1984 Study Guide

This essay has a total of 1106 words and 5 pages.

1984

Summary


On a cold day in April of 1984, a man named Winston Smith returns to his home, a
dilapidated apartment building called Victory Mansions. Thin, frail, and thirty-nine years
old, it is painful for him to trudge up the stairs because he has a varicose ulcer above
his right ankle. The elevator is always out of service so he does not try to use it. As he
climbs the staircase, he is greeted on each landing by a poster depicting an enormous
face, underscored by the words "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU."


Winston is an insignificant official in the Party, the totalitarian political regime that
rules all of Airstrip One—the land that used to be called England—as part of the
larger state of Oceania. Though Winston is technically a member of the ruling class, his
life is still under the Party's oppressive political control. In his apartment, an
instrument called a telescreen—which is always on, spouting propaganda, and through
which the Thought Police are known to monitor the actions of citizens—shows a dreary
report about pig iron. Winston keeps his back to the screen. From his window he sees the
Ministry of Truth, where he works as a propaganda officer altering historical records to
match the Party's official version of past events. Winston thinks about the other
Ministries that exist as part of the Party's governmental apparatus: the Ministry of
Peace, which wages war; the Ministry of Plenty, which plans economic shortages; and the
dreaded Ministry of Love, the center of the Inner Party's loathsome activities.


WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH



From a drawer in a little alcove hidden from the telescreen, Winston pulls out a small
diary he recently purchased. He found the diary in a secondhand store in the proletarian
district, where the very poor live relatively unimpeded by Party monitoring. The proles,
as they are called, are so impoverished and insignificant that the Party does not consider
them a threat to its power. Winston begins to write in his diary, although he realizes
that this constitutes an act of rebellion against the Party. He describes the films he
watched the night before. He thinks about his lust and hatred for a dark-haired girl who
works in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth, and about an important Inner
Party member named O'Brien—a man he is sure is an enemy of the Party. Winston remembers
the moment before that day's Two Minutes Hate, an assembly during which Party orators whip
the populace into a frenzy of hatred against the enemies of Oceania. Just before the Hate
began, Winston knew he hated Big Brother, and saw the same loathing in O'Brien's eyes.


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