that it's disturbing.
  • Offering Another in Your Stead: In the climax, Winston Smith is brought to the Ministry of Love and tortured by O'Brien in order to make him totally loyal to Big Brother, ultimately resulting in a visit to Room 101: here, Winston has a cage of rats strapped to his head and is left with only a wire mesh gate saving him from having his face gnawed off. Having reached the end of his psychological tether in the face of his worst fear, he's reduced to begging O'Brien to inflict the torture on his lover Julia instead - exactly what his torturers wanted all along. This act of betrayal is the final stage in Winston's brainwashing, and from here on, he's been rendered down into a loyal pawn of the Party.
  • Oh, Crap!: Winston and Julia's reaction to the fact that there was a telescreen in their hiding place the whole time.
    Winston: We are the dead.
    Julia: We are the dead.
    Thought Police: You are the dead.
  • Painful Rhyme: One of Winston's co-workers is responsible for re-writing famous poetry to make sure it aligns with Party propaganda. Winston notes it is generally gibberish.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both of Winston's parents disappeared; his mother when he was around 11, his father much earlier. He has many memories about his mother, but remembers little about his father. He knows nothing of their fate; they might have been executed or sent to a forced labour camp.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The official ideology of Oceania is "Ingsoc", short for "English Socialism", but the society is as totalitarian as any state can be.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Those who are too openly intelligent are quietly eliminated, both from the Party ranks and the proletariat. This happens to Winston's friend Syme — even though he's a vociferous supporter of the regime, he "sees too clearly and speaks too plainly," and simply disappears one day.
  • Personal Horror: This is what the horror of Room 101 is all about. Using your greatest fears to get you to betray the most important thing about yourself, to destroy your self-image by making you betray everything and anything that's left of what you valued before they arrested you.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Julia attempts to invoke this trope. In the Michael Radford adaption, the dress is ill-fitting and not very flattering, as presumably this was the best she could get.
  • Pointless Civic Project: Oceania constantly builds things like monuments, both to inspire mindless nationalism, and to soak up excess resources and keep living standards so low that the people are too worn down to resist. Also inverted: It's heavily implied that the war is merely a way to justify how little the government spends on its population. Throw a few token rockets at them and tell them you're dropping thousands more on the enemy, and they won't complain about bread shortages.
  • Potty Emergency: Parsons has one in the Ministry of Love, and uses the lavatory in front of Winston, to his disgust. Later, Winston himself is subjected to this as part of his torture, since he is "not given leave to urinate".
  • The Power of Language: One Central Theme of the book seeks to show how language can be used politically to deceive and manipulate people. The Party has mandated Newspeak be used as a way to further control the thoughts of the populace, and writing has been banned altogether. Winston's job involves going through old documents and periodicals and carefully replacing words to suit whatever new narrative is being constructed by the Party, and one of his first acts of rebellion is to hide a notebook he finds and begin recording his thoughts in it.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The 1984 movie is extremely faithful to the book, but the shift in medium means that Orwell's detailed narration on the history of Ingsoc is lost. Since the movie obviously cannot devote itself to lengthy info breaks like the novel does, it spends more time cultivating atmosphere and showing just how miserable life is in Airstrip One. Also, because all of Winston's thought processes (save for his diary entries) are lost, he ends up as more of an Audience Surrogate — the fact that he's magnificently played by the incredibly aptly named John Hurt (who even looks like George Orwell) is an added bonus.

    The ending is also subtly different, changing the meaning but not the outcome. Winston writes "2 + 2 =" (as opposed to "2 + 2 = 5," which was Orwell's intent; "2 + 2 =" was a typo in many editions), and thinks "I love you!" (after Julia leaves, but while staring at Big Brother, so it could go either way; whereas the book directly states that he loves Big Brother). "2 + 2 =" is arguably more powerful, since O'Brien says in both versions that the answer to 2 + 2 is whatever he decides it is, and could be 3, 6, or all at once. With regard to Winston thinking "I love you!," if he had simply said "I love Big Brother" (translating the famous closing line from third person to first person), it would have sounded a lot more awkward.
  • Propaganda Hero: Winston Smith invents the story of the heroic "Comrade Ogilvy" out of whole cloth to replace a story about an unperson in the newspaper archive.
  • Propaganda Machine: The Ministry of Truth. They edit all information — every song, story, news report, even porn so that it completely fits the Party's definition of truth; and they don't care if reality says otherwise.
  • Public Execution: A few happen in Oceania, with enemy nations' spies and prisoners of war.
  • Punished for Sympathy: When Winston is first taken to the Ministry of Love, he witnesses a prisoner offering a hidden piece of bread to another prisoner whom the Party has been deliberately starving. Almost instantly, the guards emerge to beat the kind prisoner. Worse still, when the guards later return to take the starving prisoner to the dreaded Room 101, the starving prisoner tries to convince them to take the kind prisoner instead.
  • Rage Within the Machine: Winston is a bureaucrat for the Ministry of Truth...and deeply resents the Party, writing is seditious thoughts in a diary he keeps.
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: When Winston asks an elderly prole what life was like before the Party, he's unable to get a straight answer because the man keeps lapsing into these.
  • Room 101: The Trope Namer, where Winston and Julia are faced with their worst fears and made to betray each other.
  • Red and Black Totalitarianism: The Ingsoc Party, the authoritarian political party of Oceania has a flag that is black, red, and white.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: Played with. Big Brother is not so good about things like ensuring a decent quality of life for all the little brothers and sisters in his care, but he's amazing when it comes to things like keeping the monitoring system up and running, identifying and rooting out possible dissidents, and just generally averting Evil Will Fail. This makes sense as he doesn't really care about the former.
  • Retcon: In-Universe with the Party rewriting history at will, and the masses having to eat it up. Retconning is done at the Ministry of Truth, Winston's main place of work, and mainly consists of editing out people who fell from Big Brother's favor and were "vaporized", even if most noticeable is when Oceania's enemy changes from being Eurasia to Eastasia (thus Oceania being now ally of Eurasia instead of Eastasia) instead and all the past works that depict the former as the enemy must be changed to make the latter that instead as soon as possible.
  • Russian Reversal: O'Brien tells Winston that "One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.".
  • Russia Takes Over the World: One of the world's three superpowers is Eurasia, the Russian-derived successor state that controls the former Soviet Union and continental Europe (but not the British Isles). They are allied with Oceania against Eastasia until Oceania betrays them by teaming up with Eastasia against Eurasia. Apparently practices "Neo-Bolshevism" and according to the propaganda of Oceania is currently leading a campaign to conquer all of Africa. This is a subversion, since neither Eurasia nor any of the other two superstates really desire world domination, only to control their own peoples.
  • Safely Secluded Science Center: Goldstein's book mentions that Oceania has many experimental stations such as these scattered across the world, in Brazilian jungle, in Australian deserts, and even in islands off the coast of Antarctica. Given the Forever War gripping the world, all of them are concerned with developing new weapons, some of them as fanciful as earthquake generators and giant magnifying glasses. However, given that said war is secretly integral to the stability of the Dystopia that currently dominates the world, nobody's interested in actually winning it, so none of these projects ever come to fruition: they're just another means of eating up surplus resources that might otherwise be used to improve the standard of living.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Goldstein's book thoroughly exposes the Party's philosophy and methods, and has been written by the Inner Party. But it is presented as propaganda lies from enemies of Oceania spread by a Resistance who might exixt ... or not.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Winston's duckspeaking colleague.
  • Scenery Gorn: Oceania in the 1984 film is filled with these. The Golden Country however, is a Scenery Porn.
    • In the 1984 film version, everything looks like it was either nuked or abandoned. In addition, the filmmakers use a processing technique called 'bleach bypass' to take out the bright colours from the film reels, giving the film a washed-out effect. The green colour of The Golden Country, however, is emphasized as a contrast to the city's scenery.
  • Schizo Tech: The Party has a machine that writes trashy novels (to keep the proles happy) but farms are still worked by using horse plows. Justified in that working the farms keeps the proles busy and poor, while writing even a trashy novel the old fashioned way would potentially lead to dangerous thoughts in the writers.
  • Screens Are Cameras: The telescreens. Even when it is revealed that the room in Charrington shop is being monitored, it is with a screen instead of a hidden camera.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The Party has a recurring habit of depicting whoever their eternal enemy is aiming or firing their weapon directly at the citizenry.
  • Secret Police: The Thought Police.
  • Sentenced Without Trial: Although Oceania has (show) trials as part of its regular purges, some Party members are just "vaporized" by the Thought Police.
  • Sex Is Evil: The Party wants to suppress the sex drive and channel it into war hysteria. O’Brien says that their neurologists are working on the abolition of the orgasm in Party members. One of The Party's prominent youth movements is the Junior Anti-Sex League, who want all reproduction done by artificial insemination. Sexual enjoyment is looked down as only for proles and animals.
  • Silly Love Songs: The Party mass-produces them for the proles with a machine known as the "versificator." Winston hears a prole woman singing one of these; while the song is "dreadful rubbish," she sings it with so much feeling that it almost becomes beautiful.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Surveillance cameras, hidden microphones and two-way "telescreens" exist in every home and in every street, spying on citizens, monitoring their every move and showering them with propaganda slogans. The Proles are lucky in that they have no telescreens, and only members of the Inner Party are able to (temporarily) turn their telescreens off.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: As part of the Forever War, the Three Superpowers regularly take people from outside their territory and use them as slave labour to contribute to the war machine. Goldstein's Book also makes it clear that they're not necessary for the world's economy; they speed up production for the war, but since they don't contribute anything else, their role in the grand scheme of things is miniscule. Really, it only seems to serve the purpose of extending the totalitarian cruelty outside of their borders.
  • So Happy Together: Winston and Julia in Part Two.
  • Space-Filling Empire: The whole world has been split into three superpowers: Oceania (North and South America, the British Isles, Southern Africa and Australasia), Eurasia (the Soviet Union and mainland Europe), and Eastasia (Japan and most of modern China). Outside of their claims are the polar regions, the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, a disputed area stretching from Manchuria through Mongolia to Tibet, and the equatorial areas, whose boundaries are defined by "a rough quadrilateral between Tangier, Brazzaville, Darwin, and Hong Kong." All of this territory regularly changes hands between the three, who capture vast amounts of resources and enslave the local people, but never hold much of it for long.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • 1984 is heavily influenced by Zamyatin's We, from where it seems to draw many of its dystopian elements. Orwell began writing 1984 eight months after he read the now lesser known We.
    • To Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, published fifteen years before Nineteen Eighty Four. Both novels depict a formerly democratic western nation that succumbed to totalitarianism. The protagonists of both novels chafe under totalitarian rule and rebel through the written word. Both men find solace in secret romantic relationships with women who are both their soulmates and co-conspirators; Winston falls in love with Julia while Doremus has a secret affair with Lorinda. Finally, both protagonists find themselves incarcerated and tortured for their rebellion against the state.
    • The books is also a successor of sorts, to two non-fiction essays by Orwell, Politics and the English Language and You and the Atomic Bomb, building on the ideas set forth in both of them.
    • To Orwell's own Animal Farm, a political fable of Soviet Russia which depicts the early stages of a local revolution turned oppressive. In 1984, the regime is fully established on a global scale and times before it are barely a scant memory for a few.
  • Staged Populist Uprising: The "resistance's" book claims that all revolutions are just the middle class using the lower class as a tool to supplant the upper class. Ingsoc is designed to prevent this with the meritocratic Inner Party selection process and intense surveillance of the Outer and Inner Parties.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: The Party imposes this on its members, including Winston, in the end.
  • Stone Wall: The Floating Fortresses. The very few available data of them suggest they lack propulsion and must be towed to their destination, but are nearly impossible to sink and very likely are heavily armed.
  • Stout Strength: Rutherford is portrayed as a big man of immense physical strength even in his old age...until a visit to Room 101 leaves him in ruins.
  • Strange Salute: In the '84 adaptation, the military and Outer Party cross their arms at the wrists over their heads as a recurring sign of Party pride, and in defiance of Goldstein during the Two Minutes' Hate.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Newspeak, though it isn't used often in the novel.
  • Super-Fun Happy Thing of Doom: Played very un-comedically with the Ministries. The Ministry of Plenty's business is to maintain shortages; the Ministry of Truth concerns itself with censorship and propaganda; the Ministry of Peace maintains perpetual war; and the Ministry of Love is... Housed in a windowless building with swaths of barbed wire all around it, and is a secret prison with torture chambers.
  • Taught to Hate: From a very young age, Oceania's children are taught by the Party to hate all enemies of Big Brother with a fanatic zeal. They are given war-themed toys like model helicopters and submachine guns, and youth organizations like the Spies (of which the minimum age to join is seven) teach them to report their own parents to the Thought Police for signs of disloyalty to the Party and assault random people in public for doing anything that could be perceived as an insult to Big Brother, such as setting a woman's skirt on fire for wrapping sausages in a poster with Big Brother's face on it.
  • Tempting Fate: The two protagonists really set themselves up for disappointment.
    Winston: If they can stop me from loving you, that would be the real betrayal.
    Julia: That's the one thing they can't do.
  • Title by Year: Nineteen Eighty-Four. In-universe, the protagonist thinks this is probably the current year, but due to the totalitarian state he lives and the nature in which it controls all information, he can't be sure. Out-of-universe, George Orwell planned to name it 1948 (the book was released a year after he finished it, in 1949), but he just flipped the last two digits to indicate a 20 Minutes into the Future timeframe.
  • Too Clever by Half: Winston understands Syme as this. He's a very articulate and intelligent man whose entire Newspeak Dictionary job is to destroy language for the purpose of eliminating thought, understands that goal explicitly, and speaks at length and in detail about the philosophical and ideological satisfaction it gives him in doing so. Even though he's loyal and industrious, the Party will inevitably have him destroyed and expunged because he has revealed that he — an Outer Party worker, no less — is able to comprehend what he's doing and why, instead of just working because it is his purpose. Sure enough, one morning, he no longer exists.
    One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his face.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: According to the Party, the infant mortality rate in Oceania is 16%, down from 30% before the Revolution.
  • Torture Always Works: Inverted. The Party's torture is specifically designed to get the victim to give false information, a purpose for which it is extremely effective. They don't stop until the victim is willing to say, do, and think anything the Party wants them to without question.
  • Torture Technician: O'Brien, in Act Three.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: The Party inverts this: their ideology is obsessed with causing suffering for its own sake as the purest, rawest exercise of one's power over another.
  • Trashy True Crime: True crime magazines are listed as part of the "prolefeed" doled out to the proles by the Party.
  • The Treachery of Images: A relevant part of O'Brien's conversation with Winston revolves around whether the Party could, pragmatically speaking, change reality itself, with the torturer arguing that he could "float like a soap bubble" if he wanted to. After all, if Winston perceives (forcibly) such a thing, and it is on record, in what sense is it untrue?
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: Few foreign translations bothered rendering the original's cumbersome title faithfully, instead settling on the more convenient numeral representation of "1984", occasionally attaching the word for "year" to make it look neater. In fact, pretty much every time someone mentions the novel in an Internet comment, you can bet they will write the title numerically rather than verbally. Hell, even the 1956 English-language film adaptation did just that. Later, so did the 1984 adaptation.
  • The Tooth Hurts: In the Ministry of Love, when Winston is shown his reflection in the mirror and realizes how weak he has become, O'Brien accentuates the point by simply yanking out one of Winston's teeth with his bare hand.
  • Truth in Television:
    • "Newspeak" had a direct precedent. The basic concept and many of its specific characteristics are a parody of "Basic English," an actual proposal for an international language based on a version of English with a restricted vocabulary and "rationalised" grammar, which Orwell considered aesthetically ugly, and politically repressive in its choices for necessary subject matter to be covered.
    • The overall shifts and inconsistencies of Oceania and IngSoc's party line reflects the build-up of World War II and the sudden shifts in political alliances which Orwell working in the BBC information bureau found bewildering. The Soviet Union was anti-fascist and then signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of neutrality, America was neutral, the British Empire was anti-fascist and then Hitler declared war on the Soviet Union, which led the English to welcome the Soviet Union into the alliance, invade Iran together, sell out Poland to Stalin, to say nothing of the anti-communist Americans suddenly palling around with the USSR and then ending the war as enemies again with Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech. Orwell in the bureau realized that overnight and as new information came, a new party line emerged and inconsistencies were papered over for realpolitik reasons.
  • 2 + Torture = 5: Trope Maker. Though George Orwell used it before in essays, this is it's most remembered from.
  • Two-Way Tapping: When Winston and Julia have a quiet conversation after one of their illicit encounters in Charrington's flat, Winston muses about a Prole woman they're observing outside, "Hers is the future, we are the dead," and Julia echoes "we are the dead." A voice from the direction of a painting on the wall immediately responds "you are the dead," revealing that there was a telescreen hidden underneath and that they'd been caught in their forbidden activities and discourse. Moments later the Thought Police arrive in helicopters and arrest them.
  • Uncertain Doom: Winston never finds out whether his mother and sister are dead or alive.
  • Unnamed Parent: Winston's mother.
  • Unperson: Trope Codifier; Joseph Stalin invokedused the term long before this book was written. It is known that anyone who opposes the regime of the Party, even in miniscule ways, or is merely too smart for their own good, will suddenly fall on hard times, before one day disappearing altogether, with all public records of their existence being stricken when it happens. Chillingly, with Winston having his spirit broken by the end after his stay in the Ministry of Love, means that he is in the depression and destitution phase, which strongly implies that it is only a matter of time before he will also be disappeared too.
  • The Unreveal:
    • Whether or not a resistance movement actually exists is left completely ambiguous.
    • As is whether Big Brother is (or ever was) a real person or not.
  • We Will Use WikiWords in the Future: One of the main purposes of Newspeak; condensing words makes it easier to utter them automatically without much thought, and to make communicating against the party impossible.
  • Wham Line:
    • Winston receives a note from Julia, which he fears contains something ominous, like an order to kill himself. It actually says, "I love you."
    • At the end of the second portion of the book, Winston and Julia are enjoying each other's company and the scene is described in a calm and peaceful way. The narration reveals that Winston thinks they might actually survive for a few more years. Then the two of them say "We are the dead," referencing something they've been saying since the love affair started, and out of nowhere an "iron voice" repeats "You are the dead." The scene immediately becomes hectic as Winston and Julia realize that the Thought Police have found them.
    • "It was behind the picture." A telescreen, that is.
    • O'Brien, coming to Winston in the Ministry of Love, says in response to Winston's belief that they "got" him as part of the resistance, says: "They got me a long time ago" - revealing that he has never been on Winston and Julia's side, and is a dyed-in-the-wool member of the Inner Party.
    • "You do not exist."
    • "Do it to Julia!"
    • The book ends with a rather chilling one: "He loved Big Brother." In the film, Winston tells the image, "I love you."
  • Wine Is Classy: Not only do the members of the Inner Party (the political elite of the totalitarian state) get assigned much better dwellings, clothes, food, coffee, chocolate, and tobacco than the members of the Outer Party (i.e. the mere White Collar Worker bureaucrats), but also while the members of the Outer Party drink gin (and the blue-collar proles drink beer, and in fact aren't allowed to have anything stronger), the members of the Inner Party drink... Wine, what else?
  • With Us or Against Us: Why "War is Peace" literally works.
  • Working-Class People Are Morons: The proles are completely useless and indeed, according to Goldstein’s book, the poor lower classes always have been. To be fair, though, the Party refuses to educate the proles well and deliberately keeps them ignorant. The Book explicitly says the Party finds the brightest proles and eliminates them. In contrast, the brightest, most ambitious Outer Party members are allowed to rise into the Inner Party, and hence become harmless. Despite his left-wing views, Orwell was often criticised for his negative views of the English working-class, in particular the idea that they would just naturally degrade into ignorance and filth. Chalk it up to that Eton College education... However, the fact that Winston sees them as the best hope for the future says something.
  • Wretched Hive: The prole neighbourhoods, in sharp contrast to the mechanistically controlled Party neighbourhoods. An interpretation is that the Wretched Hive is way better than the mechanical And I Must Scream of the Party because in said Hive you kept your freedoms and humanity.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Winston and Julia have this attitude towards each other in the beginning, as both are aware that they will inevitably be caught and tortured by the Thought Police if they continue their affair, yet they persist all the same, believing that whatever the Party may do to them, it can't make them stop loving each other. They are wrong.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea; Double subverted: The Party can and does kill an idea. While it does its best to stamp out dissent in individuals, it keeps the means, motive, and opportunity for dissent alive deliberately to justify its own existence. Doublethink in action.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Winston Smith's worst phobia. It is used by O'Brien to completely break him.
  • Zeerust: Justified in-universe, as the Party suppresses all research not directly related to weapons technology, so technology has stagnated at about 1950's level.
    • Inter-office communication is sent on paper in glass tubes (no computers).
    • The Ministry of Truth uses 'novel-writing machines' to keep churning out low-grade literature to keep the proles busy. You can tell who works in the Fiction Department by the oil-stains on their overalls.
    • When Julia and Winston meet in the woods, they know that they’re safe from listening devices because the trees are too small to hide a microphone. By the actual year 1984, microphones had been sufficiently miniaturized that they could be hidden even in small trees.
    • Played with in an interesting fashion in the Michael Radford film, which of course was made in the real 1984. Winston's office equipment looks exactly as described in the novel, however there is a modern helicopter used in one scene-used by the Thought Police of course, the one part of the Party that would be well funded.

"We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness."

Alternative Title(s): Nineteen Eighty Four