1984 by George Orwell: Summary Notes

Book 1 – Chapter 1

  • Winston – main character, 39 years old, has ulcer Above his right to ankle, works at Ministry of Truth, seems to be aware that he is being watched, is conscious, seems to be tired and annoyed at having to be watched constantly

Diary (symbol) – in this society, not allowed to have anything and if caught, could face death or 25 years in labor camp, he writes data entries in it, which he is not supposed to, doesn’t even know what year it is exactly.

  • The Telescreen (Symbol) – Big Brother uses to watch people very second of the day, will see everything you do no matter what, has caption “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU,” face of man with dark hair and mustache, his eyes follow you, they are everywhere, could hear the littlest sound, displays propaganda as well,
  • Big Brother – clearly the higher authority, supreme power, party has 3 slogans, “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” no one really know who the actual leader is, no recall of leader before 1960 but records go back to 1930s (the-manipulation/control)
  • Brotherhood – revolutionary group, enemies of BB,
  • Police Patrol – helicopters that are in the air to look over people’s houses, see what they are doing
  • Thought Police – more threatening than the police patrol, they spy on you, even when you don’t notice
  • Society – always being watched, surveillance, controlled by the Big Brother, everyone has to walk on eggshells
  • Oceania – one of the world’s three countries (others are Eurasia and Eastasia), Newspeak is the official language; at war with Eurasia, alliance with Eastasia

4 ministries (Basically 4 governments): ministry of truth – news, entertainment, education, and Fine Arts; ministry of love – maintains law and order, scariest of them all; ministry of peace – concerns itself with war; ministry of plenty – responsible for Economic Affairs.

  • Julia – “Dark-haired girl”; works in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth’ at first, Winston was disgusted by her based off of her looks thinking that she was too uptight and was passionate over Big Brother, thought she was dangerous; doesn’t want full on revolution, just enjoys outsmarting and rebelling party
  • O’Brien – large, burly man with brutal face, important Inner Party, Winston believes that he is against the Big Brother but is undercover, Winston remembers when he went to Two Minutes of Hate and made eye contact witch each other, in that moment Winston knew that O’Brien hated Big Brother as well, Winston believes with Brotherhood, he’s actually not part of the Brotherhood, undercover spy to find those against the BB, find out towards end
  • Two Minutes Hate – an assembly everyone is required to go, where people express their anger/frustration against Oceania’s enemies
  • Emmanuel Goldstein – Leader of the Brotherhood, enemy of Big Brother
  • While Winston is thinking, he doesn’t realize he is writing down “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER,” and begins to panic – clear shift that he hates the regime he is under, he’s the anomaly
  • Analysis – When was writing in his diary, Winston kept panicking yet calmed himself down by saying he was caught anyway. This foreshadows how he there is going to be a rebellion that is going to take place in the future and Winston will face the consequences of it since he will be discovered
  • Theme (government control and manipulation) – Orwall is demonstrating a society where everything is ruled by one group and people have no freedom. The government uses advance technology to control people and propaganda to force people to think all the same
  • Tone – errie, cloudy (visually), mysterious, dark

Book 1 – Chapter 2-4

  • Winston opens door to realize it is his neighbor, Mrs. Parsons. She has a husband and 2 kids:

Her kids are extremely devout to the Big Brother as they are taught to spy on their parents and report anything on them and possibly turn them in. They are the Junior Spies.

Analysis – demonstrates how BB controls the way life works, even structure of family, has ability to turn children on their parents.

  • Winston recalls a dream where he hears O’Brien say “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” (25)
  • Theme – manipulation/control, loyalty/love,
  • Winston dreams of the disappearance of his mother, he feels responsible
  • Wakes up from dream by the Telescreen and has to do

Physical Jerks – exercise BB tells them to do.

  • Records keep changing and everyone knows one history, but Winston remembers that the country has always been at war but with a different enemy but the BB says that they were always at war with Eurasia
  • First time we actually see Winston’s words of the BB controlling society take place, seen in Physical Jerks
  • Doublethink – means “reality control” (34) the ability to believe and disbelieve the same idea at same time, or to believe in two contradictory ideas at same time
  • Theme – government control/manipulation
  • Winston goes to work at the Ministry of Truth as his job is to change the records and history to what Big Brother wants.

Changes Comrade Withers, one of BB’s former officials who was executed as because he was considered an enemy of BB, history in the records change to Comrade Ogilvy (made up); Ogilvy is ideal BB member.

  • Irony – He works at ministry of truth but changing it and doing the opposite
  • Understand more on how the society under the BB party works

Book 1 – Chapter 5-6

  • Syme – intelligent Party member, tells Winston that Newspeak is trying to limit the range of thought to reduce thoughtcrime impossible. If there are no words that expresses independent, rebellious thoughts, no one will ever be able to do it
  • Duckspeak – propagandistic speech spoke unconsciously
  • Telescreen announces that quality of life I Oceania went up 20% and that BB raised rations for chocolate:

Doublethink – Chocolate rations are lies as there is actually not enough to eat and resources for everyone. Party reduced the chocolate ration just day before.

  • In his diary, Winston talks about why he wants sex and how his desire for it is restricted by the BB.

Believes that BB wants to take the pleasure out of it and make it a party act to create more members.

  • Theme – government control/manipulation, love/loyalty

Book 1 – Chapter 7 – 8

  • Winston believes that any hope for revolution is from proles, nothing else, not even from within

Poles – impoverished/powerless, 85% of population, easy for them to have strength and manpower to overcome the BB, lead brutish, lack energy and interest to revolt.

  • “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.” (76)
  • “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows” (77)
  • Theme – Social Class (Proles vs. Ideas)

Book 2 – Chapter 1-3

  • Dark-haired girl passes Winston a note that says “I love You”

For longest time, he suspected her to be a political spy watching him but now is confused. They meet at Victory square where they plan to go to the countryside.

  • Analysis – The fact that Winston was scared of women in general and afraid to open that note demonstrates how the Party sees love ss dangerous. They are threatened by it and could clearly be seen hen she tells hm a direction to a different place – secretive, something party hates.
  • Theme – Love/loyalty, manipulation/control
  • The two go to countryside, he finds out her name is Julia

They sleep together and Winston finds out she slept with multiple people numerous times and is happy about it because means that more BB members are committing crimes.

Ironic – contrast between real life and the novel. In real life, people react to others sleeping with a lot of people is made or negative but here its positive. Winston is happy about it because it demonstrates how its not only him disobeying the BB.

Book 2 – Chapter 4 – 6

  • Winston rents room above Mr. Charrington’s junk shop to secretly meet Julia.
  • The old glass paperweight (symbol)- represents the past; tiny fragment of coral – bond between Julia and Winston
  • Syme vanishes
  • O’Brien stops Winston at work and references to Syme, committing thought crime. This ensures Winston’s trust in O’Brien as they are on the same side since O’Brien is risking his safety
  • O’Brien invites Winston to his home
  • Winston feels that the path he’s will lead him to torture and death
  • Foreshadows – possibly allows us to see that because Winston has been taking more risks, such as his love affair with Julia and now this, it will lead to him being caught and fate being sealed by the BB

Book 2 – Chapter 7 – 10

  • Winston wakes up from a dream that made him think that he killed his mom, his old memories are coming back as he is with Julia at their hideout, Mr. Harrington’s upstairs store.
  • They are regaining their old memories back
  • Julia and Winston go to O’Brien’s home. When they arrive O’Brien turns off the telescreen which makes Winston to confess that he is against the BB party and wants to join the Brotherhood because he believes the BB aren’t watching him
  • O’Brien says Brotherhood is real, gives Winston a copy of Goldstein’s book, the manifesto of the revolution.
  • Theme – individuality vs. conformity,
  • This creates a shift as everything that lead up to it is actually happening. Winston finally is able to be apart of the revolution and revolt against the BB party. He has a chance at freedom
  • BB party changes and says Oceania was always at war with Eastasia and that Eurasia is an ally.
  • Winston goes to Mr. Charrington’s store and begins reading the book O’brien gives to him

Book is describes the 3 countries in the world and how they control their government. It is all the same but why it is effective and what makes them different. Basically defining a totalitarian government

  • Reality control – the method where governments subject people through doublelink and falsify history. Basically they control people by faking history
  • Irony – Winston is reading a book that define the society he is living under
  • Winston and Julia are finally caught in Mr. Charrington’s store. There was a Telescreen behind the picture of St. Clement’s Church all along and Mr. Charrington is part of the Thought Policy
  • Shift, plot twist – all the foreshadowing of Winston saying it is leading to his death has finally happened

Book 3 – Chapter 1-3

  • Winston taken into jail at Ministry of love – his gut feeling came true

Contrast between cell and society. Both of the cell and society does not give privacy and isolates everyone, why is one scared of the other if they are technically the same?

  • Mr. Parson is also taken in because his kids turned him in for thoughtcrime

All the foreshadowing in beginning coming true.

  • O’brien comes in – he’s actually not part of the Brotherhood, undercover spy to find those against the BB
  • They torture Winston to the point where he cannot move. They electric shock him as a way to make him forget the past. O’brien keeps torturing him until Winston says and believes all of the things people under the BB party says, like how two plus two is five
  • Julia also tortured to betray Winston
  • 3 stages of torture: learning, understanding, acceptance. Winston is going into understanding.
  • O’brien reveals tat him and party want power just to have it, not because they think they are good forces
  • Theme – individuality vs. conformity, manipulation/government control

Book 3 – Chapter 4-6

  • After months, Winston tortured less, he still loves Julia
  • BB makes him copy due “2+2=5”
  • Given up his mind but not his hear and emotionally same – meaning Winston still hates BB
  • Winston brought in to tortured again, this time, it makes him believe everything BB party says and that O’brien is right, he begins to like him
  • Julia gave up on him
  • Theme – individuality vs. conformity, manipulation/government control, love/loyalty
  • Winston is let out, he is given Syme’s old job
  • Ran into Julia where they bid farewell and say they betrayed each other – torture took their love for one another away
  • Finally loves BB

Overall, the themes individuality vs conformity, love vs. loyalty, and government manipulation and control are clearly demonstrated throughout the whole novel. This could be seen in the symbols of the Telescreen which represented how a totalitarian society is all controlled by one government and how everyone is one person, not their own.