1984 Book Summary – George Orwell

1984 Book Summary - George Orwell
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“Nineteen Eighty-Four” (original title: “1984”) is a novel written by the British author George Orwell. The story of the novel is set in a dystopian world, making it one of the most famous dystopian novels. The concept of “Big Brother,” described prominently in the book, is still frequently used today.

Summary of 1984 Book

In the book “1984,” the story is set in the year 1984 in a dystopian world. Winston Smith, a low-ranking member of the Party governing the nation of Oceania, resides in London. Wherever Winston goes, even in his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens. Every time he looks, he sees the face of Big Brother, the leader who appears to be filled with the wisdom of the Party.

The Party controls everything in Oceania, even rewriting the history and language of its people. Currently, the Party is enforcing the implementation of a fictional language called Newspeak to eliminate all words related to rebellion. Even having rebellious thoughts is illegal, and thought crimes are considered the worst of all offenses.

In the opening of the novel “1984,” Winston feels disillusioned by the pressure and strict control of the Party, which prohibits free thought, sexuality, and any expression of individuality. Winston dislikes the Party and has illegally purchased a diary to write down his guilty thoughts. He also becomes obsessed with O’Brien, a powerful Party member whom he believes to be a secret member of the mysterious and rebellious Brotherhood, a group attempting to overthrow the Party.

Winston works at the Ministry of Truth, where historical records are altered to fit the Party’s needs. One day, he notices a co-worker, a beautiful dark-haired woman, staring at him constantly. He becomes concerned that she might be an informant reporting thought crimes. Winston is disturbed by the Party’s control over history, as it claims that Oceania is always in alliance with Eastasia in a perpetual war against Eurasia, but Winston remembers a time when this was not true.

The Party claims Emmanuel Goldstein, the alleged leader of the Brotherhood, is the most dangerous man alive, but Winston finds this unconvincing. In the evenings, Winston immerses himself in the squalid lives of the proles (proletarians), who live relatively free of Party surveillance in the poorest neighborhoods of London.

One day, Winston receives a note from the dark-haired girl saying “I love you.” She reveals her name as Julia, and they begin a secret relationship, being careful of Party surveillance. Eventually, they rent a room above a second-hand store in a prole area for their affair. As their relationship progresses, Winston’s hatred for the Party intensifies. Finally, he receives the message he has been waiting for: O’Brien wants to see the guy named Winston.

In 1984, Winston and Julia travel to O’Brien’s luxurious apartment. O’Brien, a powerful Inner Party member (Winston belongs to the Outer Party), enjoys a life that Winston could only dream of. O’Brien reveals that he hates the Party just like Winston and works against it as a worker of the Brotherhood. He indoctrinates Winston and Julia into the Brotherhood, giving Winston a copy of Emmanuel Goldstein’s book, the manifesto of the Brotherhood. As Winston reads the book to Julia in the room above the shop, soldiers suddenly burst in and arrest them. It is revealed that the store owner, Mr. Charrington, is a actually a member of the Thought Police all along.

Winston is separated from Julia and taken to a place called the Ministry of Love, Winston learns that O’Brien is, in fact, a Party agent who pretended to be a member of the Brotherhood to trap him. O’Brien tortures and brainwashes Winston for months, and although Winston attempts to resist, he eventually breaks. Finally, O’Brien sends him to Room 101, the ultimate punishment for those who oppose the Party. Here, O’Brien forces Winston to confront his greatest fear: a cage full of rats strapped to his face, ready to eat it. Unable to bear it, Winston begs O’Brien to let the rats eat Julia’s face instead.

Having broken Winston’s spirit, O’Brien releases him back into the outside world. Winston meets Julia, but he no longer feels anything for her. He has fully embraced the Party and learned to love Big Brother.

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