Part 1: Chapter 1 to Chapter 4

Chapter 1

The story is told from the point of view of a man, George Winston, who works for the government’s Ministry of Truth at a time in the future when the world’s politics and way of life are very different from our own. The reference in the opening sentence to a clock “striking thirteen” is an immediate clue that the story takes place in a setting unlike any we have ever known. There are also immediate clues that this future is not a pleasant one. It is cold, and as Winston lets himself into his apartment buildings (ironically named Victory Mansions), he is eager to escape the “vile wind” outside.

Throughout the building (and throughout the city, for that matter) are posters of the apparent leader of the government, accompanied by the slogan “Big Brother Is Watching You.” It is clear from the start that this new form of government monitors the lives of its citizens very closely. Police in helicopters hover outside of the building, looking into apartments. A far greater concern, however, are the Thought Police, who monitor an individual’s actions through a device called a “telescreen,” which serves as both a television (one that is always on) and a camera. The telescreen’s programming is a mix of government reports and music, often military and patriotic in nature.

The story takes place in London—now no longer a part of England, but one of the major cities in a country called Oceania that is involved in an ongoing conflict with countries such as Eurasia and Eastasia. The Oceania government is divided into four ministries whose names don’t quite seem to match their missions. In addition to the Ministry of Truth (news, entertainment, education, and fine arts), there is the Ministry of Plenty, devoted to economic affairs. The business of war is conducted by the Ministry of Peace, and law and order are maintained by the Ministry of Love; it is this last ministry that seems to frighten Winston most of all. His own workplace, the Ministry of Truth, is a...

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Essays About 1984