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1984 George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-four
Today I want to introduce the book 1984 by George Orwell. It was written in 1948 and published in 1949. It is one of Orwell´s most famous books.
Eric Arthur Blair, the real name of George Orwell was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel,Burmese Days(1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a provatetutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals.Down and Out in Paris and Londonwas published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, andThe Road to Wigan Pier(1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there. At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and he was wounded (Homage to Cataloniais his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on he was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there he wroteComing Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of Tribunehe contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary and he also wrote for theObserverand later forthe Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory,Animal Farm, was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together withNineteen Eighty- Four, which brought him worldwide fame. George Orwell died in London in January 1950.
1984 means the year, when everything has changed. The world is divided into three countries: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. Ociania compromises the Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles, Australasia and the southern portion of Afrika. Eurasia compromisis the whole of the northern part of the European and Asiatic land-mass. Eastasia, smaller than the others compromises China and the countries to the south of it, the Japanese islands and large parts of Mongolia and Tibet. Two of the three countries are allied and lead
war against the third country. Who is allied and who is the enemy changes from time to time. The novel is set in the year 1984 in London in Ociania, a superpower controlled by the restrictive "Party" and led by the symbolic head Big Brother. Everywhere you can see large posters of him saying: "Big Brother Is Watching You". The slogans of the party are:
WAR IS PEACE!
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY! IGNORANCE IS STRENGHT!
The entire apparatus of government in Ociania is divided in four Ministries: TheMinistry of Truth, which concerns itself with news, entertainment, education and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerns itself with war. TheMinistry of Love, which maintains law and order and theMinistry of Plenty, which is responsible for economic affairs. The regime has invented a new language, called Newspeak, the official language in Oceania. The names of the Ministries in Newspeak are Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv and Miniplenty. The Ministry of Love is the really frightening one. It is a place impossible to enter except on official business, and then only by penetrating through a maze of barbed wire entanglements, steel doors and hidden machine-gun nests.
The Party controls the industry and the production of all goods. But the worst thing is, that it alters the past by rewriting or destroying all old documents. What was true yesterday can be wrong today. It is forbidden to think against the party, to say nothing of public demonstrations.
Now, the Party is about to invent a new language, called Newspeak. Newspeak should prevent everybody from thinking wrong, which is called crimethink in Newspeak. The vocablulary is reduced, so that there is no way of thinking wrong, because you can't express it.
To oversee all people the party has organized a secret organisation, the Thought Police, which uses modern telescreens to control each single person. The telescreen receives and transmittes simultaneously. In almost every room is fixed a telescreen and everything that happens is transmitted to the Tought Police, but how often or on what system the Tought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork.
The book is written from Winston's point of view, but there is a third-person narrator.
Winston Smithis a member of the Outer Party, thirty-nine years old and suffers from varicose ulcer. He works in the Ministry of Truth, where he has to rewrite old newspaper articles. He's intelligent, sensible and recognizes the lies of the Party. He wonders how other people see over the obvios lies and the daily cutbacks of consumer goods. His hope that the regime will be overthrown one day lies on the proles.
O'Brian:He also works in the Ministry of Truth and he's member of the Inner Party and of the thought-police, but Winston doesn't know that fact. Generally, nobody knows who is a member of the thought-police. At the beginning of the book, Winston supposed that O'Brian is a member of the Brotherhood and so O'Brian deceived Winston. He's also intelligent, understands everything and is able to explane everything, even things that aren't true.
Juliabecomes Winstons girlfriend and she's also member of the Outer Party. Winston really loves her, and so the meet secretly in a room which Winston met from an antique dealer in a proles-part of London. She seems to be a perfect Party-member, because she spends much time to organize campaigns for the Party and screems laudest when Goldsteins picture is shown on the telescreen during the hate-weeks.
Emmanuel Goldsteinis the leader of an underground organisation called "The Brotherhood". Nobody knows if he and the oragnisation really exist. Goldstein is said to be the author of "The book" which is criticising the party's politics and the structure of society. Party members have to hate him and his picture is shown on the telescreen during the hate-weeks and the people have to shout at it.
The action is presented chronologically, but it is interrupted by explanations of Ingsoc and the social structure, by extracts of Goldstein's "The book" and so on.
It´s April 1984. A short time ago Winston bought a diary in a little junk-shop in a slummy quarter of London. This was not illeagal, since there were no laws anymore, but if detected, he would be punished by death or sent into a forced labour camp. Unseen by the telescreen he starts to write into the diary. He hates the party, the rituals, slogans and the secret service. He remembers the last two-minutes hate, a ritual, where Goldstein is shown on a large telescreen and the people scream and shout angrily at the picture. There he saw Julia, a black haired girl. He hates her, because she seems to be the perfect party member. In this hate he also saw O'Brian and for a short time he looked straight into his eyes. He came to the idea, that O'Brian could have the same opinion about the Party, which he himself has. But this opinion must be kept secret. He writes into his diary: Down with big brother!
His work in the Ministry of Truth is to rewrite newspaper articles for the Party, which is changing the past for its advantage. So the Party controls the history because the past gets erased, the erasure gets forgotten and a lie becomes truth.
He often thinks about the proles. They live in the poorer quarters of the town and none of them is a member of the Party. Winston thinks, that if there is hope, it lies in the proles. Sometimes he wanders around in the poorer quarters talking to them and speaking about the past. In the shop where he bought the diary he buys a little coral and the shopkeeper shows him a room without a telescreen, the perfect hiding place. Writing into his secret diary he is absolutely sure that he will get detected some day. Thoughtcrime is the word for acting or only thinking against the Party. Some day he will get caught and become an unperson, like his former comrade. Once O'Brien said to hirn "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness." Winston thinks, that O'Brien meant the future - a better future.
One day he leaves his cubicle in the Ministry of Truth to go to the lavatory. On the corridor he sees the black haired girl. She stumbles and falls down. He helps her up and she gives him a little sheet of paper. Back in his cubicle he reads it: "I love you." They meet in the hiding place. Julia has the same opinions about the Party like Winston. They often meet in the hiding place, speaking about the Party or making love.
One day Winston gets invited by O'Brien. They both get there and it comes out, that O'Brien really is a member of the underground organisation called the Brotherhood. They can talk openly, because O'Brien turns off the telescreen, a privilege only Inner Party members have got. They become members of the Brotherhood and short time after that meeting, Winston gets "The Book", written by Emmanuel Goldstein. In their hiding place he reads the book. It tells about the past, the Party's social and political structure, doublethink - the Newspeak word for reality control - the Thought Police and criticises the Party and the Big Brother.
Suddenly they hear a voice from a telescreen, which was hidden behind a picture on the wall. It said: "You are dead." The house is surrounded by the thought police. It comes out, that the shopkeeper is a member of the secret service. They get parted and arrested.
He finds himself in a prison cell in the Ministry of Love. There are telescreens on each wall of the cell. It is very high, broad lighted and white tiled. O'Brien's words about the place where there is no darkness come to his mind. Through the screen he gets ordered to sit still. He is starving, but he has nothing to eat. After some time he gets brought into a room, where several people are sitting in. They are prisoners too - some of them badly hurt, one of them nearly starving to death.
He meets O'Brien, who is also a member of the Thought Police. The investigation starts. He gets beaten and questioned. He has to confess everything. His thoughts against the Party, the diary, the relationship with Julia. For many months he has to bear torture, starving, inquiery, confessioning - he even confesses things he has not done, only not to get beaten - but he does not get shot, as he always thought.
One day he gets brought into a room, where be has to lie on a stretching bank. His whole body gets fixed to it. Now O'Brien is questioning him. The inquiery starts again and he has to learn, that everything the Party says is true. So if the Party says that two plus two makes five, two plus two makes five and not four. This inquiery - his "healing" - lasts for several days or weeks and with time, Winston gives up his own thoughts and opinions and learns to see things with the Party's eyes. He also gets a better cell and enough to eat.
He talks to O'Brien about the Party and sees, that it is too powerful to fight against. He made many confessions while being under inquiery, and "1earned" to give up his thoughts, but there was one thing he never did. He never betrayed Julia, because he still loved her. So he gets ordered to room 101. He hear about it before - everyone feared that room - but nobody exactly knew, what happens to you in there. He has to sit down on a chair, and O'Brien fixes some sort of mask to his head On the other side of the mask there is a cage with two hungry rats.
Only a door parts the mask (and with it also Winston) and the rats. Winston gets into panic, but he cannot move. His whole body, even his head, is fixed to the chair. The only thing that can provide him from the rats'attack is a person between him and the rats. He knows that the only person to whom he can transfer this punishinent is Julia. Frantically he is shouting: "Do it to Julia! Not me!" -so he finally even betrays the person he loves. He gets set free.
Now he is a broken, old man. One day he even meets Julia, accidentially. They talk to each other, but there is no love anymore. They part again. Finally he has "learned" to love Big Brother.
- Quote paper
- Tobias Franke (Author), 2001, Orwell, George - 1984, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/99743