Ministry of Truth bureaucrat Winston Smith is the protagonist; although unitary, the story is three-fold. The first describes the world of 1984 as he perceives it; the second is his illicit romance with Julia and his intellectual rebellion against the Party; the third is his capture and imprisonment, interrogation, torture, and re-education in the Ministry of Love.
The intellectual Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party who lives in the ruins of London and grew up in the post-World War II United Kingdom during the revolution and the civil war. As his parents disappeared in the civil war, the English Socialism Movement ("Ingsoc" in Newspeak) put him in an orphanage for training and employment in the Outer Party. His squalid existence consists of living in a one-room apartment, eating a subsistence diet of black bread and synthetic meals washed down with Victory-brand gin. He is discontented, and keeps an ill-advised journal of dissenting, negative thoughts and opinions about the Party. If the journal or Winston's errant behavior were to be discovered, it would result in his torture and execution at the hands of the Thought Police. However, he is blessed with having a small alcove beside his telescreen where he cannot be seen, where he can keep his own private secrets.
In his journal he explains thoughtcrime: "Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death." The Thought Police have two-way telescreens (in the living quarters of every Party member and in every public area), hidden microphones, and anonymous informers to spy potential thought-criminals who might endanger The Party. Children are indoctrinated to informing; to spy and report suspected thought-criminals — especially their parents.
Winston Smith is a bureaucrat in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, revising historical records to match The Party's contemporaneous, official version of the past. The revisionism is required so that the past reflects the shifts of the day in the Party's orthodoxy. Smith's job is perpetual; he re-writes the official record, re-touches official photographs, deleting people officially rendered as "unpersons". The original or older document is dropped into a "memory hole" chute leading to an incinerator. Although he likes his work, especially the intellectual challenge of revising a complete historical record, he also is fascinated by the true past, and eagerly tries to learn more about that forbidden truth.
One day, after helping a woman who fell over on the street up, she surreptitiously hands him a note. She is "Julia," a dark-haired mechanic who repairs the Ministry of Truth's novel-writing machines. Before that day, he had felt deep loathing for her, based on his assumptions that she was a brainwashed, fanatically devoted member of the Party; particularly annoying to him is her red sash of renouncement of and scorn for sexual intercourse. His preconceptions vanish on reading a handwritten note she gives him, which states "I love you." After that, they begin a clandestine romantic relationship, first meeting in the countryside and at a ruined belfry, then regularly in a rented room atop an antiques shop in the city's proletarian neighbourhood. The shop owner chats with Smith, discussing facts about the pre-revolutionary past, sells him period artifacts, and rents him the room to meet Julia. The lovers believe their hiding place paradisaical (the shop keeper having told them it has no telescreen) and think themselves alone and safe.
As their romance deepens, Winston's views change, and he questions Ingsoc. Unknown to him, the Thought Police have been spying on him and Julia. Later, when approached by Inner Party member O'Brien, Winston believes that he has come into contact with the Brotherhood who are opponents of the Party. O'Brien gives him a copy of "the book", The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, a searing criticism of Ingsoc said to be written by the dissident Emmanuel Goldstein, the leader of the Brotherhood. This book explains the perpetual war and exposes the truth behind the Party's slogan, "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength."
The Thought Police later capture Winston and Julia in their sanctuary bedroom and they are separately interrogated at the Ministry of Love, where the regime's opponents are tortured and killed, but sometimes released (to be executed at a later date). Charrington, the shop keeper who rented them the room, reveals himself to be an officer of the Thought Police. After a prolonged regimen of systematic beatings by prison guards and psychologically draining interrogations by Party loyalists, Winston is subjected to electroshock torture by O'Brien, who tells Winston it will "cure" him of his "insanity", which O'Brien claims undeniably manifests itself in the form of Winston's hatred for the Party. During a long and complex dialogue, O'Brien reveals, in what is the most important line in the book, that the motivation of the Inner Party is not to achieve a future paradise but to retain power, which has become an end in itself. He outlines a terrifying vision of how they will change society and people in order to achieve this, including the abolition of the family, the orgasm, and the sex instinct, with the ultimate goal of eliminating anything that may come between one's love of Big Brother and Ingsoc. It will be a society that grows more, not less merciless as it refines itself, and a society without art, literature, or science, so that there are no distractions from their devotion to the Party, or any unorthodox thought, which is also meant to be achieved through the eventual eradication of Modern English, or "Oldspeak". During a session, O'Brien explains that the purpose of the ordeal at the Ministry of Love is to alter Winston's way of thinking, not to extract a confession, and that once Winston unquestioningly accepts reality as the Party describes it, he will be executed.
One night, as Winston lies dreaming in his cell, he suddenly wakes, yelling: "Julia! Julia! Julia, my love! Julia!", whereupon O'Brien rushes in and doesn't question him, and then sends him to Room 101, the most feared room in the Ministry of Love. Here a person's greatest fear is forced upon him or her for the final re-education step: acceptance. Winston, who has a primal fear of rats, is shown a wire cage filled with starving rats and told that it will be fitted over his head like a mask, so that when the cage door is opened, the rats will bore into his face until it is stripped to the bone. Just as the cage brushes his cheek, he shouts frantically: "Do it to Julia!" The torture ends and Winston is returned to society, brainwashed to accept Party doctrine. During the brainwashing, it is noted that O'Brien somehow was always aware of what Smith was thinking and in a way was reading his mind. It can be interpreted as either the Thought Police had devised a mechanism of reading people's thoughts or O'Brien understood Smith completely and was able to predict his chain of thought perfectly.
After his release, Winston encounters Julia in the park. With distaste, they remember the unauthorized and unorthodox ("ungood" in Newspeak) feelings they once shared for each other and acknowledge having betrayed each other. They are apathetic about their reunion and each other's experiences. Winston, happily reconciled to his impending execution, and accepting the Party's depiction of life, celebrates the false fact of a news bulletin reporting Oceania's recent, decisive victory over Eurasia. It is at this moment that he sincerely loves Big Brother for the very first time — a metaphorical bullet entering his brain. Thus the book ends on a bitter note, with Winston Smith's inner transformation finally complete. Not resolved is whether Winston is ever actually executed, or whether his mental capitulation is considered enough.From Wikipedia.
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