Interesting Literature

A Summary and Analysis of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four , completed in 1948 and published a year later, is a classic example of dystopian fiction. Indeed, it’s surely the most famous dystopian novel in the world, even if its ideas are known by far more people than have actually read it. (According to at least one survey , Nineteen Eighty-Four is the book people most often claim to have read when they haven’t.)

Like many novels that are more known about than are carefully read and analysed, Nineteen Eighty-Four is actually a more complex work than the label ‘nightmare dystopian vision’ can convey. Before we offer an analysis of the novel’s themes and origins, let’s briefly recap the plot.

Nineteen Eighty-Four : plot summary

In the year 1984, Britain has been renamed Airstrip One and is a province of Oceania, a vast totalitarian superstate ruled by ‘the Party’, whose politics are described as Ingsoc (‘English Socialism’). Big Brother is the leader of the Party, which keeps its citizens in a perpetual state of fear and submission through a variety of means.

Surveillance is a key part of the novel’s world, with hidden microphones (which are found in the countryside as well as urban areas, and can identify not only what is said but also who says it) and two-way telescreen monitors being used to root out any dissidents, who disappear from society with all trace of their existence wiped out.

They become, in the language of Newspeak (the language used by people in the novel), ‘unpersons’. People are short of food, perpetually on the brink of starvation, and going about in fear for their lives.

The novel’s setting is London, where Trafalgar Square has been renamed Victory Square and the statue of Horatio Nelson atop Nelson’s Column has been replaced by one of Big Brother. Through such touches, Orwell defamiliarises the London of the 1940s which the original readers would have recognised, showing how the London they know might be transformed under a totalitarian regime.

The novel’s protagonist is Winston Smith, who works at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting historical records so they are consistent with the state’s latest version of history. However, even though his day job involves doing the work of the Party, Winston longs to escape the oppressive control of the Party, hoping for a rebellion.

Winston meets the owner of an antique shop named Mr Charrington, from whom he buys a diary in which he can record his true feelings towards the Party. Believing the working-class ‘proles’ are the key to a revolution, Winston visits them, but is disappointed to find them wholly lacking in any political understanding.

Meanwhile, hearing of the existence of an underground resistance movement known as the Brotherhood – which has been formed by the rival of Big Brother, a man named Emmanuel Goldstein – Winston suspects that O’Brien, who also works with him, is involved with this resistance.

At lunch with another colleague, named Syme, Winston learns that the English language is being rewritten as Newspeak so as to control and influence people’s thought, the idea being that if the word for an idea doesn’t exist in the language, people will be unable to think about it.

Winston meets a woman named Julia who works for the Ministry of Truth, maintaining novel-writing machines, but believes she is a Party spy sent to watch him. But then Julia passes a clandestine love message to him and the two begin an affair – which is itself illicit since the Party decrees that sex is for reproduction alone, rather than pleasure.

We gradually learn more about Winston’s past, including his marriage to Katherine, from whom he is now separated. Syme, who had been working on Newspeak, disappears in mysterious circumstances: something Winston had predicted.

O’Brien invites Winston to his flat, declaring himself – as Winston had also predicted – a member of the Brotherhood, the resistance against the Party. He gives Winston a copy of the book written by Goldstein, the leader of the Brotherhood.

When Oceania’s enemy changes during the ritual Hate Week, Winston is tasked with making further historical revisions to old newspapers and documents to reflect this change.

Meanwhile, Winston and Julia secretly read Goldstein’s book, which explains how the Party maintains its totalitarian power. As Winston had suspected, the secret to overthrowing the Party lies in the vast mass of the population known as the ‘proles’ (derived from ‘proletarian’, Marx’s term for the working classes). It argues that the Party can be overthrown if proles rise up against it.

But shortly after this, Winston and Julia are arrested, having been shopped to the authorities by Mr Charrington (whose flat above his shop they had been using for their illicit meetings). It turns out that both he and O’Brien work for the Thought Police, on behalf of the Party.

At the Ministry of Love, O’Brien tells Winston that Goldstein’s book was actually written by him and other Party members, and that the Brotherhood may not even exist. Winston endures torture and starvation in an attempt to grind him down so he will accept Big Brother.

In Room 101, a room in which a prisoner is exposed to their greatest fear, Winston is placed in front of a wire cage containing rats, which he fears above all else. Winston betrays Julia, wishing she could take his place and endure this suffering instead.

His reprogramming complete, Winston is allowed to go free, but he is essentially living under a death sentence: he knows that one day he will be summoned by the authorities and shot for his former treachery.

He meets Julia one day, and learns that she was subjected to torture at the Ministry of Love as well. They have both betrayed each other, and part ways. The novel ends with Winston accepting, after all, that the Party has won and that ‘he loved Big Brother.’

Nineteen Eighty-Four : analysis

Nineteen Eighty-Four is probably the most famous novel about totalitarianism, and about the dangers of allowing a one-party state where democracy, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and even freedom of thought are all outlawed. The novel is often analysed as a warning about the dangers of allowing a creeping totalitarianism into Britain, after the horrors of such regimes in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and elsewhere had been witnessed.

Because of this quality of the book, it is often called ‘prophetic’ and a ‘nightmare vision of the future’, among other things.

However, books set in the future are rarely simply about the future. They are not mere speculation, but are grounded in the circumstances in which they were written.

Indeed, we might go so far as to say that most dystopian novels, whilst nominally set in an imagined future, are really using their future setting to reflect on what are already firmly established social or political ideas. In the case of Orwell and Nineteen Eighty-Four , this means the novel reflects the London of the 1940s.

By the time he came to write the novel, Orwell already had a long-standing interest in using his writing to highlight the horrors of totalitarianism around the world, especially following his experience fighting in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. As Orwell put it in his essay ‘ Why I Write ’, all of his serious work written since 1936 was written ‘ against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism’.

In his analysis of Nineteen Eighty-Four in his study of Orwell, George Orwell (Reader’s Guides) , Jeffrey Meyers argues convincingly that, rather than being a nightmare vision of the future, a prophetic or speculative work, Orwell’s novel is actually a ‘realistic synthesis and rearrangement of familiar materials’ – indeed, as much of Orwell’s best work is.

His talent lay not in original imaginative thinking but in clear-headed critical analysis of things as they are: his essays are a prime example of this. Nineteen Eighty-Four is, in Meyer’s words, ‘realistic rather than fantastic’.

Indeed, Orwell himself stated that although the novel was ‘in a sense a fantasy’, it is written in the form of the naturalistic novel, with its themes and ideas having been already ‘partly realised in Communism and fascism’. Orwell’s intention, as stated by Orwell himself, was to take the totalitarian ideas that had ‘taken root’ in the minds of intellectuals all over Europe, and draw them out ‘to their logical consequences’.

Like much classic speculative fiction – the novels and stories of J. G. Ballard offer another example – the futuristic vision of the author is more a reflection of contemporary anxieties and concerns. Meyers goes so far as to argue that Nineteen Eighty-Four is actually the political regimes of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia ‘transposed’ into London of the early 1940s, during the Second World War.

Certainly, many of the most famous features of Nineteen Eighty-Four were suggested to Orwell by his time working at the BBC in London in the first half of the 1940s: it is well-known that the Ministry of Truth was based on the bureaucratic BBC with its propaganda department, while the infamous Room 101 was supposedly named after a room of that number in the BBC building, in which Orwell had to endure tedious meetings.

The technology of the novel, too, was familiar by the 1940s, involving little innovation or leaps of imagination from Orwell (‘telescreens’ being a natural extension of the television set: BBC TV had been established in 1936, although the Second World War pushed back its development somewhat).

Orwell learned much about the workings of Stalinism from reading Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed (1937), written by one of the leading figures in the Russian Revolution of 1917 who saw Stalinist Russia as the antithesis of what Trotsky, Lenin, and those early revolutionaries had been striving to achieve. (This would also be important for Orwell’s Animal Farm , of course.)

And indeed, many of the details surrounding censorship – the rewriting of history, the suppression of dissident literature, the control of the language people use to express themselves and even to think in – were also derived from Orwell’s reading of life in Soviet Russia. Surveillance was also a key element of the Stalinist regime, as in other Communist countries in Europe.

The moustachioed figure of Big Brother in Nineteen Eighty-Four recalls nobody so much as Josef Stalin himself. Not only the ideas of ‘thought crime’ and ‘thought police’, but even the terms themselves, predate Orwell’s use of them: they were first recorded in a 1934 book about Japan.

One of the key questions Winston asks himself in Nineteen Eighty-Four is what the Party is trying to achieve. O’Brien’s answer is simple: the maintaining of power for its own sake. Many human beings want to control other human beings, and they can persuade a worrying number of people to go along with their plans and even actively support them.

Despite the fact that they are starving and living a miserable life, many of the people in Airstrip One love Big Brother, viewing him not as a tyrannical dictator but as their ‘Saviour’ (as one woman calls him). Again, this detail was taken from accounts of Stalin, who was revered by many Russians even though they were often living a wretched life under his rule.

Another key theme of Orwell’s novel is the relationship between language and thought. In our era of fake news and corrupt media, this has only become even more pronounced: if you lie to a population and confuse them enough, you can control them. O’Brien introduces Winston to the work of the traitor to the Party, Emmanuel Goldstein, only to tell him later that Goldstein may not exist and his book was actually written by the Party.

Is this the lie, or was the book the lie? One of the most famous lines from the novel is Winston’s note to himself in his diary: ‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.’

But later, O’Brien will force Winston to ‘admit’ that two plus two can make five. Orwell tells us, ‘The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.’

Or as Voltaire once wrote, ‘Truly, whoever is able to make you absurd is able to make you unjust.’ Forcing somebody to utter blatant falsehoods is a powerful psychological tool for totalitarian regimes because through doing so, they have chipped away at your moral and intellectual integrity.

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4 thoughts on “A Summary and Analysis of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four”

1984 is a novel which is great in spite of itself and has been lionised for the wrong reasons. The title of the novel is a simple anagram of 1948, the date when the novel was written, and was driven by Orwell’s paranoia about the 1945 Labour government in UK. Orwell, a public school man, had built a reputation for hiself in the nineteen thirties as a socialist writer, and had fought for socialism in the Spanish civil war. The Road To Wigan Pier is an excellent polemic attacking the way the UK government was handling the mass unemployment of the time, reducing workers to a state of near starvation. In Homage To Catalonia, Orwell describes his experiences fighting with a small Marxist militia against Franco’s fascists. It was in Spain that Orwell developed his lifelong hatred of Stalinism, observing that the Communist contingents were more interested in suppressing other left-wing factions than in defeating Franco. The 1945 Labour government ws Britain’s first democratically elected socialist governement. It successfully established the welfare state and the National Health Service in a country almost bankrupted by the war, and despite the fact that Truman in USA was demanding the punctual repayment of wartime loans. Instead of rejoicing, Orwell, by now terminally ill from tuberculosis, saw the necessary continuation of wartime austerity and rationing as a deliberate and unnecessary imposition. Consequently, the book is often used as propaganda against socialism. The virtues of the book are the warnings about the dangers of giving the state too much power, in the form of electronic surveillance, ehanced police powers, intrusive laws, and the insidious use of political propaganda to warp peoples’ thinking. All of this has come to pass in the West as well as the East, but because of the overtly anticommunist spin to Orwell’s novel, most people fail to get its important message..

As with other work here, another good review. I’m also fascinated that Orwell located the government as prime problem, whereas Huxley located the people as prime problem, two sides of the same coin.

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By George Orwell

'1984' by George Orwell follows Winston Smith, who attempts to fight back against a totalitarian Party that rules Oceania and his entire life.

Emma Baldwin

Article written by Emma Baldwin

B.A. in English, B.F.A. in Fine Art, and B.A. in Art Histories from East Carolina University.

It is a dystopian novel that tells the story of Winston Smith and warns of the dangers of a totalitarian government that rules through fear, surveillance,  propaganda, and brainwashing.

In a nutshell…

‘ 1984 ‘ by George Orwell is a dystopian novel set in a totalitarian society led by the omnipresent Big Brother . The story follows Winston Smith, who works for the Ministry of Truth , altering historical records. Discontent with the regime, Winston begins a forbidden relationship with Julia . As they secretly rebel against the Party, they are eventually caught and subjected to brutal re-education. The novel ends with Winston’s complete brainwashing, leading him to adore Big Brother.

‘Spoiler-Free’   1984 Summary

1984 by George Orwell opens in April of 1984 in a society that has been ravaged by war and rebuilt under a new government. The novel follows Winston Smith, a thirty-nine-year-old man and a mid-level member of the ruling party of Oceania. The Party is totalitarian and demands the allegiance and adoration of its citizens. At the center of the Party is a mysterious figurehead who goes by the name of Big Brother. He is never seen, but is omnipresent, watching citizens from their TVs, posters, and money.  

Orwell’s Big Brother is a haunting personification of intrusive governance. His unseen omnipresence in the lives of Oceania’s citizens serves as a harrowing metaphor for the unseeable yet ever-present surveillance states of today. As I ponder Orwell’s vision, it strikes me that the fear of being watched can indeed shape behavior more profoundly than the act of actual governance.

Winston hates his job with the Ministry of Truth and the Party that controls him. He spends time in districts of the city in which members of the party aren’t supposed to travel and writes in a diary he has to hide from his television ( telescreen ). There is surveillance everywhere and the Thought Police arrest and make people vanish every day.

The concept of the Thought Police chillingly exemplifies the ultimate violation of privacy, where even one’s thoughts are not one’s own. Reflecting on this, I’m compelled to consider the ways in which modern digital surveillance subtly invades our own thoughts, nudging our subconscious toward conformity.

Winston meets and interacts with devoted members of the party, others who feel the same as he does, and those in-between. These include Syme, Julia, Mr. Charrington, Jim Parsons, and O’Brien . His interest in the past and desire to find a way to fight back against the party lead him down a dangerous path that takes him to the dark interior of the Party system.  

1984 Summary

Warning – This article contains important details and spoilers

1984 by George Orwell opens in April of 1984. After vaguely described disastrous wars and economic collapses, the world has been divided up into continent-spanning superpowers. The novel focuses on Airstrip One , part of Oceania. The totalitarian Party rules with “ Ingsoc ”, a shortening of English Socialism. They do not tolerate opposition in any form, even negative thoughts about the Party are a crime (Thought Crime). At the center of the Party is a mysterious figurehead who goes by the name of Big Brother. He is never seen, but is omnipresent, watching citizens from their TVs, posters, and money. Big Brother is a source of fear, but also adoration. He is, as the posters state, always watching. This is a reference to the enormous amount of surveillance the party and the Thought Police utilize on every street, in every building, and in every room.  

The palpable dread that Big Brother instills, a figure both revered and feared, mirrors the complex relationship we often hold with authority. Orwell ingeniously taps into this psychological conflict, exploring the dichotomy between the human desire for safety and the equally strong yearning for personal freedom.

The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party. He has a job in the Ministry of Truth that places him at the level of an office worker. Winston is responsible for rewriting history by destroying and rewriting newspaper articles. Often this means erasing from the record those who have been disappeared by the Party (become “unpersons”) or rearranging events in order to suit a new narrative promoted by the state. Winston hates the Party and is miserable in his everyday life.  

Winston is seen at the beginning of the novel with a diary he bought from Mr. Charrington , the owner of a secondhand shop. He has to hide the book whenever he writes in it so that the television (telescreen) can’t see it. Winston meets Julia at the Ministry of Truth and initially expects that she’s spying on him. Later, after handing him a note confessing her love for him, Julia and Winston draw close to one another. This is a serious act of treason against the party as all relationships are supposed to be conducted only for the creation of children. Julia also dislikes the party, but she’s more interested in escaping than becoming part of a revolution.

Reflecting on Winston’s secret acts of rebellion, such as his diary, strikes a poignant chord. It reminds me of the profound necessity of personal spaces and thoughts in an increasingly monitored world. Winston’s diary is not merely an act of defiance; it is an existential assertion of self in a world that seeks to deny such autonomy.

Winston also speaks with Syme , someone who is working on the creation of the newest “ Newspeak ” dictionary and is responsible for erasing words from the English language. He, Winston thinks, is too smart and is, in the end, a danger to himself.

Julia and Winston meet up for the first time in a room above Mr. Charrington’s shop. There, Winston tells Julia about his relationship, or lack thereof, with his wife Katharine .  

Over the following days, Winston notices that Syme has disappeared as Winston predicted. Winston is also approached by O’Brien , his supervisor and someone who Winston thinks is a member of the group working to overthrow the Party (The Brotherhood). O’Brien shares a book with Winston, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein . Goldstein is one of the Party’s main enemies and the leader of a rebellion against the state. The book informs Julia and Winston about how the Party works. It inspires and confirms to Winston that the Party can be defeated if the “ proles ” or lower class, rise up.  

The encounter with O’Brien and the forbidden book opens a Pandora’s box of revolutionary ideas for Winston. This moment resonates with me as a reflection on the power of ideas as weapons against oppression-a reminder that knowledge can ignite the sparks of rebellion.

Just when Winston is starting to think that he’s going to be able to join the fight against the Party, it is revealed that Mr. Charrington is a member of the Thought Police. He turned in Winston and Julia who are both captured and taken to the Ministry of Love. There, Winston comes into contact with other characters from the novel who have all been arrested for various reasons. O’Brien enters into the scene, revealing that he too was an agent of the state. The previous months of gaining Winston’s trust were nothing more than an elaborate way of ensnaring him.  

Winston is trapped in the Ministry of Truth for a number of months. Over this period his mind is rearranged through torture and humiliation. He’s forced to confront his deepest fear in Room 101 . For Winston, this means rats. It proves to be the thing that makes Winston betray Julia.  

Later, after he has been successfully brainwashed, he is released. Winston and Julia, who was also tortured, meet again in a park but the two longer have any interest in one another. The novel concludes with Winston celebrating the reported victory over Eurasia and reveling in his newfound love for the Party.  

The tragic end of Winston’s journey, embracing the love for Big Brother, serves as a somber meditation on the corrosive effects of totalitarianism on the human psyche. It leaves me pondering the resilience of the human spirit and the price of peace at the expense of freedom.

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Emma Baldwin

About Emma Baldwin

Emma Baldwin, a graduate of East Carolina University, has a deep-rooted passion for literature. She serves as a key contributor to the Book Analysis team with years of experience.


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George Orwell

George Orwell

George Orwell is remembered today for his social criticism, controversial beliefs, and his novels ' Animal Farm ' and '1984'.

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Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell

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by George Orwell

  • 1984 Summary

The novel's protagonist, Winston Smith , is a citizen of Oceania, one of the world's three superstates (along with Eurasia and Eastasia). It is the year 1984, and Winston lives in Airstrip One, which used to be known as Great Britain. Winston is a member of the Party, which rules Oceania under the principles of Ingsoc (English Socialism). Oceania is an oligarchy, under hierarchical rule. The Party consists of Inner Party members, who are the ruling elite, and regular Party members, who are citizens of Oceania. Outside of the Party are the proles, non-Party members and simple people who live in poverty and are free from Party regulations. The Party's leader is Big Brother , and there are massive images of his kind visage, complete with dark hair and a substantial mustache, displayed throughout London, some accompanied by the words "Big Brother is Watching You." The Party's three slogans are: "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery," and "Ignorance is Strength."

Winston lost his parents and little sister during the Revolutionary period that destroyed capitalism and instituted Ingsoc in Oceania. He was placed in a Party orphanage and integrated into the Party system. Now he works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, which handles all Party publications and propaganda, altering previously published Party publications to ensure that the Party's version of the Past is never questioned. Such alterations often remove a person from history, or make previously flawed predictions accurate. The other three ministries are the Ministry of Love, which handles all Party prisoners, the Ministry of Peace, which handles war, and the Ministry of Plenty, which manages the production of Party goods, including Victory cigarettes, Victory gin, and Victory coffee, all of which are of extremely poor quality.

Winston has never quite accepted the principles of Ingsoc and the Party. He believes in an unalterable past, and finds Party politics reprehensible. Winston wishes for privacy, intimacy, freedom and love, but cannot express any of this in the open for fear of death. Such thoughts constitute "throughtcrimes," which are highly punishable offenses resulting in arrest, imprisonment, torture, and often death.

When the book opens, Winston is at home during his lunch break. He has returned to his apartment in the Victory Mansions, a dilapidated Party housing building, to write in a diary, a relic of the past he obtained from an old junk shop. Winston's apartment is meager, and like every other Party member's home, contains a telescreen. The telescreen transmits Party information and propaganda, and also allows the Thought Police to watch and listen to Party members at all times. In Oceania, there is no such thing as privacy. Winston is fortunate to have a small nook in his apartment out of the view of the telescreen, and it is in this nook that he begins to write in his diary, despite his overwhelming fear of being caught. Undoubtedly, Winston will eventually be caught, imprisoned, and tortured by the Thought Police. For now, however, he chooses to forge ahead with his rebellion.

Winston writes of various memories, all related to the Party and his life. Many include violent imagery, which is quite common in the age of Oceania, and reveal anti-Party feelings. Winston clearly does not subscribe to Party doctrine. Winston is briefly interrupted at one point by a knock on his door. At first he panics, thinking he has already been caught, but it is only his neighbor, Mrs. Parsons , who needs help unclogging her sink. Winston obliges, and interacts briefly with Mrs. Parsons' two hellish children who are members of the Spies and Youth League, and clearly powerfully indoctrinated in the ways of the Party. Winston predicts that eventually these children will turn their loyal, simple, innocent parents into the Thought Police. Such tragedies, it seems, are quite common.

Winston returns to his diary, and in one of his reveries reflecting on the past and his memories and dreams, finds himself writing "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER" in large letters over and over on the page. Eventually, time runs out and Winston must return to work, which he enjoys. Once Winston found a newspaper clipping among his daily assignments that proved the innocence of three men: Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. In examining the clipping, he knew it meant the Party was wrong, and that he had real evidence of an accurate version of the past. Rather than risk discovery, however, he destroyed the clipping, placing it in a memory hole that sucked it into the building's internal furnaces.

At the Ministry of Truth Winston is surrounded by loyal Party members, and is always on guard to prevent his true feelings from being perceived by others. At work, Winston sits through the daily Two Minutes Hate, which rails against Oceania's enemy, Eurasia, and the supposed leader of the opposition movement, Emmanuel Goldstein. The propaganda is powerful, and the people around him begin shouting at the screen. Of course, Winston must join in to avoid suspicion.

Finding himself increasingly curious about the past, Winston wanders the streets, among the proles. He believes that if there is hope for a successful rebellion, it lies in the proles. Winston meets an old man in a prole pub and questions him about life before the Revolution. To his frustration, the man focuses on his own personal memories rather than on the generalities and conceptual differences Winston is interested in. Winston returns to the junk shop where he bought his diary and purchases a glass paperweight with a piece of coral inside. The proprietor, a kind old man named Mr. Charrington , shows him a room above the shop and Winston thinks about what it might be like to rent it out and live among old things, free from the constant presence of the telescreen.

At work and on his walk, Winston sees a dark-haired girl who is seemingly a violently loyal Party member and apparently has taken notice of him. He fears she is a member of the Thought Police. One day, at the Ministry of Truth, the girl slips him a note after falling down in the hallway, requiring Winston's assistance. The note says "I love you." Winston is astounded, but extremely excited by the possibility of a love affair. The affair must be secret, as the Party is entirely against any sort of sexual pleasure. In fact, sexual repression is a tenet of Ingsoc. The Party must approve every marriage, and it is unacceptable for a man and a woman to express any physical attraction for one another. All energy must be devoted to the Party. Winston was once in such a marriage. His wife Katharine was a frigid, mindless woman who was extremely loyal to the Party, but thought sex was a vile activity. However, she regularly scheduled times for her and Winston to make love, calling it her "duty to the Party." She had been taught from childhood that she must bear children.

With a great deal of effort to remain undetected, the girl finally tells Winston where and how they can meet. On a Sunday afternoon, he travels into the country, as per Julia 's instructions, to meet her in a secluded clearing in a wooded area. Finally, they can speak. Winston learns that her name is Julia, they discuss their beliefs regarding the Party, and they begin their love affair. At one point, Winston notices that the secluded spot she has led them to exactly matches a place he constantly sees in his dreams that he has termed the Golden Country.

Winston and Julia, who has a knack for finding abandoned locales and for obtaining black market goods such as real coffee, bread and sugar, continue to meet in secret. They are limited to interacting only in public places and having only the most minimal conversations, but the two discover a mutual hatred of the Party and eventually fall in love. Winston believes that it is possible to overthrow the Party, while Julia is satisfied simply living a double life. On the surface, she is loyal to the extreme, a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League, a volunteer in many Party activities, and a vocal participant in loyalty-testing events such as the Two Minutes Hate. On the inside, she thinks of it all as a game. She hates the Party and all it stands for, but knows she can do nothing to change it.

Eventually Winston rents the room above Mr. Charrington's flat. Winston and Julia meet often in the room, which is simply furnished, with an old twelve-hour clock (the Party uses twenty-four hour time), and a picture of an old London church, St. Clement's Dane. Mr. Charrington taught him the first lines of an old poem about the church, "Oranges and lemons say the bells of St. Clement's," and Julia knows a few more lines that her grandfather taught her when she was very small. Outside their window, a middle-aged prole woman is constantly hanging her wash and singing simple prole songs, many of which have been created by machines in the Ministry of Truth specifically for the proles.

Another Party member suddenly takes on an important role in Winston's life. Winston has always noticed O'Brien at the Ministry of Truth. He seems to be an intelligent man, and Winston believes in his heart that O'Brien feels the same way he does about the Party. Once, during the Two Minutes Hate, the two men locked eyes and Winston felt sure of O'Brien's thoughts. In a dream, Winston once heard someone tell him, "We will meet in the place where there is no darkness," and he believes the voice to have been O'Brien's. For Winston, O'Brien represents the possibility of an underground movement. Perhaps the Brotherhood, led my Emmanuel Goldstein, is real.

O'Brien approaches Winston at work under the pretense of discussing the Tenth Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary (Newspeak is the official language of Oceania, and its goal is to reduce and simplify vocabulary). O'Brien gives Winston his home address, supposedly so he can come pick up an advance copy of the new book. Winston takes the slip of paper with amazement. He knows that O'Brien has approached him because he is part of the underground movement. His true path towards rebellion has begun.

After some time, Winston and Julia visit O'Brien, an Inner Party member who has a lush apartment, a servant, and the freedom to turn off his telescreen. Winston renounces the Party and discusses his belief in the Brotherhood. O'Brien welcomes Winston and Julia into the Brotherhood and tells them that they must be willing to do anything to work towards its cause. They agree, but say that they will not do anything that would prevent them from seeing each other ever again. O'Brien tells Winston that he will give him a copy of Goldstein's book, and outlines a complicated version of events that will lead toward the exchange. Winston leaves after a final toast with O'Brien, in which Winston finishes O'Brien's statement, saying that they "will meet in the place with no darkness."

During Hate Week, the Party's enemy becomes Eastasia rather than Eurasia, and Winston must spend a great deal of time at work, sometimes even staying overnight, to "correct" all Party publications previously referring to war with Eurasia. The Party is at war with Eastasia, and has always been at war with Eastasia. In the midst of Hate Week, a man brings Winston a brief case, suggests that he dropped it, and leaves. The book is inside. When he has finally completed the Hate Week corrections, Winston escapes to Mr. Charrington's apartment and begins to read. Julia arrives, and he reads aloud to her about the history of Oceania, capitalism versus totalitarianism, and the main goals of the Party. Most of this information Winston already knows, but he finds it helpful to read it in the detailed, clear words of Emmanuel Goldstein.

Winston and Julia eventually fall asleep. The wake hours later, and go to stand at the window. Winston repeats his oft-stated phrase, "We are the dead." Suddenly, a voice coming from the wall echoes him, "You are the dead." There is a telescreen hidden behind the picture of St. Clement's Dane. They are caught. The Thought Police storm the room. Mr. Charrington walks in, and it becomes clear that he is a member of the Thought Police. He has been disguised as a kind old man, but is far younger than Winston imagined, with different hair and eyes. Winston and Julia are arrested, separated, and brought to the Ministry of Love.

While in a holding cell, Winston sees men from the Ministry of Truth come and go. Each has been arrested for thoughtcrime. Parsons arrives, and it turns out that his daughter turned him in, claiming to have heard him say "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep. Winston's prediction, it appears, was sadly accurate. In his holding cell, Winston sees a great deal of violence, and notices guards constantly referring to "Room 101," a phrase that seems to instill great fear in some of the prisoners.

Eventually, O'Brien arrives. It becomes clear that he was never part of the underground movement, but actually works in the Ministry of Love. Winston's entire interaction with O'Brien was a ruse. Winston is removed from the holding cell, and his torture begins. At first the torture is extremely violent, and he is forced to admit to a litany of crimes he did not commit, including murder and espionage. Eventually, the torture becomes less violent and O'Brien takes over. He begins to break Winston's spirit, telling him that his memory is flawed and that he is insane. Winston's discussions with O'Brien dwell on the nature of the past and reality, and reveal much about the Party's approach to those concepts. The Party, O'Brien explains with a lunatic intensity, seeks absolute power, for power's own sake. This is why it will always be successful, is always right, and will ultimately control the entire world. Winston cannot argue; every time he does, he is faced with obstinate logical fallacies, a completely different system of reasoning that runs counter to all reason. Winston believes in a past that never existed, and is hounded by false memories. To be cured, Winston must overcome his own insanity and win the war against his own mind.

Little by little, O'Brien shows Winston, with the use of electric shock machines, beatings and starvation, the way of the Party. He forces Winston to accept that if the Party says so, two plus two equals five. Winston had once written in his diary that freedom meant being able to say that two plus two is four. His final attempt to argue with O'Brien ends in O'Brien showing Winston himself in the mirror. Winston is beyond horrified to see that he has turned into a sickly, disgusting sack of bones, beaten into a new face. Broken to the core, Winston finally submits to his re-education. He is no longer beaten, is fed at regular intervals, is allowed to sleep (though the lights, of course, never go out), and begins to regain his health. Although seemingly making progress in accepting the reality of the Party, Winston is still holding onto the last remaining kernel of himself and his humanity: his love for Julia. This comes out when, in the midst of a dream, Winston cries aloud, "Julia! Julia! Julia, my love! Julia!"

O'Brien's last efforts with Winston are focused on forcing him to betray Julia. He takes Winston to Room 101, containing the worst thing in the world, which is different for everyone. For Winston, "the worst thing in the world" is a rat. Winston is tied to a chair, and O'Brien begins to attach a mask/cage contraption containing huge, hungry, carnivorous rats to his face. Winston feels a desperate, deep, panicked fear. He cannot take it, and finally screams for O'Brien to put someone else in his place - anyone, even Julia. O'Brien has succeeded.

Winston, a damaged, changed, empty shell of a man, is released into the world. In his new life, he sees Julia once, by chance, but they are no longer in love. Each betrayed the other, and prison changed them powerfully. There is no hope for their relationship. Winston obtains a somewhat trivial, meaningless job that pays surprisingly well. He spends his time at the Chestnut Tree Cafe drinking Victory Gin and playing chess. His life is buried in gin. In the final pages of the novel, we find Winston in his regular seat at the cafe, drinking gin, playing chess, and waiting for a report from the front in Central Africa, where Eurasia (Oceania was always at war with Eurasia) has invaded. He is excited about the report, because with this invasion, Eurasia might actually be able to break Oceania's line of defense and put the entire nation at risk for takeover. A Eurasian success in Central Africa might mean the end of the Party. Before the report comes, Winston suddenly recalls a very happy day in his childhood spent playing board games with his mother and little sister. He pushes it out of his mind, realizing it is a false memory and resolving to allow fewer of those to creep up on him. Eventually, the report reveals that Oceania has succeeded in repelling the Eurasian advance. There is jubilation on the telescreen and in the streets. Staring into the eyes of a poster of Big Brother, Winston realizes that he knew this news would come. With tears dripping down his face, Winston realizes he has finally completed the rehabilitation he started in the Ministry of Love. He loves Big Brother.

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1984 Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for 1984 is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Describe O’Briens apartment and lifestyle. How do they differ from Winston’s?

From the text:

It was only on very rare occasions that one saw inside the dwelling-places of the Inner Party, or even penetrated into the quarter of the town where they lived. The whole atmosphere of the huge block of flats, the richness and...

What was the result of Washington exam

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how is one put into the inner or outer party in the book 1984

The Outer Party is a huge government bureaucracy. They hold positions of trust but are largely responsible for keeping the totalitarian structure of Big Brother functional. The Outer Party numbers around 18 to 19 percent of the population and the...

Study Guide for 1984

1984 study guide contains a biography of George Orwell, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • Character List

Essays for 1984

1984 essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of 1984 by George Orwell.

  • The Reflection of George Orwell
  • Totalitarian Collectivism in 1984, or, Big Brother Loves You
  • Sex as Rebellion
  • Class Ties: The Dealings of Human Nature Depicted through Social Classes in 1984
  • 1984: The Ultimate Parody of the Utopian World

Lesson Plan for 1984

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to 1984
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • 1984 Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for 1984

  • Introduction
  • Writing and publication

1984 george orwell book report

Writing Explained

1984 Summary and Analysis

Home » Literature Explained – Literary Synopses and Book Summaries » 1984 Book » 1984 Summary and Analysis

Book Introduction

The novel 1984 by George Orwell is a dystopian classic following the main character, Winston Smith, who is a socially low-ranking individual as he navigates his frustrations with the ever-watching Big Brother which forbids any sort of individuality. Crimes of individual expression and/or rebellion are punishable to the highest extent, but Winston illegally journals his hatred of the ruling party and begins a forbidden love affair in secret. His downfall comes as the oppressive ruling party breaks him down utterly and completely.

This novel was written in a direct response to George Orwell’s mistrust of governmental parties and authoritative regimes due to his observations about the Spanish Civil War. The novel is Orwell’s statement that overly authoritarian rule is closer to happening than most people might want to admit.

Literary Elements of 1984

1984 book notes

Type of Work: Fiction/novel

Genres : Dystopian, Science Fiction

Published Date: 1949

Setting: London, 1984 (assumed because of the title but not confirmed in the text.)

Main Characters: Winston Smith, Julia, O’Brien, Big Brother

Protagonist/Antagonist: Protagonist – Winston Smith/Antagonist – The Thought Police

Major Thematic Elements: Perils of totalitarianism, psychological and physical control/manipulation, censoring of information and history, advanced technology, restrictions on language to control and manipulate, loyalty and resistance to power, revolution and independence, identity

Motifs: Doublethink, urban decay

Exposition: Explanation of Big Brother and how the new government regime has altered Winston’s life in drastic ways

Plot: Three parts, linear narrative structure

Major Symbols: Big Brother, the glass paperweight, St. Clement’s Church, the telescreens, the place where there is no darkness, red-armed prole woman

Climax: Julia hands Winston a note confessing her love and now Winston must go from passively objecting to The Party to actively committing acts of rebellion and defiance.

Literary Significance of 1984

1984 cliff notes

1984 is a powerful message about the dangers of political suppression and totalitarian powers. 1984 details the dangers of the rising technological advances mixing with the wrong kinds of political leaders. Published at the dawn of the nuclear age, there were very real fears across the globe that unchecked technological advances in such times of unrest could lead to further oppression of the individuals living under oppressive regimes.

Although much of Orwell’s fears never materialized and democracy overcame oppressive government structures, the novel remains an important and widely-taught novel that serves as a warning for what could happen under the wrong circumstances. The novel is much more than a sci-fi thriller, it contains very real implications for unchecked governmental power and unbridled control.

1984 Book Summary

1984 chapter summary

Winston found a diary in an antique shop in the district where the very poor (the proles) live and the Party does not monitor as closely, believing them to be insignificant. Winston writes in his diary even though he knows it is a punishable act of rebellion. Winston daydreams and when he looks down, sees he has written “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” over and over and has committed thoughtcrime, the crime of having rebellious thoughts against the Party. Winston realizes that nothing will be the same.

As time goes on, Winston continues to write in his diary, knowing full well that it will lead to his downfall. He writes that he longs for revolution against the Party and that the proles will be the key to a successful revolution since they make up such a large number of the population. He believes the Party’s oversight and dismissal of the proles is the key to starting a revolution. Winston thinks about the Party official O’Brien and believes that he may be a player in a potential rebellion effort. He dreams about O’Brien and a place where there is no darkness.

In chapter 8, Winston goes to the prole neighborhoods to try and find out what life was like before the Party but cannot get much information. He goes back to the antique store where he bought his journal and purchases a glass paperweight. The shop owner shows Winston a room above the shop with no telescreen and a picture of St. Clement’s church. On the way home, Winston believes he is being followed by Thought Police and resolves to commit suicide before they can even catch him.

Book Two begins with Winston seeing the pretty brown-haired woman at work. She falls and he helps her up. In doing this, she passes him a note that simply reads “I love you.” Winston is conflicted as he has suspected her of being a spy this whole time. This note changes Winston’s desire to find a way to commit suicide. He resolves to live. The two plan a secret meeting and find much pleasure in being alone together.

In chapter 3, Winston rents the room with no telescreen above the antique shop. This is his and Julia’s go-to meeting place. Winston begins to be frustrated with being kept apart from Julia and longs intensely for a leisurely and romantic life with her. The room with the glass paperweight and picture of St. Celement’s church becomes a symbol of the past for Winston and he thinks about it when he is working and stuck doing other things as a type of refuge.

In chapter 6, O’Brien makes contact with Winston. Convinced that he is being invited to join the rebellion, Winston accepts that he is now really going down a road that will lead to his being killed by the Party. He accepts this and agrees to meet with O’Brien anyway. Winston’s emotions are greatly stirred at this point and he remembers memories from his childhood of leaving his family behind during the political struggles. He believes his is responsible for his mother’s death. Julia and Winston begin to realize the great chances that they will be caught and tortured, and they know that they should stop renting the room but they cannot. They vow to still love each other, no matter what happens. Later, in chapter 8, Winston and Julia meet with O’Brien and declare themselves enemies of the Party.

In chapter 10, Julia and Winston are admired the red-armed prole woman who does her laundry outside their window. They believe her and her children are the keys to revolution. Suddenly, a voice speaks to them in the room and they realize that there has been a telescreen behind the picture of St. Clement’s church. Police storm the room and arrest them. It turns out the owner of the antique shop was a member of the Thought Police.

Book Three begins with Winston being contained in a bright cell that always has the lights on. Winston is tortured for some time and wishes for an opportunity to kill himself. O’Brien meets with Winston and reveals that he was actually acting as a spy and set Winston and Julia up to reveal themselves. O’Brien says that the torture will fix Winston.

After some time, Winston’s torture begins to work, and he agrees to things that he knows are not true. He is being brainwashed and even agrees that “two and two make five.” In a fit of misery after many weeks of confinement and torture, he can’t help but yell Julia’s name over and over. Winston backtracks and tells the guards that he hates Big Brother. In chapter 5, Winston’s greatest fear, rats, are used against him. As the guards prepare to strap a cage of rats to Winston’s head so that they can eat his face off, Winston gives up and tells them to take the rats to eat Julia’s face instead. O’Brien is satisfied and Winston is released back into the real world. Winston is fully in support of the Party, he has been fully broken during his time imprisoned. When Winston sees Julia again, he finds her repulsive. When he sees posters about Big Brother, he feels safe and happy.

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Read our complete notes on the novel “1984” by George Orwell. Our notes cover 1984 summary, characters, themes, and analysis.


Nineteen Eighty-four is written by George Orwell. It was published in 1949 as 1984. The novel is a tale to warn the people against the backdrops of the totalitarian government. It was published by Secker and Warburg on 8th June 1949.

Yearning for the opportunity of freedom, a humble, Outer Circle administrator of the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith, musters up the boldness to record his implicit wants in his little mysterious diary, in itself an unlawful demonstration. Serving quietly at the delight of the dismal, dictatorial hyper-province of Oceania, Smith acknowledges the INGSOC`s incomparable pioneer Big Brother who keeps a close eye on him.

The totalitarian government tightens its hold on its subject. Smith comes across Julia who is also a rebel and a dangerous affair starts. There’s no turning around. This couple has to pay at some point for their relationship. The waters of rebellions also start to boil and in the midst of the storm Smith changes his loyalty and turn into a supporter of the Party.

Historical Context of 1984

Orwell believed in socialism, the immediate consequence of his administration as a militiaman on the side of Republicans against Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Francisco was a Fascist. Upon his arrival in England, he became a member of the British Independent Labor Party and started to compose against the Nazi system and Stalinism.

Orwell was affected by rebels of Soviet socialism and by the Marxist compositions of Leon Trotsky, which modeled the ousted socialist progressive and model for Emmanuel Goldstein in Nineteen Eighty-Four. In 1946 Orwell stated that each line of genuine work that he has composed since 1936 has been composed, legitimately or in an indirect way, against despotism and for popularity based communism.

Inspiration for the Book

Before writing this novel, Orwell was inspired and impacted by the authoritarian systems of Stalin`s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The two systems celebrated their separate chiefs as gods. They also required to destroy the independence so as to advance the needs of the Party over the lives of individuals, requested supreme steadfastness from their residents, and turned to savagery at whatever point unfaithfulness was suspected.

In addition, the two systems reliably slandered their adversaries; similarly, as the Party and Big Brother do in 1984, through the Hate Week, Two Minutes Hate, and everyday propaganda through telescreens. Other similarities incorporate the Thought Police as a rehash of the Gestapo, NKVD which organized fear, and the Spies and Youth League as a reexamination of the Hitler Youth and the Little Octoberists, which inculcated youngsters to the Party and urged them to report dishonesty in subjects.

The Setting of the Novel

The action of this novel happens in London at some undefined time in the future. Although the city is mentioned, the version of the city presented is totally fictionalized. In this novel, London is the center of Airstrip One, which is part of the state of Oceania.

Oceania is among the three powers of this world, it consists of the Americas, Australasia, the Atlantic islands, British Isles and parts of Africa. The other is Eastasia consisting of Japan, China, Tibet and Mongolia. The third one is Eastasia that includes Northern Europe and Asiatic regions. The title shows that the novel is set in 1984.

London is partitioned in three particular social gatherings. The Inner Party lives in relative luxury with workers and access to extravagance products. The Outer Party, of which Winston is a part, lives in distinct, flimsy conditions with next to no influence over their own property. The most reduced social gathering is called the proles that live in ghettos where the Party doesn’t endeavor to apply a lot of control.

1984 Summary

It is the year 1984, Winston Smith who is the citizen of Oceania is living in Airstrip one also called Great Britain. Smith is a follower of a party. Winston has returned home during lunch-break. His apartment is located in Victory Mansion, the Party housing building. He has returned to his apartment because he wants to write his diary. The apartment is very small. It has a telescreen. This telecasts the propaganda and information of the Party. He lives in a place which has no privacy because big brother is watching all the people.

The party is ruling Oceania. This party follows a basic principle of English Socialism which is called Ignsoc. Oceania is governed under the rule of hierarchy and is a state of oligarchy. The party is led by Big Brother. The party has members who are divided into two different categories; at the first, there are ruling elites of the party, then comes to the members of the party, they are called regular members because they are the residents of Oceania. 

The people who are very poor are not taken into the party and they live in their poverty. They are not bound by the regulations of the party. The city of London has various types of images and pictures of Big Brother displayed on the walls. The walls are inscribed with Big Brother is watching you. The Party has three slogans that say “war is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and Ignorance is strength.”

Winston loses his parents and sister in the period of revolution that ruined capitalism and established Ingsoc principles in Oceania. He grows in the orphanage of the Party. He is then selected into the Party. He serves the Party by working in the Record Department in the Ministry of Truth. This department is working on the propaganda of the Party. It also changes the old records so that the Party could not be questioned.

There are three more Ministries as well. One is the Ministry of Love; it deals with the prisoners of the Party. The second is the Ministry of Peace and it deals with wars. The third is the Ministry of Plenty and it deals with the goods of the Party.

Winston does not like the system of the Party and thinks that the system of the Party must be changed. The dilemma is that he cannot talk about it openly because there is a fear of death. He knows that this is a serious crime and the penalty is torture and death.

Winston writes a number of notes in his diary. He expresses all his anti-feelings about the party. He knows that this could have severe repercussions but he gives vent to his feelings in the diary. He is writing in a diary when someone knocks at his door. He gets frightened with the thought that he has been caught but it is his neighbor Mrs. Parsons. She needs some help and Winston happily helps her. She has two children and they are working for the Spies and Youth league of the Party.

Winston returns to write his diary but he is getting late and has to reach in time for his work. While working, he finds a newspaper clip that proves the innocence of the young men. When he examines the clip, he finds that the party is wrong in this case. This means that he has got the true evidence about the wrongdoings of the party. He then destroys the clip and stuck it in the internal furnace of the building.

Winston is always surrounded by members who are loyal to the Party and he keeps watch so that he could not be perceived by the others for his anti-feelings against the Party. Winston is supposed to observe two minutes of hate daily for the enemy of Oceania, Eurasia. This hate is also against the opposition leader Emmanuel Goldstein. On the screen, the propaganda is very powerful and Winston has to join his members in that.

Winston gets curious to know the facts of the past and he roams around in the streets. He goes to the locality of Prole. He thinks the rebellion can only come from these proles and without them there cannot be any hope of rebellion.  In one of the prole pubs, Winston goes to an old man and enquires about life prior to Revolution. But the conversation with the old man frustrates him because the old man narrates his personal memories rather than the facts of the Revolution.

Winston ends his conversation with the old man and returns to the shop where he has bought a personal diary. The owner of the shop is Mr. Charrington and he is a very kind man. The owner of the shop talks to him about the room which is above his shop and Winston considers it to be rented that could give him an escape from being constantly watched by the Telescreen.

When he is working in his department and then during his walk, he notices a girl who seems to be the loyal member of the Party is observing Winston. Winston gets frightened because he thinks that the girl might be a Thought Police. After a few days, the girl slips a note to Winston which states that she needs the help of Winston. The note also has written that the girl loves him and this excites Winston. He thinks that is to be kept secret because the Party does not allow any sort of conjugal pleasure.

The Party approves the liking of a person to another person but it must be a marriage and there is an approval which is required from the Party.

The Party wants a full devotion of energies for the Party. Winston has remained in one such marriage. Katharine remained his wife. She remains very loyal to the Party. She has to make schedules and Winston is supposed to go on time for sexual pleasure. She knows that it is a duty to the Party to bear children.

Winston tries very hard to keep his new affair secretive. One day. The girl tells him the place and time of their first meeting. The girl’s name is Julia. She tells him that they are going to meet in a country area where there are dense woods. They meet there, know about their ideas regarding the Party and then start their love affair. Winston looks around the place and realizes that it is the same place he has been dreaming. He calls this place the Golden Country in his dreams.

Winston and Julia continue to meet in such secretive places. The two fall in love with each other because they both have a higher degree of hate for the Party. But because they are constantly watching, they get little time to talk and communicate. They usually meet in public places and they have formal talks there.

Winston thinks that the rebellion is possible which will end the rule of the party. Julia, on the other hand, is happy with the life she is having because she knows that death is always around the corner due to the strict system of the Party. She feigns to be very loyal to the Party. She is a member of a league that advocates Anti-sex agendas. She is also a volunteer to the Party in various activities. But in heart, she hates the party and she knows that the Party is playing with their lives like a game. She also knows that she cannot change the system and rule of the Party.

After some time, Winston talks to Mr. Charrington and rents his room above the shop. The room is simply furnished. The Party asks the citizens to have a twenty-four hour time clock but Winston puts a clock that has hours. This shows his resentment towards the Party. In this new room, he often meets Julia.

 The room has an image of St. Clements Dane which was an old Church of London. The owner of the shop teaches him a few lines of the poem written about church and Julia knows a few more lines of the poem. The window which opens to the outside shows that on the opposite side a prole woman is always having a wash and she sings the prole songs. These songs are composed in the Ministry of Truth by machines.

Outside their window, a middle-aged prole woman is constantly changing her wash and singing simple prole songs, many of which have been created by machines in the Ministry of Truth specifically for the proles.

Afterwards, another member of the Party comes into the life of Winston with an important role. He is O`Brien.  Winston has observed working in the Ministry of Truth. He is an intelligent man with good wisdom. Winston thinks O’Brien shares the same feelings of hatred for the Party as Winston has.

One day, during the break of two minutes of hate, Winston observes his eyes and reads them carefully that affirms the anti-Party feelings of O’Brien. Winston has heard a voice in his dream telling him that he is going to meet him in a place where there is light and he believes that the voice is of O`Brien. Winston also looks at him from the perspective that he could help him in the underground movement of rebellion.

The Party has launched a dictionary for Oceania and the language of Oceania is Newspeak. One day, O’Brien comes to Winston to discuss something about the edition of the Dictionary. Winston is given an address which is of the house of O`Brien. It is given to him so that he can come to his home and take the new book in advance. Winston takes the paper with amazing secrecy. He believes that O`Brien has come to him because he might be working underground against the Party. Winston thinks that the rebellion is on its way against the Party.

O`Brien is a member of the Inner party and he has been given a very comfortable apartment, and servant. He has also been facilitated in a way that he can turn off the telescreen whenever he wants to. Winston, O`Brien and Julia start meeting in secrecy. In one of the similar meetings, Winston tells them that he is going to renounce the Party. He starts his faith in the Brotherhood that is working against the Party. O`Brien welcomes Julia and Winston into the brotherhood. He also tells them that they must be ready to do any task to work against the Party. Both of them agree that they are ready but they tell O`Brien that they want to see each other because they love each other.

O`Brien then tells them that he is going to give a book of Goldstein to Winston and then they will chalk out the activities for the proceedings. Soon the meeting ends and they vow to meet in a place where there is no darkness.

A week of Hate comes and the enemy of the Party changes from Eurasia to Eastasia. Winston is supposed to work a lot in the weekdays because the previous publications of the Ministry were favoring the war against Eurasia but now they are to publicly make the things announced that they are to go on war with Eastasia. This implies that they are to make the people believe that the Party is at war with Eastasia and it has been continued for many years.

This week, a man brings Winston a briefcase that contains the book which O`Brien promised him. Winston soon finishes his work for the Party and goes to the rented apartment of Mr. Charrington to read the book. Julia comes to the apartment, too. Winston reads the book aloud that has the history of Oceania. It also details the ideas of Capitalism against Totalitarianism and the purpose and motto of the Party. The book is actually the articulation of Emmanuel Goldstein. Winston knows many of the facts of the book.

After reading many parts of the book, both of them get to sleep. After waking up, they look at the window outside. He sees outside and hears an echo that comes from a telescreen hidden behind the image of the church. The echo tells him that he is dead. It means that he is badly caught by the Party. Suddenly, Thought Police enter the room. Mr. Charrington enters the room with Thought Police and it becomes very clear that he is working for Thought Police. They get arrested. They are then separately dragged to the Ministry of Love.

In the cell, Winston sees a lot of people who have been brought for Thought Crimes. He sees a person who has read some verses to his daughter against the Big Brother. In the cell, Winston observes that there is a room which the prisoners are constantly afraid of. The room is referred to as Room 101.

One day O’Brien arrives and Winston gets to know that he has been arrested through O’Brien because O`Brien serves the Ministry of Love. Soon, the torture of Winston starts. The torture at the start is very brutal and he is made to confess many of the crimes that Winston is not even aware of. These crimes include murders as well. Slowly the brutality decreases and O`Brien comes to torture Winston.  He tells Winston that his memory is damaged, that is why he is thinking of rebellion and this has made him insane.

O`Brien tells Winston that the purpose of the Party is to seek absolute power. It can do anything for power. This is the reason that this world is controlled by the party and it has the power to exercise the power. Winston stops arguing with O`Brien because he knows that he would not be believed. Winston thinks that the past has never existed and everything is false. However, in order to be released from this torture, Winston needs to fight against his own insane mind.

Winston in the prison gets to experience severe beatings and machine shocks. He is also starved in prison. He gets to know that this is actually the way of the Party to make the prisoners feel these tortures. O`Brien tells Winston that he needs to believe everything that the Party tells him so whether it is right or wrong. He does not have the option to argue with the principles of the Party.

Winston tries to argue but he sees himself in the mirror and is afraid to see because he has turned into a skeleton. He is just a bone and nothing else. He thinks that this might turn into his death.  So he agrees to be re-educated by the Party. When he agrees, he is given good food and proper sleep. He is not tortured afterwards. Slowly, he regains his health.

Winston starts accepting all the principles of the Party. He makes progress in making his understanding clear about the party. But he still remembers Julia and his love for her. One day, while he is asleep, he dreams and in the dream, he starts calling Julia, Julia…..

The last attempt at O’Brien is to force Winston to cheat Julia. Winston is taken in Room 101.  In this room, Winston experiences one of the worst things in this world. Winston also says that the worst things vary from individual to individual. The worst thing for Winston is rats. He is tied with a chair.  O`Brien attaches a cage to the mask of Winston that has a huge rat. This not only threatens but endangers Winston. The fear is to an extreme level and Winston shouts that O’Brien could put Julia in his place to stop his sufferings. This implies that O`Brien has got successful because he has made Winston betray Julia.

Winston is released into this world but he is a broken man with no ideas and feelings. He then meets Julia but there is no love in between them and they feel estranged. The tortures of the prison have changed both of them. They feel that there is a hope of love between them.

After coming into the normal world, Winston gets a new job and is paid well for the job. He starts spending his time playing chess. In the final part of the novel, Winston is shown to be waiting for a report which would state the invasion of Eurasia by Oceania. Winston is happy because he thinks that Eurasia might break the defense of Oceania. This might give Eurasia the opportunity to take over and end the strict regime of the Party. This would result in better lives for the people. The success of Eurasia would mean that the regime of the Party has ended.

Before the report gets published, Winston is very happy and Winston reminiscence a day from his childhood he played chess with his family. The report is published and it states that Oceania has got successful. The advances of Eurasia have been stopped and they are made to go back. The jubilation and the celebrations are televised on the telescreen and there are celebrations in the streets as well. Winston in the street sees a big poster of Big Brother and he realizes that he has not changed in the re-education of Big Brother. He now loves Big Brother and is very much feeling loyalty for the Big Brother because Big brother is watching him.

Themes in 1984 by Orwell

The dangers of totalitarianism.

1984 is a political novel composed to caution the audience of the risks of authoritarian government. Orwell had a good idea of the totalitarian governments in Russian and Spain. He also knew that to sustain it for a longer period of time these governments could go to any extent of horror and terror for control. Thus he composed this novel to warn the people of this horror of authoritarian governments.

In 1949, the Cold War had not yet arisen.  Numerous American people favored socialism, and the diplomatic conditions between communist and democratic states were uncertain. The Soviet Union was regularly depicted as an extraordinary good experiment by the press of America. Orwell was upset by the savageries and persecutions he saw in states governed by Communism and appears to have been worried by technology in empowering abusive governments to control their residents.

In 1984, Orwell depicts a society governed by an authoritarian government with a supreme force. The title of the novel is intended to demonstrate that this novel portrays opportunities for the future. Orwell states If tyranny of totalitarian governments were not contradicted then the world in the novel could turn into a reality in just thirty-five years.

Orwell depicts a state wherein the government screens and controls each part of human life to the degree that in any event, having an unfaithful idea is illegal. As the novel advances, the defiant Winston Smith embarks to challenge the constraints of the Party’s capacity, just to find its capacity to control and oppress its subjects. The readers comprehend through Winston’s eyes that The Party utilizes various procedures to control its residents, every one of which is its very own significant topic in the novel.

Psychological Manipulation

The Party blasts its subjects with mental upgrades intended to overpower the brain’s ability for autonomous ideas. The telescreen in each resident’s room shoots a steady stream of promulgation intended to cause the disappointments and weaknesses of the Party to seem victorious. The telescreens monitor conduct like wherever they go, residents are persistently reminded, particularly by ways like “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU,” that the specialists are investigating them.

The Party disregards family structure by drafting kids into an association known as the Junior Spies, which indoctrinates and urges them to keep an eye on their folks and report any occasion of unfaithfulness to the Party.

The Party powers people to stifle their sexual wants. The Party at that point channels individuals’ repressed disappointment and feeling into extraordinary, brutal showcases of disdain against the Party’s political foes. A considerable lot of these adversaries have been created by the Party explicitly for this reason.

Resistance and Revolution

In 1984, Winston investigated unsafe and critical demonstrations of obstruction against the Party. In Book One: Chapter VII, Winston sees that rebellion implies a look at without flinching, an articulation of the voice; and no more, an infrequent murmured word. Winston develops these minor uprisings by submitting individual demonstrations of rebellion, for example, keeping a diary and purchasing a paperweight. In the long run, he heightens his defiance through his sexual affair with Julia.

The relationship is a twofold resistance, as it incorporates the thoughtcrime of want. Winston doesn’t accept his activities or the activities of others  because this will prompt the obliteration of the Party inside his lifetime. However, before he is arrested by the Thought Police he holds out the expectation that later on somebody will have the option to glance back at Winston’s time from a world that is free.

Winston’s trust in real unrest against the Party lies with the socially marginalized of the city- proles. He sees that the proles have a prominent population than the Party and that the proles have the solidarity to complete an upheaval if they would ever arrange themselves. The issue is that the proles have been dependent on poverty for such a long time that they can’t see beyond the objective of endurance.

The very idea of attempting to construct a superior world is a lot for them to think about. These perceptions are set against the setting of the Party’s own way of life as the result of transformation. As indicated by Winston, the Party is made during the mid-1960s in a revolution that toppled the social order of Britain. The Party guarantees that the Revolution has not yet finished and that it will be satisfied once they have unlimited authority.

Independence and Identity

Controlling history is one of the essential devices for controlling the masses by the Party. The Party controls autonomy and personality. For instance, the essential qualities of setting up one’s character are inaccessible to Winston and different residents of Oceania. Winston doesn’t have a clue about his age. He is not aware about his marital bond. He has no information about the life of his mother. None of his memories of childhood are dependable, in light of the fact that he has no photographs or reports to assist him with arranging genuine recollections from envisioned ones.

Rather than being interesting people with explicit, distinguishing subtleties, each individual from the Outer Party is indistinguishable. All the members of the Party wear a similar dress, smoke similar cigarettes, drink similar gin, etc. In that capacity, shaping a feeling of individual character isn’t just mentally testing, yet strategically troublesome.

Wealth vs. Poverty

The culture of Oceania presents a reasonable division in everyday environments. The little Inner Party lives richly, with hirelings and comfort and furnished apartments. The Party individuals live in apartments with a single room without any comforts and low-quality food. The proles live in outright destitution. The gorge distance between poor people and rich people in the novel is striking and is generally recognizable during Winston’s entering into prole society. The living buildings of the proles are rotting, and the city of London is full of ruins. While the Inner Party solaces itself with extravagance, the residents of Oceania are made to suffer.

Orwell presents this division to show how authoritarian social orders advance the wealth of the ruling party while diminishing the personal satisfaction for every single citizen. These governments frequently express their desires for building up an equivalent society when as a general rule the division between their day to day environments and those of the residents is huge. Winston watches out toward the city and sees  London dying. O’Brien watches out on the city of London and sees a general public caught in a solitary minute in time, characterized and constrained by the Party.


Technology and innovation is a critical apparatus that the Party uses to keep up command over its residents. Without telescreens, the Thought Police might not have been so powerful, there would have not been beneficial aspects of Propaganda. The consistent supervision of the telescreen viably detains residents of Oceania in their day to day lives which implies that they are constantly under perception.

  Different territories of technological advancement are strikingly stale. For instance, the printing machines in the Ministry of Truth are still very essential, and each state keeps on building similar bombs that were utilized a long time ago. Logical advancement has ended, aside from where it serves the Party’s objectives, for example, in new strategies for mental control. In the realm of Oceania, there is nothing as progress for progress; there is just force for power. At the point when mechanical improvements serve this force, they are energized. At the point when they don’t, they are halted.

The Party is energized by loyalty, and in this manner requests that its residents bolster all moves it makes in seeking to make Oceania great. For the Party, steadfastness implies tolerating beyond a shadow of a doubt or faltering. Incidentally, when Winston vows his devotion to the Brotherhood, he consents to acknowledge the objectives and prerequisites of the Brotherhood beyond a shadow of a doubt or delay.

Winston consents to do anything the Brotherhood demands, regardless of whether that implies killing honest people. Nonetheless, Winston is faithful to Julia, and won’t be isolated from her till eternity. This unwaveringly split of loyalty is the thing that isolates Winston from the other Party individuals. Party individuals are faithful to the Big Brother, The Party and Oceania. Individual connections are of no significance.

While in the Ministry of Love, O’Brien notices this shortcoming in Winston’s psyche and adequately expels it. Through excruciating physical torment, O’Brien first instructs Winston that the Party’s point of view is the exact viewpoint. Next, by undermining him with meat-eating rodents, O’Brien breaks Winston’s dependability to Julia. In the last scene of the novel, Winston at long last comes to cherish Big Brother, and his change from split loyalties to a more noteworthy single dependability to the Party is finished.

1984 Characters Analysis

Winston smith.

Winston lives in London and he serves the Party. He is an intellectual with a thin and fragile personality.  He is thirty-nine years old. He does not like the system of totalitarianism imposed by the Party. He dreams of gathering a rebellion against the Party to achieve freedom but he fails in the end.

Orwell’s main objective in 1984 is to exhibit the unnerving prospects of tyranny. The reader encounters the dark world that Orwell imagines through the eyes of Winston. His own inclination to oppose the smothering of his distinction, and his scholarly capacity to reason about his obstruction, empowers the peruser to watch and comprehend the brutal mistreatment that Big Brother, the Party and the Thought Police establish. Winston is incredibly meditative and inquisitive, to see how and why the Party imposes its force in Oceania. Winston’s reflections allow Orwell to investigate the novel’s significant subjects, including language as brain control, mental and physical terrorizing and control, and the significance of information on the past.

Apart from his thoughtful nature, Winston’s main attributes are his rebelliousness and his fatalism. Winston hates the Party and wants to test the limits of its power. He commits innumerable crimes throughout the novel. He develops an illicit relationship with Julia. He goes against the Big Brother. The effort Winston puts into his attempt to achieve freedom and independence ultimately underscores the Party’s devastating power. By the end of the novel, Winston’s rebellion is revealed as playing into O’Brien’s campaign of physical and psychological torture, transforming Winston into a loyal subject of Big Brother.

One purpose behind Winston’s disobedience, and inevitable destruction, is his feeling of submission to the inevitable by believing the Party will get and rebuff him. When he states “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” in his personal diary, Winston is certain that the Thought Police will rapidly catch him for carrying out a ThoughtCrime. Feeling that he is vulnerable to his fate, Winston permits himself to face pointless challenges, for example, confiding in O’Brien and leasing the room over Mr. Charrington’s shop. He realizes that these dangers will expand his odds of being arrested by the Party. He even confesses this to O’Brien while in jail. But since he accepts that he will be arrested regardless of his actions, he persuades himself that he should keep on rebelling. Winston lives in a world in which real confidence is difficult, he gives himself false expectations, completely mindful that he is doing as such.

Julia is the lover of Winston in this novel. She is a dark-haired girl. She works in the Fiction Department of the Ministry of Truth. Julia likes intimate relations. She has many affairs with the Party members. She is an optimistic lady. She does not like the authority of the party. Her rebellion against the Party is not ideological but personal.

Julia is a person whom Winston believes that she loathes the Party and wishes to oppose it as like Winston. Though Winston is eager, fatalistic, and worried about social issues, Julia is logical, sensual, and by and large lives in moments to enjoy life. Winston aches to join the Brotherhood and read Emmanuel Goldstein’s dynamic statement while Julia is increasingly worried about sensual relationships and making pragmatic arrangements to abstain from getting captured by the Party. Winston considers his relation with Julia to be a transitory, and due to his fatalistic disposition he is unable to envision his relationship with Julia as long-lasting. Julia adjusts herself to pick types of little scope resistance against the Party. She confesses  having illicit relationships with different members of the Party. She has no expectation of ending her pleasure chasing, or of being arrested. Julia is a striking complexity to Winston: aside from their common sexual wants and contempt for the Party, a large portion of their qualities are unique, if not conflicting.

O`Brien is a mysterious character in this novel. He works for the Party and is a member of the Inner Party. He traps Winston and then tortures him so that he can become loyal to the party.

One of the most intriguing parts of 1984 is the way wherein Orwell covers the depiction of a totalitarian world in a cryptic atmosphere. While Orwell provides the reader a chance to investigate the individual existence of Winston Smith, the readers look at Party life from the perspective of Winston. Therefore, a significant number of the Party’s internal activities stay unexplained, as do its birthplaces, and the characters and inspirations of its pioneers. 

This feeling of riddle is brought together in the character of O’Brien, an amazing individual from the Inner Party who stunts Winston into accepting that he is an individual from the progressive gathering called the Brotherhood. O’Brien accepts Winston into the Brotherhood. Afterward, however, he shows up at Winston’s prison cell to manhandle and indoctrinate him for the sake of the Party. During the procedure of this discipline, O’Brien concedes that he presented himself to be associated with the Brotherhood only to trap Winston in a demonstration of open unfaithfulness to the Party.

This disclosure brings up a bigger number of issues about O’Brien rather than giving answers. Instead of creating as a character all through the novel, O’Brien really appears to be an undeveloped character of the novel. When Winston inquires as to whether he has also been caught by the Party, he replies that they caught him a long time ago. This answer implies that he might have remained a rebel. One can likewise contend that O’Brien claims to identify with Winston just to pick up his trust. Likewise, one can’t be certain whether the Brotherhood really exists, or it is basically a Party creation used to trap the unfaithful and give the remainder of the masses a shared adversary. The book doesn’t address these inquiries, yet rather leaves O’Brien as a shadowy, emblematic riddle on the edges of the much progressively darker Inner Party.

Big Brother

Big Brother is the leader of Oceania, the pioneer of the Party, a cultivated war legend, an ace innovator and scholar. He is the first instigator of the insurgency that brings the Party to control Oceania. The Party utilizes the picture of Big Brother to ingrain a feeling of devotion and dread in the people. The picture shows up on currency, on telescreens, and on the banners which are spread all around the city with the trademark that Big Brother is watching you. The novel shows that a great part of Big Brother’s temperament is unclear and liable to change. Indeed, an aspect of Winston’s responsibilities is to take out old articles and alter the statements of Big Brother that are stated to coordinate what he states in the on-going present.

 Although he controls the whole of Oceania yet he never appears in the novel. Winston never gets an opportunity to communicate with Big Brother in any capacity. The concern of Big Brother is to keep the individuals living in a condition of dread, and the way that nobody appears to have ever observed him makes him considerably successful as a pioneer. The text of the book recommends that Big Brother either doesn’t exist or has never existed as a real individual. When Winston is arrested and put in the Ministry of Love, he has a discussion with O’Brien about Big Brother. Winston inquires whether Big Brother exists; he is given an answer that he does exist. When Winston inquires whether Big Brother will see death, O’Brien says that Big Brother cannot die.

 Mr. Charrington

Mr. Charrington owns a second-hand shop. His shop is located in the prole area. He is 60 years old. He has dark white hair. Winston believes that he might have been a musician or writer in his youth. He provides a number of crimes that can lead to rebellion against the party because the Party has not been good. He sells a notebook to Winston that becomes his personal diary. He also rents his room above his shop to Winston where Winston and Julia secretly meet. He is sympathetic towards Winston in the start and indirectly encourages him for rebellion but in the end, he becomes the source through which Winston gets arrested because Mr. Charrington is a member of Thought Police.

1984 Literary Analysis

Does the novel end on a note of pessimism or optimism?

Winston is broken down badly by the rats in room 101.  In order to get released from the torture he offers Julia for torture. Winston gets released in the last part of the novel.  Readers are informed that Winston lives a life of simplicity.  One day, he encounters Julia and they both confess that both of them offered to be released from the torture and the lover could be replaced.   This means that now they do not feel any sort of love for each other. In the actions of the novel, Winston experiences a picture of Big Brother and encounters a feeling of triumph since he presently cherishes Big Brother. Winston’s acknowledgment of Party rule denotes the end is in the direction he has been on since the opening of the novel. Regardless of Winston’s different types of dismissal and obstruction toward the Party, he had consistently been sensible about how his decisions would unavoidably prompt his capture, torment, and possible death.

Despite the fact that Winston’s destiny is troubled and the closure of the book may appear to be skeptical, the end of the novel can be pursued as hope for trust. The Party needed to go to extraordinary measures to break Winston, utilizing a whole cast of characters and deploying incalculable hours following Winston and later investigating him. 

The measure of exertion the Party places into separating only one individual would not be conceivable for a huge scope: there are lesser numbers of Party individuals and an excessive number of individuals for them to screen. In the event that the Party needs to consume an indistinguishable measure of assets on each dissident from it spent on Winston, it will always be unable to totally get rid of dispute among the individuals. 

For each nonconformist like Winston who gets captured and broken by the Party, another might not be detected. Were the Party ready to create a proficient method to extract the conflict, instead of taking out protesters individually, at that point the end of the book would be really sad. However, the way that Winston has the option to oppose as long as he does, and that it takes the Party such unprecedented endeavors to cut him down, shields the novel from being totally miserable.

What do Big Brother and Goldstein depict?

Emmanuel Goldstein and Big Brother are the pioneers of the restricting powers in Oceania. Big Brother rules Oceania while Goldstein leads the adversaries of Big Brother and has formed the Brotherhood. Orwell doesn’t clarify whether they really exist or not and this makes them quite similar.

O’Brien discloses to Winston Smith that Big Brother may or may not exist. Big Brother exists as the exemplification of the Party. However, he might not die forever. O’Brien won’t reveal to Winston whether Big Brother and Goldstein exist, yet all things considered, both are just the propaganda of the Party. For example the way that O’Brien confesses  having composed Goldstein’s book is a sign of this.

Big Brother is another name for control in Oceania because it is a name of trust, security, and fondness. The Party, or, Big Brother, is not like Stalin or Hitler. Orwell gives Emmanuel Goldstein a Jewish name that is reminiscent of the force structure in World War II. Important is that Emmanuel actually signifies God.

It has no effect in Winston’s life whether these two powers exist. Winston’s destiny is fixed, similar to the destiny of the general public in which he lives, paying little heed to their reality. Goldstein and Big Brother exist in the minds of the people, and that is the main thing that is an issue for Winston. Orwell proposes for these portray Totalitarian force structures because they are both the equivalent. O’Brien, in his manifestation as a Brotherhood chief, inquires as to whether they are happy to carry out outrage against the Party, huge numbers of which are the same that the Party submits against its subjects. Orwell portrays that Political radicalism isn’t certain under any name.

Interpreting the language: Newspeak:

Orwell was certain that the language`s decline is because of economic and political factors. Despite the fact that he had no strong evidence, he assumed that the dialects of nations under autocracies. For  example, the Soviet Union or Germany had decayed under their individual systems. Orwell writes in one of his articles that when the general environment is awful, language must endure. He adds whenever thought taints language, language can likewise degenerate ideas. Here is the very idea of driving the development of Newspeak.

To show this thought that language can degenerate ideas and that authoritarian framework use language to confine thoughts. Orwell made Newspeak that served as the official language for Oceania. In that language, a word like freedom did not exist.

In his Appendix, Orwell clarifies the grammatical game plan and the historical background of the Newspeak. A language that is alive like English has the capacity of different articulation tends to pick up words and in this manner widen the mindfulness and information of its speakers. Newspeak loses words, by evacuating words that can be used for rebellion and can give a thought to resistance. Thus, for instance, on the grounds that great presumes something contrary to awful, so awful is pointless. 

Correspondingly, all degrees of goodness can be communicated basically by adding standard prefixes and postfixes to this one root word: ungood (awful) and plusgood (generally excellent) and doubleplusgood (magnificent). In this manner, Newspeak takes out unnecessary words, yet it encourages a narrowing of thought and being aware. The thought behind Newspeak is that, as language must turn out to be less expressive, the brain is all the more handily controlled. Through making Newspeak, Orwell cautions the reader that a legislature that makes the language and commands how it is utilized can control the brains of its residents.

  History can be re-written:

In 1984, the possibility that history is variable or alterable is highlighted.  The fact is that whatever the Party considers it to be right, is made the basis of the standards of things to come in the future. Some German Fascist leaders flaunted that when people lie frequently enough, others will acknowledge it as truth. The Stalinists consummated this business as usual by re-composing individuals and occasions all through history or misshaping verifiable realities to suit the Party’s motivations. The party slogan in 1984 is that whoever has control over the past has control over the future and whoever has control of the present has control of the past.

Winston Smith’s situation in the Ministry of Truth is that of making the past events unrecognizable to any individual with an exact memory so every fraud becomes a notable reality. In a moment, Oceania is and consistently has been engaged in war with one adversary, the following moment it is and has consistently been engaged in war with another, and the individuals of Oceania acknowledge the data as obvious. It is an embellishment of wonder that Orwell saw it while writing the novel way before 1984 and detailed with genuine lucidity in 1984: People promptly accept what they can accept easily.

This book differentiated between truth and Facts and afterward investigates the social-political-moral good subtleties of the underhanded control of realities so as to control people and social orders for political benefits. Orwell was worried that the idea of truth was becoming dim in the world. In the field of human intercourse of which governmental issues is a section, what is accepted is significantly more impressive than what is real. In the event that the pioneers of countries are the individuals directing the what, when, where, how and who of history, there can be little inquiry that lies discover their way into the books of history, that those falsehoods are instructed to students, and that they in the end become authentic actuality.

This worry is very clear in 1984. During Orwell’s time as an opposition warrior in Spain, he encountered this revamping of history directly. He saw that news stories were frequently erroneous. There were regular reports of fights where no battling had happened or no report at all of the fights where many men had faced deaths. Orwell yielded that quite a bit of history was falsehoods, and he was baffled by the way that he accepted that history could be precisely composed.

This re-writing of occasions isn’t saved for the governments of totalitarianism. Indeed, candidates for governments like the President, recollect things in an unexpected way. It seems as though an occasion can be removed from history as if people do not recall it. At all levels, vague or uncertain language is utilized to shade or change genuine occasions to support candidates or belief systems. With each period, our sages are disavowed, and history books revamped. As the way of life and the philosophy change, it changes history. Here and there these mutilations are honest and harmless contrasts of point of view; different occasions, they are fatal perilous.

Propaganda and Fear are used to Control the Subjects:

In “1984”, untruths, fantasies and wrong data control the thinking and perceptions of the residents. The Party deploys Propaganda as a weapon to control its subjects. Propaganda increases the confidence of residents in the party and makes them feel that whatever the party advises them to do is in every case right. There are for the most part two sorts of propaganda, one changes truth, known as doublethink, and another makes dread. 

“Doublespeak” can be seen much of the time in the realm of 1984. The slogan of the Party “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” is a genuine example. The possibility of the slogan is to persuade the residents that what they need is the thing that they already have. No one but war can make harmony and agreement, so harmony is no longer harmony, it turns into war. Any individual who is slaved and needs freedom, he already possesses Freedom.  One can reinforce himself by not knowing about things and being oblivious.

The motto changes truth and causes the residents to accept that anything they need other than what their administration needs can just make them despondent, along these lines, nobody will consider insubordination since they accept the Party’s method for overseeing is the best and just way. “Big Brother IS WATCHING YOU” is another center motto. It is almost everywhere in the state and for the most part, introduced underneath the image of Big Brother on a banner. It makes dread of wrecked protection among residents by alarming them that they are observed constantly. 

Simultaneously, the trademark focuses on Big Brother’s capacity to tell the residents that they are to be sure sheltered and protected. 

The Party utilizes this to cause them to accept that inside the Party nothing can turn out badly, and without Big Brother, they won’t have such lives. Everybody thinks he is protected in Oceania due to Big Brother.

Law for Control:

The law is another integral asset for administrators in the novel to curtail the freedom of the citizens. No gatherings, no dates, no adoration, no residents stroll on road after check-in time, laws are all around in Oceania. In spite of the fact that these are carefully executed, they can’t be called laws hypothetically on the grounds that they are not written in a framework. 

There is no composed law in the novel, there is nothing of the sort as constitution or court, and however, that is actually how dread is made, as residents are continually living in vulnerability. There is no law that characterizes Thoughtcrime. However, Winston could be captured whenever for perpetrating Thoughtcrime by even a little action proposing rebellion and his sensory system truly turns into his greatest adversary. Since there is no composed law, the Party can alter and adjust the laws unreservedly as it needs, residents can’t be sure whether they have carried out any wrongdoing, in this way nobody is sufficiently courageous to oppose the Party by any level, so dread is made. Likewise, “Newspeak” is another law that is upheld to set the control of the Party. 

People use language to communicate their thoughts, by reducing words and words for feelings, for example, “incredible”, “awesome” and “phenomenal” by a solitary word “good” and its relative degrees “plusgood” and “plusplusgood”. Bunches of contemplations are really constrained on the grounds that they can’t be shaped semantically in individuals’ brains. Residents at that point can’t have their own basic reasoning, and just do what they are advised to do; they work similarly as computers, which shockingly are operated on two words.

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1984 Book Summary – George Orwell

book cover of 1084 with a single eye watching...

06 Mar 1984 Book Summary – George Orwell

book cover of 1084 with a single eye watching...

This review aims to dissect and analyze “1984” in its entirety, offering insights into its thematic richness, narrative style, and Orwell’s vision of a world subsumed by tyranny and propaganda.

Suggested Reading Age “1984” is best suited for readers aged 15 and above due to its complex themes and some mature content.

Thesis Statement Orwell’s “1984” is not just a novel but a warning, an intricate exploration of the dangers of political extremism and the loss of personal freedom.

Short Synopsis of 1984

“1984” by George Orwell is a dystopian novel that delves into the horrors of a totalitarian society under constant surveillance. Set in the superstate of Oceania, it follows Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party, working at the Ministry of Truth. The Party, led by the elusive Big Brother, exercises absolute control over all aspects of life, including history, language, and even thought. Winston, feeling suppressed and rebellious, begins a forbidden love affair with Julia, a co-worker, as an act of defiance against the Party’s oppressive regime. However, their rebellion is short-lived as they are caught and subjected to brutal psychological manipulation and reconditioning by the Party. The novel explores themes of totalitarianism, propaganda, and the crushing of individuality, culminating in Winston’s tragic acceptance of the Party’s dominance. “1984” remains a powerful warning about the dangers of unchecked government power and the erosion of fundamental human rights.

1984 Detailed Book Summary

“1984” is set in a dystopian future where the world is divided into three superstates constantly at war: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. The story unfolds in Airstrip One (formerly Great Britain), a province of the totalitarian superstate of Oceania, which is under the control of the Party led by the figurehead Big Brother.

Winston Smith : The novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, is a 39-year-old man who works at the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to alter historical records, thus aligning the past with the ever-changing party line of the present. Winston lives in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation.

Early Acts of Rebellion : Despite outwardly conforming, Winston harbors deep-seated hatred for the Party. He begins to express his subversive thoughts by starting a diary, an act punishable by death if discovered by the Thought Police. Through his writing, Winston explores his fragmented memories of the past, pondering the Party’s control over reality and truth.

Julia and the Love Affair : Winston becomes involved with Julia, a younger Party member who secretly shares his loathing of the regime. Their love affair is initially an act of rebellion. They meet in secret and dream of a life free from the Party’s control. Their relationship represents a profound act of personal freedom and rebellion against the regime.

O’Brien and the Brotherhood : Winston and Julia are drawn to O’Brien, an Inner Party member whom Winston believes to be secretly a member of a clandestine opposition group known as the Brotherhood, led by the legendary Emmanuel Goldstein. O’Brien inducts them into the Brotherhood, providing a copy of Goldstein’s subversive book which outlines the ideology of freedom and rebellion against the Party.

Capture and Betrayal : The illusion of rebellion is shattered when Winston and Julia are arrested in their sanctuary. It is revealed that their rebellion was a trap orchestrated by the Thought Police, with O’Brien as one of its agents.

Winston’s Imprisonment and Torture : In the Ministry of Love, Winston is separated from Julia and subjected to psychological and physical torture. The aim is to force him to confess his crimes against the Party and to break his spirit completely. Winston resists as much as he can, holding onto his inner sense of truth and loyalty to Julia.

Room 101 : The climax of Winston’s torture occurs in Room 101, where he is confronted with his worst fear – rats. In a moment of utter despair and terror, Winston betrays Julia, begging that she be tortured in his place. This ultimate betrayal represents the complete destruction of Winston’s resistance.

Re-education and Acceptance : Following his experience in Room 101, Winston undergoes a process of “re-education” where he learns to accept the Party’s version of reality and to love Big Brother. He is released back into society, a hollow, obedient citizen.

Final Encounter with Julia : After his release, Winston encounters Julia one more time. Both admit to betraying each other and realize that their feelings for each other have been eradicated. The Party’s victory is complete, with any trace of personal loyalty or love eradicated.

Winston’s Final Submission : The novel ends with Winston completely accepting the Party’s doctrine and viewing his execution as a victory – he has conformed entirely to the Party’s ideals. His final thoughts are of unquestioning love and loyalty to Big Brother, signifying the total and absolute triumph of the Party’s control over the individual mind and spirit.

Orwell’s “1984” is a powerful and chilling portrayal of a totalitarian world where freedom of thought is suppressed under the guise of state security, and the truth is what the Party deems it to be. It remains a poignant and cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked political power and the erosion of individual liberties.

The novel delves into Winston’s life as he begins a forbidden love affair with Julia and gets involved with what appears to be an underground resistance movement. However, this rebellion is short-lived as they are betrayed and subjected to the Party’s ruthless tactics of psychological manipulation and physical torture, leading to Winston’s ultimate surrender to the Party’s orthodoxy.

Character Descriptions:

  • Winston Smith: Age: Approximately 39 years old. Occupation: Works at the Ministry of Truth, where he alters historical records to align with the Party’s current propaganda. Personality Traits: Initially, Winston exhibits intellectual curiosity, internal rebellion, and skepticism towards the Party’s doctrine. He is contemplative, introspective, and carries a sense of melancholy. Character Arc: Winston evolves from a quiet dissident to an active rebel, seeking truth and love in a society devoid of both. His relationship with Julia deepens his rebellious spirit. However, after his capture and torture, he becomes a defeated, loyal follower of Big Brother, losing his individuality and spirit of dissent.
  • Julia: Age: In her mid-20s. Occupation: Works on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. Personality Traits: Julia is practical, sensual, and outwardly conforms to Party norms while secretly despising its control. She is bold and pragmatic in her approach to rebellion, focusing more on personal freedom than on broader political change. Character Arc: Julia engages in an affair with Winston as a form of personal rebellion. She is less interested in the theoretical aspects of their rebellion and more in the personal joy it brings. After their capture, like Winston, she is broken by the Party, ultimately betraying Winston and accepting Party doctrine.
  • O’Brien: Occupation: A member of the Inner Party. Personality Traits: O’Brien is intelligent, articulate, and initially seems sympathetic to Winston’s skepticism of the Party. He exudes a certain charm and civility. Character Arc: O’Brien reveals himself as a loyalist to the Party and plays a key role in Winston’s torture and re-education. He embodies the Party’s manipulative and brutal nature. His interactions with Winston highlight the Party’s deep understanding of human psychology and its use in breaking down resistance.
  • Big Brother: Role: The symbolic leader and face of the Party. Description: Big Brother is more a symbol than a character, representing the omnipresent, all-seeing Party. He is depicted as a mustachioed man appearing on posters and telescreens with the slogan “Big Brother is watching you.” His actual existence is ambiguous, but his presence is a powerful tool in the Party’s arsenal for instilling loyalty and fear.
  • Mr. Charrington: Occupation: Owner of an antique shop in the Proles district. Personality Traits: Initially appears as a kindly, old shopkeeper interested in history and artifacts from the past. Character Arc: Revealed to be a member of the Thought Police, his character highlights the Party’s extensive surveillance network and the deception employed to trap dissidents like Winston and Julia.

In-depth Analysis

  • Strengths : “1984” excels in its haunting portrayal of a society stripped of freedom and individuality. Orwell masterfully uses a bleak and concise prose style to convey the oppressive atmosphere of Oceania. The intricate depiction of the Party’s manipulation of truth and history remains particularly chilling and relevant.
  • Weaknesses : For some, the despairing tone and the inevitability of Winston’s defeat may come across as overly pessimistic, offering little in the way of hope or resistance against such a powerful system.
  • Uniqueness : The novel’s concept of “Newspeak,” the language designed to limit free thought, and “doublethink,” the ability to accept two contradictory beliefs, are unique contributions to the lexicon of political and philosophical thought.
  • Literary Devices : Orwell’s use of symbolism, foreshadowing, and irony are noteworthy. For instance, the figure of Big Brother symbolizes the impersonal and omnipresent power of the Party.
  • Relation to Broader Issues : The book’s exploration of surveillance, truth manipulation, and state control has clear parallels with modern concerns about privacy, fake news, and authoritarianism, making it perennially relevant.
  • Potential Audiences : “1984” is a must-read for enthusiasts of political and dystopian fiction. It is also highly valuable for those interested in political theory, sociology, and history.
  • Comparisons : “1984” often draws comparisons with Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” another dystopian masterpiece, though Huxley’s work envisages a different form of control through hedonism and consumerism.
  • Final Recommendations : This novel is an essential read for understanding the extremes of political control and the fragility of human rights. It’s a cautionary tale that remains profoundly relevant in today’s world.

Thematic Analysis and Stylistic Elements

The themes of “1984” are deeply interwoven and reflect Orwell’s concerns about totalitarianism. Themes include the corruption of language as a tool for oppressive power (“Newspeak”), the erosion of truth and reality in politics, and the loss of individuality. Stylistically, Orwell’s direct and terse prose serves as a mirror to the stark world he describes, emphasizing the theme of decay and dehumanization.

Comparisons to Other Works

Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” a satirical allegory of Soviet totalitarianism, shares similar themes with “1984,” but differs in its approach and style, using a fable-like structure. “1984” is more direct and visceral in its depiction of a dystopian society.

Chapter by Chapter Summary of 1984

  • Chapter 1 : Winston Smith, a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in Oceania, returns to his flat in Victory Mansions. He begins to write a diary, an act prohibited by the Party.
  • Chapter 2 : Winston recalls recent Two Minutes Hate sessions and reflects on the Party’s control over Oceania’s history and residents. He hides his diary.
  • Chapter 3 : Winston dreams of his mother and sister, and then of O’Brien, an Inner Party member he believes may secretly oppose the Party. The chapter ends with Winston’s alarm waking him for the Physical Jerks, a mandatory morning exercise.
  • Chapter 4 : Winston goes to his job at the Ministry of Truth, where he alters historical records to fit the Party’s current version of events.
  • Chapter 5 : During lunch, Winston discusses the principles of Newspeak with a co-worker, Syme. He observes the Parsons family and considers the effectiveness of Party propaganda on children.
  • Chapter 6 : Winston thinks about his wife, Katharine, and their cold, lifeless marriage, reflecting on the Party’s repressive attitude towards sex and love.
  • Chapter 7 : Winston writes in his diary about the hopelessness of rebellion and the likelihood that he will be caught by the Thought Police. He ponders whether life was better before the Party took over.
  • Chapter 8 : Winston visits a prole neighborhood. He enters an antique shop and buys a coral paperweight. He talks with the shop owner, Mr. Charrington, and learns about life before the Party’s rule.
  • Chapter 9 : Oceania switches enemies from Eurasia to Eastasia. Winston receives Goldstein’s book and begins reading it.
  • Chapter 10 : Winston wakes up from a dream shouting, “Shakespeare!” He and Julia plan to rent the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop for their clandestine meetings.
  • Chapter 11 : In the rented room, Winston and Julia continue their secret meetings, but Winston feels the futility of their rebellion.
  • Chapter 12 : Winston reads to Julia from Goldstein’s book, explaining the social structure of Oceania and the perpetual war.
  • Chapter 13 : Winston continues reading the book, discussing the principles of war and the Party’s manipulation of the populace.
  • Chapter 14 : Winston and Julia are discovered by the Thought Police in their rented room. Mr. Charrington reveals himself as a member of the Thought Police.
  • Chapter 15 : Winston is detained in the Ministry of Love. He encounters other prisoners and realizes the Party’s extensive power.
  • Chapter 16 : O’Brien tortures Winston, gradually breaking his spirit. He admits to various crimes against the Party, both real and imagined.
  • Chapter 17 : O’Brien continues Winston’s re-education, revealing more about the Party’s ideology and the concept of doublethink.
  • Chapter 18 : Winston is taken to Room 101, where he is confronted with his worst fear—rats. He betrays Julia, proving his complete submission to the Party.
  • Chapter 19 : Winston is released and spends his time at the Chestnut Tree Café. He is a changed man, devoid of rebellious thoughts.
  • Chapter 20 : Winston meets Julia again, but their feelings for each other have vanished. They both admit to betraying each other.
  • Chapter 21 : The novel concludes with Winston, completely broken, confessing his love for Big Brother, accepting Party orthodoxy fully.

Potential Test Questions and Answers

  • Answer: It signifies the omnipresent surveillance of the Party and the constant monitoring of individuals’ actions and thoughts, instilling fear and obedience.
  • Answer: “Newspeak” is designed to diminish the range of thought by reducing the complexity and nuance of language, making rebellion against the Party’s ideology linguistically impossible.
  • Answer: The Thought Police serve to detect and punish “thoughtcrime,” any personal and political thoughts unapproved by the Party, thereby enforcing ideological purity and suppressing dissent.
  • “George Orwell: The Prophet of the Dystopian Future,” The Literary Encyclopedia.
  • “Totalitarianism and Language: Orwell’s 1984,” Journal of Modern Literature.

Awards and Recognition

“1984” has received critical acclaim since its publication and has been listed in various “best novels” lists, including the “100 Best Novels of the 20th Century” by the Modern Library.

Bibliographic Information

  • Publisher: Signet Book
  • Publish Date: July 01, 1950
  • Type: Mass Market Paperbound
  • ISBN/EAN/UPC: 9780451524935

Summaries of Other Reviews

  • The Guardian: Highlights the novel’s prophetic nature and its enduring relevance in the digital age.
  • The New Yorker: Discusses the novel’s profound impact on language and political thought.

Notable Quotes from 1984

  • This paradoxical slogan of the Party encapsulates the use of doublethink, a process of indoctrination that requires citizens to accept contradictory beliefs, fostering a disconnection from reality and thus ensuring loyalty to the Party.
  • This omnipresent warning is emblematic of the government’s pervasive surveillance in Oceania. It instills fear and obedience in the populace, reminding them of the Party’s constant monitoring of their actions and thoughts.
  • This reflects the Party’s manipulation of truth and its control over what is considered knowledge. It reveals the theme of reality control and the dangers of a society where objective truth is subjugated to political agenda.
  • This quote grimly summarizes the Party’s vision for the future: a world where the individual is utterly powerless, and the state exerts total control, both physically and psychologically.
  • This highlights the Party’s manipulation of history to maintain its grip on power. It underscores a central theme in “1984” — the control of information and history as a means of controlling the populace.
  • This defines the concept of doublethink, a crucial method by which the Party breaks down individual understanding of truth and reality, ensuring unconditional loyalty.
  • This statement underscores the significance of objective truth and the resistance against the Party’s distortion of reality. It signifies the importance of individual thought and rationality as a form of rebellion.
  • This conundrum highlights the challenge faced by those living under totalitarian rule, where the lack of consciousness about their oppression prevents rebellion, yet without rebelling, they cannot become fully aware of their subjugation.

Spoilers/How Does It End?

Warning: This section contains major spoilers about the ending of “1984” by George Orwell.

“1984” culminates in a harrowing and profoundly impactful conclusion that starkly illuminates the depths of the Party’s control over the individual.

  • Winston’s Transformation and Betrayal : After Winston Smith and Julia are captured by the Thought Police, they are separated and taken to the Ministry of Love for interrogation and re-education. The person responsible for Winston’s capture and subsequent torture is O’Brien, whom Winston had previously believed to be a fellow dissident. This betrayal is a crucial turning point in the novel, as it shatters Winston’s last hope for an organized rebellion against the Party.
  • The Room 101 Experience : Winston endures severe physical and psychological torture under O’Brien’s supervision. The climax of his torture occurs in Room 101, where prisoners are confronted with their worst fears. For Winston, this is a face cage filled with ravenous rats. Faced with this terror, Winston betrays Julia by begging for her to be tortured in his place. This moment is pivotal as it represents the complete breakdown of Winston’s resistance and the success of the Party in breaking his spirit.
  • Winston’s Reintegration into Society : After his release, Winston is a shell of his former self. He has been thoroughly brainwashed and now genuinely loves Big Brother. He spends his time at the Chestnut Tree Café, where other broken rebels gather. One day, he meets Julia again. They acknowledge that they betrayed each other and that their feelings for each other have been eradicated. This meeting underscores the Party’s complete victory in destroying individual loyalty and emotion, replacing them with loyalty to the Party alone.
  • The Final Act of Submission : The novel ends with Winston’s final submission to the Party’s ideology. He has a vision of being executed but realizes that he has won the victory over himself – he loves Big Brother. This chilling conclusion signifies the total and irrevocable triumph of the Party over the individual. Winston’s love for Big Brother is a symbol of the Party’s successful eradication of independent thought and the total reprogramming of the human psyche.

Orwell’s ending is stark and dystopian, offering no hope of rebellion or change. It serves as a powerful warning about the dangers of totalitarianism and the fragility of human rights and freedom under such regimes. The ending is deliberately unsettling, leaving the reader to contemplate the consequences of unchecked political power and the importance of safeguarding democratic values and individual liberties.

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  • Read TIME’s Original Review of <i>Nineteen Eighty-Four</i>

Read TIME’s Original Review of Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nov. 28, 1983

G eorge Orwell was already an established literary star when his masterwork Nineteen Eighty-Four was published on this day in 1949, but that didn’t stop TIME’s reviewer from being pleasantly surprised by the book. After all, even the expectation that a book would be good doesn’t mean one can’t be impressed when it turns out to be, as TIME put it, “absolutely super.”

One of the reasons, the review suggested, was Orwell’s bet that his fictional dystopia would not actually seem so foreign to contemporary readers. They would easily recognize many elements of the fictional world that TIME summed up as such:

In Britain 1984 A.D., no one would have suspected that Winston and Julia were capable of crimethink (dangerous thoughts) or a secret desire for ownlife (individualism). After all, Party-Member Winston Smith was one of the Ministry of Truth’s most trusted forgers; he had always flung himself heart & soul into the falsification of government statistics. And Party-Member Julia was outwardly so goodthinkful (naturally orthodox) that, after a brilliant girlhood in the Spies, she became active in the Junior Anti-Sex League and was snapped up by Pornosec, a subsection of the government Fiction Department that ground out happy-making pornography for the masses. In short, the grim, grey London Times could not have been referring to Winston and Julia when it snorted contemptuously: “Old-thinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc,” i.e., “Those whose ideas were formed before the Revolution cannot have a full emotional understanding of the principles of English Socialism.” How Winston and Julia rebelled, fell in love and paid the penalty in the terroristic world of tomorrow is the thread on which Britain’s George Orwell has spun his latest and finest work of fiction. In Animal Farm (TIME, Feb. 4, 1946,) Orwell parodied the Communist system in terms of barnyard satire; but in 1984 … there is not a smile or a jest that does not add bitterness to Orwell’s utterly depressing vision of what the world may be in 35 years’ time.

Decades later, as the real-life 1984 approached, TIME dedicated a cover story to Orwell’s earlier vision of what that year could have been like. “That Year Is Almost Here,” the headline proclaimed . But obsessing over how it matched up to its fictional depiction was missing the point, the article posited. “The proper way to remember George Orwell, finally, is not as a man of numbers—1984 will pass, not Nineteen Eighty–Four—but as a man of letters,” wrote Paul Gray, “who wanted to change the world by changing the word.”

Read the full 1949 review, here in the TIME Vault: Where the Rainbow Ends

LIST: The 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time

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Write to Lily Rothman at [email protected]

1984 george orwell book report

George Orwell

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George Orwell

The masterpiece that killed George Orwell

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

Sixty years after the publication of Orwell's masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, that crystal first line sounds as natural and compelling as ever. But when you see the original manuscript, you find something else: not so much the ringing clarity, more the obsessive rewriting, in different inks, that betrays the extraordinary turmoil behind its composition.

Probably the definitive novel of the 20th century, a story that remains eternally fresh and contemporary, and whose terms such as "Big Brother", "doublethink" and "newspeak" have become part of everyday currency, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been translated into more than 65 languages and sold millions of copies worldwide, giving George Orwell a unique place in world literature.

"Orwellian" is now a universal shorthand for anything repressive or totalitarian, and the story of Winston Smith, an everyman for his times, continues to resonate for readers whose fears for the future are very different from those of an English writer in the mid-1940s.

The circumstances surrounding the writing of Nineteen Eighty-Four make a haunting narrative that helps to explain the bleakness of Orwell's dystopia. Here was an English writer, desperately sick, grappling alone with the demons of his imagination in a bleak Scottish outpost in the desolate aftermath of the second world war. The idea for Nineteen Eighty-Four, alternatively, "The Last Man in Europe", had been incubating in Orwell's mind since the Spanish civil war. His novel, which owes something to Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian fiction We, probably began to acquire a definitive shape during 1943-44, around the time he and his wife, Eileen adopted their only son, Richard. Orwell himself claimed that he was partly inspired by the meeting of the Allied leaders at the Tehran Conference of 1944. Isaac Deutscher, an Observer colleague, reported that Orwell was "convinced that Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt consciously plotted to divide the world" at Tehran.

Orwell had worked for David Astor's Observer since 1942, first as a book reviewer and later as a correspondent. The editor professed great admiration for Orwell's "absolute straightforwardness, his honesty and his decency", and would be his patron throughout the 1940s. The closeness of their friendship is crucial to the story of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Orwell's creative life had already benefited from his association with the Observer in the writing of Animal Farm. As the war drew to a close, the fruitful interaction of fiction and Sunday journalism would contribute to the much darker and more complex novel he had in mind after that celebrated "fairy tale". It's clear from his Observer book reviews, for example, that he was fascinated by the relationship between morality and language.

There were other influences at work. Soon after Richard was adopted, Orwell's flat was wrecked by a doodlebug. The atmosphere of random terror in the everyday life of wartime London became integral to the mood of the novel-in-progress. Worse was to follow. In March 1945, while on assignment for the Observer in Europe, Orwell received the news that his wife, Eileen, had died under anaesthesia during a routine operation.

Suddenly he was a widower and a single parent, eking out a threadbare life in his Islington lodgings, and working incessantly to dam the flood of remorse and grief at his wife's premature death. In 1945, for instanc e, he wrote almost 110,000 words for various publications, including 15 book reviews for the Observer.

Now Astor stepped in. His family owned an estate on the remote Scottish island of Jura, next to Islay. There was a house, Barnhill, seven miles outside Ardlussa at the remote northern tip of this rocky finger of heather in the Inner Hebrides. Initially, Astor offered it to Orwell for a holiday. Speaking to the Observer last week, Richard Blair says he believes, from family legend, that Astor was taken aback by the enthusiasm of Orwell's response.

In May 1946 Orwell, still picking up the shattered pieces of his life, took the train for the long and arduous journey to Jura. He told his friend Arthur Koestler that it was "almost like stocking up ship for an arctic voyage".

It was a risky move; Orwell was not in good health. The winter of 1946-47 was one of the coldest of the century. Postwar Britain was bleaker even than wartime, and he had always suffered from a bad chest. At least, cut off from the irritations of literary London, he was free to grapple unencumbered with the new novel. "Smothered under journalism," as he put it, he told one friend, "I have become more and more like a sucked orange."

Ironically, part of Orwell's difficulties derived from the success of Animal Farm. After years of neglect and indifference the world was waking up to his genius. "Everyone keeps coming at me," he complained to Koestler, "wanting me to lecture, to write commissioned booklets, to join this and that, etc - you don't know how I pine to be free of it all and have time to think again."

On Jura he would be liberated from these distractions but the promise of creative freedom on an island in the Hebrides came with its own price. Years before, in the essay "Why I Write", he had described the struggle to complete a book: "Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist or [sic] understand. For all one knows that demon is the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's personality." Then that famous Orwellian coda. "Good prose is like a window pane."

From the spring of 1947 to his death in 1950 Orwell would re-enact every aspect of this struggle in the most painful way imaginable. Privately, perhaps, he relished the overlap between theory and practice. He had always thrived on self-inflicted adversity.

At first, after "a quite unendurable winter", he revelled in the isolation and wild beauty of Jura. "I am struggling with this book," he wrote to his agent, "which I may finish by the end of the year - at any rate I shall have broken the back by then so long as I keep well and keep off journalistic work until the autumn."

Barnhill, overlooking the sea at the top of a potholed track, was not large, with four small bedrooms above a spacious kitchen. Life was simple, even primitive. There was no electricity. Orwell used Calor gas to cook and to heat water. Storm lanterns burned paraffin. In the evenings he also burned peat. He was still chain-smoking black shag tobacco in roll-up cigarettes: the fug in the house was cosy but not healthy. A battery radio was the only connection with the outside world.

Orwell, a gentle, unworldly sort of man, arrived with just a camp bed, a table, a couple of chairs and a few pots and pans. It was a spartan existence but supplied the conditions under which he liked to work. He is remembered here as a spectre in the mist, a gaunt figure in oilskins.

The locals knew him by his real name of Eric Blair, a tall, cadaverous, sad-looking man worrying about how he would cope on his own. The solution, when he was joined by baby Richard and his nanny, was to recruit his highly competent sister, Avril. Richard Blair remembers that his father "could not have done it without Avril. She was an excellent cook, and very practical. None of the accounts of my father's time on Jura recognise how essential she was."

Once his new regime was settled, Orwell could finally make a start on the book. At the end of May 1947 he told his publisher, Fred Warburg: "I think I must have written nearly a third of the rough draft. I have not got as far as I had hoped to do by this time because I really have been in most wretched health this year ever since about January (my chest as usual) and can't quite shake it off."

Mindful of his publisher's impatience for the new novel, Orwell added: "Of course the rough draft is always a ghastly mess bearing little relation to the finished result, but all the same it is the main part of the job." Still, he pressed on, and at the end of July was predicting a completed "rough draft" by October. After that, he said, he would need another six months to polish up the text for publication. But then, disaster.

Part of the pleasure of life on Jura was that he and his young son could enjoy the outdoor life together, go fishing, explore the island, and potter about in boats. In August, during a spell of lovely summer weather, Orwell, Avril, Richard and some friends, returning from a hike up the coast in a small motor boat, were nearly drowned in the infamous Corryvreckan whirlpool.

Richard Blair remembers being "bloody cold" in the freezing water, and Orwell, whose constant coughing worried his friends, did his lungs no favours. Within two months he was seriously ill. Typically, his account to David Astor of this narrow escape was laconic, even nonchalant.

The long struggle with "The Last Man in Europe" continued. In late October 1947, oppressed with "wretched health", Orwell recognised that his novel was still "a most dreadful mess and about two-thirds of it will have to be retyped entirely".

He was working at a feverish pace. Visitors to Barnhill recall the sound of his typewriter pounding away upstairs in his bedroom. Then, in November, tended by the faithful Avril, he collapsed with "inflammation of the lungs" and told Koestler that he was "very ill in bed". Just before Christmas, in a letter to an Observer colleague, he broke the news he had always dreaded. Finally he had been diagnosed with TB.

A few days later, writing to Astor from Hairmyres hospital, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, he admitted: "I still feel deadly sick," and conceded that, when illness struck after the Corryvreckan whirlpool incident, "like a fool I decided not to go to a doctor - I wanted to get on with the book I was writing." In 1947 there was no cure for TB - doctors prescribed fresh air and a regular diet - but there was a new, experimental drug on the market, streptomycin. Astor arranged for a shipment to Hairmyres from the US.

Richard Blair believes that his father was given excessive doses of the new wonder drug. The side effects were horrific (throat ulcers, blisters in the mouth, hair loss, peeling skin and the disintegration of toe and fingernails) but in March 1948, after a three-month course, the TB symptoms had disappeared. "It's all over now, and evidently the drug has done its stuff," Orwell told his publisher. "It's rather like sinking the ship to get rid of the rats, but worth it if it works."

As he prepared to leave hospital Orwell received the letter from his publisher which, in hindsight, would be another nail in his coffin. "It really is rather important," wrote Warburg to his star author, "from the point of view of your literary career to get it [the new novel] by the end of the year and indeed earlier if possible."

Just when he should have been convalescing Orwell was back at Barnhill, deep into the revision of his manuscript, promising Warburg to deliver it in "early December", and coping with "filthy weather" on autumnal Jura. Early in October he confided to Astor: "I have got so used to writing in bed that I think I prefer it, though of course it's awkward to type there. I am just struggling with the last stages of this bloody book [which is] about the possible state of affairs if the atomic war isn't conclusive."

This is one of Orwell's exceedingly rare references to the theme of his book. He believed, as many writers do, that it was bad luck to discuss work-in-progress. Later, to Anthony Powell, he described it as "a Utopia written in the form of a novel". The typing of the fair copy of "The Last Man in Europe" became another dimension of Orwell's battle with his book. The more he revised his "unbelievably bad" manuscript the more it became a document only he could read and interpret. It was, he told his agent, "extremely long, even 125,000 words". With characteristic candour, he noted: "I am not pleased with the book but I am not absolutely dissatisfied... I think it is a good idea but the execution would have been better if I had not written it under the influence of TB."

And he was still undecided about the title: "I am inclined to call it NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR or THE LAST MAN IN EUROPE," he wrote, "but I might just possibly think of something else in the next week or two." By the end of October Orwell believed he was done. Now he just needed a stenographer to help make sense of it all.

It was a desperate race against time. Orwell's health was deteriorating, the "unbelievably bad" manuscript needed retyping, and the December deadline was looming. Warburg promised to help, and so did Orwell's agent. At cross-purposes over possible typists, they somehow contrived to make a bad situation infinitely worse. Orwell, feeling beyond help, followed his ex-public schoolboy's instincts: he would go it alone.

By mid-November, too weak to walk, he retired to bed to tackle "the grisly job" of typing the book on his "decrepit typewriter" by himself. Sustained by endless roll-ups, pots of coffee, strong tea and the warmth of his paraffin heater, with gales buffeting Barnhill, night and day, he struggled on. By 30 November 1948 it was virtually done.

Now Orwell, the old campaigner, protested to his agent that "it really wasn't worth all this fuss. It's merely that, as it tires me to sit upright for any length of time, I can't type very neatly and can't do many pages a day." Besides, he added, it was "wonderful" what mistakes a professional typist could make, and "in this book there is the difficulty that it contains a lot of neologisms".

The typescript of George Orwell's latest novel reached London in mid December, as promised. Warburg recognised its qualities at once ("amongst the most terrifying books I have ever read") and so did his colleagues. An in-house memo noted "if we can't sell 15 to 20 thousand copies we ought to be shot".

By now Orwell had left Jura and checked into a TB sanitorium high in the Cotswolds. "I ought to have done this two months ago," he told Astor, "but I wanted to get that bloody book finished." Once again Astor stepped in to monitor his friend's treatment but Orwell's specialist was privately pessimistic.

As word of Nineteen Eighty-Four began to circulate, Astor's journalistic instincts kicked in and he began to plan an Observer Profile, a significant accolade but an idea that Orwell contemplated "with a certain alarm". As spring came he was "having haemoptyses" (spitting blood) and "feeling ghastly most of the time" but was able to involve himself in the pre-publication rituals of the novel, registering "quite good notices" with satisfaction. He joked to Astor that it wouldn't surprise him "if you had to change that profile into an obituary".

Nineteen Eighty-Four was published on 8 June 1949 (five days later in the US) and was almost universally recognised as a masterpiece, even by Winston Churchill, who told his doctor that he had read it twice. Orwell's health continued to decline. In October 1949, in his room at University College hospital, he married Sonia Brownell, with David Astor as best man. It was a fleeting moment of happiness; he lingered into the new year of 1950. In the small hours of 21 January he suffered a massive haemorrhage in hospital and died alone.

The news was broadcast on the BBC the next morning. Avril Blair and her nephew, still up on Jura, heard the report on the little battery radio in Barnhill. Richard Blair does not recall whether the day was bright or cold but remembers the shock of the news: his father was dead, aged 46.

David Astor arranged for Orwell's burial in the churchyard at Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire. He lies there now, as Eric Blair, between HH Asquith and a local family of Gypsies.

Why '1984'?

Orwell's title remains a mystery. Some say he was alluding to the centenary of the Fabian Society, founded in 1884. Others suggest a nod to Jack London's novel The Iron Heel (in which a political movement comes to power in 1984), or perhaps to one of his favourite writer GK Chesterton's story, "The Napoleon of Notting Hill", which is set in 1984.

In his edition of the Collected Works (20 volumes), Peter Davison notes that Orwell's American publisher claimed that the title derived from reversing the date, 1948, though there's no documentary evidence for this. Davison also argues that the date 1984 is linked to the year of Richard Blair's birth, 1944, and notes that in the manuscript of the novel, the narrative occurs, successively, in 1980, 1982 and finally, 1984. There's no mystery about the decision to abandon "The Last Man in Europe". Orwell himself was always unsure of it. It was his publisher, Fred Warburg who suggested that Nineteen Eighty-Four was a more commercial title.

Freedom of speech: How '1984' has entrusted our culture

The effect of Nineteen Eighty-Four on our cultural and linguistic landscape has not been limited to either the film adaptation starring John Hurt and Richard Burton, with its Nazi-esque rallies and chilling soundtrack, nor the earlier one with Michael Redgrave and Edmond O'Brien.

It is likely, however, that many people watching the Big Brother series on television (in the UK, let alone in Angola, Oman or Sweden, or any of the other countries whose TV networks broadcast programmes in the same format) have no idea where the title comes from or that Big Brother himself, whose role in the reality show is mostly to keep the peace between scrapping, swearing contestants like a wise uncle, is not so benign in his original incarnation.

Apart from pop-culture renditions of some of the novel's themes, aspects of its language have been leapt upon by libertarians to describe the curtailment of freedom in the real world by politicians and officials - alarmingly, nowhere and never more often than in contemporary Britain.

George owes his own adjective to this book alone and his idea that wellbeing is crushed by restrictive, authoritarian and untruthful government.

Big Brother (is watching you)

A term in common usage for a scarily omniscient ruler long before the worldwide smash-hit reality-TV show was even a twinkle in its producers' eyes. The irony of societal hounding of Big Brother contestants would not have been lost on George Orwell.

Some hotels have refused to call a guest bedroom number 101 - rather like those tower blocks that don't have a 13th floor - thanks to the ingenious Orwellian concept of a room that contains whatever its occupant finds most impossible to endure. Like Big Brother, this has spawned a modern TV show: in this case, celebrities are invited to name the people or objects they hate most in the world.

Thought Police

An accusation often levelled at the current government by those who like it least is that they are trying to tell us what we can and cannot think is right and wrong. People who believe that there are correct ways to think find themselves named after Orwell's enforcement brigade.


See "Thought Police" above. The act or fact of transgressing enforced wisdom.

For Orwell, freedom of expression was not just about freedom of thought but also linguistic freedom. This term, denoting the narrow and diminishing official vocabulary, has been used ever since to denote jargon currently in vogue with those in power.


Hypocrisy, but with a twist. Rather than choosing to disregard a contradiction in your opinion, if you are doublethinking, you are deliberately forgetting that the contradiction is there. This subtlety is mostly overlooked by people using the accusation of "doublethink" when trying to accuse an adversary of being hypocritical - but it is a very popular word with people who like a good debate along with their pints in the pub. Oliver Marre

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Doublethink Is Stronger Than Orwell Imagined

What 1984 means today

1984 george orwell book report

No novel of the past century has had more influence than George Orwell’s 1984 . The title, the adjectival form of the author’s last name, the vocabulary of the all-powerful Party that rules the superstate Oceania with the ideology of Ingsoc— doublethink , memory hole , unperson , thoughtcrime , Newspeak , Thought Police , Room 101 , Big Brother —they’ve all entered the English language as instantly recognizable signs of a nightmare future. It’s almost impossible to talk about propaganda, surveillance, authoritarian politics, or perversions of truth without dropping a reference to 1984. Throughout the Cold War, the novel found avid underground readers behind the Iron Curtain who wondered, How did he know?

1984 george orwell book report

It was also assigned reading for several generations of American high-school students. I first encountered 1984 in 10th-grade English class. Orwell’s novel was paired with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World , whose hedonistic and pharmaceutical dystopia seemed more relevant to a California teenager in the 1970s than did the bleak sadism of Oceania. I was too young and historically ignorant to understand where 1984 came from and exactly what it was warning against. Neither the book nor its author stuck with me. In my 20s, I discovered Orwell’s essays and nonfiction books and reread them so many times that my copies started to disintegrate, but I didn’t go back to 1984 . Since high school, I’d lived through another decade of the 20th century, including the calendar year of the title, and I assumed I already “knew” the book. It was too familiar to revisit.

Read: Teaching ‘1984’ in 2016

So when I recently read the novel again, I wasn’t prepared for its power. You have to clear away what you think you know, all the terminology and iconography and cultural spin-offs, to grasp the original genius and lasting greatness of 1984 . It is both a profound political essay and a shocking, heartbreaking work of art. And in the Trump era , it’s a best seller .

1984 george orwell book report

The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 , by the British music critic Dorian Lynskey, makes a rich and compelling case for the novel as the summation of Orwell’s entire body of work and a master key to understanding the modern world. The book was published in 1949, when Orwell was dying of tuberculosis , but Lynskey dates its biographical sources back more than a decade to Orwell’s months in Spain as a volunteer on the republican side of the country’s civil war. His introduction to totalitarianism came in Barcelona, when agents of the Soviet Union created an elaborate lie to discredit Trotskyists in the Spanish government as fascist spies.

1984 george orwell book report

Left-wing journalists readily accepted the fabrication, useful as it was to the cause of communism. Orwell didn’t, exposing the lie with eyewitness testimony in journalism that preceded his classic book Homage to Catalonia —and that made him a heretic on the left. He was stoical about the boredom and discomforts of trench warfare—he was shot in the neck and barely escaped Spain with his life—but he took the erasure of truth hard. It threatened his sense of what makes us sane, and life worth living. “History stopped in 1936,” he later told his friend Arthur Koestler, who knew exactly what Orwell meant. After Spain, just about everything he wrote and read led to the creation of his final masterpiece. “History stopped,” Lynskey writes, “and Nineteen Eighty-Four began.”

The biographical story of 1984 —the dying man’s race against time to finish his novel in a remote cottage on the Isle of Jura , off Scotland—will be familiar to many Orwell readers. One of Lynskey’s contributions is to destroy the notion that its terrifying vision can be attributed to, and in some way disregarded as, the death wish of a tuberculosis patient. In fact, terminal illness roused in Orwell a rage to live—he got remarried on his deathbed—just as the novel’s pessimism is relieved, until its last pages, by Winston Smith’s attachment to nature, antique objects, the smell of coffee, the sound of a proletarian woman singing, and above all his lover, Julia. 1984 is crushingly grim, but its clarity and rigor are stimulants to consciousness and resistance. According to Lynskey, “Nothing in Orwell’s life and work supports a diagnosis of despair.”

Lynskey traces the literary genesis of 1984 to the utopian fictions of the optimistic 19th century—Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888); the sci-fi novels of H. G. Wells, which Orwell read as a boy—and their dystopian successors in the 20th, including the Russian Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924) and Huxley’s Brave New World (1932). The most interesting pages in The Ministry of Truth are Lynskey’s account of the novel’s afterlife. The struggle to claim 1984 began immediately upon publication, with a battle over its political meaning. Conservative American reviewers concluded that Orwell’s main target wasn’t just the Soviet Union but the left generally. Orwell, fading fast, waded in with a statement explaining that the novel was not an attack on any particular government but a satire of the totalitarian tendencies in Western society and intellectuals: “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you .” But every work of art escapes the artist’s control—the more popular and complex, the greater the misunderstandings.

Lynskey’s account of the reach of 1984 is revelatory. The novel has inspired movies, television shows, plays, a ballet, an opera, a David Bowie album , imitations, parodies, sequels, rebuttals, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Black Panther Party, and the John Birch Society. It has acquired something of the smothering ubiquity of Big Brother himself: 1984 is watching you. With the arrival of the year 1984, the cultural appropriations rose to a deafening level. That January an ad for the Apple Macintosh was watched by 96 million people during the Super Bowl and became a marketing legend. The Mac, represented by a female athlete, hurls a sledgehammer at a giant telescreen and explodes the shouting face of a man—oppressive technology—to the astonishment of a crowd of gray zombies. The message: “You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’ ”

The argument recurs every decade or so: Orwell got it wrong. Things haven’t turned out that bad. The Soviet Union is history. Technology is liberating. But Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning. And it’s as a warning that 1984 keeps finding new relevance. The week of Donald Trump’s inauguration, when the president’s adviser Kellyanne Conway justified his false crowd estimate by using the phrase alternative facts , the novel returned to the best-seller lists. A theatrical adaptation was rushed to Broadway. The vocabulary of Newspeak went viral. An authoritarian president who stood the term fake news on its head, who once said, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” has given 1984 a whole new life.

What does the novel mean for us? Not Room 101 in the Ministry of Love, where Winston is interrogated and tortured until he loses everything he holds dear. We don’t live under anything like a totalitarian system. “By definition, a country in which you are free to read Nineteen Eighty-Four is not the country described in Nineteen Eighty-Four ,” Lynskey acknowledges. Instead, we pass our days under the nonstop surveillance of a telescreen that we bought at the Apple Store, carry with us everywhere, and tell everything to, without any coercion by the state. The Ministry of Truth is Facebook, Google, and cable news. We have met Big Brother and he is us.

Trump’s election brought a rush of cautionary books with titles like On Tyranny , Fascism: A Warning , and How Fascism Works . My local bookstore set up a totalitarian-themed table and placed the new books alongside 1984 . They pointed back to the 20th century—if it happened in Germany, it could happen here—and warned readers how easily democracies collapse. They were alarm bells against complacency and fatalism—“ the politics of inevitability ,” in the words of the historian Timothy Snyder, “a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done.” The warnings were justified, but their emphasis on the mechanisms of earlier dictatorships drew attention away from the heart of the malignancy—not the state, but the individual. The crucial issue was not that Trump might abolish democracy but that Americans had put him in a position to try. Unfreedom today is voluntary. It comes from the bottom up.

We are living with a new kind of regime that didn’t exist in Orwell’s time. It combines hard nationalism—the diversion of frustration and cynicism into xenophobia and hatred—with soft distraction and confusion: a blend of Orwell and Huxley, cruelty and entertainment. The state of mind that the Party enforces through terror in 1984 , where truth becomes so unstable that it ceases to exist, we now induce in ourselves. Totalitarian propaganda unifies control over all information, until reality is what the Party says it is—the goal of Newspeak is to impoverish language so that politically incorrect thoughts are no longer possible. Today the problem is too much information from too many sources, with a resulting plague of fragmentation and division—not excessive authority but its disappearance, which leaves ordinary people to work out the facts for themselves, at the mercy of their own prejudices and delusions.

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, propagandists at a Russian troll farm used social media to disseminate a meme: “ ‘The People Will Believe What the Media Tells Them They Believe.’  — George Orwell.” But Orwell never said this. The moral authority of his name was stolen and turned into a lie toward that most Orwellian end: the destruction of belief in truth. The Russians needed partners in this effort and found them by the millions, especially among America’s non-elites. In 1984 , working-class people are called “proles,” and Winston believes they’re the only hope for the future. As Lynskey points out, Orwell didn’t foresee “that the common man and woman would embrace doublethink as enthusiastically as the intellectuals and, without the need for terror or torture, would choose to believe that two plus two was whatever they wanted it to be.”

We stagger under the daily load of doublethink pouring from Trump, his enablers in the Inner Party, his mouthpieces in the Ministry of Truth, and his fanatical supporters among the proles. Spotting doublethink in ourselves is much harder. “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” Orwell wrote . In front of my nose, in the world of enlightened and progressive people where I live and work, a different sort of doublethink has become pervasive. It’s not the claim that true is fake or that two plus two makes five. Progressive doublethink—which has grown worse in reaction to the right-wing kind—creates a more insidious unreality because it operates in the name of all that is good. Its key word is justice —a word no one should want to live without. But today the demand for justice forces you to accept contradictions that are the essence of doublethink.

For example, many on the left now share an unacknowledged but common assumption that a good work of art is made of good politics and that good politics is a matter of identity. The progressive view of a book or play depends on its political stance, and its stance—even its subject matter—is scrutinized in light of the group affiliation of the artist: Personal identity plus political position equals aesthetic value. This confusion of categories guides judgments all across the worlds of media, the arts, and education, from movie reviews to grant committees. Some people who register the assumption as doublethink might be privately troubled, but they don’t say so publicly. Then self-censorship turns into self-deception, until the recognition itself disappears—a lie you accept becomes a lie you forget. In this way, intelligent people do the work of eliminating their own unorthodoxy without the Thought Police.

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Orthodoxy is also enforced by social pressure, nowhere more intensely than on Twitter, where the specter of being shamed or “canceled” produces conformity as much as the prospect of adding to your tribe of followers does. This pressure can be more powerful than a party or state, because it speaks in the name of the people and in the language of moral outrage, against which there is, in a way, no defense. Certain commissars with large followings patrol the precincts of social media and punish thought criminals, but most progressives assent without difficulty to the stifling consensus of the moment and the intolerance it breeds—not out of fear, but because they want to be counted on the side of justice.

This willing constriction of intellectual freedom will do lasting damage. It corrupts the ability to think clearly, and it undermines both culture and progress. Good art doesn’t come from wokeness, and social problems starved of debate can’t find real solutions. “Nothing is gained by teaching a parrot a new word,” Orwell wrote in 1946. “What is needed is the right to print what one believes to be true, without having to fear bullying or blackmail from any side.” Not much has changed since the 1940s. The will to power still passes through hatred on the right and virtue on the left.

1984 will always be an essential book, regardless of changes in ideologies, for its portrayal of one person struggling to hold on to what is real and valuable. “Sanity is not statistical,” Winston thinks one night as he slips off to sleep. Truth, it turns out, is the most fragile thing in the world. The central drama of politics is the one inside your skull.

This article appears in the July 2019 print edition with the headline “George Orwell’s Unheeded Warning.”

​When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Author: George Orwell

Publisher: Secker & Warburg

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Satire

First Publication: 1949

Language:  English

Major Characters: Winston Smith, Big Brother, O’Brien, Emmanuel Goldstein, Tom Parsons, Syme, Julia

Theme: Totalitarianism and Communism, The Individual vs. Collective Identity, Reality Control, Class Struggle,

Setting: London in the year 1984

Narrator: Third-person omniscient

Book Summary: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1984: A Novel, unleashes a unique plot as per which No One is Safe or Free. No place is safe to run or even hide from a dominating party leader, Big Brother, who is considered equal to God. This is a situation where everything is owned by the State. The world was seeing the ruins of World War II. Leaders such as Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini prevailed during this phase. Big Brother is always watching your actions. He even controls everyone’s feelings of love, to live and to discover. The basic plot of this historic novel revolves around the concept that no person has freedom to live life on his or her own terms. The present day is 1984.

The whole world is gradually changing. The nations which enjoy freedom, have distorted into unpleasant and degraded places, in turn creating a powerful cartel known as Oceania. This is the world where the Big Brother controls everything. There is another character Winston Smith, who is leading a normal layman life under these harsh circumstances, though hating all of this. He works on writing the old newspaper articles in order to make history or past relevant to today’s party line.

He is efficient enough in spite of hating his bosses. Julia, a young girl who is morally very rigid comes into the fore. She too hates the system as much as Winston does. Gradually, they get into an affair but have to conceal their feelings for each other, as it will not be acceptable by Big Brother. In Big Brother’s bad world, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.

Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighr is an astonishingly good book which practically (almost single-handedly) created and defined the ‘dystopian novel’ genre. This is undoubtedly the definitive dystopian novel which stands astride the genre like a colossus – head and shoulders above the rest.

Written in the year 1948 and first published in 1949, George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was originally designed as a satire of Stalinism. Like many of his contemporaries, George Orwell was distraught by the Soviet Union’s increasingly totalitarian interpretation of communism. The Soviet Union would collapse in 1991, of course, and communism plays a marginal role at best in today’s world. So how come Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity? How come it feels more and more relevant in a world dominated by capitalism rather than communism?

The fictional world of Nineteen Eighty-Four is under complete control of The Party and its mythical head, Big Brother. Privacy no longer exists: “ Big Brother is watching you ” – always. Data is collected, minds are molded, consent is manufactured. So-called “ telescreens ” monitor every facial expression and record every spoken word, tirelessly looking for “ thoughtcrimes “ while simultaneously broadcasting a never-ending stream of propaganda. No other source of information is available, so the loss of privacy comes with a loss of history and political agency.

“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

The Party is even in the process of developing what it calls “ newspeak ,” a stripped-down, ultimately impotent version of the English language that – through the reduction of grammar and vocabulary – renders subversive ideas unthinkable. Until “ newspeak ” takes over, “ doublethink ” ensures that those little inconsistencies between reality and the claims made by Big Brother (claims such as “ ignorance is strength ” or “ freedom is slavery ” or “ 2+2=5 ”) do not feel problematic in the slightest.

And even if they did, fabricated telescreen reports on what is portrayed as a brutal global war keep the masses in a perpetual state of fear that makes rebellion highly unlikely. Conveniently, this pseudo-war can also be used to justify the elimination of civil rights and liberties. And if there is someone somewhere who somehow manages to resist all this propaganda and surveillance (someone who, like our protagonist, manages to think an independent thought), Big Brother takes the old iron fist out of his pocket and enforces conformity through imprisonment and torture.

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

In today’s world, the scope, sophistication and effectiveness of propaganda and surveillance have long surpassed anything George Orwell could have imagined in 1948. It is not the Communist Party that controls those endeavours, of course, but largely commercial enterprise (with a little help from the politicians it buys).

1984 by George Orwell portrays, with what now seems like terrifying accuracy a near future extreme totalitarian society and it is a novel that is as pertinent today as never before. In an age of ‘ fake news ’ ‘ counter-fake news ’ where truth is increasingly in question, a commodity to be perverted according to need, George Orwell’s 1984 reads like an increasingly and frighteningly accurate portrayal of what was then – a possible future and now a possible present.

Orwell’s concepts of thoughtcrime , doublethink , newspeak , sexcrime , the thought police , along with the wholesale and habitual use of propaganda, the deletion and re-writing of the news/history (‘ he who controls the future controls the past’ ) – historical revisionism, is all just so brilliantly conceived and executed and lest we forget,  George Orwell wrote 1984 in year 1949. If it had not been so brilliantly executed, 1984 by George Orwell would undoubtedly have become very clichéd, tired and dated over the subsequent decades – which quite clearly it hasn’t.

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”

1984 is now so embedded at such a fundamental level in our culture, it is now almost impossible to imagine an absence of 1984 – itself a paradox considering the subject matter and themes of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. The concept now so oft used as common parlance of something being ‘Orwellian’ – surveillance and control.

What George Orwell has created in Nineteen Eighty-Four (once again and along with Animal Farm ) is simply one of the greatest short novels in the English language ever written, let alone one of the most influential – both in literary and cultural terms. The characters of Winston, Julia and O’Brien, Room 101, the surrounding events, the world of Oceania, Ingsoc and the Party remain seared into the readers’ memory with startling effectiveness long after the last page has been turned.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is an outstandingly (in every sense of the word) powerful, thought-provoking, compelling, engaging portrait of an all too feasible near future. Parallels in history are clearly there to see – the National Socialism of Hitler, the Communism of Stalin to name but two – showing us the absolute feasibility of such a world. The way that Orwell writes of the manipulation and creation / management of mass hysteria, the instillation and perpetuation of xenophobia and the unquestioning and blind allegiance to the ‘Party’ has such a feeling of authenticity and is all done so effectively and unbelievably well.

“Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

I cannot overstate the brilliance of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, nor emphasise the power that this novel increasingly has, though perhaps to say that 1984 by George Orwell is quite simply a work of modern literary genius will go some way in conveying how truly great a novel this really is.

George Orwell’s 1984 paints a horrifying picture of a world that could so easily be – an intelligent portrayal of and warning against the evils of totalitarianism and extreme authoritarianism of any kind. But it is so much more than that, along with providing us with such a great central story – a story not solely about power, corruption and lies, but also about love, truth and the human spirit, Nineteen Eighty-Four works on so many, many levels. George Orwell’s 1984 is absolutely, unquestionably and unequivocally essential reading.


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