1984 By George Orwell Summary and Analysis Part 3: Chapter 1

Summary

Winston Smith finds himself inside the Ministry of Love in a cell with no windows and a telescreen watching his every move. He meets a drunk woman, a cell mate, who tells him that her name is also Smith and that she could be his mother, a fact that Winston cannot deny. Winston thinks of Julia and O'Brien. Ampleforth, the poet, Winston's coworker, is put into the cell with Winston. They discuss their "crimes," and Ampleforth is called out of the cell to Room 101. Parsons, Winston's orthodox neighbor is put into the cell, much to Winston's surprise.

Winston begins to think about Julia and what is happening to her. He believes that she is suffering, perhaps more than he is, and he decides that he would take double the pain she receives if doing so would spare her, but he realizes that this is just an intellectual decision. After a few ugly incidences involving the other prisoners in the cell, O'Brien comes in to get Winston. Winston initially believes that O'Brien is also caught but soon realizes that O'Brien has betrayed him.

Analysis

The events of this chapter are the realization of the inevitable — Winston is caught, just as he knew he would be the moment he began the diary. Winston also predicted that he would be held in the Ministry of Love, but did not expect that he would be there with people he supposed to be beyond reproach: Ampleforth, previously described as an ineffectual, dreamy creature, and Parsons, the highly enthusiastic Party-supporter who seemed to embody every quality the Party looked for in an Outer Party member.

Ampleforth believes he has been captured because he allowed the word "God" to remain at the end of a line of poetry because he needed the rhyme. Orwell broaches the theme of oppression of writers here again; Orwell, in his essay "The Prevention of Literature" (1946), asks the question, "Even under the tightest dictatorship, cannot the individual writer remain free inside his own mind and distill or disguise his unorthodox ideas in such a way that the authorities will be too stupid to recognize them?" Clearly, Orwell puts this question to the test, and Ampleforth suffers for it: The writer cannot remain free under totalitarianism.

Winston's statement about taking Julia's pain for himself is noteworthy here and soon comes back to haunt him. It foreshadows the critical event that eventually takes place between Winston and O'Brien and, ultimately, Winston's allegiance to his own feelings. Even as he says he will take Julia's pain, Winston knows that saying a thing and actually doing it are quite different, a realization that features in what eventually comes to pass between Winston and O'Brien. Winston knows that he loves Julia but does not, at this moment, feel love for her. The beginning of the end is near, and the fact that Winston's love for Julia is transforming into an intellectual exercise rather than a feeling of the heart foreshadows the change that occurs within Winston once O'Brien is through with him.

Winston knows now that the Ministry of Love is the "place where there is no darkness"; indeed, the lights never turn out. Here is another example of previous foreshadowing and irony: Winston certainly took his premonition to mean something much the opposite.

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