Study Guide

1984 Rebellion

By George Orwell

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Rebellion theme in 1984

(Click the themes infographic to download.)

Attention all punks, misfits, and anyone else who has ever felt held down by the Man-1984 is all about rebellion. Believe it or not, the story shares the same general plot arc with the timeless children's classic, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." Seriously. Just like the cookie leads the mouse down a path of increasingly complicated tasks and actions, Winston's diary sets him on a trajectory to all out rebellion against the Party. The diary allows him a place to unleash all his rebellious thoughts, which gives him the confidence to fall in love with Julia, which in turn leads him to become concerned with grand-scale, organized resistance to the Party's rule. It all culminates with him joining the Brotherhood. Julia, on the other hand, contents herself with private acts of rebellion by engaging in sex and wearing makeup. The takeaway? Winston and Julia are not content with conforming to the Party's rule or principles, even though the Party devotes substantial resources to detecting rebellion and subversion. You know what they say, "If you give an oppressed man a diary..."

Questions About Rebellion

  1. How do Winston and Julia choose to rebel? How do they differ, and how are they similar?
  2. Rebellion through sex seems pretty customary, but rebellion by keeping a journal? Is the journal remotely effective? What about in the sense of a small, personal victory? 
  3. In what ways is Winston guilty of the same lack of ambition that Julia is, as far as rebellious dreams go?
  4. How different is Julia's private form of rebellion than Winston's hopes for grand-scale rebellion?
  5. Are Winston and Julia rebels without a cause? Would that be a problem? What constitutes a legitimate cause for rebellion?

Chew on This

As exemplified by the fact that the Party's impossible doctrines drive Winston and Julia to engage in rebellious acts, an overly oppressive state power often causes rebellion by giving its constituents the very causes for rebellion. This is the Party's fatal flaw.

Winston and Julia's love for each other is a more dangerous form of rebellion than their sexual relations are.

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