Jacky Zou Book Summary and Analysis 1984 George Orwell In 1984 by George Orwell, Winston Smith, a low-ranking member of the Party in London located in the nation of Oceania, faces a life of oppression and control. The Party watches Winston and everyone else through “telescreens” and displays their seemingly all-knowing leader, known as Big Brother, on the telescreens. The Party is also forcing a language called Newspeak, which prevents political rebellion by removing all words related to the subject. At the beginning of the novel, Winston Smith feels frustrated due to the Party’s oppression and strict control over everything.
The Party prohibits free thought, sex, and any expression of individuality. Despite the prohibitions and oppression, Winston decides to illegally purchase a diary to write his thoughts in. Winston has also become interested on a powerful Party member named O’Brien, whom (according to Winston’s beliefs) is a secret member of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is a mysterious group that works to overthrow the Party.
Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth, where he changes historical records to fit the demands of the Party.
Later, Winston notices a coworker, a beautiful dark-haired girl, staring at him and worries that she is an informant who plans to turn him in for his “thought-crime” (thinking of rebellion against the party). According to the Party, Emmanuel Goldstein, the alleged leader of the Brotherhood, is the most dangerous man alive, however Winston doubts the Party. A few days later, Winston receives a note from the mysterious dark-haired girl, Julia, which reads “I love you”. Winston and Julia begin a secret affair and rent a room above the store where Winston bought the diary.
As the affair continues, Winston’s hatred towards the Party grows more intense. Soon, Winston receives a message from O’Brien stating that he wants to see Winston. O’Brien, a powerful member of the Inner Party who leads a luxurious life, confirms to Winston that he also hates the Party. O’Brien tells Winston that he is a member of the Brotherhood and “indoctrinates” Winston and Julia in the Brotherhood. After given a copy of Emmanuel Goldstein’s book, Winston reads the book to Julia in the room above the store. However, soldiers suddenly barge in and seize the couple.
The store owner, Mr. Charrington, is revealed as a member of the Though Police. Winston Smith is separated from Julia and is taken to the Ministry of Love. Winston also finds out that O’Brien was a spy who pretended to be a member of the Brotherhood in order to trap Winston into committing an open act of rebellion against the Party. O’Brien tries to brainwash Winston by torturing him for months. Finally, O’Brien sends Winston to Room 101, a dreaded destination for any individual who dares to oppose the Party, and tells Winston that he will soon face his worse fear.
Through the novel, Winston has had repeating nightmares about rats. O’Brien decides to strap a cage full of rats onto Winston’s head and plans to let the rats eat Winston’s face. Succumbing to his fears, Winston pleads with O’Brien to do the torture to Julia and not him. O’Brien is pleased with the outcome, since giving up Julia was what O’Brien wanted all along. With his spirit broken, Winston is released and when he meets Julia, no longer has any feeling for her. This act demonstrates that Winston Smith has accepted the Party and has learned to obey/love “Big Brother”.
Themes of 1984 Oppression/Manipulation In 1984, the Party overwhelms individuals with psychological stimuli designed to prevent independent thought. For example, the giant telescreens in the rooms of every citizen blast propaganda constantly. This is to make the failures of the Party appear to be triumphant successes. Also, the telescreens monitor the behaviors of the citizens everywhere they go. Another purpose of the telescreens is to constantly remind the citizens that they are being watches by “Big Brother”.
Another act of oppression and manipulation done by the Party is the induction of children into the “Junior Spies”. This group brainwashes and encourages the children to spy on their own parents and to report any disloyalty to the Party. By manipulating things such as freedom of thought and speech, the Party channels the frustration of the citizens against the Party’s political enemies. Physical Control Another theme of 1984 is “Physical Control”, which is similar to the mental part of the Party’s manipulation.
The Party controls the bodies of its subjects by forcing its members to participate in morning exercises called Physical Jerks. After these morning exercises, the members work long hours at government agencies and are kept in a state of exhaustion. Anyone who defies the Party are punished and reeducated through torture. According to Winston Smith, physical pain is more powerful than anything and that not even emotional loyalty or moral conviction can overcome the pain. Manipulation of History and Information Another theme in 1984 is the “Manipulation of History and Information”.
The Party control every source of information (Ministry of Truth), therefore the Party is has the ability to rewrite the content of all newspapers and histories for its own purposes. Also, the Party does not allow individuals to keep records of their own pasts, such as photographs. As a result of the Party’s manipulation, memories become unreliable and citizens begin to rely on the information the Party tells them. Basically, but controlling the present, the Party is able to control the past. By controlling the information from the past, the Party is basically always right in its actions in the present.
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