The year is 1984. The world has been divided into three parts: East Asia, Eurasia, and Oceania. Though they are three distinct regimes, each rules with the same iron fisted totalitarianism. There is constant war between the three countries, and at any given time two nations are fighting against the other; as a result, food and other supplies are low, and the people are deprived of basic necessities. Speak (or even think) out, however, and you will be suppressed instantly, facing certain torture and death. This is the world crafted by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Winston Smith, a citizen of Airstrip One of Oceania (formerly known as London), is a member of the super-state’s Outer Party, working at the ironically named Ministry of Truth, where he and his colleagues tamper with historical records to reflect the current stance of the government. Despite the nature of his work, Winston dreams of the end of the Party and expresses his thoughts in a journal, putting him in danger of being arrested for “thoughtcrime.”
However, when he meets and falls in love with Julia, one of his co-workers, his acts of rebellion become more tangible, as the two of them begin a secret love affair that would cause both of their deaths should they be found out. Throughout this, Winston and Julia learn of a secret underground resistance force only known as “The Brotherhood,” which they hope to join in order to escape the suffocating rule of the Party’s nebulous leader, Big Brother.
Unfortunately, Winston and Julia are betrayed, and their struggle to find love and hope in the midst of a totalitarian regime ultimately comes to naught. Although the novel was published in 1949, the scarily accurate depiction of absolute state control has continued to haunt modern times with regimes displaying the same kind of totalitarianism as Orwell predicted in his groundbreaking novel. Few governments have reached the height that Nineteen Eighty-Four predicted, but if the world continues on its current path, that kind of totalitarian future may be much closer than one might imagine.
1984 by George Orwell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.
I read this book in class this year and it has to be one of the most interesting books! What I also found interesting was that Winston and Julia thought they had a chance at freedom, but not only were they caught, they were doomed from the start, as the Party kept tabs on them through spies and hidden cameras. Just goes to show how powerful the Party is in this book. Very interesting book to read!
I read this book in school as a sophomore and found it to be pretty thought-provoking. One of the most striking -and scary- things about 1984 is how it’s still relevant in our present day situation with totalitarian regimes. You summed up this book really well in your review!
Something that people often forget about but to me is a very important part of the book is the psychological aspect. Whenever Winston merely questions the Party in his head, he feels unsafe. The very act of thinking rebellious thoughts could get you punished by the Party, and the people who have to live in this world are paranoid of what intrusive thoughts they may have. It really shows the power of the Party when it not only has physical power over its constituents but has also embedded itself in their psyche.
I’ve never read 1984, I heard that the book’s absolutely amazing! I’ve always wanted to read the novel since I was young after I watched my sister read it in high school. Your summary was well-written and I look forward to reading it soon!