1984 Quotes by George Orwell
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George Orwell, one of the luminaries of the dystopian genre, commented overtly on the dangers of totalitarianism. His influence extends far beyond his prophetic bestseller and satirical novella Animal Farm ; Orwell also published an abundance of essays on politics, literature, and language, arguing zealously through his writing career that unclear language plants the seeds for political manipulation. With the continued increase in mass surveillance, Orwell's fiction seems more prescient than ever. Here are 15 George Orwell quotes from his fiction and nonfiction writing that serve as a chilling reminder of the terrors of totalitarianism. We should always make a point, Orwell says, to keep track of our beliefs and opinions—especially political ones—so that we can think critically about our behavior and how the world is being presented to us.
Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything, except the posters that were plastered everywhere. The black mustachioed face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. Down at street level another poster, torn at one corner, flapped fitfully in the wind, alternately covering and uncovering the single word INGSOC. A totalitarian power seeks to exert influence over its constituents by conveying the message that it is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient.
Quote 3: "A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. Quote 4: "one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party depended. Quote 7: "With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm. Quote 8: "'Who controls the past', ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. Quote 9: "Comrade Ogilvy, who had never existed in the present, now existed in the past, and when once the act of forgery was forgotten, he would exist just as authentically, and upon the same evidence, as Charlemagne or Julius Caesar. Quote "Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom.
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The sentiment is both a literal and symbolic reference to the way that the Party and the Thought Police use telescreens and informants to keep almost constant watch over everyone. To the party, and to the majority of the population, the historical specifics of Big Brother are unimportant compared to his symbolic meaning. Here Winston is rewriting a speech that Big Brother once gave. Even though the Party treats Big Brother as a real person, Big Brother functions as a symbolic repository for the good things that the Party has achieved. Conversely, Goldstein himself is the symbolic repository for everything bad that the Party wishes to blame on someone else. The Party is not satisfied to destroy its enemies but must make them its supporters.