What are Proles in 1984?

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  • 0:04 Three Classes
  • 0:45 The Proles
  • 1:46 Analysis
  • 2:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

This lesson will examine the role of Proles in George Orwell's dystopian novel, '1984'. Proles made up almost 85 percent of the population in Oceania, but had no influence on the government.

Three Classes

In the dystopian world of George Orwell's 1984, three social classes make up the society of Oceania. At the top is the Inner Party, the controllers of the entire society and perhaps the only ones who are permitted to see the truth. Supporting them is a larger Outer Party, charged with maintaining the aura of truth surrounding the lies disseminated down to them by the Inner Party. They know the depth of the deceit practiced by the Inner Party, but are particularly watched by the Thought Police, and therefore have little recourse to really be able to do anything. However, the mass of the population belongs to neither of these groups. Instead, most people who live in Oceania are simply Proles.

The Proles

The Proles make up the overwhelming majority of the population of Oceania. By some estimates, almost 85% of the people of Oceania are Proles. But what are Proles? Simply put, they are an apolitical class. They have no interest in politics, instead preferring to follow the dramas of soap operas and sports. While Outer Party members may need some cajoling to stay attached to their telescreens, no such issue exists with the Proles. They simply aren't a threat. They live in slums and really only know a life of manual labor, sleep, and distraction through frivolous means.

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