Date of Completion

Spring 5-4-2018

Thesis Advisor(s)

Sarah Winter; Jennifer Sterling-Folker

Honors Major

Political Science


Literature in English, North America | Political Theory


In recent months since the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States in November 2016, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has seen a resurgence in sales, and terms invented by Orwell or brought about by his work, such as “Orwellian,” have re-entered the popular discourse. This is not a new phenomenon, however, as Nineteen Eighty-Four has had a unique impact on each of the generations that have read it, and the impact has stretched across racial, ethnic, political, and gender lines. This thesis project will examine the critical, popular, and scholarly reception of Nineteen Eighty-Four since its publication in 1949. Reviewers’ and commentators’ references common ideas, themes, and settings from the novel will be tracked using narrative theory concepts in order to map out an understanding of how the interpretations of the novel changed over time relative to major events in both American and world history. I conclude that, per the arguments of Professor Richard A. Posner in 1999, Nineteen Eighty-Four’s success and influence can still be attributed to its unique depiction of the logic of totalitarianism, providing readers with an understanding of how a purely totalitarian society would function both physically and, more importantly, psychologically in the minds of the population.