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from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research."
--- Wilson Mizner (1876 - 1933)
****1984 Plot Summary Sample #1****
1984 is possibly the definitive dystopian novel, set in a world beyond our imagining. A world where totalitarianism really is total, all power split into three roughly equal groups--Eastasia, Eurasia, and Oceania. 1984 is set in Oceania, which includes the United Kingdom, where the story is set, known as Airstrip One.
Winston Smith is a middle-aged, unhealthy character, based loosely on Orwell's own frail body, an underling of the ruling oligarchy, The Party. The Party has taken early 20th century totalitarianism to new depths, with each person subjected to 24 hour surveillance, where people's very thoughts are controlled to ensure purity of the oligarchical system in place. Figurehead of the system is the omnipresent and omnipotent Big Brother.
But Winston believes there is another way.
1984 joins Winston as he sets about another day, where his job is to change history by changing old newspaper records to match with the new truth as decided by the Party.
"He who controls the past, controls the future" is a Party slogan to live by and it gives Winston his job, but Winston cannot see it like that. Barely old enough to recall a time when things were different, he sets out to expose the Party for the cynically fraudulent organisation that it is. He is joined by Julia, a beautiful young woman much in contrast with Winston physically, but equally sickened by the excesses of her rulers.
You will meet many recognisable characters, themes, and words which
have become part of our everyday life as you read 1984. Where
did Big Brother first appear? Certainly not on Australian TV! Written
in Orwell's inimitable journalistic style, 1984 is a tribute to
a man who saw the true dangers of historian Lord Acton's (1834-1902)
statement: "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Submitted by The Atheist.
****End of 1984 Plot Summary Sample
"Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research."
--- Wilson Mizner (1876 - 1933)
*****1984 Plot Summary Sample
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic dystopian novel by English author George Orwell. Published in 1949, it is set in the eponymous year and focuses on a repressive, totalitarian regime. The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literature. Smith grows disillusioned with his meager existence and so begins a rebellion against the system that leads to his arrest and torture.
The novel has become famous for its portrayal of pervasive
and control, and government's increasing encroachment on the rights of
the individual. Since its publication, many of its terms and concepts,
such as "Big Brother," "doublethink"
have entered the popular vernacular. The word "Orwellian"
itself has come to refer to anything reminiscent of the book's
here for the full 1984 article on Wikipedia
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 plotline is therefore virtually identical to that of a 1921 Russian novel titled We, which occurs in a world similar to that of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The intellectual Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party, lives in the ruins of London (the "chief city of Airstrip One", a province of Oceania), who 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 in the office, a woman 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 neighborhood. 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 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 questions 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.
****End of Plot Summary 2****
"Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy
from two, it's research."
--- Wilson Mizner (1876 - 1933)
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The book starts out by setting a tone of a morbid micro-managed