George Orwell’s 1984: Summary, Plot Overview
It was 1984 and the controls everything, including history and reality. George Orwell’s 1984 is a novel that describes the authoritarian rule in Oceania. Winston Smith plans to help Emmanuel Goldstein, leader of the resistance against the State, but the police capture him and his lover and supporter, Julia. O’Brien, who claims to be a chief operator of the Ministry of Love, tortures Winston in Room 101 so that he would confess his offenses. In-Room 101, O’Brien begins the process of Winston’s “reintegration” that has three stages; learning, understanding, and acceptance. He wants Winston to learn why the Party wants power. The second phase is the stage of understanding. O’Brien wants Winston to understand that he is the last man with human spirit. The third phase is acceptance, which means loving the Party completely without including anyone else, especially Julia. Room 101 shows that the betrayal of their love has destroyed Winston’s humanity because it removed his hope for freedom and the courage to fight for this hope.
What happened in Room 101 has erased Winston’s desire to feel any other form of love aside from Party love. O’Brien’s third phase of reintegration is acceptance, the acceptance that the only being that Oceania’s citizens can love is Big Brother. A proof of Winston’s acceptance of this kind of love is in the scene where he talks to Julia in Part 3, Chapter, 6. He wants to walk with her to the Tube station, but instead, his mind tells him to do something else: “He had a nostalgic vision of his corner table, with the newspaper and the chessboard and the everflowing gin. Above all, it would be warm in there” (Orwell Part 3 Ch. 6). The Party has taken away his ability to feel any intimate emotion that can lead to disloyalty to the Party, so it programmed him to think of his routines whenever he feels the love in his heart. The Party owns his mind completely that he cannot even love anyone else aside from Big Brother. Because he cannot love anyone, he has given up hope in his freedom, and without freedom, he has stopped loving himself too. Orwell ends Part 3, Chapter 6, with Winston’s shooting. He is about to die: “The long-hoped-for bullet was entering his brain” (Orwell Part 3 Ch. 6). Orwell might be describing a metaphoric kind of death, where Winston dies as the true last man with human spirit as O’Brien describes him in Part 3, Chapter 3. The bullet is “long hoped for” because Winston finds no meaning in a life without freedom. The bullet is not a real one because it is the bullet of Big Brother’s complete control over his life that ends his humanity.
To further take out Winston’s ability to be passionate for anything and anyone, the Party assigned him to a meaningless job, where it is true what O’Brien said in Room 101 that the Party can control everything through controlling the mind. Instead of following Julia in their last encounter and trying to be with her again, Winston goes back to his ordinary routines, including his dull work that is about making decisions over commas and other useless things for the Interim Report. The effect of mind control that the Party has on him and his co-workers is clear when Orwell describes how they try to argue, or even think deeply about their work responsibilities, and then something else happens: “And then suddenly the life would go out of them and they would sit around the table looking at one another with extinct eyes, like ghosts fading at cock-crow” (Part 3, Chapter 6). The same is what is happening to Winston whenever he remembers his love for Julia. He is having a blackout because of the brainwashing done in Room 101. Room 101 is a room of torture of the body and the mind so that all kinds of love for others and the self are removed because to love is to hope. Room 101 is the last room of war- the war for the control of the human spirit.
Finally, Winston’s experience in Room 101 is a metaphor for dying because when he loved Julia, it is also a means of loving himself by having the courage to love, and without that love, he is no longer a human being. In Part 3, Chapter 3, Winston knows that though he has told the Party everything about Julia, he has not yet fully betrayed her: “He had not stopped loving her; his feelings towards her had remained the same.” The Party, however, does not want any other kind of love in Oceania, so it means that O’Brien will also destroy this love for her. By destroying this love, Winston cannot even have the courage to hope. In the end, the Party wins over Winston’s love because they threaten to put him in a room of rats, and his fear of rats kills his love for Julia. He screams: “Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me!” (Orwell Part 3 Ch. 5). By saying this, he does not only betray Julia but he also ironically betrays his humanity because he has lost his courage in protecting his loved one. The Party wins, as Orwell describes how Winston feels for the Party after Room 101: “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother” (Orwell Part 3 Ch. 6). Winston no longer questions the Party. He loves Big Brother, which means he stopped loving all that made him human. Winston has lost the last source of hope for love and freedom.
Room 101 is the last room that killed the last man with humanity, Winston. Winston’s only hope for being human is remaining in love with Julia because it is supposed to be impossible to take from any person. This love also makes him courageous in defending that piece of his mind that hopes and loves. But the Party removes that piece of his mind too when it succeeds in making Winston stop loving Julia. Room 101 seems to have tortured his body and mind so much that the brainwashing became complete. He can no longer have the courage to love another person, including himself. Winston dies a horrible death because he lives like a rat for the Party to control inside the cage called Oceania. Inside the cage, Winston goes on with his meaningless life.
Orwell, George. 1984. 1949. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.