'1984' Questions for Study and Discussion

1984
1984. Signet

1984 is one of the greatest works by George Orwell. The dystopian novel coined terms like "Big Brother" and "Newspeak." While the book has been a main stay on high school English reading lists for years, it's recently seen a rise in popularity. This classic novel describes life in a surveillance state where independent thinking is referred to as "thoughtcrime." The main character Winston lives a life of forced solitude trusting only his journal with his inner thoughts.

Things change when he meets Julia. Their love affair becomes the undoing of them both. Here are a few questions for study and discussion, related to 1984.

1984 Questions for Study and Discussion

  • What is important about the title of 1984
  • What are the conflicts in 1984? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) are in this novel?
  • How does George Orwell reveal character in 1984?
  • What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • What are some symbols in 1984? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • Is Winston consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?
  • Do you find the characters likable? Would you want to meet the characters?
  • Does the story end the way you expected? How? Why?
  • What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful?
  • How does this novel relate to dystopian literature? Is Winston a strong character?
  • How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else? In any other time?
  • What is the role of women in the text? Is love relevant? Are relationships meaningful?
  • Why is 1984 controversial? Why has it been banned?
  • How does 1984 relate to current politics/society/etc.?
  • Would you recommend this novel to a friend?
  • Why do you think words like Big Brother and Newspeak have entered into our everyday lexicon?
  • What if anything scares you about the future Orwell describes? Why or why not?
  • How is "doublethink" used in the novel? Do you think it could or is used in our current society?
  • Do you think it's important that Oceana is constantly at war with someone? What point do you think Orwell is trying to make?
  • How does the age difference between Julia and Winston affect how they view the actions of Big Brother and the government? Do you see differences like this in your own life? 
  • How is technology used by Big Brother and the Party? Does it remind you of any current technological issues? 
  • If you were in Room 101 what would be waiting for you?
  • What is the significance of the name Ministry of Love?
  • How is sexual repression used to oppress the people of Oceana? Are there examples of this kind of oppression in the real world?
  • How are characters brainwashed in the novel? Do you think this sort of brainwashing can happen in real life?
  • What warnings can we take from Orwell's novel?