George Orwell’s novel “1984” has long since been one of my favourite novels, and has even had an influence on the English language. Many of Orwell’s coinages, such as Big Brother, Room 101 and Newspeak, are now comonly used when describing totalitarian or overarching behaviour by an authority. Even the author’s name has come to be used in adjective form: “Orwellian” can be used to describe any real world scenario reminiscent of his novel “1984”. In the novel, Orwell portrays a snapshot of how the various mechanisms of a totalitarian state affect individuals among the population. Many literary analyses have also highlighted parallels between behaviours and events in the story and recent or current real-world situations. With this novel, Orwell predicted the intrusion of technology into people’s everday lives, for example, and some fans even see modern inventions (e.g. surveillance cameras) as Orwell’s propechies coming true.
For EFL/ESOL teachers, the novel is not only an interesting read, but has plenty of potential for use in the classroom. In its unadapted form, the novel is probably too difficult for all but the most advanced learners, but lower-level learners could also work with excerpts or simplified versions. Film versions of the story can also aid comprehension. Reading the novel can either be set as homework (checked regularly with comprehension or vocabulary and other language tasks), or made into a class project, where students act out different scenes.
The following tasks are intended to be completed after the entire novel has been read, and will check that students have understood the plot. The tasks will also provide opportunities for them to practise skills such as summarising, defining, and justifying their own opinions. Further follow-up tasks and discussions will follow in a later post.
WORKSHEET FOR STUDENTS
|Characters||Match the character on the right to the characteristic on the left. One character and one characteristic are not used. Justify your decisions with an example from the story.
a. Antique Dealer/Thought Police Parsons
b. Winston’s “instructor” Syme
c. War hero Goldstein
d. His children turned him in. Charrington
e. Wrote Newspeak Latimer
f. Worked in Newspeak Rutherford
g. Memorised Shakespeare Winston
h. Seen in the Chestnut Tree Cafe early Julia
i. “The last man” Comrade Oglivy
j. Arch-enemy O’Brien
|Events||Put the following events in the order of their occurrence within the novel.Link the chronology of events using adverbials of time and other transitions.
Winston begins to love Big Brother
Winston first sees and hates Julia
Winston is shot
Julia and Winston meet in the woods
Julia and Winston are arrested in the buff
The Old World battles with nuclear weapons
Julia passes Winston a note
O’Brien places the rats in Winston’s face
Winston’s Mom and Sister disappear
Winston is taken to Room 101
|Quotes||Identify the following quotes: Who said it and why is the quote important or significant?
1. “If you keep the small rules, you can break the big ones.”
2. “Of all the horrors in the world-a rat!!”
3. “You do not exist.”
4. “It’s a beautiful thing-the destruction of words.”
5. “…for the souls of men awaited the coming of the stars.”
6. “We are the dead.”
7. “I betrayed you.”
8. “We will meet again in a place where there is no darkness.”
9. “I hate purity. I hate goodness.”
10. “I tried to do my best for the party, didn’t I? I’ll get off with five years, don’t you think?”
|Definitions||Define the following words as they were used in “1984”.
- 1984 – George Orwell (readbythefireplace.wordpress.com)
- Books: 1984 by George Orwell (nnitschke.wordpress.com)
- 1984 Orwell PPT (slideshare.net)
- 1984: Appendix and Afterword (smalldropsofinkbritishliterature.wordpress.com)