Winston Smith, the main character, works in London, at the Ministry of Truth. London is
a city in Airstrip One, a Province of Oceania. A government that goes by the name Big
Brother has taken over the world. The Party with Big Brother as its leader rules
Oceania, a state and one of the great powers of the world. Winston hates the life he lives
under the inflexible government and decides to write down his thoughts in a diary. This
is considered a crime in Oceania and Winston knows that. And he knows one day he will
be discovered by the Thought Police.
To keep the members of this party occupied, frequent two minute Hate Sessions are
held to accuse the enemies of the party such as Emmanuel Goldstein who questioned
party doctrines. Winston dreams of an pleasant country. A Golden country in
which any form of expression is considered all right. The party discourages love,
and makes any relationship with a party member impossible. Winston notices two
people, O’Brien a party leader, and a young girl by the name of Julia. Winston hates
Julia for being a part of The Party and yet he has an eye for her. She appears to be a
faithful party member devoted to purity and Winston suspects that she may also be a
member of the Thought Police.
Winston shares his doubts about The Party with O’Brien even though he realized
that this may be very dangerous. The Parsons’ are Winstons neighbors. The Parson
children are members of the Spies, a party organization and Mr. Parson a
fellow employee is a dedicated party member who stupidly and blindly follows the party’s
doctrine. Winston works at the Ministry of Truth. His assignment is the rewriting and
falsification of history so that it makes the party look better.
Winston encounters Julia at work. She stumbles and when Winston tries to help
her she slips him a paper with I love you written on it. They have several encounters
and finally manage to meet in privacy. Julia turns out to be a corrupt girl. They begin
living together. Winston and Julia visit O’Brien and join the secret rebel Brotherhood.
Except for the requirement to never see each other, they accept all terms of membership.
Before long the fear that Winston had lived with for so long became a reality and the
Thought Police shows up at their house. The separate Winston and Julia. Winston is
being held prisoner at the Ministry of Love. He finds out that O’Brien has deceived him.
Winston is tortured by O’Brien in the infamous room 101 until he confesses to many
crimes he never committed. He is also being brain-washed so that he conforms to the
party doctrine. The ultimate torture is the use of rats that are caged and strapped over his
face to be released at any time. Winston had often dreamt of his mother and sister who
were eaten by rats.
Once the Party is convinced that Winston is totally rehabilitated, he is set free. He
begins drinking heavily. Nearing the end of the story, we are not quite sure whether
Winston has been brain-washed or not. Is he just pretending to have been completely
cured by the Party or is he afraid to once again think of his thoughts of freedom?
I believe George Orwell leaves the interpretation up to the reader. 1984 is a
frightening novel. It gives the reader an a look into what might become of our world. It
lets us look at an ugly society where family and personal values are destroyed and
replaced by loyalty to Big Brother.