In "1984" it's a crime to think. That's what "thought crime" means.


The goal of Big Brother is to stop people from thinking, ie "crime stop".
~ Jackie Jura

To Orwell Today,

Hello! I'm a theater student in New York and I plan on directing 1984 as my senior thesis. Your site is very helpful in the research i have been doing and I want to thank you. I also need your advice. The adaptation that i am using isnt very good so i have been rewriting slowly as i learn more about how relavant the plot and themes are today. However, there is one thing I'm very confused about. In the book Winston finds out that the thought police have been watching him closly for seven years. In the play they have watched him for several months. What I am confused about is why O'Brien doesn't just nail him as soon as he commits the first crime. Why does he wait so long? It doesn't make sense to me and I was wondering if you could share your oppinion on the subject. Thank-you so much for your time.

Kellie Fernald

Greetings Kellie,

Your confusion is kind of similar to Winston's confusion about why the Party doesn't just kill people outright instead of torturing them first and THEN killing them. He wrote in his diary:

"I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY."

But basically it comes down to this: In 1984 it's a crime to think. That's what "thought crime" means. The goal of Big Brother is to stop people from thinking, ie "crime stop".

In the Ministry of Love (Torture) O'Brien tells Winston that the Party isn't interested in the stupid crimes he's committed but in controlling his thoughts so that in the future he will be incapable of having an incorrect thought (like political correctness nowadays). So O'Brien watched Winston for as long as it took to learn all he needed to know in order to use it against him later, like what he did with Winston's fear of rats and Winston's fear of losing love for Julia.

Re-read themes 32.Enemies of the Party and 31.Love Nest where Winston is expressing his inner thoughts and keep in mind that everything he is saying is being taped by the thought police and listened to later by O'Brien.

All the best in your 1984 theatre production which will be a great learning experience for everyone and a chance to creatively express Orwell's masterpiece. It sure beats popping a tape into the video machine and watching the lame version put out by Hollywood.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - Re-read (among others) 5.Pyramidal New World Order and 20.Thought Police & Snitches and 21.Crimestop and 17.Falsification of Past and 27.Goodthink and 41.The Party Tell's 'How' and 42.The Party Tells 'Why' and 43.Winston Talks in Sleep and 44.Room 101 and 45.Chestnut Tree Cafe and 1984 A BAD MOVIE

To Orwell Today,

Thank-you so much for your response! I never thought of it that way. You've really opened up an interesting doorway for me creatively. If I have any more questions I will most likely go directly to you for answers. Thank-you again!


PS - I'm not sure where your located, but I'll send you information about the show. That way if your in the NY area you may be able to catch the performance.

Hi again Kellie

Answering the questions readers ask causes me to delve ever deeper into the book and learn more about it myself.

I'm located above the 49th parallel and regrettably I don't think I'll be travelling to the Big Apple anytime soon. But I definitely would be interested in information about the show and will announce it on the website when your performance hits Broadway.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~