1984 Book Summary - Plot, Themes and Characters Summary

1984 Book Summary


1984 Book Summary

1984, by George Orwell, is a chilling dystopian novel that was published in 1949. It was written in the shadow of World War II. Orwell is a very renowned author for his famous Animal Farm masterpiece. He writes this book as a warning against totalitarianism. This government depicted here controls everything from the economy to the language.

Orwell has written this novel from experience. He went through totalitarian regimes like the rise of Nazis in Germany and Stalinist Russia. His first-hand knowledge gave him a unique perspective of this dystopian book.

So, what are the details of this Orwell's novel? Read on to learn the themes, literary devices, characters, George Orwell's 1984 summary, plot, and frequently asked questions.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four Overview

This book is set in a totalitarian society in 1984. Winston Smith, who holds a low position within the ruling party paints an image of this oppressive government. He starts questioning the government's excessive dominance, which extends into every facet of citizens' lives.

Winston's defiant thoughts and actions lead him to join a rebellious movement secretly. He embarks on a dangerous journey toward individual freedom and truth.

The novel portrays a bleak and terrifying future where the government, led by the puzzling figure of Big Brother, uses language, propaganda film, and surveillance to manipulate and brainwash the population. The Party's motto, is, "In war, there is peace, in freedom, there is slavery, and being ignorant is strength”.

Throughout the novel, George Orwell explores power, manipulation, conformity, and the nature of truth. He depicts the evils of a society where love, privacy, and free will are nonexistent. 1984 remains a formative work of literature and a warning on the perils of tyranny and the need for personal resistance.

In this story, you will encounter three classes of people. The inner Party (who supports the party leader and his policies), the outer Party ( like Julia and Winston ), and the prole.

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Summary of 1984 Part 1: Ignorance is Strength

  • 1984 Chapter 1 summary: The novel begins with Winston Smith, the protagonist, returning home to his apartment in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain). He is a low-ranking part member in Oceania. He is monitored by telescreens in his apartment.
  • Winston starts rebelling against the party ideologies by writing in a diary, though it's an act punishable by death. He writes about his lust and hatred for a girl in the Ministry of Truth, O'Brien, and a film.
  • Later, he realized he had committed a thought crime. The police are now capturing his greatest fear. While at it, he hears a knock.
  • 1984 Chapter 2 summary: He answers the knock and meets Mrs. Parson, his neighbor. She requests him to unclog the sink because the husband isn't around. Her kids mock Winston and call him a traitor, a thought criminal.
  • Winston goes back to his house and continues writing the diary. But, he realizes that the chances of losing his life are higher when he gets caught by the Thoughts Police.
  • Chapter 3: Winston has a dream of his mother and sister's death. He feels broken because her mother sacrificed herself and his sister for him during the Great Purges. In his dream, he also encounters a young lady from the Ministry. This lady has a seductive behavior that contradicts the Party’s principles.
  • Chapter 4:  The author gives us more details about where Winston works. He works in the Records department, Truth Ministry. He must manage records; and rewrite history according to the Party’s needs in the English language.   
  • After manipulating information, Winston should dispose of any evidence of the tampered information.
  • Chapter 5: Winston's friend, Syme, lectures him on the policies of the Newspeak language. According to Syme, everyone will get fluent in this language as the years pass by.
  • While at the table, Winston spots a dark-haired girl from the Fiction department, Julia. Winston gets convinced she is a member of the Thought police.
  • Chapter 6: Winston confesses in his daily about visiting an old prostitute. These thoughts accelerate his sexual desire for a nice sexual experience, and he thinks of his ex-wife Katherine. They separated because Winston couldn’t stand her coldness towards him.
  • Chapter 7: Winston writes in his diary the hope for proles and working-class rebelling to change the society. Winston finds out that O'Brien is the audience member of the diary, and he supports him.
  • Chapter 8: He revisits Mr. Charrington's shop. Winston buys a paperweight and learns of an upstairs room without constant surveillance. He encounters a dark-haired girl from the fiction department. Winston is afraid to imagine how the lady could have been following her.

Part 2 of 1984 Summary: Freedom is Slavery

  • Chapter 1: Winston bumps into Julia, a dark, dark-haired girl whom Winston believes to be against him, along the corridor. Julia passes him a love note secretly. Winston couldn't concentrate on working, so they arranged to meet in Victory Mansions Square.
  • Chapter 2-3: The lovebirds find a secret hideout in the countryside. Winston notes Julia's rebellion against the Party through frequent affairs, and this gives him hope.
  • Chapter 4-5: Winston secures a hidden room above a junk shop for his affair with Julia. Despite internal doubts, they enjoy stolen moments of luxury and intimacy. In the shadow of Hate Week, Syme disappears. Winston and Julia continue with their secret meetings. They also discuss war truths, vaporizations, and a rebellious future.
  • Chapter 6-7: O'Brien, a high-ranking Party member, seeks out Winston at work. Their talk about Syme, who has become a non-person, sparks Winston's suspicion that O'Brien might be an ally. O'Brien's offer of a forbidden book and his address fuels Winston's hope for rebellion.
  • Chapter 8-10: Winston and Julia visit O’Brien’s house and confess their hate for the Party. O'Brien invites Winston and Julia to join the Brotherhood, an anti-party resistance group.

He gives Winston the book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism" by Emmanuel Goldstein.

Winston and Julia spend time in their hiding place reading the mysterious book.

Winston and Julia are arrested by the Thought Police, revealing that Mr. Charrington was a member of the Thought Police all along. He had tricked him and Julia.

1984 Part 3 Summary: War is Peace

  • Chapters 1-2:  Winston is inside the cell in the Ministry of Love. He meets several inmates like the drunken woman, Ampleforth, and Parsons. They are later taken to the dreaded Room 101.
  • Winston is tortured in the Ministry of Love by O’Brien.
  • Chapter 3-4: Winston is taken through the philosophical ideologies of the Party by O’Brien. He is broken and feels betrayed even by Julia. Winston's greatest fear is the consequences of this torture and his fate.
  • Chapter 5-6: Winston undergoes a lot of torture, and he experiences Doublethink, that is having conflicting beliefs simultaneously.

Winston’s spirit is broken, and he fully embraces the Party's ideology. Winston loves Big Brother. Winston reflects on his newfound acceptance of the Party's doctrines and his altered perception of reality. He finally betrays Julia to save himself.

The novel ends with Winston fully succumbing to the Party's authority. He loses all sense of individuality and rebellion.

Characters in 1984 Book

This 1984 Book characters include the main and secondary ones that facilitate the running of the events in the story:

1984 characters

Winston Smith

He is a 39-year-old gentleman and the protagonist. He is impassive and harbors thoughts of rebellion and curiosity for the Party's power. He desires to remain human amid inhuman circumstances in society. He finds unobtrusive methods to rebel against the government and believes his efforts will go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, he is tricked by O'Brien into joining the Brotherhood with Julia, and they express their rebellion. He is captured and tortured until he accepts the Party's ideologies through brainwashing. His fate portrays the power of authoritarianism on individuals.

In short, Winston has the following traits:

  • Intellectual – has knowledge of the past that the government tries to control. Winston feels that the manipulation of historical records is wrong, but his hands are tied.
  • Rebellious – he knows the reality and government hypocrisy and goes against them.
  • Disillusioned – after learning about the government's hypocrisy, he longs for the time people would think freely.
  • Fatalistic – he succumbs to the feelings of fatalism that his opposition against the Party is futile.
  • Emotional – Winston goes through a range of emotions like fear, love, despair, and longing.


She is Winston's love and friend. Julia works in the Ministry of Truth. She is also against the Party's doctrines and wants to break the rules, change society, and end human suffering.

Her rebellion is centered on personal desires. She longs for the freedom to enjoy sexuality and life in general. She fulfills her sexual desire secretly with other men like Winston. She pretends to be a loyal citizen as a way of adapting to the oppressive ideologies.

Her traits include the following:

  • Rebellious – she despises the Party's control, just like Winston. However, she enjoyed defying the rules in small, unnoticeable ways.
  • Adaptable – she has learned to live in an oppressive atmosphere while maintaining her sense of self. Outwardly, she seems compliant but indulges in rebellious acts secretly.
  • Independent – she has a strong sense of self-preservation and doesn’t rely on Winston. Julia also avoids getting attached to the idea of a better future with her lover.
  • Pragmatic – Julia finds practical ways of defying the Party without getting caught. Her priority is her well-being rather than seeking grand solutions.
  • Life-loving – she seeks pleasure in the moment and enjoys simple acts of spending time with Winston.


He is a member of the Inner Party and appears as a mysterious figure. Most of the Party's doctrine is revealed through O'Brien. He is an intelligent and cunning man who makes Winston believe he is part of the underground movement against the Party. He takes Winston into a dreaded room and tortures him.

He is an unreliable character because anything you learn about him later turns out to be a lie. He is unreal, changeable, and ruthless. Other traits of this guy include:

  • Ruthless - he enforces the Party rules with cruelty. He leads Winston's torture and brainwashing, demonstrating his capacity for emotional and physical violence.
  • Devoted to the Party – his loyalty lies with the Party and the totalitarian belief.  
  • Charismatic – he uses his charisma to lure Winston to gain his trust and fall into his trap.
  • Manipulative – he deceives Winston that he belongs to the rebellious Brotherhood movement. He plays on Winston's hopes and fears and even buys him the book to read.
  • Intelligent – he has a sharp mind and a deep understanding of the Party's philosophy. E applies this knowledge to break Winston's heart.

Big Brother

Oceania's supreme leader. He is almost everywhere in telescreen projections, coins, and large posters. He is one of the founding fathers of the Party and Revolution. He makes decisions for the Party, and everyone adores him.

He is a symbol of the following:

  • Totalitarianism – he powers the Party in Oceania. He leads the government's constant surveillance and control over people’s lives.
  • Fear and control - his image is plastered everywhere with the slogan Big Brother is watching you. This reminder instills fear in people's minds and discourages independent thought.
  • Cult of personality – he gets complete devotion from people even though his actual actions are brutal and oppressive.
  • Legacy of the term – his name represents a government that exerts excessive power over its citizens. 

Emmanuel Goldstein

He is the leader of the Brotherhood resistant movement. It's unclear whether Goldstein is a fictional character, but he plays a significant role in the fight for reality and intellectual freedom in the novel. He fuels the anxieties of the characters by revealing the manipulative power in a totalitarian state.

He represents the following aspects in the novel:

  • Enemy of the State – he is the ultimate enemy of Oceania because he incites people against the government. The aim of his moment is actually to overthrow the regime and give people freedom to think.
  • Propaganda tool – the Party uses Goldstein as a reference point for their propaganda machine—for example, the Two Minutes of Hate.
  • Uncertain existence – his existence is ambiguous. He may be a fabricated figure by the Party to reveal their control.

Mr Charrington

He is the owner of the antique where Winston buys his first dairy pen. Winston rents a room above Charrington to push his affair with her. Mr. Charrinton pretends to be a kind man to Winston but is a secret member of the Thought Police. He leads Winston and Julia into a trap and observes them through a hidden telescreen in the room, and he arrests them.

Secondary Characters of 1984 Book Summary

  1. Mrs Parsons - she is Tom Parsons's wife and neighbor to Winston. She is an old lady and looks tired. She has two troubled children who belong to the Spies and Youth League. Her children betray her and her spouse to the Thought Police.
  2. Tom Parson is a husband to Mrs. Parson, a neighbor, and a coworker to Winston. He is a simple man who believes everything that the Party tells him.
  3. He is inactive and brainwashed by the Party's doctrine; he doesn't participate in community or group activities. He is imprisoned in the Ministry of Love after his daughter betrays him to the police.
  4. Tillotson – a coworker to Winston. He occupies a seat opposite him in the Records Department. He is extremely reserved about his work.
  5. Ampleforth – a coworker of Winston's and a poet who works in the Records Department. He rewrites politically or ideologically Oldspeak poems.
  6. Syme – he is a fake friend of Winston's and a philologist updating the Newspeak Dictionary to its eleventh edition. Winston dislikes Syme, but he loves having interesting conversations with him. Syme was a devoted party member, but he was smart and vocal.
  7. Katharine Smith – he is Winston's wife, though their marriage is no more and they don't own children.
  8. Martin – he is a servant to O'Brien, dark-haired, and believes he might be Chinese.

The setting of the 1984 Book

The 1984 Book setting (setting for 1984) is in Oceania, a totalitarian state. Oceania's mainland is an airstrip formally called England. The story's events occur in London in 1984, during trying moments where freedom and the human spirit are crushed. War, hunger, and political instability are constant in the text.

The Plot of 1984 Book 

The 1984 book plot has Winston as the main character. In the novel's imagined future, we observe a totalitarian government that rules over all aspects of life, including people's thoughts. The state of Oceania is governed by a group known as the Party, led by Big Brother.

Winston decides to rebel by forming a diary revealing his rebelling thoughts. By keeping this diary, he commits a thought crime. Winston fears one day, he will be arrested by the Thought police and killed. Winston is fascinated by the lives of the lower-class people in Oceania who were caged by the Party policies.

He befriends Mr. Charrington, who shares his life before the Big Brother rule. He also secretly starts a love affair with Julia, a Party member. They are always cautious and meet in areas that aren't watched. Later, they rent a room above Mr. Charrington.

O'Brien, who pretends to be Winston's friend, invites him and Julia to his house. Winston gets excited to visit, thinking he is politically orthodox and can sympathize with his hatred. O'Brien enlists them in the Brotherhood, a secret organization dedicated to fighting Big Brother. He also gives them Goldstein’s book on Big Brother information and the states' development.

Winston and Julia leave to read the book in the room. Not knowing they are trapped, Thought Police storms in and arrests them. They are taken separately into the Ministry of Love. In the Ministry, Winston realizes that O'Brien tricked him and he is a government agent. He takes charge of torturing and then re-integration process on Winston to brainwash him fully.

Finally, Winston is forced to betray his love for Julia, and his feelings are destroyed. Winston is released, and his fate is in the hands of the government.

That's our plot summary of the 1984 Book. It covers the whole world of events from 1984, chapter 1 to chapter 23. If you are interested in the 1984 chapter 8 summary, 1984 part 2 chapter 1-4 summary, or any other, don't hesitate to place an order with us. Apart from 1984 by George Orwell summary, we also provide other summaries, such as:

Themes in 1984 Book

1984 themes

The 1984 Book summary themes include the following:


Totalitarianism is a central theme of this book and features the type of government that is unknown to the public. It’s a system that feeds people with propaganda and lies presented by the government. This government is led by a few individuals, the Party.

The Party holds people hostage, and the Party controls their thoughts and even love relationships, such as between Julia and Winston. They could not even write a diary with peace because they were slaves to this government.

This government monitored people through telescreens through the Ministry of Truth and their language. People used some mottos such as “War in peace."


It's the second major theme in the 1984 novel. This subject shows how people were controlled and the impacts. The author propels this idea in the novel through the vessel Ministry of Truth. Winston also helps in spreading propaganda as he works in the history department. He distorts facts and truths and spreads them throughout the country.

Subversion of Reality

In the novel, some people live in abject poverty while others work against each other. In a society, people should live in harmony and have a real life and access to information. In 1984, people were spying on each other. Winston Smith can't even enjoy his marriage life. Lies are distorted and presented as truth to the people who believe them.

Subversion of Love and Feelings

Another subject of 1984 is the subversion of love and feelings. People are discouraged from falling in love or growing relationships Sex is a duty of the government or to the Party; that means Winston should only sire children for the Party. This concept has caused his marriage with Katherine to fail, and he rebels by getting intimate with Julia. So, depriving people of love, even from the families, makes the ruling class destroy families and remain strong.

Political Loyalty

It's another idea that comes out clearly in this novel. Winston is a loyal government employee, though he questions its way of doing things. However, through his prosecution, we realize the government wants total obedience to its ideas. O'Brien, the Thought Police, is an example of a loyal person to the Party and Big Brother.

Resistance and Revolution

Winston and his lover Julia show resistance to the Party ideologies. They feel controlling people's lives is wrong and want to discover the truth. Their quest for rebellion lands them into a trap, and they are arrested by the Thought police, who pretend to be his big brother and friend.

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Symbolism in 1984 Book

symbolism in 1984

  1. Brother symbolism – it's the most powerful and recognizable symbol in this novel. His image is on posters everywhere. It signifies the power and omniscience of the top party leader. According to the party member, Big Brother is not iron. He is a protector; he keeps them from harm, whether through threats or oppression.
  2. The two minutes hate – it's the fear instilled in people against Emmanuel Goldstein. The Party couldn't allow citizens to join the Brotherhood.
  3. The glass paperweight – Winston buys this object in the antique shop as a symbol of beauty, fragility, and a connection to the lost world. This object represents Winston's freedom and a time of beauty.
  4. Newspeak – it's the manipulation of language by the Party. It limits vocabulary and expression and signifies control over thought and independence.
  5. Room 101 – it's a mystery throughout the novel, representing each person's deepest fear. When Winston is taken there, he witnesses psychological torture that breaks his will.
  6. Doublethink – it's the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs simultaneously and believe in both. It was the Party's manipulation of reality.
  7. Prole woman – she represents her muscular physique and the potential for rebellion within the prole and working class of Oceania. She represents a free spirit that’s defiant of the rules of singing. Winston sees hers as a spark that could ignite a rebellion against the Party. She is a powerful reminder that the human spirit can be free even in a controlling government. So, the freedom of procreation and free thought can't be entirely extinguished.
  8. Birds – Winston sees birds in the countryside, and they represent freedom and instincts. Winston longs for this freedom that the Party controls.
  9. Telescreens – the screen serves as a constant reminder to citizens that they are being monitored. It's a symbol of the Party's intrusion into the people's private life

1984 Book Styles and Structure

  • Conflict – there is an internal and external conflict in the novel. The external conflict is among Winston Smith, the other Party members, and the agents. Finally, Winston is defeated and arrested. The internal conflict is the thoughts going through Winston's mind about his freedom and rights and the Party he works for.
  • Imagery – use of five senses in the description. For example, “…person resembling a beetle, with a flat facial structure and small, wary eyes.” also describes the dilapidated and decaying buildings in the district, emphasizing society's poverty and degradation.
  • Irony – the book has so many examples of irony, where the true meaning of a situation or statement is opposite to its literal meaning. For instance, there is a repeated catchphrase, "Peace is achieved through war." It reflects the twisted logic of the Party's propaganda and highlights the inversion of reality.
  • Foreshadowing – Orwell uses foreshadowing to create a sense of foreboding and tension in the novel, hinting at the dark events to come. For example, Winston's dream of his mother and sister being vaporized foreshadows the ultimate fate of many characters in the novel.
  • Allusion – Orwell alludes to historical and literary events and figures throughout the novel, such as the Stalinist purges and the works of Shakespeare. The allusions used in the novel enrich the content and place it within a broader cultural and historical framework.
  • Limited point of view – Orwell narrates this story from Winston's point of view. You can only rely on the information that Winston offers, which feels limiting. For instance, he is represented as fictional, and this becomes a bit consuming for the reader.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four Book Setting

In our nineteen eighty-four summary, we have discovered a dual setting for this novel. The book is set in Oceania, as described below, though the time is unclear.

  • Place – the events in 1984 happened in Oceania, which was formerly Great Britain. Events occur in an atmosphere of war between states, Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. The story happens in one of the Oceania provinces, Airstrip One.
  • Time – though the book is referred to as 1984, it’s unclear on the actual time. With the policies of The Party, information is scarce.

What’s the Genre of Nineteen Eighty-Four Novel?

1984 is an excellent example of a dystopian classic novel. 1984 is a historical novel that features undesirable societies with totalitarian governments, environmental degradation issues, nuclear war, extreme social inequalities, etc.

This book uses political and social fiction to push its themes. The political feature explores the impacts of its structures on the citizens.

What’s the Significance of the Ministries in 1984 Book?

There are four ministries in the summary of 1984 by George Orwell. From the ministries' names, you will note that they are ironic because they feature the total opposite of their meaning.

For example, the Ministry of Truth should be communicating factual and truthful information. However, it's about falsifying historical documents to suit the Party's narratives.

Ministry of Truth

It's the one responsible for the propaganda. It facilitates the rewriting of historical records and controlling information to manipulate the citizens. As the saying puts it, “Information gives you power”. This Ministry actively suppresses truth and factual knowledge from reaching its people, exploiting them for its gain.

Winston works here. He alters the historical documents to match the Party’s narratives.

Ministry of Love

Love institution is the most feared and brutal in Oceania. This department upholds and enforces law and order through torture and brainwashing. There is no love portrayed in its functions. It has a Thought Police that operates under it to maintain loyalty to Big Brother.

Ministry of Plenty

Miniplenty is mandated to manage the economy and allocate resources. However, it prides itself on poverty and scarcity. This situation perpetuates the Party’s control over the people through hardships and deprivation.

Ministry of Peace

This Ministry ironically maintains perpetual war. It manages the military and propaganda campaigns and justifies the oppressive Party policies.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the key point of 1984?

1984 is a stark caution against totalitarian governments. This novel revolves around the impacts of totalitarianism on the society. The story features oppressive government policies like thought control and falsifying historical data.

2. What lessons can one learn from 1984?

  • Impacts of blind obedience
  • The importance of fighting for freedom
  • The benefits of free speech and individuality
  • The power of language like Newspeak
  • The benefits of critical thinking

3. Is George Orwell’s book based on a true story?

No, George Orwell’s isn’t a true story; it's a work of fiction. The novel is influenced by real-world events and political movements that the author has witnessed.

4. What are the three social classes in 1984?

  • Inner Party
  • Proles
  • Outer Party

5. What is the Two Minutes Hate in 1984?

It’s a ritual that Party members observe to haul their insults and hostility towards the Part enemies. The main enemy is Emmanuel Goldstein. The Citizens could hurl insults and vent their aggression to the enemy.

6. What is the main theme of Orwell’s Novel?

The central theme of 1984 is oligarchical collectivism. It acts as a stark and unsettling warning of the dangers of totalitarianism and the potential consequences of unchecked government control. This government manipulates the masses, rewrites history, and limits intellectual freedom.

In a Nut-Shell 

The 1984 Book presents various negative social issues that sometimes affect the community. Though some may be exaggerated, we have issues of political loyalty, revolution, and propaganda even in the ruling systems today. So, the events that occur in the text act as a warning to the ruling systems about the effects of inappropriate policies and ideologies.

The author has used more irony to explore the citizens' challenges. These people have no rights to expression, thoughts, and even decision-making. Big Brother seems like a god for everyone. 

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