Nineteen Eighty Four
A Closer Look at the Text
Lesson 1: THE FRAME OF THE NOVEL - 75 minutes
Re-read with the End In Mind
Re-read Chapter 1 with the end of Nineteen Eighty Four in mind. Pick up all the threads of the novel in Chapter 1. List all the ways in which Chapter 1 of Nineteen Eighty Four a map of the novel?
Note: (in groups, on ledger or chart paper)
- descriptions of the physical setting
- the characterization of Winston
- the introduction of the other characters / entities
- the rendering of conflict between Winston and his world
- how all the themes of the novel are started; laid out
- how all connections to the real world are set (through allusion)
Consequently, by the end of Chapter One, the reader knows exactly what he novel is about.
Chapter One and the Appendix book end the novel. Both resonate all the thematic aspects of the novel.
1. Read first, then skim the Appendix. Identify, out loud, each separate theme of the novel as Orwell deals with them in the Appendix. Write them out in point form.
2. What is the narrative point of view of he Appendix? Is it part of the novel? How do you know? How does it change or explain the ending of the novel? What happens to your perception of the novel if you don't read it?
3. Skim over Chapter One again and try to see how Orwell builds, or escalates the tension of the setting. Pull out the specific lines that do this by saying them out loud. Write them to in point form.
B - Real Life Vocabulary Reverberations (Interesting Aside)
" Perhaps ironically, Hitler stole the term "homeland" from the 1920s and 1930s Zionist movement's goal to create a Jewish "homeland" in the Middle East, Hitler wanted to create a "racial" identity for the German people that was tied to German soil.
He wanted to create an identity that went beyond language and culture. He wanted to invent a "German race," and have Germany be that race's "homeland," all so he could sell to the German people their own racial superiority and use that to justify exterminating others."
Interesting Questions for Debate (Chapter One and The Appendix)
Is "thought dependent on words"? What other historical events and features of Orwell's world in Orwell's time, besides the political 'telescoping' of words, would have inspired Orwell to write about language the way he did in Nineteen Eighty Four?
Considering the following inclusion in the Appendix (check its context):
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT, THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, THAT THEY ARE ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN INALIENABLE RIGHTS, THAT AMONG THESE ARE LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
THAT TO SECURE THESE RIGHTS, GOVERNMENTS ARE INSTITUTED AMONG MEN, DERIVING THEIR POWERS FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED. THAT WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THOSE ENDS, IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE NEW GOVERNMENT...
What do you think Orwell's disposition toward America was?
From what perspective is the narrator writing Nineteen Eight Four? How do you know? How does that change your reading of the novel itself in retrospect?
LESSON 2 - CONNECTING DOTS - 75 minutes
Nietzche had a profound influence on the intellectuals of the twentieth century. His ideas were pervasive. Anyone who 'read', who was 'learned' read Nietzsche. Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four resonates Nietzche's philosophical tenets.
Listen to this twice. The second time make a list of the parallels to Nineteen Eighty Four.
The Fall Of Man
Orwell uses archetypal story of The Fall of Man as the skeleton on which he hangs the plot. This has a profound thematic resonance in Nineteen Eighty Four.
( Don't know the bible? Think about reading it - or at least watching movies about the stories. If you are going to continue studying, you'll need some knowledge of the traditional texts upon which our civilization is built. Familiarize yourself with the bible, the Koran and the Torah. )
Who is Trotsky?
One of the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution alongside Lenin and Stalin. Russian Civil War 1918 - 1923. Went on to oppose Stalin, writing a book which became the basis of Karl Marx ideology.
Churches of London
The inclusion of these churches in Nineteen Eighty Four in significant.
Before very tall buildings, the spires of the churches stuck out above everything else and formed the landmarks of London. The tip top of Saint Paul's Cathedral is 300 feet high and was the tallest building in London from the early eighteenth century (1720's) to 1962.
There were bylaws that forbid buildings taller than Saint Paul's so as not to obscure or diminish it.
Orwell renders the four 'Ministries' as landmarks that can be seen from all over the city, drawing an obvious parallel.
This parallel is interesting in that Orwell may have his tongue in his cheek. Others wold also have recognized the similarity between the church towers of London and the characteristics of the Ministries in 1984. It is a poke at the power of the churches - a deliberate parallel being drawn in terms of the power the church held over the common man -believers- in his own society. He satirizes this power in Nineteen Eighty Four.
A direct line of reasoning can be drawn from Nietzsche's "God is Dead" to Orwell's parallel between the churches of London and the Ministries of Nineteen Eighty Four.
The Church of St. Clemen's
What other connections can you think of?
Lesson 3 - EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN'S BOOK - 40 minutes
Choose the position about Emmanuel Goldstiens book you are most able to talk and write about. in groups of two or three, complete the particular question guide provided in the 'corner' to establish an thesis with at least one piece of evidence. Explain the connection. Be prepared to share. Write everyone's ideas and responses on the charts provided.
Social Commentary in Shaw's Pygmalion & Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four
a terse saying embodying a general truth, orastute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt,and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).
Skim over Goldstein's Book and pick out some of the aphorisms. Explain how they relate to the themes of Nineteen Eighty Four.
Bernard Shaw is also known for his aphorisms. His encapsulate the theme of his play. Can you pick aphorisms out of Pygmalion that can be compared to those of Emmanuel Goldstein's book?
Goldstein's Philosophy Satirizes Oceania Directly . . .
Orwell as a Prophet
Also an interesting (tangential) line of thought: What comparisons can you make between the thematic concerns of Orwell, particularly as articulated in the Goldstein book, and those of Shakespeare, particularly as they are articulated by Shakespeare's in The Tempest ?
Interesting Questions for Debate: Goldstein's Book
2. Make a table with two columns. On one side list characteristics of the Collective Oligarchy. On the other side list characteristics of Oceana. Where do they intersect? How do they differ? (If possible find quotations to support your thinking.) What is the meaning of that?
Lesson 4 - SYMBOLS, ARCHETYPES and ALLUSIONS - 30 mintues
One of the following symbols, archetypes or allusions are on it.
Without the aid of the internet (without your devices), skim to find incidences of the topic you've drawn. Name its figurative class. Determine its importance in developing character, conflict and theme as well as, as a literary (dramatic) device. Find quotes to support your analysis.
Time / Clocks
Ms. Parson's Drain Pipe
Julia (and younger women generally)
The Chestnut Tree
Mouths and Teeth
Lessons 5 - THE HELIX OF SEX AND HATE in 1984
Every time Winston comes up against sex, the language is political.
The sexual and the political are completely intertwined, and the language intensifies as the tension intensifies, and then levels out again as the new balance approaches.
Why is the language of sex and the rebellion against the party so intertwined? What is the significance of this pairing?
What about Julia?
What is her role In Winston's 'undoing'? What is her role in the party? What is her role in the novel as a character / literary device?
How does the story 'end' for her? What is the signficance of this?
2. Two teams:
Divvy up into pairs
Make up Right There, Between the Lines and Beyond the Text questions
One team asks the other team the questions for points.