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1. THE AUTHOR AND HIS/HER TIMES: George Orwell, born Eric Arthur Blair, came into life in 1903 in MotiHari, Bengal, an area in eastern India. Orwell began his education in 1911 in England. His experiences in school shaped the writer that he is today. At age 8, he attended a boarding school for 5 years, from 1911 through 1916, called Crossgates. He referred to this school in his essay "Such, Such Were the Joys..." Orwell did exceptionally well at school. He won scholarships to Eton and to Wellington, some of the great public schools. Although he did great in school, he hated the experience. He was beaten on a regular basis for wetting his bed and other random acts. From his experiences at school and the beatings he started to think of the possibility of brainwashing and the oppression of the defenseless and weak. These were some key themes in all of his writing. In a world made for the strong, Orwell thought he was doomed to fail. Orwell graduated from Eton when he was 18 and spent the next five years in Burma as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police. Orwell resigned from the service in 1927 and adopted his pen name. "George" from St. George and "Orwell" was the name of a small river in Suffolk. He spent most of his life in poverty averaging about 1 book per year. 1984 was Orwell's last book. On January 21, 1950, he had a tubercular hemorrhage and died.
Ranald, Ralph A. George Orwell's 1984. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1997. Print.
2. FORM/STRUCTURE, PLOT: 1984 is broken into 3 parts. Part 1 shows the reader what society Winston lives in and shows the Totalitarianism and excessive control of people that Big Brother has. Part 2 is about Winston and Julia falling in love with each other and rebelling against the Party. Part 3 Winston is imprisoned, tortured, and brainwashed. Even after he is released he shows his love for Julia and is killed by the Party, not physically however, with a thought-bullet. It shows Winston giving in to the Party's wishes. "He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.", (Orwell 376) Orwell broke the book up into 3 parts to better convey what happens, showing one major idea in each part. He makes it easily understandable to everyone.
The plot of 1984 is simple. Orwell shows how much he hates the thought a of a totalitarian society. He shows that he is afraid of how easily a government can control all of their people. The story depicts what a dictatorship of any kind can do to all of mankind. The plot is allegorical, he uses Winston to represent all of mankind. When Winston, just a small human, tries to fight the Party he gets captured and killed mentally. Orwell uses Winston to show what can happen to anybody if the wrong leaders obtain power. Orwell uses a lot of descriptive sentences to show and paint a picture for the reader. "He would tie her naked to a stake and shoot her full of arrows like Saint Sebastian. He would ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax.", (Orwell 20) He uses such harsh and blunt scenes and words to better show what he means and to make the reader live through and experience everything the main character goes through. He talks about the party so horribly it makes the reader hate the Party as much as Winston would and show what he is going through.
"Free Study Guide-1984 by George Orwell" PinkMonkey.com. PinkMonkey, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2010.
3. POINT OF VIEW/ PERSPECTIVE: 1984 is told in the third person, but the point-of-view is Winston's. The readers know about the totalitarian society as much as Winston does. The reader only knows what Winston knows and nothing else. The reader also makes the same mistakes in judging people as Winston does. At one time Winston tells himself he knows just who will be killed soon and who will be allowed to live. "One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly.", (Orwell 68) Winston makes mistakes in who he thinks is a loyal party member and who is not. Orwell shows how paranoid the society is by this and can never really know the people they think are closest to them.
"1984: Style." Novels for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 1998. eNotes.com. January 2006. 21 November 2010.
4. CHARACTER: Winston Smith is the protagonist of the story. Winston; "a smallish, frail figure, the meagreness of his body merely emphasized by the blue overalls which were the uniform of the party. His hair was very fair, his face naturally sanguine, his skin roughened by coarse soap and blunt razor blades and the cold of the winter that had just ended.", (Orwell 4) He is thirty-nine years old. He hates the totalitarian control that has a hold of his life and his society. Throughout the book he continues to rebel against the Party. He know that once he has committed a crime against them, there is no turning back. He knows that he does not have much time left before they catch him so he tries to rebel as much as he can before his imminent capture. The story is told from his point-of-view. Julia is Winston's lover. "She was a bold-looking girl, of about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements.", (Orwell 13) She is a dark-haired, twenty-six-year-old employed as a machine operator in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. She wears an Anti-Sex band around her waist which is ironic because she enjoys sex and has had many affairs with different party members. Unlike Winston, she does not rebel because she wants the Party to fall. She wants to enjoy her life and have fun. The way she acts is very contradictory to the Winston acts. O'Brien is a member of the Inner Party. Winston thinks that he is also a member of The Brotherhood., which he later realizes is false. Throughout the whole story O'brien feeds Winston lies and entangles him into anti-party thoughts just to later punish him for it. O'brien is an example of how the higher ups in the society live a more luxurious lifestyle and have more freedom. This is Orwell's way of showing his thoughts on all men being created equally, because he believes that equality can never exist in a society. He is also an example of how in a totalitarian society it is hard to trust anyone, due to the fact that he betrays Winston.