Never read 1984? Just need a brush-up? We’re here to help.

Giles Davies and Jennifer Casler in Jobsite's 1984. (Photos by Pritchard Photography.)

Ok, so first of all you shouldn’t read any further if you’ve managed to somehow avoid the story of 1984 and do not want anything spoiled for you.

You’ve been warned.

Ok, so for those of you who want a refresher, have never gotten around to it, or just don’t consider yourself a reader, here’s a synopsis of the book. Bear in mind this is a synopsis of the BOOK, our production will vary a bit in how the material is presented.

Winston Smith works in the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth, rewriting and distorting history. To escape Big Brother’s tyranny, Winston begins a diary – an act punishable by death. Winston is determined to remain human under inhuman circumstances. Yet telescreens are placed everywhere monitoring his every move. No place is safe.

One day Winston catches the eye of an Inner Party Member, O’Brien, whom he believes to be an ally. He also catches the eye of a dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department, Julia. A few days later, Julia secretly hands him a note that reads, “I love you.” Winston takes pains to meet her, and when they finally do, Julia draws up a complicated plan whereby they can be alone.

Alone in the countryside, Winston and Julia make love and begin their allegiance against the Party and Big Brother. Winston secures a room above a shop where he and Julia can go for their romantic trysts. While they know that they will someday be caught, Winston and Julia believe that the love and loyalty they feel for each other can never be taken from them, even under the worst circumstances.

Eventually, Winston and Julia confess to their hatred of the Party to O’Brien, whom they believe to be a member of the Brotherhood, an underground organization aimed at bringing down the Party. O’Brien welcomes them into the Brotherhood with an array of questions and arranges for Winston to be given a copy of “the book,” the underground’s treasonous volume written by their leader, Emmanuel Goldstein, former ally of Big Brother turned enemy.

When the book arrives, Winston takes it to the secure room where he reads it with Julia napping by his side. Suddenly they hear a noise behind a painting in the room and discover a telescreen. They are dragged away and separated. Winston finds himself imprisoned alone in the Ministry of Love for several days. Finally, O’Brien comes. Initially Winston believes that O’Brien has also been caught, but he soon realizes that O’Brien is there to torture him and break his spirit.

O’Brien uses electrical shocks to change Winston’s way of thinking. Winston believes that the human mind must be free, and to remain free, one must be allowed to believe in an objective truth, such as 2 + 2 = 4. O’Brien wants Winston to believe that 2 + 2 = 5, but Winston is resistant. 

Finally, O’Brien takes Winston to Room 101, the most dreaded room of all in the Ministry of Love, the place where prisoners meet their greatest fear. Winston’s greatest fear is rats. O’Brien places over Winston’s head a mask made of wire mesh and threatens to open the door to release rats on Winston’s face. When Winston screams, “Do it to Julia!” he relinquishes his last vestige of humanity. By the time the story ends, there is no doubt that Winston loves Big Brother.



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