'1984' Questions for Study and Discussion

1984 is one of the best-known works by George Orwell. This classic novel describes life in a surveillance state where independent thinking is referred to as "thoughtcrime." 1984 coined terms like Big Brother and Newspeak that are still in use today, and its powerful exploration of totalitarianism is a key reference point in political discussion and analysis.

Reflect on the following questions as you learn about 1984. Whether you're preparing for an exam or preparing for a book club, these questions for study and discussion will strengthen your knowledge and understanding of the novel.

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 contemporary politics/society?
  • 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?