George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, better known as 1984, was released in 1949 as a warning against dictatorship. The grim dystopia left a lasting effect on readers, and his ideas made their way into popular culture in a way that only a few works have managed. Many of the themes in the book, such as Big Brother and the Thought Police, are easily recognized and understood and are frequently used as bywords for current social and political injustices.
The novel is set in 1984 in Oceania, one of three totalitarian republics that are always at odds (the other two are Eurasia and Eastasia). Oceania is ruled by the all-powerful Party, which has indoctrinated the populace into blindly following Big Brother’s orders.
The Party has established Newspeak, a propagandistic language intended to stifle free thought and promote the Party’s ideologies. Its slogans include “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is Strength,” which show doublethink. The Thought Police and constant monitoring are used by the Party to retain power.
Winston Smith, the protagonist of the novel, is a minor party functionary living in a London still scarred by a nuclear war that occurred not long after World War II. He’s a member of the Outer Party, and his job at the Ministry of Truth is to rewrite history to fit contemporary political ideas.
Winston, on the other hand, is driven by a desire for truth and morality to quietly rebel against authority. He begins an illicit relationship with Julia, a like-minded lady, and the two rent a room in a Prole-dominated neighborhood.
Winston’s interest in the Brotherhood, an organization of dissidents, grows as well. Winston and Julia, on the other hand, are completely unaware that they are being observed.
The trap is set when Winston is approached by O’Brien, an Inner Party figure who looks to be a covert Brotherhood member. Winston and Julia are finally arrested and sent to the Ministry of Love for a brutal reeducation.
O’Brien is actually a spy for the Party, on the hunt for “thought-criminals,” and Winston and Julia are eventually captured and sent to the Ministry of Love for a violent reeducation. Winston’s subsequent arrest, torture, and reeducation are designed to root out his independence and destroy his dignity and humanity, not only to break him physically or make him conform.
Winston panics when a cage of rats is affixed to his head in Room 101, where inmates are made to submit by being exposed to their greatest nightmares. “Do it to Julia!” he cries at his tormentors, declaring that he doesn’t care what happens to her. Winston is set free as a result of this treachery. Later, he meets Julia, but none of them is interested in the other. Winston, on the other hand, adores Big Brother.