There are tons of scary stories—ones filled with ghosts or vampires or zombies. But in my opinion, there’s nothing scarier than the stories that show what the world could be like if left in the hands of the wrong people.
One of the books that demonstrate this point the best is George Orwell’s 1984. And while the content of this book might scare some, writing an essay about it scares others.
But don’t worry—I’m here to help you break it down and write a great 1984 analysis essay.
First, Figure Out What Your 1984 Analysis Essay Will Be About
You can’t have an essay without a topic, so the first thing you have to decide is what yours will be about. You may be thinking, “We’ve already covered this—it’s about 1984.”
Don’t try to cram all the stuff you know about the book into your essay. It never works out well. What ends up happening is that you either start summarizing instead of analyzing, or you just don’t have the time or the page count to fully flesh out your ideas.
A good analysis is a focused one. But what can you focus on in your 1984 analysis essay? Here are just a few suggestions.
Focus on a Character
O’Brien is an interesting character because he’s so mysterious. Winston looks up to O’Brien and thinks he’s a member of the Brotherhood, a supposed secret rebel group.
As the reader later discovers, O’Brien is actually a hardcore member of the Party. He ends up tricking Winston into admitting his disdain for the Party, which is a pretty big deal. But how can you focus your 1984 analysis essay on O’Brien?
As with any other character, you have to analyze O’Brien—instead of just telling the reader what he did in the story. Here are a couple directions you can take.
1. O’Brien as a father figure
Throughout the beginning of the story, Winston sees O’Brien as trustworthy and looks up to him. O’Brien is part of the Party’s innermost circle—he has power. And Winston thinks O’Brien is part of the resistance.
This establishes a friendship/mentorship. Even after O’Brien reveals his true intentions, he still acts as a type of father figure, though this time it’s a bit more malicious. He’s the one torturing Winston, but it comes from a place of caring.
O’Brien thinks he needs to purify Winston of his bad thoughts so that Winston can excel in society. After all, isn’t that what every father wants?
2. The Party got O’Brien long ago
While torturing Winston, O’Brien says that the Party got him long ago. Analyzing what this means can make a really great essay. His comment alludes to the fact that he might have once been as rebellious as Winston. It also alludes to how O’Brien realized that being powerful meant being obedient.
But does he buy into the Party’s ideology? Does he really prescribe to doublethink, or does he just put up the facade to avoid being tortured like Winston?
You can argue it either way in your 1984 analysis essay, but whichever stance you take, be sure to make it clear and back it up with evidence.
Need more help analyzing a character? Check out these posts:
- How to Write a Character Analysis That Works
- 2 Character Analysis Essay Examples With Character (with annotations)
Focus on a Theme
Themes are common in analytical essays, but they’re certainly not boring. Themes touch on certain truths the author wants to get across to the reader.
In the case of 1984, Orwell touches on several themes, but one that strikes me is the use of language to control people.
- Controlling what words people use: In the novel, the Party controls what people are and aren’t allowed to say, even in the privacy of their own homes. The Party bans words related to rebellion because, if there are no words for something, people can’t talk about it or spread ideas about it.
- Rewriting history: The Party also controls language through the rewriting of history. The Party “corrects” historical text to fit its latest whims, and because every reference is changed, what it writes becomes “truth.” This makes individuals rely less on their memories and perceptions, and more on what the Party says is true. That’s how the Party controls people.
Need more help with writing about a theme in your 1984 analysis? Try one of these posts for additional guidance and tips:
- How to Write a Literary Analysis That Works
- 8 Components of a Smart Literary Analysis
- Literary Analysis Essay Tips From a Kibin Editor
Don’t Forget Your Outline
The importance of creating an outline cannot be understated. Outlines are maps that guide you much more easily through the writing process.
Not only do you know where you’re going, but you also know every checkpoint you have to hit along the way. Without all the detours into unnecessary rambling, you can write faster and make your analysis a lot clearer.
Your outline doesn’t have to be super detailed, but it should lay out your argument and the evidence backing up your thesis. The example below is based off the discussion above about themes:
- Thesis statement: By controlling language, the Party was able to control the masses.
- Monitoring speech
- Ban on words related to rebellion
- No way to spread ideas
- No way to argue points against the Party
- Rewriting history
- Propaganda becomes truth
- People not able to trust their own memories
- Must rely on the Party for what’s “true”
You can have as many or as few body paragraphs as you need, and as many or as few supporting details as you need. The more time you spend on your outline now, the less time you’ll spend worrying about the details later.
Write a Killer Thesis Statement and Don’t Lose Steam
I’ve always found that starting an essay is the hardest part. But with a strong thesis statement, you set yourself up for a strong essay.
When writing a thesis statement, you want to be direct—take a firm stance, and explain exactly what you’ll be writing about in the body of your essay. This lets your readers know what they’re in for and gives you a reference point throughout your essay.
My thesis statement for the 1984 analysis essay outlined above might look something like this:
In 1984, George Orwell shows how language can be used as a form of control. The Party monitors and bans some language and rewrites history so that it can be seen as the only source of truth.
After you write your thesis statement, just follow your outline. Flesh it out with full sentences, details, and references to specific parts of the book. With a strong thesis and detailed outline, you can keep your momentum going until you wrap up your essay.
There are tons of things you could write about in a 1984 analysis essay, and just reading the couple of examples I’ve provided might not be enough for you. (Don’t worry, I don’t take offense to it.)
To give you a little more inspiration, here are some 1984 analysis essay examples you can look at:
- Hate in George Orwell’s Novel 1984
- Character Winston Smith in 1984
- A Character Analysis of Julia in 1984 by George Orwell
- The Themes of Monopolization of Power and Manipulation of People’s Thoughts in George Orwell’s 1984
Once you’re done with your essay, you can have the Kibin editors look over it. They’ll help you with more than just spelling and grammar—they’ll make sure you have a strong thesis and supporting details.
And don’t worry—they won’t turn you into the thought police for any rebellious things you write.
Now get to writing!