Selected Quotations from Nineteen Eighty Four

It was conceivable that they watched everybody all the time

“Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.”


“Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer; though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing”

The ministries

“The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. So completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture that from the roof of Victory Mansions you could see all four of them simultaneously. They were the homes of the four ministries between which the entire apparatus of government was divided: the Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts; the Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war; the Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order; and the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs.”

Quiet Optimism

“He had set his features into the expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing the telescreen.”

Possible first clue of the conspiracy – foreshadowing 

“For some reason the telescreen in the living room was in an unusual position”


“It was partly the unusual geography of the room that had suggested to him the thing that he was now about to do.”

Compromising possession

“Even with nothing written in it, it was a compromising possession”

The pen was an archaic instrument

“The pen was an archaic instrument, seldom used even for signatures, and he had procured one, furtively and with some difficulty, simply because of a feeling that the beautiful creamy paper deserved to be written on with a real nib instead of being scratched with an ink pencil.”


“Apart from very short notes, it was usual to dictate everything into the speakwrite, which was of course impossible for his present purpose.”

For whom was he writing this diary?

“For whom, it suddenly occurred to him to wonder, was he writing this diary? For the future, for the unborn”

Winston’s Diary

“April 4th, 1984”

Junior Anti-sex league

“A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips.”

“He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed”


“He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity,”

The mutability of the past

“The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past.”

Tragic and sorrowful in a way no longer possible

“The thing that now suddenly struck Winston was that his mother’s death, nearly thirty years ago, had been tragic and sorrowful in a way that was no longer possible. Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason. His mother’s memory tore at his heart because she had died loving him, when he was too young and selfish to love her in return, and because somehow, he did not remember how, she had sacrificed herself to a conception of loyalty that was private and unalterable. Such things, he saw, could not happen today. ”

Atomic bomb

“Perhaps it was the time when the atomic bomb had fallen on Colchester.”

Old man post-apocalypse

“We didn’t ought to ’ave trusted ’em. I said so, Ma, didn’t I? That’s what come of trusting ’em. I said so all along. We didn’t ought to ’ave trusted the buggers.”


“Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control.”

Who controls the past

“Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

Reality control

“Reality control,” they called it; in Newspeak, “doublethink.”

Definition of Doublethink

“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word “doublethink” involved the use of doublethink.”

INGSOC – English Socialism

“He did not believe he had ever heard the word Ingsoc before 1960, but it was possible that in its Oldspeak form—“English Socialism,” that is to say—it had been current earlier.”

Memory Holes

“memory holes”

No-one knew, nor cared how many boots were produced.

“Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot”


“He knew that in the cubicle next to him the little woman with sandy hair toiled day in, day out, simply at tracking down and deleting from the press the names of people who had been vaporized and were therefore considered never to have existed. There was a certain fitness in this, since her own husband had been vaporized a couple of years earlier. ”



Oldspeak translation

“The reporting of Big Brother’s Order for the Day in the Times of December 3rd 1983 is extremely unsatisfactory and makes references to nonexistent persons. Rewrite it in full and submit your draft to higher authority before filing.”

Great Purges

“The great purges involving thousands of people, with public trials of traitors and thought-criminals who made abject confession of their crimes and were afterwards executed, were special showpieces not occurring oftener than once in a couple of years.”

We’re destroying words

“We’re destroying words—scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The eleventh edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050”

Newspeak makes Thoughtcrime impossible

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. ”

The Revolution will be complete

“The revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”

The Proles

“The proles are not human beings,”

Even the Party Slogans will disappear in their current form

“The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like ‘freedom is slavery’ when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

Some will be vaporised

“One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his face.”

Unwritten Law

“There was no law, not even an unwritten law, against frequenting the Chestnut Tree Café”

Spontaneous demonstrations

“irrepressible spontaneous demonstrations when workers marched out of factories and offices and paraded through the streets with banners voicing their gratitude to Big Brother for the new, happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed upon us.”




“and the remaining tobacco fell out of Winston’s cigarette.”

Face spasm – body attacking you, revealing your inner thoughts

“He thought of a man whom he had passed in the street a few weeks back: a quite ordinary-looking man, a Party member, aged thirty-five or forty, tallish and thin, carrying a briefcase. They were a few metres apart when the left side of the man’s face was suddenly contorted by a sort of spasm. It happened again just as they were passing one another: it was only a twitch, a quiver, rapid as the clicking of a camera shutter, but obviously habitual. He remembered thinking at the time: that poor devil is done for”

Katharine, his wife

“Katharine, his wife”

Mere debauchery

“Mere debauchery did not matter very much, so long as it was furtive and joyless, and only involved the women of a submerged and despised class. ”

Sex and pleasure

“The aim of the Party was not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control. Its real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act. ”


“All children were to be begotten by artificial insemination (artsem, it was called in Newspeak) and brought up in public institutions. ”


“Desire was thoughtcrime”

Keeping the proles suppressed via commerce

“His heart had leapt. It’s started! he had thought. A riot! The proles are breaking loose at last! When he had reached the spot it was to see a mob of two or three hundred women crowding round the stalls of a street market, with faces as tragic as though they had been the doomed passengers on a sinking ship. But at this moment the general despair broke down into a multitude of individual quarrels. It appeared that one of the stalls had been selling tin saucepans. They were wretched, flimsy things, but cooking pots of any kind were always difficult to get. Now the supply had unexpectedly given out. The successful women, bumped and jostled by the rest, were trying to make off with their saucepans while dozens of others clamored round the stall, accusing the stallkeeper of favouritism and of having more saucepans somewhere in reserve”

Discontent led nowhere

“And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because, being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances.”

Children’s History about capitalists

“These rich men were called capitalists.”

Evidence of falsification

“ He had held it between his fingers for as long as thirty seconds. In 1973, it must have been—at any rate, it was at about the time when he and Katharine had parted. But the really relevant date was seven or eight years earlier.”

Thought Police

“They were corpses waiting to be sent back to the grave.”

Telescreen heartbeat

“but you could not control the beating of your heart, and the telescreen was quite delicate enough to pick it up”

Even the fact of touching it…

“That was ten—eleven years ago. Today, probably, he would have kept that photograph. It was curious that the fact of having held it in his fingers seemed to him to make a difference even now, when the photograph itself, as well as the event it recorded, was only memory. Was the Party’s hold upon the past less strong, he wondered, because a piece of evidence which existed no longer had once existed?”


“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?”


“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

No spare time

“In principle a Party member had no spare time”


“It was assumed that when he was not working, eating, or sleeping he would be taking part in some kind of communal recreations; to do anything that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself, was always slightly dangerous. There was a word for it in Newspeak: ownlife, it was called, meaning individualism and eccentricity. ”

Common conversation

“‘Yes,’ I says to ’er, ‘that’s all very well,’ I says. ‘But if you’d of been in my place you’d of done the same as what I done. It’s easy to criticize,’ I says, ‘but you ain’t got the same problems as what I got.’”

“Ah,” said the other, “that’s jest it. That’s jest where it is.”


“The lottery, with its weekly pay out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. ”

The Party’s version of social history

“The history books say that life before the revolution was completely different from what it is now. There was the most terrible oppression, injustice, poverty—worse than anything we can imagine. Here in London, the great mass of the people never had enough to eat from birth to death. Half of them hadn’t even boots on their feet. They worked twelve hours a day, they left school at nine, they slept ten in a room. And at the same time there were a very few people, only a few thousands—the capitalists, they were called—who were rich and powerful. They owned everything that there was to own. They lived in great gorgeous houses with thirty servants, they rode about in motor cars and four-horse carriages, they drank champagne, they wore top hats—”

Anything old was vaguely suspect

“Anything old, and for that matter anything beautiful, was always vaguely suspect”

No Telescreen

“I never had one of those things. Too expensive. And I never seemed to feel the need of it, somehow. ”

Fighting against ones own body

“ It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy but always against one’s own body.”

Once you have succumbed to Thoughtcrime

“When once you had succumbed to thoughtcrime it was certain that by a given date you would be dead. ”

I love you

“I love you.”

Prime-printed postcards 

“For the messages that it was occasionally necessary to send, there were printed postcards with long lists of phrases, and you struck out the ones that were inapplicable”

Still doesn’t even know her name

“the girl”

Consider this in reference to the Shengen agreement

“For distances of less than a hundred kilometres it was not necessary to get your passport endorsed,”

Freedom of speech – Goldstein

Redirect hatred

“It was even possible, at moments, to switch one’s hatred this way or that by a voluntary act.”

He had committed a Thoughtcrime

“He had committed—would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper—the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”

Still doesn’t even know her name

“the girl”

Consider this in reference to the Shengen agreement

“For distances of less than a hundred kilometres it was not necessary to get your passport endorsed,”

Notes From: George Orwell. “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

“The man’s face was suddenly contorted by a sort of spasm…. it was only a twitch, a quiver, rapid as the clicking of a camera shutter… that poor devil is done for”

“The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself … There was even a word for it in New- speak: FACECRIME, it was called.”

“the word UNCOLD meant ‘warm’, while PLUSCOLD and DOUBLEPLUSCOLD meant, respectively, ‘very cold’ and ‘superlatively cold’.”

“consciously introduce unconscious and then once again to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis they had just performed.”

“it is terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when in range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away.”

“kept his back turned to the telescreen, it was safer, though as he well knew, even a back could be reveling.

Posted by Christopher Waugh

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” (Katherine Mansfield)

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