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Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  1984

author George Orwell

type of work  Novel

genre Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction

language  English

time and place written  England, 1949

date of first publication  1949

publisher  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

narrator  Third-person, limited

climax  Winston’s torture with the cage of rats in Room 101

protagonist  Winston Smith

antagonist  The Party; Big Brother

setting (time)  1984

setting (place)  London, England (known as “Airstrip One” in the novel’s alternate reality)

point of view  Winston Smith’s

falling action  Winston’s time in the café following his release from prison, including the memory of his meeting with Julia at the end of Book Three

tense  Past

foreshadowing  Winston’s betrayal of Julia is ironically foreshadowed by his insistence the Party can’t make him stop loving her; Winston’s betrayal of the Party is foreshadowed by the anti-Party comments he writes in his diary; Winston’s misreading of Julia as a spy foreshadows that he will misread O’Brien as a friend instead of antagonist; the rat in Winston and Julia’s rented room foreshadows that they are being watched.

tone Dark, frustrated, pessimistic

themes  The psychological, technological, physical, and social dangers of totalitarianism and political authority; the importance of language in shaping human thought

motifs  Urban decay (London is falling apart under the Party’s leadership); the idea of doublethink (the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s mind at the same time and believe them both to be true)

symbols  The glass paperweight (Winston’s desire to connect with the past); the red-armed prole woman (the hope that the proles will ultimately rise up against the Party); the picture of St. Clement’s Church (the past); the telescreens and the posters of Big Brother (the Party’s constant surveillance of its subjects); the phrase “the place where there is no darkness” (Winston’s tendency to mask his fatalism with false hope, as the place where there is no darkness turns out to be not a paradise but a prison cell)