Analyzing and Arguing For/Against 1984


One of the most common arguments made about 1984 is simply that “Orwell got it wrong.” “It’s impossible,” many students say. “Our government could never get that out of control.” Others contend that it’s a dated relic of a post-WWII society that was aghast at the notion of communism or socialism ever spreading again. If you are someone who felt this way reading the novel, you’re not alone! It’s a very common criticism of the novel, and one which you’ll address in essay three. In essay three, you’ll be answering the questions “Is 1984 still relevant? Should it still be taught and read?” In a 3-5 page essay, you’ll argue for or against keeping 1984 in the modern college curriculum. If you argue that it should be dropped, your essay should focus on what you consider the novel’s most significant weaknesses or irrelevancies. If you argue in favor of keeping the novel in the curriculum, pick one or more issues/themes addressed in the novel and persuade your audience that Orwell’s work remains relevant as it pertains to that/those topic(s) today. Make sure your argument is central; use the sources to illustrate and support your reasoning. Avoid merely summarizing the sources. Support your argument with references to 1984, as well as other appropriate evidence and examples from your readings, observations and experience. Indicate clearly which sources you are drawing from, whether through direct quotation, paraphrase or summary. In writing your essay, keep in mind that it is not necessary that you prove (or disprove) whether every detail of Orwell’s portrayal of a particular issue has come true (or not); rather, you should strive to convince your audience that students (and society) today will benefit (or won’t) from reading the novel.  Use evidence from the book as well as your own observations and reasoning to demonstrate to your audience whether or not Orwell’s warnings remain relevant today. Where appropriate, you should support your argument with quotes/information from credible sources outside of the novel (e.g., New York Times, CNN, Fox News, etc.). You may choose to include scholarly articles if you can find any that support your argument. Rhetorical decisions are always situational, and therefore they differ from paper to paper.  Consider what type of outside source your argument needs. As always, be sure to properly cite outside sources (MLA format – see Purdue Owl) internally and to include a Works Cited page. Some issues Orwell addresses which you might wish to consider include but are not limited to the following:  politics, warfare, extreme patriotism/nationalism/propaganda, torture, loss of individuality, groupthink, personal relationships, limits on free speech, the degradation of language, bread and circuses (e.g., formulaic literature and music, sports, pornographic and violent movies/television, the lottery) as a means of dumbing down and distracting the masses, technology/surveillance and privacy issues, etc.  Wherever possible, focus on the impact of these issues as they relate to the United States, as it is often too easy to point out the problems of others and be blind to our own. If you are arguing against keeping the book, you might want to critique elements of the book that you think are weak or irrelevant and you might also want to propose a replacement novel or activity which you feel better addresses students’ interests and intellectual needs. General Guidelines: 3-5 Pages MLA Format Minimum three sources (1984 will count as one), properly cited in-text and listed on Works Cited page

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