Retold by Mike Dean
At the end of the hall, a poster covered one wall. It showed an enormous
Face, more than a metre wide: the face of a handsome man of about
Forty-five, with a large black moustache. The man’s eyes seemed to follow
Winston as he moved. Below the face were the words BIG BROTHER
IS WATCHING YOU.
Winston Smith lives in a world where everyone is watched every
Second of the day. It is a world where Big Brother and the Thought
Police control the past as well as the present. They decide what
You must do and, even more frighteningly, what you must think.
Winston is secretly unhappy w i t h this life. He seems to be
The only person w h o is dissatisfied w i t h this cruel world. Here,
Dishonesty and betrayal are rewarded, but truth and love are
Punished. Alone in his small one-room apartment, Winston keeps
A diary of his thoughts and dreams.
This is a dangerous activity. If
The diary is ever found, Winston w i l l be punished, possibly killed,
By the Thought Police. The Thought Police have a telescreen in
Every room in every home and in every public place. They also
Have hidden microphones and there are spies everywhere…
Life is dangerous for Winston, but it would be empty and
Meaningless without his dreams of a better existence. W i l l his
Anger w i t h the Party and his desire for a life outside its control
Lead h i m to happiness? Is he alone in his fight against the Party?
There must, somewhere, be people like h i m w h o also dream of
Freedom and escape from this terrible life? But even if there were
Others, how would he know that they were not really working
For the Thought Police?
The answer to these questions can all be found in George
Orwell’s famous but very worrying book 1984. Written in 1948,
When Europe was in a very weak, uncertain condition after the
End of World War I I, 1984 was an immediate success. Life in
Britain at the end of the war was hard, dull and unexciting.
Generally, though, people felt proud because they had helped to
W i n an important war and they were still free. They believed that
The problems of cruel governments and weak, powerless people
Belonged to other countries. The Nazis had just lost control of
Germany and other European countries, but there were other
Countries, like Russia and China, where governments seemed
To be cruel and the people did not appear to be free. In 1984,
George Orwell skillfully showed readers that dangerous, cruel and
Powerful governments could happen anywhere – even in Britain.
As the real year 1984 came closer, there was an unusual level
Of discussion about the date, even by people who had not read
Orwell’s book. If they had read the book, they compared the
1984 of Orwell’s story w i t h the reality. They did not recognize
Many similarities. Yes, there were more televisions, and we were
Beginning to see computers in everyday life. But where was
Big Brother? Where were the Thought Police? Where were the
Empty shops, the spies, the boring food and uniforms of Orwell’s
Story? People in many parts of the world were getting richer, not
Poorer, weren’t they? Europeans were becoming more, not less
Free. A few years later, the Communist governments in Russia and
Eastern Europe fell. Surely the world was becoming a safer place,
Not a more dangerous place? Surely Orwell had been completely
Nearly sixty years after 1984 was written, though, people are
Not so sure. In the ‘war against terror’, many governments are