CliffsNotes, George Orwell's 1984

CliffsNotes, George Orwell's 1984

CliffsNotes, George Orwell's 1984

CliffsNotes, George Orwell's 1984


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background. The latest generation of titles in this series also features glossaries and visual elements that complement the classic, familiar format.

CliffsNotes on 1984 introduces you to the modern world as imagined by George Orwell, a place where humans have no control over their own lives, where nearly every positive feeling is squelched, and where people live in misery, fear, and repression.

Orwell's vision of the future may be grim, but your understanding of his novel can be bright thanks to detailed summaries and commentaries for every chapter. Other features that help you study include

  • Character analyses of major players
  • A character map that graphically illustrates the relationships among the characters
  • Critical essays
  • A review section that tests your knowledge
  • A Resource Center full of books, articles, films, and Internet sites

Classic literature or modern modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.


On a bitter April day in London, Oceania, Winston Smith arrives at his small apartment on his lunch break. The face of Big Brother is everywhere. It is immediately obvious, through Winston’s musings, that the political weather of Winston’s London is grim and totalitarian. Winston pours himself a large drink and sets about to commit an act punishable by death—starting a diary. He believes he is fortunate because a small corner of his apartment is hidden from the telescreen— a device that allows him to be viewed and heard twenty-four hours a day by the authorities—or Big Brother. Here is where he begins the diary.

Winston is stuck by a pang of writer’s block when he suddenly realizes that he doesn’t know for whom he is writing the diary. In his panic, he begins to write a stream-of-consciousness account of a recent trip to the movies. While writing this, he has a memory of a significant happening earlier in the week, in which he was simultaneously attracted to and repelled by a young woman working in his building. He felt as though she was following him. He also remembers sharing a brief moment with O’Brien, a member of the Inner Party, an encounter in which Winston believes that O’Brien attempted to show solidarity with him against the tyranny of Big Brother. He continues writing, this time with more substantive material about his feelings on the current environment in which he lives. He is interrupted by a knock at the door.


The opening image of the work sets the foreboding tone that prevails throughout as the reader is introduced to Winston Smith, the fatalistic protagonist of the novel, on a “cold day in April,” when “the clocks were striking thirteen.” Immediately, the author depicts a society in decay by describing a setting of “gritty dust,” “hallways [smelling] of boiled cabbage and old rag mats,” elevators (the lift) not working, and electrical current that is turned off during daylight hours.

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