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US - English 12 - Orwell (Becker): Assignment





Orwell’s vision in 1984 portrays a government that relies on aggressive manipulation to control Party members like main character Winston Smith.  Although life in OW is not as oppressive as it is in Oceania, parallel control techniques abound. Consider the many ways that our media and its news stories resemble Big Brother’s Party and its propaganda practices. For your essay, select one media focus as described below.  Then, develop an essay in which you explore HOW your media focus exhibits one or more of the following Party Control Techniques: Newspeak, Doublethink, Propaganda, Hate, Extreme Surveillance, False News, or the Revision of History.


Sample Topics

  1. Analyze a Contemporary News Story in Orwellian terms.  Choose a current or recent news story and explore how its content and/or delivery contain Orwellian elements.  These could be in the STORY ITSELF as well as the NEWS MEDIA’S REPORTING PROCESS (different news outlets). Paragraph topics should be driven by Orwellian techniques. Details from the news story are essential to a successful essay. Sample stories include Russian manipulation of information to sway our election, political coverage that clearly stokes anger or hatred, political leaders asserting falsehoods that go unchecked in the mainstream media,  journalists or news outlets producing fake news (Jayson Blair), and/or the creation of Comrade Ogilvy-like propaganda (Jessica Lynch story).


  1. The Party=The Media
  1. Note how Media & Technology today function as Orwellian surveillance tools. Explore how the many instances of contemporary data collection about our habits could add up to an extremely Orwellian scenario. Could Google become the new Thought Police?


  1. Discuss HOW the novel’s strange comments about The Party could be applied to the Media in our world.  Specifically, compare the Party’s tactics and/or the EFFECTS of these tactics to Media tactics or Media effects.  How does our Media “hollow [us] out” and make us incapable of feeling normal emotion?  How is our Media dumbing us down, distracting us like proles, and making ignorance into strength?  Do we live amidst a narrower range of words and thoughts?


  1. Compare Winston’s self-destructive quest to behaviors portrayed and encouraged by OW media.  Discuss HOW the Media Party (or another Party in OW) lures us to follow a self-destructive quest just as the Party does in the novel.  You might examine technology itself, considering screen time and consumption habits, or you could examine media content (glorifying insane behavior on “reality” shows or fail videos). You might even focus on the marketing of unhealthy products like alcohol or tobacco or fast food or nutritional supplements.


  1. Newspeak, Doublethink, and Our World.  Propose a custom topic dealing with Newspeak and/or Doublethink. This topic MUST have a clear and original focus in Our World; this will be the essay’s unifying topic. Note that throwing together several disparate examples of Newspeak will not constitute an essay. 


Contemporary Examples: Doubleplusgood essays will rely on original examples of contemporary parallels as opposed to those examples reviewed in class. Writing a rough draft and conferencing with your teacher will help you focus your thinking and your editing!


Organization: In your introduction, be sure to establish the Orwellian principles that are relevant to your media focus. That will be your thesis.  In the body of the essay, you might cover 1984 in a detailed paragraph at the beginning and then briefly refer back to the novel in subsequent paragraphs. Or you might shift back and forth between your media focus and its Orwellian implications. Just keep your main topic in focus.


Emphasis: More attention should be given to your media focus since this demonstrates your own thinking about your topic.  Be sure to use precise details about your media example (along with a few choice quotes from the novel). Note that GENERAL comments about technology or people’s habits or a television series or a kind of media make for a weak essay. Here is one ex. of a bland and obvious generality: “Everyone today is addicted to an iPhone, so people are practically clones looking at their screens all the time.”  Refer to specific news stories, news outlets, apps, tech functions, games, places, movies, television episodes, ads, distinctive habits of use, or distinctive groups of people and specific human habits.  Use your research to uncover some specific details. The more precise your example, the better your essay!


Due Dates

Tuesday April 2-Topic Selection Due

Friday April 5 Feb. 15-Draft of Body Paragraphs Due (all quotes included)

Monday April 8–Final Revisions During Class.  Essay Due via

See your teacher to discuss your topic and your draft!!!


A successful essay will have:

·A precise Media focus and a clear explanation of its Orwellian qualities. Thesis.

·An introduction which establishes a media context for your analysis.

  • Clear explanation of all relevant Orwellian principle(s).
  • Body paragraphs containing clear topic sentences, meaningful quotes from the novel, and quotes from news articles describing your media subject.

·This assignment asks you to focus on journalistic sources. Multiple sources are preferable, and these must be cited in your text. See your librarian for tips on journalistic research.

·A conclusion that reflects on the extent to which the OW Media is Orwellian.

·Mature tone, dynamic word choice, and varied sentence structure.

  • Careful proofreading to eliminate sentence fragments, comma errors, and basic drafting errors. 

·Proper use of MLA format for all aspects of the paper, including citations.


Mrs. Paschal

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Maureen Paschal
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