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1984 Essay, Research Paper


By: George Orwell

Winston Smith works in London at the Ministry of Truth. London is a city in Airstrip One, a Province of Oceania. The Party with Big Brother as its leader rules Oceania, a totalitarian state and one of the great powers of the world. Winston is secretly dissatisfied with his life under the inflexible and paternalistic government and decides to keep a diary of his thoughts. This is considered a crime in Oceania and Winston knows that he will be eventually discovered by the Thought Police. To bind the party members, frequent two minute Hate Sessions are held to accuse the enemies of the party such as Emmanuel Goldstein who questioned party doctrines. Winston dreams of an idyllic Golden Country which represents freedom from the drabness of London, and from the always pervading presence of the Party, the Thought Police and Big Brother. A Golden country in which any form of expression is considered natural. The party discourages sexual fulfilment and makes any love affair with a party member impossible. Winston notices two people, O`Brien a party leader, and a young girl by the name of Julia. Winston hates Julia for what she represents and yet he lusts for her. She appears to be a faithful party member devoted to purity and Winston suspects that she may also be a member of the Thought Police.

Winston shares his doubts about the Party with O`Brien even though he realized that this may be very dangerous. The Parsons’ are neighbors of Winston. Their apartment smells badly. The Parson children are members of the Spies, a party organization and Mr. Parson a fellow employee is a dedicated party member who stupidly and blindly follows the party’s doctrine. Winston works at the Ministry of Truth. His assignment is the rewriting and falsification of history and statistical data in order that they reflect the party’s philosophy. Winston encounters Julia at work. She stumbles and when Winston tries to help her she slips him a paper with “I love you” written on it. They have several encounters and finally manage to meet in privacy. Julia turns out to be a corrupt girl and they make love. They rent a room and live together. Winston and Julia visit O’Brien and join the secret rebel Brotherhood. Except for the requirement to never see each other, they accept all terms of membership. The inevitable happens, the Thought Police arrives at their place and separates them violently. Winston is being held prisoner at the Ministry of Love. He discovers that O`Brien has deceived him. Winston is physically and mentally tortured by O’Brien in the infamous room 101 until he confesses to many crimes he never committed. He is being brain-washed so that he conforms to the party doctrine. The ultimate torture is the use of rats that are caged and strapped over his face to be released at any time. Winston had often dreams of his mother and sister who were eaten by rats. The only person he confessed to about his recurring nightmares is Julia, that’s when the reader suspects that Julia had betrayed him to the Thought Police.

Once the Party is convinced that Winston is totally rehabilitated, he is set free. He drinks heavily. Towards the end it is not quite clear whether Winston has been rehabilitated or not. Is he just pretending to have been completely “cured” by the Party or is he afraid of his thoughts of freedom? I believe George Orwell leaves the interpretation up to the reader. “1984″ is a frightening novel. It gives the reader an insight into an ugly society where personal values of love and family loyalty are destroyed and replaced by emotional loyalty to Big Brother, who alone has the power to create and to destroy. It is a society which cannot allow Freedom of thought and expression, it cannot allow peace, it teaches nothing else but hatred, it must keep its members ignorant so that they cannot question the validity of its decisions. The leaders of this type of society falsify history, documents, data. They brain-wash their citizens. They invade the individual’s thought process all this for the sake of power. The basic human rights are violated. The individual is trapped, frightened and is nothing else but a machine that must respond to orders.

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