Structure

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Beginning (Part I)

The story begins in medias res, starting with the famous sentence: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (p. 3).

Because Nineteen Eighty-Four is a science-fiction story, the first part of the book serves to introduce us to its rather unusual setting, giving us detailed descriptions of the social and political mechanics of London in the future world of 1984. We quickly learn that the society of the future is a totalitarian state that relies on mass surveillance to keep the citizens under strict control (pp. 4-5), led by the mysterious Big Brother, who can be seen on posters all over the city (pp. 3-4).

At the same time, the main conflict is introduced…

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Middle (Part II)

The second part of the book starts with Winston’s first true meeting with Julia, in which she hands him a note declaring her love for him (p. 111-114). This leads to their secret love affair, which allows both of them a temporary escape from the dark and hopeless reality they live in.

The middle section is the most optimistic and hopeful part of the book, though ongoing tension is still created because of the secrecy of Winston and Julia’s relationship and the constant fear that they might be discovered. They rent a small room above Mr. Charrington’s junk shop, where they believe themselves to be safe. This leads to a minor tension point where Winston’s fear of rats is revealed (p. 151), which foreshadows his final tortur…

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Ending (Part III)

The final part of the story mainly takes place within the Ministry of Love, the government’s law enforcement and torture headquarters.

Within the Ministry, Winston is subjected to all kinds of torture and gradually his will is broken down. First, he is merely beaten by the guards like a common prisoner, but afterwards he is subjected to advanced psychological torture at the hands of members of the Inner Party. Eventually, O’Brien arrives and reveals he was lying about being a member of the Brotherhood - and he assumes control of the effort to break down Winston completely.

Though Winston eventually surrenders his mind to the Party’s teachings, he remains unwilling to give up his love for Julia. He is then taken to the mysterious Room 101 in which prisoners face their greates…

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