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Essay: Nineteen Eighty-Four

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  • Published: October 11, 2015*
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  • Nineteen Eighty-Four
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Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in London (in the nation of Oceania). The Party is controlling everything in Oceania likewise it is controlling Winston Smith. Everywhere Winston goes he is being watched by the leader of the Party, known only as Big Brother.
Winston is frustrated by the oppression of the Party which prohibits any expression of individuality. He gets in touch with a powerful Party member named O’Brien. Later on, O’Brien turns out to be what Winston believed he is, a part of the group that works to overthrow the Party (”the Brotherhood”).
Winston works in the Ministry of Truth, where he notices a beautiful dark-haired girl named Julia staring at him. They begin a secret affair while always on the lookout for signs of Party monitoring. Eventually after the relationship lasts for some time and when Winston’s hatred for the Party grows more and more, he receives a message from O’Brien: O’Brien wants to see him.
O’Brien confirms that, like Winston and Julia, he hates the Party and says that he is a member of the Brotherhood. He indoctrinates Winston and Julia into the Brotherhood. While Winston reads the book that O’Brien gave him to Julia in their room, all of a sudden soldiers invade and seize them. The owner of the store under their room, where Winston once bought a diary to write his criminal thoughts in, is revealed as having been a member of the Thought Police all that time.
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 drops out, 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.

Main character: Winston Smith
Orwell’s primary goal in 1984 is to demonstrate the terrifying possibilities of totalitarianism. Winston’s personal tendency to resist the prohibiting of his individuality, and his intellectual ability to reason about his resistance, enables the reader to observe and understand the harsh oppression that the Party, Big Brother, and the Thought Police bring. Winston’s long reflections give Orwell a chance to explore the novel’s important themes, including language as mind control, psychological and physical intimidation and manipulation, and the importance of knowledge of the past.
Apart from his thoughtful nature, Winston’s main attributes are his rebelliousness and his fatalism. Winston hates the Party passionately and wants to test the limits of its power; he commits innumerable crimes throughout the novel, ranging from writing ‘DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER’ in his diary, to having an illegal love affair with Julia, to getting himself secretly indoctrinated into the anti-Party Brotherhood. The effort Winston puts into his attempt to achieve freedom and independence ultimately underscores the Party’s power. By the end of the novel, Winston’s rebellion is revealed. O’Brien’s physical and psychological torture, transformed Winston into a loyal subject of Big Brother.
One reason for Winston’s rebellion, and eventual downfall, is his sense of fatalism’his intense (though entirely justified) paranoia about the Party and his overriding belief that the Party will eventually catch and punish him. As soon as he writes ‘DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER’ in his diary, Winston is positive that the Thought Police will quickly capture him for committing a thoughtcrime. Thinking that he is helpless to evade his doom, Winston allows himself to take unnecessary risks, such as trusting O’Brien and renting the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop. Deep down, he knows that these risks will increase his chances of being caught by the Party; he even admits this to O’Brien while in prison. But because he believes that he will be caught no matter what he does, he convinces himself that he must continue to rebel. Winston lives in a world in which legitimate optimism is an impossibility; lacking any real hope, he gives himself false hope, fully aware that he is doing so.

Other characters
Julia: Where as Winston is extremely pensive and curious, desperate to understand how and why the Party exercises such absolute power in Oceania, Julia is untroubled and somewhat selfish, interested in rebelling only for the pleasures to be gained.
O’Brien: When Winston asks O’Brien if he too has been captured by the Party, O’Brien replies, ‘They got me long ago.’ This reply could signify that O’Brien himself was once rebellious, only to be tortured into passive acceptance of the Party. One can also argue that O’Brien pretends to sympathize with Winston only to gain his trust. Similarly, one cannot be sure whether the Brotherhood actually exists, or if it is simply a Party invention used to trap the disloyal and give the rest of the populace a common enemy. The novel does not answer these questions, but rather leaves O’Brien as a shadowy, symbolic enigma on the fringes of the even more obscure Inner Party.
Time and place
The book takes place in 1984. The book progresses in chronological manner with sometimes a flashback.
The book mainly takes place in London, Oceania. Important places are Winston’s room, the Ministry of Truth where Winston works, the store under Winston’s room and Room 101 where people who oppose to the Party get confronted with their worst fear.
The ending of the book
I think this book has an open end because when finished reading, there are still a lot of questions where no answers are given to. One obvious example is the question Winston asks to O’Brien. ”Does the Brotherhood exist”? Winston asks. ” That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.”
The book is divided in three equal parts all very specific.
There are thus three main movements:
– description of main character against the setting. Emphasis on setting : a regimented world. Last from the 4th to the 6th of April = 2 days.
– transformation of Winston’s life through temporary happiness (Julia). This part lasts from April to August = 5 months.
– imprisonment, torture and final abandonment of intellectual integrity = ugliness. Lasts from August to May = 9 months.
The title
Obviously, the title 1984 comes from the year where the events from the book happened.
The theme outsiders can be described as someone or something that is or that is stepping outside of something.
In 1984 the main character, Winston Smith, resists to go along with the ruling system (totalitarianism).
1984 is a political novel written with the purpose of warning readers in the West of the dangers of totalitarian government. Orwell portrays a state in which government monitors and controls every aspect of human life to the extent that even having a disloyal thought is against the law. As the novel progresses, the timidly rebellious Winston Smith sets out to challenge the limits of the Party’s power, only to discover that its ability to control and enslave its subjects dwarfs even his most paranoid conceptions of its reach. As the reader comes to understand through Winston’s eyes, The Party uses a number of techniques to control its citizens, each of which is an important theme of its own in the novel.

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