1984 Notes

Chapter 1 notes

  • Winston is our protagonist
  • He lives in Airstrip 1, Oceania.
  • Freedom is an alien idea, no such thing allowed.
  • Political parties are watched by their higher-ups on television screens in their homes.
  • Winston is apparently the only person who’s self-aware about his societal constraints.
  • His diary is the first act of rebellion, and it shows his hatred of oppression has been growing for some time.
  • He’s self-aware to a degree, he understand that he’s almost a separate entity from the rest of society for having these extremely different opinions.
  • He also considers himself a criminal, where he notes that becoming a thought criminal is something you can’t hide forever.
  • The most important theme of the book is the governmental use of thought manipulation as a means of maintaining it’s power.
  • Each day citizens have to attend the Two Minutes Hate meeting, which is an intense mass rally in which they are primed with hatred for Oceania’s rival nations, venting their own pent-up emotions in the process. This is to keep an intense patriotism in their peoples’ minds.

Chapter 2 notes

  • Winston opened his door and he thought the thought police were coming for him, however it was just his neighbor. He’s already starting to get sloppy with his work.
  • Winston goes to help Mrs. Parson with her plumbing, and her kids who are training to be spies accuse him of thought-crime.
  • The Junior Spies are a group of people who work for the government and their job is to be little snitches on the adults. Another reason not to trust children.
  • Winston writes in his book, seemingly for the last time when it happens and he’s like, “wow this was a bad idea they’re gonna get me now”, and then he hides the book.
  • Winston’s fatalism is like the biggest component of his character.
  • He’s been fearing the power of the Party for like ever, and the guilt he feels after having committed a crime against the Party overwhelms him, rendering him absolutely certain that he’ll be like caught and punished.
  • His general pessimism not only reflects the social conditioning against which Orwell hopes to warn his readers, but also casts a general gloom on the novel.

Chapter 3 notes

  • An important motif that emerges in the first three chapters of 1984 is that of urban decay.
  • From what we can see so far, London bridge fell down. Winston’s world is an unsafe place to live, conveniences are mostly out of order and buildings are falling apart.
  • Winston’s encounter with the Parsons children in Chapter II demonstrates the Party’s influence on families and youth.
  • Children are turned into spies and trained to watch the actions of their parents with.
  • Orwell was inspired in his creation of the Junior Spies by a real organization called Hitler Youth that thrived in Nazi Germany.
  • This group instilled patriotism in kids that led them to monitor their parents for any sign of deviation from Nazi orthodoxy.

Chapter 4 notes

  • Winston goes to his job in the Records section of the Ministry of Truth, where he works with a “speak write” and gets rid of old documents.
  • Big Brother can never be wrong.
  • When the citizens of Airstrip One are forced to live with less food, they are told that they are being given more than ever and, and they believe it.
  • Since Comrade Withers was executed as an enemy of the Party, it is unacceptable to have a document on file praising him as a loyal Party member, so Winston has to destroy it.

Chapter 5 notes

  • Winston creates a person named Comrade Ogilvy and substitutes him for Comrade Withers in the records.
  •  Comrade Ogilvy is an ideal Party man, opposed to sex and suspicious of everyone.
  • Winston meets Syme, an intelligent Party member who works on a revised dictionary of Newspeak, the official language of Oceania. Syme tells Winston that Newspeak aims to narrow the range of thought to render thought crime impossible.
  • Suddenly, an exuberant message from the Ministry of Plenty announces increases in production over the loudspeakers.
  • Winston reflects that the alleged increase in the chocolate ration to twenty grams was actually a reduction from the day before, but those around him seem to accept the announcement joyfully and without suspicion.

Chapter 6 notes

  • (Some inappropriate stuff.)
  • The idea of doublethink—explained in Chapter 3 as the ability to believe and disbelieve simultaneously in the same idea, or to believe in two contradictory ideas simultaneously—provides the psychological key to the Party’s control of the past.
  • Accompanying the psychological aspect of the Party’s oppression is the physical aspect. Winston realizes his nervous system has become his enemy.
  • The condition of being constantly monitored and having to repress every feeling and instinct forces Winston to maintain self-control at all costs; even a facial twitch suggesting struggle could lead to arrest, demonstrating the thoroughness of the Party’s control.
  • Winston’s repressed sexuality—one of his key reasons for despising the Party and wanting to rebel—becomes his overt concern in Chapter 6, when he remembers his last encounter with a prole prostitute.
  • Sex can be seen as the ultimate act of individualism, for its roots in the individual’s desire to continue himself or herself through reproduction.
  • By transforming sex into a duty, the Party strikes another psychological blow against individualism: under Big Brother’s regime, the goal of sex is not to reproduce one’s individual genes, but simply to create new members of the Party.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *