How well do you remember Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984?

By: Eric Totherow
Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

It's been almost seventy years since George Orwell published 1984. The world it describes is one of endless war, tyrannical government, omnipresent surveillance, and the systematic destruction of hope. Originally inspired by the Nazi and Soviet regimes, Orwell's book has proved uncomfortably timeless, and it is currently a bestseller in 2017. But how well do you remember the warnings of 1984?

What is the name of the constructed language in 1984?

The Party aims to gradually replace English with a vastly simplified version, known as Newspeak. This language uses simple modifiers to express value judgments, such as "doubleplusungood" to mean "terrible." The popularity of the novel has seen many Newspeak words adopted into modern English, such as "doublethink" and "unperson."

Which of these is not one of the slogans of the Party?

The Party's slogans appear to be contradictions, but the book Winston reads in the middle of the novel argues that they have their own dark logic. For example, "War is Peace" reflects the fact that the government depends on perpetual war to maintain its tight control over society, and that the nation would collapse if the war were to end, regardless of who won.

According to the Party, the world is divided into how many states?

According to the Party, there are three nations: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. The book Winston reads, "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism," argues that a state of perpetual war between three superpowers creates a situation where no nation can win, and that this paradoxically creates stability for the ruling governments. That said, the book is not necessarily reliable.

Which government office does Winston Smith work for?

The Ministry of Truth (or Minitrue in Newspeak) is in charge of media, censorship, and propaganda for the party. It was loosely based on the real-life Ministry of Information, where Orwell's wife worked during World War II.

What is Winston Smith’s job?

Winston is in charge of updating historical records, such as photographs and newspaper clippings, editing the past to correspond with the Party's statements and goals. Records that can't be updated are destroyed in the infamous "memory hole."

What is the name of the crime Winston commits?

Any signs of questioning the Party are treated as thoughtcrime, also called crimethink. Winston is well aware of how seriously the Party takes his crimes. In a famous line from the novel, he points out that "Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death."

Who is the Two-Minutes Hate directed against?

The Two-Minutes Hate focuses people's anger at Emmanuel Goldstein, who's presented as the leader of a rogue organization aiming to overthrow the State. This creates a scapegoat for the Party and redirects anger and violence away from it. Goldstein's role in the novel was heavily inspired by Leon Trotsky, who was also the basis for Snowball in "Animal Farm."

1984 is set in which city?

1984 is set in London. Orwell's wife had worked for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, and Orwell himself had been a policeman in Burma, working to enforce British laws. He drew upon these experiences in several of his books, including 1984.

At the beginning of the novel, what does Winston do that constitutes thoughtcrime?

Winston begins to keep a diary, making sure to write in a section of his room that isn't monitored. Writing discreetly on physical paper allows him to temporarily avoid the Party's surveillance, and he begins to write candidly about his criticisms of the Party and the need to resist. Unsurprisingly, the diary is eventually discovered.

At the beginning of the novel, which country is Oceania at war with?

At the beginning of the novel, Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Later in the novel, the military alliances shift, and Winston helps the government rewrite history such that "Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia."

What is the primary purpose of Newspeak?

Newspeak's vocabulary is designed to grow smaller every year, limiting what thoughts can be meaningfully expressed. Eventually, the Party hopes that the structure of the language will make it literally impossible to formulate anti-Party thoughts.

Winston remarks that, if there’s hope in the world, it lies with which group of people?

Winston notices that the Proles (proletariat) vastly outnumber the Party and that the Party puts relatively little effort into controlling them. The Proles suffer under the Party's leadership, but they're sufficiently distracted by Party-created entertainment, known as Prolefeed. Winston believes that awakening them to their position in society could lead to a revolt.

What is the official name of the Party?

Oceania is ruled by the English Socialist Party, better known by its Newspeak name Ingsoc. Although the party is ostensibly socialist, its actual policies have evolved to be purely totalitarian. This reflects Orwell's own frustrations with socialist movements, which he also famously criticized in "Animal Farm."

Which organization is Julia a member of?

Julia's membership in the Junior Anti-Sex League is ironic. As her own way of rebelling against Big Brother, she regularly has sex with Party members, culminating in an illegal affair with Winston, which eventually leads to their arrest and torture.

Which of these is not a Newspeak word?

Although it's often attributed to the novel, "Groupthink" was actually coined by William Whyte several years after the book was published.

What is Winston's greatest fear?

Winston is terrified of rats. The Party is aware of this, and in the final scenes of the book they threaten to torture him by letting rats eat his face.

Where do Winston and Julia conduct their affair?

Winston and Julia rent a room above an antique shop. They believe that, since the Party pays little attention to the Proles, they'll have the best chance of avoiding detection if they stay in a Prole neighborhood. This doesn't work; their affair is easily discovered.

How does the Party spy on Winston and Julia during their affair?

Although the room's owner is in fact a member of the Party, he doesn't directly spy on them. Instead, he rents them a room with a telescreen hidden behind a painting of St. Clement's Church. While the telescreen can't see the room, it allows the Party to hear everything Winston and Julia say.

Who reaches out to Winston and encourages his rebellion?

O'Brien presents himself as a member of Emmanuel Goldstein's rebellion, tells Winston he should fight the government, and gives him a subversive book explaining how the Party manipulates society. It's later revealed that O'Brien works for the Party directly and that this was a sting operation. He later tortures Winston's after he's arrested for thoughtcrime.

When O'Brien recruits Winston to resist the Party, what does Winston refuse to do?

When O'Brien pretends to be part of the rebellion, he asks Winston how far he's willing to go to overthrow the Party. O'Brien gets him to admit he would kill innocents, including children, for political gain, but he insists that if he had to choose between Julia and the rebellion, he would choose Julia.

Who wrote the book, "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism"?

The book, which claims to expose the inner workings of the Party, is attributed to Emmanuel Goldstein. Once Winston is imprisoned for thoughtcrime, O'Brien reveals that he wrote the book and distributed it to catch political dissidents. Throughout the novel, it's unclear whether Goldstein actually exists.

Complete this famous line of Winston's: “Sanity is not...”

Winston attempts to convince himself that, just because he's at odds with the rest of the world, this does not mean he's insane. Even if every other person becomes convinced that 2+2=5, he is right to think it's equal to 4. This idea, that the truth is independent of what the Party wants, is considered thoughtcrime.

What is "Airstrip One"?

"Airstrip One" is the new name for England. This is presented as merely one province of Oceania, a nation that covers much of the globe. That said, it's never clear how much territory the Party actually controls, and the characters never leave Airstrip One.

What childhood memory haunts Winston?

Winston remembers that the last time he saw his sister and mother, he stole their chocolate rations for himself and ran off. Feeling guilty, he came back, only to find they had been taken away. Even though his job is to rewrite the past, Winston can't rewrite his own. Despite his dreams of people coming together to fight the government, he knows firsthand that basic concerns for food and survival will inevitably get in the way.

Which ministry oversees Winston’s torture?

The Ministry of Love, also knows as "the place where there is no darkness," is responsible for ensuring a love of Big Brother. When Winston is arrested for thoughtcrime, he is taken to the Ministry and tortured until this "love" is restored.

According to O’Brien, what are Party neurologists trying to eliminate?

A recurring theme in the book is that the Party is threatened by human connection and free expression, both epitomized through sex. O'Brien explains that the Party is trying to minimize the sex drive and eliminate the orgasm, ensuring that the only motive for sex will be procreation.

What is the name of the room where Winston is tortured by O'Brien?

Room 101 hosts the final step in the Ministry of Love's torture process, in which a person is forced to face their greatest fear. For Winston, the room contains a cage filled with flesh-eating rats.

How does Winston's torture finally end?

As part of his torture, Winston does have to accept that 2+2 equals whatever the Party wants it to equal. This is not the end of his torture, however. Winston had previously said his commitment to Julia was even more important than resisting the Party, but he ultimately begs O'Brien to subject Julia to Room 101 in his place, proving that O'Brien has finally broken him.

What is Big Brother's real name?

Not only is Big Brother never given a name, it's not even clear if he really exists. He may be a fictional creation of the party, or he may be a real person who was later mythologized. Regardless, the concept of "Big Brother" has become iconic, both within the novel and outside it.

Which book did Orwell refer to as the model for 1984?

Although 1984 is frequently compared to all three books, Orwell was directly inspired by Yevgeny Zamyatin's Russian novel "We." Despite being written in the 1920s, it was banned in the Soviet Union and wasn't legally available there until 1988.

What metaphor does O’Brien infamously use to describe the future?

When O'Brien is torturing Winston, he attempts (successfully) to crush Winston's dream of an eventual revolt. O'Brien's exact quote is: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."

What was George Orwell’s real name?

Blair's pen name has become a household name, even to those who have never read his books. The adjective "Orwellian" is frequently applied (and arguably overused) in political discussion and debates.

What's noteworthy about the appendix on Newspeak?

The appendix describes the construction and purpose of Newspeak, but it's written in the past tense, as though Newspeak is no longer used. This is arguably the most (or only) optimistic section in the novel, as it implies the Party eventually loses control.

What is the final line of the book?

The final chapter of the book shows Winston's life after the Ministry of Love has tortured and released him. The chapter is written from his new perspective as a faithful adherent of the Party, showing that he no longer has feelings for Julia or a desire to revolt, and that he feels a deep love for Big Brother.

What is 2 + 2?

The notion that the Party could control even a seemingly objective truth, such as 2+2=4, was inspired by Soviet and Nazi propaganda, as well as the writings of Dostoevsky. Perhaps the Party's version should be considered an alternative fact.

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