1984 Book Summary, Nineteen Eighty Four is a dystopian social science fiction novel and cautionary tale by English writer George Orwell. It was published on 8 June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final book completed in his lifetime.
Thematically, it centres on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance and repressive regimentation of people and behaviours within society. Orwell, a democratic socialist, modelled the authoritarian state in the novel on Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. More broadly, the novel examines the role of truth and facts within societies and the ways in which they can be manipulated.
|1984 George Orwell Summary
1984 George Orwell Summary
Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in London, in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens; everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party’s seemingly omniscient leader, a figure known only as Big Brother.
The Party controls everything in Oceania, even the people’s history and language. Currently, the Party is forcing the implementation of an invented language called Newspeak, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thoughtcrime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes.
As the novel opens, Winston feels frustrated by the oppression and rigid control of the Party, which prohibits free thought, sex, and any expression of individuality. Winston dislikes the party and has illegally purchased a diary in which to write his criminal thoughts. He has also become fixated on a powerful Party member named O’Brien, whom Winston believes is a secret member of the Brotherhood—the mysterious, legendary group that works to overthrow the Party.
Winston works in the Ministry of Truth, where he alters historical records to fit the needs of the Party. He notices a coworker, a beautiful dark-haired girl, staring at him, and worries that she is an informant who will turn him in for his thoughtcrime. He is troubled by the Party’s control of history: the Party claims that Oceania has always been allied with Eastasia in a war against Eurasia, but Winston seems to recall a time when this was not true.
The Party also claims that Emmanuel Goldstein, the alleged leader of the Brotherhood, is the most dangerous man alive, but this does not seem plausible to Winston. Winston spends his evenings wandering through the poorest neighborhoods in London, where the proletarians, or proles, live squalid lives, relatively free of Party monitoring.
One day, Winston receives a note from the dark-haired girl that reads “I love you.” She tells him her name, Julia, and they begin a covert affair, always on the lookout for signs of Party monitoring. Eventually they rent a room above the secondhand store in the prole district where Winston bought the diary. This relationship lasts for some time.
Winston is sure that they will be caught and punished sooner or later (the fatalistic Winston knows that he has been doomed since he wrote his first diary entry), while Julia is more pragmatic and optimistic. As Winston’s affair with Julia progresses, his hatred for the Party grows more and more intense. At last, he receives the message that he has been waiting for: O’Brien wants to see him.
Winston and Julia travel to O’Brien’s luxurious apartment. As a member of the powerful Inner Party (Winston belongs to the Outer Party), O’Brien leads a life of luxury that Winston can only imagine. O’Brien confirms to Winston and Julia that, like them, he hates the Party, and says that he works against it as a member of the Brotherhood. He indoctrinates Winston and Julia into the Brotherhood, and gives Winston a copy of Emmanuel Goldstein’s book, the manifesto of the Brotherhood.
Winston reads the book—an amalgam of several forms of class-based twentieth-century social theory—to Julia in the room above the store. Suddenly, soldiers barge in and seize them. Mr. Charrington, the proprietor of the store, is revealed as having been a member of the Thought Police all along.
Torn away from Julia and taken to a place called the Ministry of Love, Winston finds that O’Brien, too, is a Party spy who simply 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 spends months torturing and brainwashing Winston, who struggles to resist. At last, O’Brien sends him to the dreaded Room 101, the final destination for anyone who opposes the Party.
Here, O’Brien tells Winston that he will be forced to confront his worst fear. Throughout the novel, Winston has had recurring nightmares about rats; O’Brien now straps a cage full of rats onto Winston’s head and prepares to allow the rats to eat his face. Winston snaps, pleading with O’Brien to do it to Julia, not to him.
Giving up Julia is what O’Brien wanted from Winston all along. His spirit broken, Winston is released to the outside world. He meets Julia but no longer feels anything for her. He has accepted the Party entirely and has learned to love Big Brother.
You may also like to read: 12 Rules for Life Book Summary
Questions about 1984 Book Plot
What are the main points of the book 1984? 6 Themes of George Orwell's '1984' that We Need to be Mindful:
- Totalitarianism: Total Control, Pure Power.
- Propaganda Machines.
- The Thing Called Love.
- Liberty and Censorship.
- Language: Doublethink and Newspeak.
- Technology: All-seeing Telescreens and a Watchful Eye.
Why was 1984 banned? Orwell's "1984" was published in 1949 as a warning against totalitarianism and it was banned in the Soviet Union until 1988, a report by news agency Reuters said.
What is a short summary of book 1984? One of the most important themes of 1984 is governmental use of psychological manipulation and physical control as a means of maintaining its power. This theme is present in Chapter I, as Winston's grasping at freedom illustrates the terrifying extent to which citizens are not in control of their own minds.
What is the biggest lesson in 1984? The past is a pawn in the hands of present policy: When the rulers want to change history, they destroy all old books and periodicals and replace them with new ones. The power elite are indifferent to truth. In effect, there is no truth and there is no past.
Is 1984 a good read? 1984 by George Orwell is a definite must-read for all, especially teens before graduating due to the complex content within the novel.
How does 1984 end summary? At the end of George Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith, the protagonist, and his lover, Julia, are captured by the Thought Police. Winston, from whose point of view the story is written, is tortured for a length of time. He resists at first but finally gives in when his torturer, O'Brien, uses rats against him.
Why 1984 is so famous? Something that 1984 does best is placing the reader in a world that is different from their own, but still creepily familiar. Corporate-office-like workspaces, simple names, and technology are all a part of the novel's core story. Zoom out and there are mentions of familiar countries and religions.
What religion was banned in 1984? In Orwell's classic novel, Oceania's totalitarianism rests on compulsory atheism. Oceania is ruled by “the Party,” which forbids religion to its members. Religious belief is one of the “crimes” to which Winston Smith, the hero of 1984, confesses under torture along with sexual perversion and admiration of capitalism.
Is 1984 banned in the USA? Why it was banned: George Orwell's 1984 has repeatedly been banned and challenged in the past for its social and political themes, as well as for sexual content. Additionally, in 1981, the book was challenged in Jackson County, Florida, for being pro-communism.
Why is the book called 1984? The story takes place in an imagined future in the year 1984, when much of the world is in perpetual war.
How is 1984 inappropriate? Rated R scenes of nudity and sex, several dozen pages torture, and a very depressing book. This is a classic that is not for kids.
How did 1984 destroy history? Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped.
How old is Winston 1984? Personality. Winston is stated as being 39 years old at the beginning of the book. Like other major characters, he is a smoker and drinker (his gin and tobacco are of the low-quality "Victory" brand available to Outer Party members).
You may also like to read: The Giver Book Summary