The Brotherhood (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

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The Brotherhood is a fictional organization in George Orwell's novel, Nineteen-Eighty Four. It is mysterious in origin and operations, purportedly working to bring down The Party.


The Brotherhood was supposedly founded by a man named Emmanuel Goldstein, one of the members of the original inner circle of the Party just below Big Brother himself. Like most leaders of the revolution, Goldstein turned on Big Brother but, unlike the others, he was somehow able to escape, and founded the Brotherhood. It remains unknown whether or not Goldstein exists and is still active, but if so, his location is unknown.



The Brotherhood cannot be said to be an "active" resistance movement, because its main goal is simply increasing in size slowly, in the hopes that generations in the future might pose a threat and overthrow the party. In order to build up to that day, the organisation's purpose is to spread knowledge about the true nature of society, as well as to spread corruption by promoting prostitution, drug abuse, thoughtcrime, terrorism, and other forms of criminal activities that would weaken the Party in any way possible. In the film of the same name, O'Brien implies that perhaps in "A thousand years" there might be an attack on the party by The Brotherhood. However, in the present day, even if they are not active enough to actually cause any damage, the Party's propaganda blames virtually anything that goes wrong on sabotage by Brotherhood spies.


Supposedly, Brotherhood members do not even know one another. All they usually get to know about the organisation is that it exists and that they belong to it. All Brotherhood members are expected to be captured eventually, and when they are, they will not be rescued, as to protect the secrecy of the mysterious organization – most attempt suicide when captured if it is possible. As a result of their extreme likelihood of capture, Brotherhood members do not know more than 3–4 other members of the party, and if captured they consequently cannot betray any significant number of other members.

The Brotherhood's existence[edit]

Very little information is given whether the Brotherhood, or anything like it, actually exists in the novel. O'Brien heavily implies to Smith that all of the details of the Brotherhood and the very existence of Emmanuel Goldstein are fabrications in order to capture thought criminals and serve as a convenient scapegoat for the Party. O'Brien does allow that there might, hypothetically, be a real resistance movement similar to the fake Brotherhood, but if so, it has hidden itself so well that the Party has never detected it (the implication being, of course, that a movement so secret could never attain the level of organisation needed to genuinely threaten the regime).

The idea of the Brotherhood is, however, very real and is frequently used by the Party as a ploy for finding potential thought criminals. Winston Smith, the novel's protagonist, is contacted discreetly by O'Brien. O'Brien pretends to be a member of the Brotherhood. However, he is really working for the Party, lying to gain Winston's trust and denounce him as a thought criminal. When Winston is captured and tortured inside the Ministry of Love, he asks O'Brien if the Brotherhood does exist. He tells Winston that that is a question he will never get an answer to, so it remains unknown whether it really exists or is merely an illusion created by the party.


The Brotherhood bears some resemblance to a real OGPU operation known as the Trust Operation, which was a fake anti-communist front group established to lure enemies of the Bolsheviks back from exile.