The most insightful George Orwell quotes from 1984, Animal Farm and more

Despite 1984 having been published over seventy years ago, Orwell's dystopian novel feels just as vital today. Here, we've curated our favourite George Orwell quotes from 1984, Animal Farm and Orwell's non-fiction work.

Few writers have had the effect on our cultural consciousness that George Orwell has, with ‘Big Brother’, ‘newspeak’ and ‘thoughtcrime’ now firmly embedded in the English language. His novel 1984 has influenced everything from reality TV to David Bowie’s album Diamond Dogs and has been adapted into a film, stage play and a ballet. The novel seems even more relevant in this era of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’, with sales of the book soaring following the election of Donald Trump.

In The Ministry of TruthDorian Lynskey explores the cultural history of this iconic modern novel, from Orwell’s influences to the publishing phenomenon it became. Here, we share some of the most insightful George Orwell quotes from 1984, Animal Farm and his non-fiction work. Discover Dorian's guide to George Orwell's books here


“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
 “What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself; who gives your arguments a fair hearing and simply persists in his lunacy?”
 “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
 “The best books . . .  are those that tell you what you know already.”
 “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
 “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
 “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”
 “If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love.”
 “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
 “Big Brother is Watching You.”
 “It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
“Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.”
 “The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”
 “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”
 “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
 “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”
 “The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”
 “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” 

Nineteen Eighty-Four

by George Orwell

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the most famous and influential novels of the 20th century. This terrifying dystopia, which he created in a time of great social and political unrest, remains acutely relevant and influential to this day.

Animal Farm quotes

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
 “Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.”
 “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
 “Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers.”
 “And remember also that in fighting against man we must not come to resemble him. Even when you have conquered him, do not adopt his vices.”
 “Let's face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.”
 “Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever.”
 “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” 

Animal Farm

by George Orwell

Animal Farm is a brilliant political satire and allegorical fable about the corrupting effects of power. Published in 1945 it endures as one of the most famous and influential works of fiction ever written and one of George Orwell's most renowned books.

Quotes from George Orwell’s non-fiction

“It is curious how people take it for granted that they have a right to preach at you and pray over you as soon as your income falls below a certain level.”
Down and Out in Paris and London
 “The stars are a free show; it don’t cost anything to use your eyes”
Down and Out in Paris and London
 “The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.”
Down and Out in Paris and London
 “In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable.”
Down and Out in Paris and London
 “It is only when you meet someone of a different culture from yourself that you begin to realise what your own beliefs really are.”
The Road to Wigan Pier
 “Here you come upon the important fact that every revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength from a secret conviction that nothing can be changed.”
The Road to Wigan Pier
 “We are living in a world in which nobody is free, in which hardly anybody is secure, in which it is almost impossible to be honest and to remain alive.”
The Road to Wigan Pier
 “All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”
Homage to Catalonia
 “There are occasions when it pays better to fight and be beaten than not to fight at all.”
Homage to Catalonia

Down and Out in Paris and London

by George Orwell

Towards the end of the 1920s, whilst living in Paris, George Orwell’s few remaining funds are stolen and he quickly falls into a life of severe poverty. Living hand to mouth, he shares squalid lodgings with Russian-born Boris and finds tedious and back-breaking work washing up in the bowels of Paris restaurant kitchens. On his return to England, he lives as a tramp, finding occasional shelter in often dangerous doss houses.

Down and Out in Paris and London was George Orwell’s first published book. It is at once a very personal account, and a vivid exposé of hard lives weighed down by poverty in France and England between the wars.

The Road to Wigan Pier

by George Orwell

The Road to Wigan Pier is a book in two parts: the first half is Orwell’s description of working-class life in industrial communities of the north of England, the second examines his own political views, advocating socialism whilst criticizing the socialist movement in England.

Homage to Catalonia

by George Orwell

Homage to Catalonia remains one of the most famous accounts of the Spanish Civil War. With characteristic scrutiny, Orwell questions the actions and motives of all sides whilst retaining his firm beliefs in human courage and the need for radical social change.

You might also like . . .

The Ministry of Truth

by Dorian Lynskey

George Orwell’s last novel, 1984, has become one of the most iconic modern novels in the world. In The Ministry of Truth, Dorian Lynskey explores Orwell’s influences, from his experiences in the Spanish Civil War to classic utopian and dystopian fiction. He also examines the phenomenon the book has become, and how the ways it has been read have changed over time. This remarkable and original book is a must for anyone with an interest in Orwell or how our culture has developed.