1984 by George Orwell Summary

A short description of 1984 which includes the setting, theme, and major plot elements.

            In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, the main character Winston has the will to survive in the world he lives in. His will to survive isn’t to survive in a physical or bodily way. Winston mainly tries to survive mentally and keeping his individuality through going against the party’s principles. He tries not become part of the mindless body and to lose his humanity. So his survival is mostly a battle in the way he thinks and what he believes.

            An incident in 1984 where Winston shows his will to survive is when he had a photo that contradicted the party and had to dispose of it. Winston’s will to survive psychologically by escaping the party’s control was shown when he had the temptation to keep the photo as a connection to the past. However the past is continually altered and corrected so Winston disposed of the photo in the end. Another incident where Winston has the will to survive is when he entered the fictitious Brotherhood in order to fight against the party. He also swore to do horrible things such as throw acid in a child’s face or kill in order to weaken the party. It shows his commitment for his will to survive against the party’s propaganda and principles. A third incident was Winston’s secret meetings with Julia. These were quiet acts of rebellion and defiance against by Winston. He knew he would die or face punishment from these acts but the will to have his mind reject the principles of INGSOC overcame that fear.

            The setting of the novel is in the super state of Oceania, in a place called Airstrip One. It is also set in the year 1984 which is a bleak dystopian future where the world is in perpetual everlasting war. Winston’s experiences with this particular period of time are awful. He is part of the outer party which resembles the middle class of most societies. The treatment and conditions he lives in are horrible for him because he lives in a ghetto and there is a lack of supplies. The lack of supplies is mainly because of the production of goods are mainly for war and things like razors are rare during Winston’s time. At the end of the book when Winston is captured by the thought police, the cruelty and abuse he suffers radically change him. O’Brien “treats” Winston for his unorthodoxy by attempting to reform his mind through extreme torture. Winston is faced with constant beatings in the beginning of his treatment which affect his physical appearance. Starvation also affect him by making him completely emaciated and weak. His relationship with his lover, Julia is also affected. Winston betrays her by offering her as a sacrifice when faced with his greatest fear. He stops loving her from that confrontation with his fear of rats in Room 101. Big Brother is practically a god or superior being for everyone in the party. So Winston’s relationship with Big Brother changes dramatically. Instead of hating Big Brother and everything the party stands for he loves Big Brother whole heartedly in the end.

            Winston is motivated in trying to keep his individualism and rebelling against the party mentally through being with Julia. Committing these acts of silent rebellion motivates Winston to keep going against the party. The major thing that keeps Winston hopeful about overthrowing the party is the thought of the proletarians revolting against the party. In the end his unorthodox state of mind does not survive because he is tortured and his mentality about the party completely changes.

            In conclusion, Winston’s will to survive is mainly a psychological battle with the party. This is because the party is not just about making you say or do whatever they want. It is all about making you think what they want. With the power over people’s minds and having the minds be in a collective body. The party is all powerful and immortal.

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