1984 by George Orwell

BACKGROUND

George Orwell was born in England in 1903. He wrote this book in 1949 as a prediction of what the future would be like. The book is about a society where the government controls everything -- they watch your every move and change historical facts and stuff. Orwell’s novel describes a scary world where privacy and individuality don’t exist. Orwell’s political views are also stated in his other books, like Animal Farm.

MAIN CHARACTERS

Winston Smith: He’s the main dude in the story. He’s 39, and works for the Ministry of Truth. He is a part of the Outer party. He hates Big Brother in the beginning and is kind of a rebel.

Julia: She’s a hot babe who sleeps with Winston. Julia works in the Dept. of Fiction. In the end she gets caught rebelling against Big Brother, and is brainwashed.

Big Brother: He is not a person, and he’s not someone’s brother. He’s a mysterious person who is supposedly the leader of the party. His picture is all over the place on posters that say BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. Nobody has seen him in person, but everyone is scared of him and obeys him.

O'Brien: He’s a smart guy who is powerful. He’s a high ranking official in the Inner Party of Oceania. Winston thinks this guy is secretly the leader of the underground rebel movement, but he is wrong.

Goldstein: He’s a dude that writes an anti-Big Brother book. He is a bigtime enemy of the party. Winston reads his book.

PLOT

The story takes place in London, which is in Oceania (one of the superpowers...England doesn’t exist anymore). The main character of the book is this guy named Winston Smith. Winston works in this place called the Ministry of Truth. His job is altering the past, so that history is changed how the government wants people to see it. He is watched by a camera the entire day by some mystical character called Big Brother. In this world, the government considers most fun things a crime, like sex, art, drugs, rock and roll, etc. All the government cares about is making sure the people love Big Brother and obey him like a slave.

Winston hates the government and does some things to rebel. He writes stuff in his diary like "down with Big Brother." He also openly thinks that this dude named O’Brien is a spy and an enemy to Big Brother’s government (also called the party). One day he sees this chick (Julia). He thinks she’s suspicious of him and will turn him in for doing some rebellious things. But then she gives him a note that says, "I love you" (love is a crime in this world). Then they get a secret apartment and have sex. He loves having sex with her and also loves breaking the law.

One day O’Brien gives Winston a note to meet him (remember, he thinks O’Brien is one of the rebels that goes against Big Brother). Winston and Julia go to see O’Brien. O’Brien gives him some radical book that goes against the teachings of Big Brother. Winston reads the book. Meanwhile, Oceania has stopped fighting Eurasia (another superpower). Winston is mad because he has to go back to all the history books and change the fact that they fought. The government wants everyone to think that Oceania and Eurasia have always been at peace.

So Winston reads this book that is anti-Big Brother. Then the "thought Police" (guys who punish people that think or act bad against Big Brother) bust Winston and Julia. O’Brien doublecrosses them. They thought he was a rebel spy, but he actually does work for Big Brother. Then Winston is taken to the "Ministry of Love," where O’Brien brainwashes him. He is taken to this place called Room 101. In this room, Winston is strapped to a chair and this cage device is put on his head which is full of rats. Winston is totally afraid of rats and they are about to let the rats get busy on his face until he tells them to do it to his lover Julia instead. So, he betrays her and is now a broken man and has learned to love Big Brother and not be a rebel. After this whole brainwashing thing, Winston now is in love with Big Brother and is a loyal subject in the party. He bumps into Julia at the end and they aren't interested in each other because she betrayed him too when she was in Room 101.

CHAPTER BY CHAPTER

PART 1

CHAPTER 1 – 2

  • The beginning just describes Oceania.
  • We meet Winston Smith, the main dude. There are TV cameras everywhere watching his every move.
  • There is also a variation on the English language called Newspeak, which they use.
  • Newspeak is basically shrinking the English language, so if you pick up an old book, you won’t be able to read it because you won’t know any of the words.
  • They don’t have definitions for words that we associate with fun stuff: partying, sex, etc. So if you can’t define something, it can’t be possible right?
  • This thinking is called Doublethink. Doublethink is a method to make people accept contradictions. An example is: sex exists but there is no definition for sex so it does not exist and you can’t have it. That’s doublethink.
  • Winston talks about the girl who works near him and what a hottie she is, but he is paranoid because he thinks she’s out to get him.
  • Winston writes in a diary the phrase "Down With Big Brother." He realizes this is a thoughtcrime.
  • A thoughtcrime is a crime where you think bad thoughts about Big Brother and the party.
  • Winston hears a knock at his door. It is his neighbor, Mrs. Parsons. She asks him to fix her plumbing.
  • Winston talks about how he thinks this powerful guy (O’Brien) is really the leader of the rebel movement.

CHAPTER 3 – 4

  • Winston has a dream about being with his mom in a sinking ship.
  • Winston talks about how his job is to change history. His country (Oceania) is at war with Eurasia and at peace with EastAsia. But when Oceania and Eurasia are at peace with each other, he must go back and change all the times when they were at war. So he creates a new history.
  • Oceania was at war with Eurasia but now they are at peace so now they were never at war with Eurasia. Doublethink!
  • He also changes people’s records. If someone was reported as a friend of the party, then turned enemy, their existence is erased. Yeah, it’s Doublethink!

CHAPTER 5 – 6

  • Winston and this guy named Syme have lunch together.
  • Syme talks to him about their version of the English language "NewsSpeak."
  • Syme says that NewsSpeak narrows thought and hinders people.
  • Winston writes in his diary about a hooker he had sex with and how much trouble he’d get in if caught; sex for pleasure and love are illegal in Oceania.
  • Then Winston thinks about this chick named Julia, who works in his building. He really wants her.

CHAPTER 7 – 8

  • Winston talks about this group of people called Proles (Proletariats). He likes them because they have the balls to revolt at any time.
  • Proles are like the lower class in the society.
  • He says that they are the only ones who could overthrow Big Brother but they’re too stupid to do it.
  • Winston talks about how he once caught the party lying about something. He is kinda upset because he likes the truth.
  • Winston continues to write his diary full of "thought crimes." He wants to give it to O’Brien because he thinks O’Brien is a rebel leader.
  • Winston goes to the Prole neighborhood, because he wants to interact with some real people, not Big Brother’s drones.
  • He buys a paperweight. Then he thinks some more about O’Brien.

PART 2

CHAPTER 1 - 2

  • Winston sees that girl (Julia) that he’s been dreaming about. She gives him a note that says, "I LOVE YOU". He is really surprised
  • The next week they meet and avoid all of Big Brother’s cameras; remember, sex for pleasure is illegal and love is illegal.
  • They go out to the country (where nobody can see them). Then they do it like rabbits.
  • Winston finds out she has been with many guys. He likes that she’s slept around because that means she’s more of a rebel.

CHAPTER 3 – 4

  • After their hot sex, they go home and take different routes so they’re not caught.
  • They meet some more in some secret places and continue having hot sex.
  • She tells him why sex is illegal. The party hates sex because it is wasted energy. People could use that energy for something useful.
  • Winston thinks that they’ll get caught, Julia doesn’t care.
  • Then Winston rents an apartment where he and Julia can have sex.
  • They prepare for this festival called "Hate Week", where party members practice hating the enemy.
  • Winston and Julia meet to have sex. She brings some luxury foods, and also has makeup on; another illegal thing.
  • They have sex and cuddle. Winston gets scared because he sees a rat; he hates rats.

CHAPTER 5 – 6

  • Hate Week continues and people practice hate and stuff. Winston finds out that his buddy Syme was killed and his existence was erased from the records.
  • Winston and Julia continue doing it. They talk about escaping or joining the secret rebel movement.
  • Winston tells her he thinks that O’Brien is a rebel and they could go to him.
  • Julia talks about how she thinks that Big Brother and the party are too mighty and will never get their asses kicked.
  • Then O’Brien talks to Winston and wants to meet with him. Winston is happy because now he finally can escape to the rebel movement.
  • O’Brien invites him to his house.

CHAPTER 7 – 8

  • Winston has a dream about his mother. Then he talks to Julia about his childhood. He grew up during some big war and when London was destroyed. He was split up from his parents.
  • He talks to Julia about what they will do if they’re caught.
  • Julia and Winston go to O’Brien’s house.
  • O’Brien has a nice house with all sorts of expensive stuff. Winston and Julia tell O’Brien that they wanna be rebels and fight Big Brother. The rebels are called the "Brotherhood".
  • Winston thinks that O’Brien is a rebel, so they talk about stuff.
  • Winston tells O’Brien about his secret apartment where he and Julia had sex.
  • Then O’Brien gives him a book by this guy named Goldstein. The book tells all about what the rebels want; they leave O’Brien’s house.

CHAPTER 9 – 10

  • The rebel book is written by Goldstein, the leader of the Brotherhood. He is public enemy #1 of Big Brother.
  • Winston reads the beginning of the book. It talks about the true history of Oceania and how the Inner Party works.
  • It also talks about new philosophies and how the Party controls peoples minds.
  • Winston reads the book then falls asleep in his secret apartment with Julia. He wakes up and there is someone in his room.
  • Then all these cops enter and arrest Winston and Julia. Then the cops beat up Winston and Julia LAPD style.
  • You see, O’Brien doublecrossed them. He wasn’t a rebel, he was a party member pretending to be a rebel pretending to be a party member.

PART 3

CHAPTER 1 – 2

  • Winston is in prison. His cell is dirty. He wonders how Julia is.
  • Then O’Brien comes into his cell and Winston thinks he was caught; remember Winston still thinks O’Brien is still a rebel.
  • O’Brien tells him that he was caught a long time ago and was forced to trick people into revealing secret locations.
  • Winston gets the crap beaten out of him and is tortured.
  • Then O’Brien starts brainwashing Winston so that he will obey the party. He wants to erase Winston’s memories and replace them with new ones.
  • Winston resists the mind programming at first but then buckles under pressure. Winston starts to go nuts. Winston goes along just so they’ll stop beating him.
  • For some odd reason, Winston thinks O’Brien is still a friend. Then Winston is hooked up to some machine that brainwashes him. Then they ask Winston questions and he answers how they want him to answer.

CHAPTER 3 – 4

  • Winston continues to be interrogated. They ask him questions and, if he answers wrong according to how someone should act in the party, they hurt him.
  • We find out that O’Brien actually wrote that Goldstein book. The plan to take over Big Brother is bull, and would never work.
  • O’Brien tells Winston about the party’s power and how it will never die. Winston answers questions but still says he loves Julia. This makes O’Brien mad because he can’t crack his mind completely.
  • Winston finally accepts the party rules. But he still believes in freedom and no matter how much he is beaten he will continue not liking them. Winston is scared because he thinks they’re gonna kill him.
  • O’Brien asks Winston one last time about Big Brother and Winston says he hates Big Brother. So they take Winston to the dreaded Room 101.

CHAPTER 5 – 6

  • Winston is tied to a chair. O’Brien tries this last thing to completely break Winston’s mind. So he uses rats; Winston HATES rats.
  • O’Brien puts a big box over Wintson’s head and it has rats in it. O’brien is about to open the doors in the box so the rats can chew Winston’s face. Winston wimps out and tells them to do it to Julia instead.
  • O’Brien is happy because Winston betrayed his lover.
  • Then the story cuts to Winston at some bar. He is a like a zombie, now following Big Brother’s orders. He is still a prisoner.
  • Winston sees Julia. She is brainwashed, too. They tell each other how they both betrayed on another. Julia is pissed off that Winston would do that.
  • They are not attracted to each other anymore. Winston is finally under Big Brother’s spell. He obeys everything the party believes.

THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART

  • The basic point of this book is that it is dangerous to let government have too much power. See, in this book, the government controlled everyone and everything they did. Now imagine if our government had too much power and we didn’t have our freedom anymore. That would suck wouldn’t it?
  • Orwell’s vision is of a totalitarian world.
  • The bad guys in this book are the government people. They try to control everything. People aren’t allowed to have anything that is not approved by the government. See how this "society" where the government rules people kinda looks like slavery doesn’t it? Except the difference between slavery and Oceania is that in slavery the people are physically made to obey. In Oceania the people are brainwashed and manipulated: doublethink!
  • Orwell’s book was influenced by Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini. These three dudes were terrible dictators during World War II. They kinda believed in the same society that Orwell wrote about in 1984.
  • Winston kinda appears to commit suicide in the book. Although he doesn’t die, he becomes a rebel and does a lot of things that lead him to getting caught. When he is caught he is brainwashed and his free spirit and independent thoughts die. So he committed suicide by killing his free will.