Study Guide

1984 Warfare

By George Orwell

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Warfare theme in 1984

(Click the themes infographic to download.)

War. Huh. What is it good for

Absolutely nothing? Not quite.

1984 depicts warfare as a necessary tool and symptom of a totalitarian state. Oceania, one of the three superstates of the world, is in constant warfare with one of the other two. This is necessary, as warfare keeps citizens in constant flux and fear - they then willingly submit to the control of the Party. Only after this submission can the Party regulate supply and demand to ensure classism, and ultimately, power.

Even though we never visit the front lines, war is an ever-present force in this story, lurking in the background like a big angry hippo.

Questions About Warfare


  1. Why is it necessary for Oceania to be engaged in perpetual war?
  2. Adding to the first question, why does it have to be perpetual war with a constantly shifting enemy? Why TWO other superstates, instead of one?
  3. Why does Winston seem to be affected (or unaffected) by the perpetual state of war in Oceania?


Chew on This

It is necessary for Oceanians to believe that Oceania is in a constant state of warfare with the other superpowers, because the presence of a common enemy prevents internal conflict.

The constant bombing and warfare in Oceania are simulated by the Party for the purpose of manipulating its constituents, as evidenced by subtle inconsistencies in the book.

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