1984 Theme

Thematic Statement

~Violence can be both physical and mental, and can be used as a tool to break even the strongest willed.

EXPLANATION: In the novel Winston and the other characters are tortured both physically and mentally when they are caught by the thought police. The physical violence is used as a tool for psychological submission. In order to avoid torture the characters will believe anything and betray anyone.


1) "Do anything to me!" he yelled. "You've been starving me for weeks. Finish it off and let me die." Shoot me. Hang me. Sentence me to twenty-five years. Is there somebody else yo want me to give away? Just say who it is and I'll tell you anything you want. I don't care who it is or what you do to them. I've got a wife and three children. The biggest of them isn't six years old. You can take the whole lot of them and cut their throats in front of my eyes, and i'll stand by and watch it. But not Room 101." (3.1.71)

EXPLANATION: Rather than enduring intense torture the people would rather betray their friends and family to save themselves.

2) "What have you done with Julia?" said Winston.

O'Brien smiled again. "She betrayed you, Winston. Immediately-unreserved. I have seldom seen anyone come over to us so promptly. You would hardly recognize her if you saw her. All her rebelliousness, her deceit, her folly, her dirty-mindedness - everything has been burned out of her. It was perfect conversation, a textbook case. "You tortured her? " (3.2.32-34)

EXPLANATION: When O'Brien tells Winston how Julia betrayed him he automatically assumes that she was tortured. He relates her betrayal to physical torture.

3) "Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!"(3.5.24)

~When faced with torture Winston is willing to betray the only person who he is close to try to avoid it.