Study Guide

1984 Quotes By Theme & Chapter

By George Orwell

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We have quotes for 1984 around every theme listed below.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” 

George Orwell’s 1984 takes place in Oceania, and is one of the most (if not the most) well-known dystopian novels of all time. And you’ll hear it quoted and referenced frequently, by people on all sides of the political spectrum. Ever heard the phrases “big brother,” “doublethink” or “thought police” used in a political debate? They’re all from 1984, which should tell you something about the staying power of Orwell’s ideas.

Quotes are important for understanding 1984 because even the way that characters talk in this book is a symptom of how the Party is able to twist and manipulate information. Concepts like newspeak and thoughtcrime get right to the heart of how human beings try to control information to fit their own agendas. 

"Power is inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing."

Yeesh. Yeah, it’s not pretty, but no one said a dystopian novel about a totalitarian dictatorship was going to be a barrel of laughs. In fact, most people see the bleakness of 1984 as George Orwell’s warning against real-life political tyranny. It’s also widely considered to be one of the best books ever written about dictatorships, and everyman protagonist Winston Smith is a big part of its appeal.

"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past," repeated Winston obediently.

Winston shows us how a normal, reasonably intelligent person can be broken by a government that controls every aspect of people’s lives and thoughts. He starts out as someone who secretly questions the Party

"They can't get inside you. If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can't have any result whatever, you've beaten them."

But by the end of his encounters with O’Brien and the Ministry of Truth, he’s a husk of a person who’s fully indoctrinated into newspeak, doublethink and the Party. And the final horror of what Winston sees in the Ministry of Truth is something that has stuck with generations of readers and affected how they think about power and truth.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

More Important Quotes from 1984 by George Orwell

“The black mustachioed face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston's own.”

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten."


"You asked me once," said O'Brien, "what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world." 


“Does Big Brother exist?”

“Of course he exists. The Party exists. Big Brother is the embodiment of the Party.”

“Does he exist like you or me?”

“You do not exist”, said O’Brien.


The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”


Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.


It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.

Click on the quote theme you want to explore to see a breakdown by chapter and character.



Technology and Modernization

Memory and the Past



Language and Communication



Philosophical Viewpoints



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