By norahaddad |

1984 by George Orwell 

This book was- amazing. I already had high expectations for it, considering that it’s so famous in the dystopian genre, but it exceeded them. George Orwell makes his world that’s controlled by an ever-watching Party seem unsettlingly real, and at the same time eloquently addresses several important themes.  
To start out with- the main character, Winston Smith. He’s beautifully written and what makes him an even better MC (in my opinion) is that he seems average in the beginning and his personality starts to unfold more over the course of the book. What makes him different from everyone else is he’s practically the only sane one in a world of craziness, taught to believe whatever Big Brother says and alter history to align with the Party’s beliefs. Something that especially chilled me is how they can monitor everyone constantly due to their technological advances- as in, there are telescreens in every room, and you have 0 privacy. (As someone who loves holing up in my room like a hobbit this scared me especially, haha.)  

Winston works in the Ministry of Truth (which is a misleading name, considering they’re in charge of rewriting history) and has a grudge against the Party that he doesn’t even understand until the pivoting moment for him; getting a journal. It’s forbidden with the “Thought Police” and is punishable with death and vaporizing (where the Party erases all traces of you ever existing), but despite that, it’s a chance to empty what he’s feeling so long as he keeps being careful about being out of sight of the telescreens. 

By this point, I was starting to wonder, Where’s the rebellion? There’s no way the situation is completely hopeless. And sure enough something called “The Brotherhood,” some underworld rebellion, was revealed, although it’s supposedly unconfirmed in its existence and only whispers of it get around- if anyone even dares to talk about them. The journal leads Winston to begin wondering; what was life like before the Revolution, when Big Brother took control? What was it like to have privacy and freedom of speech and freedom of press? 

This leads him to going to the “proles,” (the slums), the only place unmonitored by the Party, to ask the people there what life was like before the Revolution. But the answers are never satisfactory, and he leaves, only to bump into a woman that he’s noticed has been following him around. He now strongly suspects that she’s a member of the Thought Police; only to later find out that it’s because she has feelings for him, something she reveals in a note slipped to him. (Talk about a plot twist-!)  

The beginning of his affair with Julia, the woman, is also what marks another development in his hatred against the Party. It really brought out a rebellious streak in him when he booked a room in the proles for them to elope from the Party to, and for a while, they stay there in peace.  


Winston encounters O’Brien, a man that he now believes is part of the Brotherhood and asks for a position in their organization. But that position doesn’t come without a cost, O’Brien warns him. He’ll get captured at some point and then must confess everything; but until then, he and Julia can work with the Brotherhood in silent rebellion against the Party’s ways. They accept the position nonetheless and return to their room-  

Only to be ambushed by the Thought Police. Apparently, the owner of the shop they booked a room in, Mr Charrington, was undercover and turned them in. Winston and Julia are captured and brought to what Winston guesses is the Ministry of Love’s prison. The Ministry of Love was originally mysterious in what exactly its purpose was but it soon becomes evident they’re in charge of inspiring fear in its prisoners and “curing” them of their anti-Party ideas with torture.  

This part was particularly painful for me, but brutally realistic. If an organization is that all-powerful then it’s inevitable for “rebels” not to get captured. But it’s not even at its worst yet... Julia and Winston betray each other, and Winston eventually is forced to submit to their ideas after the torture almost completely ruins him.  

The last chapter time-skips to when Winston and Julia reunite again. But it’s far from a happy reunion. They’re both scarred from their experiences and she’s wholly different from before being in the Ministry of Love’s prison. The book ends on a chilling note; "He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” (p. 298)