In the year 1984, we see Winston Smith, a citizen of London. He works at the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue). England is part of Oceania, ruled by The Party of Big Brother. Wherever you are, Big Brother is watching you. The mottos of The Party are:
‘War is Peace,’ ‘Freedom is Slavery’ and ‘Ignorance is Strength’
The Party controls the past, the present and the future. The past is altered by changing newspapers at the Minitrue into whatever The Party had predicted. Winston protest by keeping a secret diary. Then Winston falls in love with Julia. They engage many anti-Party acts (love, sex and other ‘thougtcrime’). At the ‘Two Minutes Hate’, Winston meets O’Brien. Winston thinks O’Brien is a member of The Brotherhood, a secret society against The Party. Later it turns out that he’s a member of The Inner Party and Winston and Julia are captured. Winston is interrogated and is constantly told he is crazy. Winston is brainwashed: The Party captures the ‘truth’. The only thing he cannot do is love Big Brother. He loves Julia. Then O’Brien takes Winston into Room 101. There Winston finally betrays his love. “Do it to Julia!” he shouts.
Some time later, as Winston looks up to a poster of Big Brother, he realizes that he loves him.
The author of the book is Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell). He was born in India, in 1903. There his father was a British civil servant and a year after his birth he moved with his mother to England. Orwell was a British novelist and journalist and is best known for his novels: ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’. He was aware of the social injustice, at that time. Something we can see in ‘1984’, where he’s pointing at the danger of totalitarianism.
Due to the book, I started thinking about our own democracy and how it would be if we lived in such a totalitarian state.
The story is told in a realistic manner, but a world as described in ‘1984’ (everywhere you are, you are supervised by The Party and see posters and other things of Big Brother) is hard to imagine. It’s hard to imagine too, that most of the people in the book don’t ask questions about the regime themselves.
I think the text is well constructed. It remains surprising: you start to know O’Brien is ‘bad’ when he tortures Winston, at the end. Further, there are elements in the text, which give some kind of indication of what’s going to happen. For example: in the room, when Winston and Julia rent of Mr Charrington, Winston sees a rat. Rats are his worst nightmare, so you could consider this a sign.
Therefore, the meaning of the author is to warn for totalitarian regimes. I think he has done a good job. When Orwell wrote the book (during the Cold War), such a regime (communist or fascist) wasn’t imaginary, but a real possibility. Nowadays, that threat is much smaller, but the technology for things like ‘telescreens’ is there and you never know if a new dictator will stand up, who will supervise everyone and who will kill everyone who stands in his way.