The story of 1984 is a very dark and depressing look at the future. The main character, Winston, is a man that works for the Ministry of Truth, a government branch that alters the news to fit to their agenda. Winston lives in a futuristic England named Oceania in a small room above a man named Mr. Charrington’s store. The government is headed by The Party and controlled by the Thought Police. Their symbol is Big Brother. Big Brother is a scorn looking man with dark hair and a thick mustache who’s posted on the walls of buildings. Probably the most memorable or popular quote of the book is:
“Big Brother is watching you”(Orwell 1).
This quote goes along with the picture of Big Brother giving him an even more dominant and omnipotent tone. This man is a symbol for the Party. The Party is the main government and their agenda is enforced by the Thought Police. The Thought Police is a group that controls and monitors citizen’s thoughts and feelings. Things illegal in the Thought Police’s eyes are: intellectual individuality, free thought, and sex. *SPOILERS* The story begins with Winston writing about a fellow Ministry worker named O’Brien in a journal he bought (illegal). Winston believes he is a secret member of the Brotherhood, an underground rebellion group. While at work he notices a female coworker that he believes to be following him and worries she will turn him into the Thought Police for his crimes he has admitted to in his journal. However, he is mistaken. The woman gives Winston a note at work that reads, ” I love you”. And this is where the story really begins. The woman, Julia, and Winston begin a secretive love affair that goes on for some time. Their love for each other grows as their hatred for the Party does the same. While this relationship is going Winston receives a message from a long awaited O’Brien. He directs him and Julia to meet him. They arrive at O’Brien’s apartment where he tells the couple of his hatred of the party and his involvement with the Brotherhood. Once Julia and Winston agrees with him he initiates them into the Brotherhood, giving Winston a book by the leader of the Brotherhood, Emmanuel Goldstein. Winston and Julia return to his room above the store where he reads the book to her. After reading for a minute or two, the Thought Police rush through Winston’s door, lead by an unknown informant, Mr.Charrington, who had been letting Winston use the room above his store. They couple is separated and each taken to The Ministry of Love. At the ministry, Winston, is tortured. The beginning of his torture began when a man came into the room, O’Brien, another secret member of the Thought Police. The brainwashing and torture sessions go on for months with Winston, these come to a climax when O’Brien exploits Winston’s worst fear, rats. He places Winston’s head in a cage of rats. Once the process begins, Winston is overwhelmed with fear and eventually gives up the woman he loved, Julia. This is exactly what the Party wanted and they release him out into the world. The love he once had for Julia is now felt towards Big Brother and the Party.*END SPOILERS*
I greatly enjoyed this book with it’s incredibly descriptive and dark writing. The author, George Orwell, is known for this style of work. He engaged in this form of dystopian writing so much that stories resembling his are referred to as “Orwellian”. This form of storytelling that Orwell displays in this story is a very pessimistic one of the future. Orwell wrote this book in the 1940’s, a time where the future of England didn’t seem so bright. *SPOILERS* The story starts where it finishes, it is a closed loop storyline. Winston starts at the same place he ends, in a hopeless, thoughtless life. He is a a broken man with no love in his heart.*END SPOILERS* All in all I would highly recommend this book if you are a fan of politics, dystopian futures, or Orwell’s other works.