Setting of 1984

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The settings of 1984 are important for the ways in which they conjure up particular atmospheres appropriate to what Orwell wishes to communicate. The book was published while the Second World War was still fresh in the memories of the people, and many of its results were still evident in physical form as could be seen, for example from the bombed sites in and around London. As a result, many of the individual features of the settings of ‘‘1984’’ can be traced back to England between 1939 - 45. At the beginning of the book Winston returns to his flat in Victory Mansions to begin his diary. Everything is squalid. The lift does not work and the hall smells of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. The weather is bitterly cold and a swirl of gritty dust pursues Winston to the entrance to the flats. Inside everything is a dreary, and from his window Winston can sees no colour except for the posters with the caption, ‘Big Brother is watching you.’ All reflects the frustration which Winston feels, and it is obvious that war-time England is mirrored in these descriptions. Other settings in the early sections of ‘1984’ are described in ways that both reject what life was like in the Second World War and reinforce the feelings of frustration felt by Winston before he starts his love affair with Julia and begin to make progress in his revolt against the party e.g. The records department at the Ministry of Truth is described in all its mechanical horror so that Winston and his fellow workers are made to appear like insignificant insects contributing their small quota to the life of the controlling power. Orwell goes further this to emphasise the decline in the quality of life since the Party has taken over. The canteen where Winston meets Syme and Parsons resembles a British restaurant in the Second World War, but Orwell focuses on all that is vile about it from the greasy metal trays to the pannikins of pinkish-grey stew resembling vomit. The crowded restaurant and the deafening...
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