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Discuss the presentation of Big Brother in '1984'. Refer in

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Alex Gill Discuss the presentation of Big Brother in '1984'. Refer in Detail to Orwell's use of language in your answer. Big Brother plays a huge part in the society of Oceania. Orwell introduces Big Brother in the second paragraph; he does this by describing a poster with the supposed face of Big Brother. The face has a striking appearance: a man with black hair, black moustache and eyes that are hypnotic with the uncanny knack of following you around. Below the face were the words 'BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU'. The face and the words combined make you feel frightened and uneasy, thinking that this man is watching you day and night, while the term 'brother' suggests a cozy, comrade-like companion. This could not be farther from the truth. In essence, Big Brother is a god-like being who dominates his followers. This poster is much like the recruitment poster of 1914 on which Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of War declared 'Your Country Needs YOU!' Orwell Uses Big Brother as a symbol of powerful dictators, such as Stalin, Hitler, Franco and Mussolini. ...read more.


Winston kept a diary which he states is "Not illegal. Nothing was illegal, as there were no laws now." Although this is true Winston feels that the act of writing in his diary could lead to 25 years in a prison camp. This made him feel sick, he tried to keep writing but stopped, "it was a decisive act to start writing". The thought of being tortured was too much for Winston and this is why it made him feel sick. Another freedom that is lost is the idea of falling in love and being happily married. Suitable partners are selected by the Party which gets rid of any joy or physical happiness of being free to choose a partner without the Party getting involved. The most ruthless loss of freedom for most people is the liberty to have private thoughts. Winston adores his dreams and opinions but knows he would be punished for "thought crime" if they were discovered. The word Thought Police suggests that Big Brother can read the minds of all people and if they are let go is the equivalent of a serious crime and results in punishment. ...read more.


The new copies were not true and the old copies had not been true either.' The Ministry of Truth alters the past and changes the truth; they even have to power to vaporize certain people. For example, 'The Ministry of Plenty had said they would make 145 million pairs of boots last year, Sixty-two million pairs were made. Winston changed 145 million to 57 million. So the Party had made five million more boots last year than they expected to. But it was possible that no boots at all were made last year. And it was possible that nobody knew or cared how many boots were made. You could read in the newspapers that five million extra pairs of boots had been made and you could see that half the people in Oceania had no boots'. The past obsesses Winston, but by the last chapter he has been brainwashed to deny it, and dismisses his recollection of a happy moment playing with his mother as a 'false memory. This makes it seem as if there is no one left to care about the preservation of truth, apart from the reader. Big Brother is never seen but Orwell makes him ever present. This makes him a mysterious character and we wonder whether he is in face real. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This essay engages averagely with the task. There is a strong focus on how Big Brother is part of the plot, rather than looking at the techniques which Orwell uses to present him. Some of the points are good, looking ...

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Response to the question

This essay engages averagely with the task. There is a strong focus on how Big Brother is part of the plot, rather than looking at the techniques which Orwell uses to present him. Some of the points are good, looking at his similarities to common dictators, but there needs to be significantly more analysis of the language used and the way Big Brother is central to the structure. When the questions asks you to discuss, there needs to be some exploration of why Orwell chooses to present his as terrifying, or why he has him become so mysterious. There is no overarching argument here, and other than saying "we wonder whether he is in face real" there is little discussion of the reader response. To reach the top bands, there must be a sustained focus on how the reader responds and interprets the texts because of Orwell's techniques.

Level of analysis

The analysis here is lacking, as mentioned above. What is particularly striking about this essay is the amount of narration. For example, the paragraph "Winston does not agree with what Big Brother and the Party say about changing history, but he plays the role of a devoted party member" is appalling in the context of this essay. It adds nothing relevant to the argument, and there is no analysis whatsoever. Sentences simply retell what the story is, and don't look at how Orwell constructs Big Brother to have a specific effect. I would advise you structure your sentences as "Orwell has Big Brother appear omniscient to make the reader fear his power". By looking at Orwell's constructs, you will naturally begin to answer the question of why he uses such techniques, looking further into the effect on the reader and the strength of his techniques. Simply retelling the plot will gain you no credit, so it is vital you begin to analyse language, form and structure. The little analysis I could find "Like much of Orwell’s writing in '1984', opposites are used" is unfortunately not relevant whatsoever to how Big Brother is portrayed. You really need to stay on focus with the task to reach the top bands, else the examiner will simply write "not relevant" in the margin - no matter how good your analysis is, you will gain little to no credit for answering a different question. Beware of writing an answer to a question you want, rather than what is actually there!

Quality of writing

This essay lacks structure. The introduction doesn't really pose an argument, and just gives some background information to Big Brother in the novel. This is fine, but there needs to be a discussion of how Big Brother is presented, and look in detail at language being a technique as the question suggests. A strong argument posed in the introduction will ensure you stay on focus throughout. There is no conclusion here, other than a simple statement saying the reader see him as "mysterious". This is incredibly basic at GCSE level and it's a shame that no better conclusion could be made, as this question has so many avenues which can be explored. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are fine. It was a shame to see much of this essay write as if the characters and novel is real. Saying "Winston does not agree with what Big Brother and the Party say" suggests that you have misinterpreted that the novel is in fact constructed by Orwell for a reason.

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Reviewed by groat 16/04/2012

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