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1984

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(pub. 1949)

Webmaster's Note, 5/10/2007 - We have been informed by the rights holder that this work is still copyrighted in our territory. So we have removed it. You may still read our original summary though to the left.

Also commonly titled as Nineteen Eighty-Four

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1984 is possibly the definitive dystopian novel, set in a world beyond our imagining. A world where totalitarianism really is total, all power split into three roughly equal groups--Eastasia, Eurasia, and Oceania. 1984 is set in Oceania, which includes the United Kingdom, where the story is set, known as Airstrip One.

Winston Smith is a middle-aged, unhealthy character, based loosely on Orwell's own frail body, an underling of the ruling oligarchy, The Party. The Party has taken early 20th century totalitarianism to new depths, with each person subjected to 24 hour surveillance, where people's very thoughts are controlled to ensure purity of the oligarchical system in place. Figurehead of the system is the omnipresent and omnipotent Big Brother.

But Winston believes there is another way.

1984 joins Winston as he sets about another day, where his job is to change history by changing old newspaper records to match with the new truth as decided by the Party.

"He who controls the past, controls the future" is a Party slogan to live by and it gives Winston his job, but Winston cannot see it like that. Barely old enough to recall a time when things were different, he sets out to expose the Party for the cynically fraudulent organisation that it is. He is joined by Julia, a beautiful young woman much in contrast with Winston physically, but equally sickened by the excesses of her rulers.

You will meet many recognisable characters, themes, and words which have become part of our everyday life as you read 1984. Where did Big Brother first appear? Certainly not on Australian TV! Written in Orwell's inimitable journalistic style, 1984 is a tribute to a man who saw the true dangers of historian Lord Acton's (1834-1902) statement: "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Submitted by The Atheist.

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As Winston said, even if you are a minority of one it does not make you wrong.--Submitted by Anonymous.

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Winston Smith lives in a world very unlike the world of his forefathers. There have been atomic wars just thirty years in the past and some of his memories seem clouded as Winston is filled with doubt, almost as if the events did not happen at all. Winston feels he must put these thoughts down on paper or they will be forgotten forever. However,such a task is forbidden by the state controlled government. Winston decides to write his journal anyway. What transpires next in the novel is at the heart of what makes men able to exist with some degree of hope for the future. Winston's world is a very hopeless, unfriendly place.--Submitted by Tom Hickman.



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Orwell provides compelling reasons for the people of the 21st century to, much as we did in the 60's, question authority. Winston holds these thoughts dear but because of how society has been allowed to evolve he must be careful with even his own thoughts. You'll go with him as he meets Julia and as, against all odds, develops a relationship. Surprises abound in this unique and, at the time it was written, futuristic look at a world that has allowed itself to be taken over by an entity that we know even today as Big Brother. You'll find yourself asking how this man who wrote the novel in 1948 could possibly have such foresight into what would evolve into the world as we know it today. Similarities between life as we know it and life as Orwell foresaw abound. The book will cause you to look around yourself and question the policies of our government and the policies of global governments and how they impact our daily life. Definitely a compelling read !--Submitted by Anonymous.

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Recent Forum Posts on 1984

1984 Big Brother

When O'Brien is torturing Winston he is given the opportunity of asking questions to O'Brien, he asks some that brought a question to me. One is that he asks if Big Brother exists and O'Brien of course says that he is the embodiment of The Party. But Winston asks back if he exists the same way himself exist, O'Brien answers back that Winston does not exist. Winston simply describes how he was alive and shall die but O'Brien still answers that Big Brother exists. O'Brien says back to Winston that Big Brother will never die, he is the life of The Party. Simply the way he says this make me think that Big Brother must not exist at all it is simply a figure they made up for the people to follow. Does Big Brother truly exist? For me the answer is no. The true ruler is the very Inner Party who do what they want.

1984 compared to today

How is 1984 similar to today? How are the politics similar? Is the "sexual rules" or "gender roles" any different or the same?

Julia's confession

In the novel, after Julia and Winston were captured by the Thought Police and taken to the Ministry of Love to be tortured, she easily confesses against Winston and the rebellion. Was Julia ever truly apart of the rebellion against Big Brother, or did she simply use Winston for her own self benefit?

Questions

Why does Winston keep doing things that he knows are wrong? Ie. Julia, the diary, going to the antique shop.

Curing Winston

When Big Brother was "curing" Winston why did they start to give him nice things like a bed, a stool, and good food. Is this part of there plan to cure him or are they doing it for a different reason?

1984 Brotherhood

When Winston meets with O'Brien and he takes Julia they discuss on how the Brotherhood works and what they expected them to do. O'Brien explained that he himself did not know how many people were among the group just a specified group and that will also happen to Winston. They also talk about how Emmanuel Goldstein was their leader and savior yet Winston grew up in the hate of Goldstein. Each side is different one against the past and freedom the other for freedom and the true history. Together Julia and Winston agree to join but are unwilling to separate from each other. Among this discussion does O'Brien truly acknowledge Winston and Julia as members or does he plan to just use them as pawns? Since he barely saw Julia during the conversation, yet among that completely disregarded her from the beginning. What is the true connection between Winston and O'Brien, is it truly the eyes that told the truth between them or something else?

1984: Winston character analysis

It's obvious that Orwell's primary goal in writing this book is to demonstrate the terrifying possibilities of totalitarianism. The reader experiences this world through the eyes of the protagonist Winston. his personal tendency to resist the stifling of his indeviduality, and his intellectual ability to reason about his resistance, enables the reader to observe and understand the harsh oppression the Party institutes. Apart from his thoughtful nature, Winston's main attributes are his rebeliousness and fatalism. Winston is a prime example of many themes within the novel, more importantly, the knowledge of history. this is a vital theme that is very common within Winston because he doesn't remember anything about his past or even the world's past for that matter. there is obviously a lot of thing that Winston represents more importantly in his character.

Why confess?

When Julia and Winston go to O'Brein's house and they are told they must confess and die. If the are going to die any way why should they confess and rat out a few other members of the Brotherhood? Why can't they die and keep the secrets with them?

Winston and Julia

When Winston is in his cell, he says that the thought of Julia barely crosses his mind. Why isn't Winston concerned for Julia's well being or where she is?

No Emotions

In 1984, all of the characters are very emotionless. It seems that Big Brother has beaten all of the feelings that human beings have for each other out of everyone. You can see this when Winston is telling Julia about the last time that he saw his mother. Winston had taken his sister's piece of chocolate and ran away, but when he returned home no one was there. He assumed that his mother had been taken to a re-education camp. While telling Julia about this sad story, she didn't care at all, she was falling asleep during his story. The characters don't have any sympathy. Another time this was shown was when Winston was telling Julia about how he wanted to push his wife off of a cliff. Julia was not surprised to hear about this at all, in fact she said that he should have done it. Also, when Syme was vaporized Winston did not feel upset at all, even though he considered Syme to be one of his only friends. Even though Syme was considered to be one of his only friends, their relationship was far from it. In 1984, the characters don't have the same feelings that people in a regular society have. Big Brother doesn't allow for people to care about one another in a loving way. Everybody is just there and not really feeling.

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