Despair vs. Hope in 1984

By Jorgie Ingram

Thesis

Despair vs. Hope is one of the main themes in the book 1984, by George Orwell. In this book, the main character, Winston, is part of the party that rules in London. Where he lives, the citizens are very controlled and oppressed. I believe that despair vs. hope is one of the main themes of the story because there is so much despair in the story that the main character feels because of how strict and oppressive the civilization and his job is. Although there is this despair hanging over Winston, there is still hope. You can see how Winston knows there is hope and believes that there is still hope, despite all the despair, at points throughout the novel.

"She did not understand that there was no such thing as happiness, that the only victory lay in the far future, long after you were dead, that from the moment of declaring war on the party it was better to think of yourself as a corpse."

This quote describes the theme of despair very well. He wants to take over the party and get rid of how terrible and oppressive it is. This quote shows despair because it shows that he knows if their civilization stays like this there won't be any happiness. It also shows how he knows that and overtaking of the party will not happen anytime soon, at least not in his lifetime.

"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death." pg. 27

This quote shows despair because it shows how oppressed and controlled the people who live there are. Even thinking your own thoughts or rebellious thoughts is considered a crime and can be punishable by death. At this point in the story Winston is feeling despair because, as the book says,"he was already dead, he reflected." This shows that he knows he has committed thoughtcrime and he knows he's going to get punished. He doesn't believe there is hope at this point in the novel.

"Today there were fear, hatred and pain, but no dignity of emotion, or deep or complex sorrows." pg. 29

This shows despair because he is now reflecting on his mother's death, which was over thirty years ago. He explains how her death was a tragedy, and a tragedy like that wouldn't be possible anymore. He feels despair because he was too young to appreciate his mother and realize that she loved him. He also feels despair because he realizes love and deep emotion like that is no longer possible in a society like his own.

"If there is hope, wrote Winston, it lies in the proles." pg. 72

The proles are the working class where Winston lives. This shows how Winston sees hope in the future of London. He knows that maybe they can change the course of London or maybe try to stand up against the dictator because there are so many of them. He believes if they chose to overthrow the party, they could in no time. It shows how he finds hope through all the despair.

"At the sight of the words I love you, the desire to stay alive welled up inside him, and the taking of minor risks suddenly seemed stupid." pg. 110

This shows how he has hope because he suddenly feels a deep emotion. Earlier in the novel, he said at this time there was no way someone could feel deep emotion or have a personal relationship with someone. He said this when he was filled with despair and saw no hope. But, when Julia passed him a note that said "I love you," he suddenly gained a lot more hope for his future.
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"It's the only thing they can't do. They can make you say anything, but they can't make you believe it. They can't get inside you." pg. 167

This quote shows how Winston has hope and how he's trying to make Julia have hope too. He is trying to tell her no matter what they do to her,they can't change what she truly feels. I think this is very important because it also goes along with thoughtcrime and how you're not allowed to think rebellious thoughts. It shows how Winston has gained enough courage and hope to tell someone else it's okay to do this.

Star Rating

I would rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.


This book is about a dictatorship, and finding hope through a world of despair. It shows that even if there are a million bad things going on in the world, or in your life, there is still hope. I think that is a really good message to give the reader.


This book not only is convincing in how the government and civilization is run, but it also develops the characters and has many interesting aspects to it. There were very few grammatical errors, and if there were any, they didn't take away from the story at all.


I really liked the plot line and idea of the story, and I thought George Orwell's writing style was good. I thought George wrote this well and made it very interesting. The book was slow at parts, and a little hard to get into at the beginning, but overall it was a great book.