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PART ONE Thoughtcrime
Chapter 1 Big Brother Is Watching You
It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith hurried home to Victory Mansions with his head down to escape the terrible wind. A cloud of dust blew inside with him, and the hall smelled of dust and yesterday’s food.
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 went up the stairs. He did not even try the lift. It rarely worked and at the moment the electricity was switched off during the day to save money for Hate Week. The flat was on the seventh floor and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a bad knee, went slowly, resting several times on the way. Winston was a small man and looked even smaller in the blue overalls of the Party. His hair was fair and the skin on his face, which used to be pink, was red and rough from cheap soap, old razor blades and the cold of the winter that had just ended.
Inside his flat, a voice was reading out a list of figures for last year’s production of iron. The voice came from a metal square, a telescreen, in the right-hand wall. Winston turned it down, but there was no way of turning it off completely.
He moved to the window. Outside, the world looked cold.
The wind blew dust and bits of paper around in the street and there seemed to be no colour in anything, except in the posters that were everywhere. The face with the black moustache looked down from every corner. There was one on the house opposite.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU , it said, and the eyes looked into Winston’s.
Behind him the voice from the telescreen was still talking about iron. There was now even more iron in Oceania than the Ninth Three-Year Plan had demanded. The telescreen had a microphone, so the Thought Police could listen to Winston at any time of the day or night. They could also watch him through the telescreen.
Nobody knew how often they actually did that but everybody behaved correctly all the time because the Thought Police might be watching and listening.
Winston kept his back to the telescreen. It was safer that way they couldn’t see your face. He looked out over London, the biggest city in this part of Oceania. The nineteenth-century houses were all falling down. There were holes in the streets where the bombs had fallen. Had it always been like this? He tried to think back to the time when he was a boy, but he could remember nothing.
He stared at the Ministry of Truth, where he worked. It was an enormous white building, three hundred metres high. You could see the white roof, high above the houses, even a kilometre away.
From Winston’s flat it was just possible to see the three slogans of the Party written in enormous letters on the side of the building:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
The Ministry of Truth was called Minitrue in Newspeak, the new language of Oceania. Minitrue, it was said, had more than three thousand rooms above the ground and a similar number below. The people there worked mainly on news and
entertainment. High above the surrounding buildings, Winston could also see the Ministry of Peace, where they worked on war.
It was called Minipax in Newspeak. A n d the Ministry of Plenty — Miniplenty — which was responsible for the economy. A n d he could see the Ministry of Love — Miniluv — which was responsible for law and order.
The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows in it. Nobody could get anywhere near it unless they had business there. There were guards with guns in black uniforms even in the streets half a kilometre away.
Winston turned round quickly. He smiled. It was a good idea to look happy when you were facing the telescreen. He went to his small kitchen. He had not had lunch in the canteen before he left work, but there was no food there except a piece of dark, hard bread for tomorrow’s breakfast. He poured himself a cup of colourless, oily gin and drank it down like medicine. It burned him inside, but he felt more cheerful afterwards.
He went back to the living room and sat down at a small table to the left of the telescreen. It was the only place in the room where the telescreen could not see him. From a drawer in the table he took out a pen and a big diary with beautiful cream paper, which he had bought in an old-fashioned shop in a poor part of the town. Party members like Winston were not allowed to go into ordinary shops, but many of them did. It was the only way to get things like razor blades.
Winston opened the diary. This was not illegal. Nothing was illegal, as there were no laws now. But if the diary was found they would punish him with death or with twenty-five years in a prison camp. He took the pen in his hand, then stopped. He felt sick. It was a decisive act to start writing.
Earlier that morning, a terrible noise from the big telescreen at the Ministry of Truth had called all the workers to the centre of the hall for the Two Minutes Hate. The face of Emmanuel Goldstein, Enemy of the People, filled the telescreen. It was a thin, clever face, with its white hair and small beard, but there was something unpleasant about it. Goldstein began to speak in his sheep-like voice: criticising the Party, making nasty attacks on Big Brother, demanding peace with Eurasia.
In the past (nobody knew exactly when) Goldstein had been almost as important in the Party as Big Brother himself, but then he had worked against the Party. Before he could be punished with death, he had escaped — nobody knew how, exactly.
Somewhere he was still alive, and all crimes against the Party came from his teaching.
Behind Goldstein’s face on the telescreen were thousands of Eurasian soldiers. Oceania was always at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia. That changed, but the hate for Goldstein never did.
The Thought Police found his spies every day. They were called ‘the Brotherhood’, people said, although Winston sometimes asked himself if the Brotherhood really existed. Goldstein had also written a book, a terrible book, a book against the Party. It had no title; it was just known as the book.
As Goldstein’s face filled the telescreen and Eurasian soldiers marched behind him, the Hate grew. People jumped up and down, shouting and screaming so they could not hear Goldstein’s voice. Winston was shouting too; it was impossible not to. A girl behind him, with thick, dark hair was screaming ‘Pig! Pig!’ at Goldstein, and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and threw it at the telescreen. It hit Goldstein on the nose and fell to the floor.
Winston had often seen this girl at the Ministry but he had never spoken to her. He did not know her name, but he knew she worked in the Fiction Department. He had seen her with tools so he guessed she was a mechanic on the story-writing machines. She was a confident-looking girl of about twenty seven, and she walked quickly. She wore the narrow red belt of the Young People’s League tied tightly round her overalls.
Winston had disliked her from the first moment he saw her.
He disliked nearly all women, especially young and pretty ones.
The young women were always most loyal to the Party and were happiest to spy on others. But this girl was especially dangerous, he thought. Once, when he had seen her in the canteen, she had looked at him in a way that filled him with black terror. He even thought she might be working for the Thought Police. As the screaming at Goldstein increased, Winston’s dislike of the girl turned to hate. He hated her because she was young and pretty.
Suddenly he noticed someone else, sitting near the girl, wearing the black overalls of an Inner Party member. O’Brien was a large man w i t h a thick neck and glasses. Although he looked frightening, Winston was interested in him. There was sometimes an intelligence in his face that suggested - perhaps that he might question the official Party beliefs.
Winston had seen O’Brien about twelve times in almost as many years. Years ago he had dreamed about O’Brien. He was in a dark room and O’Brien had said to him, We shall meet in the place where there is no dark. ‘Winston did not know what that meant, but he was sure it would happen, one day.
The Hate increased. The screaming increased. The voice and face of Goldstein became the voice and face of a real sheep. Then the sheep-face became a Eurasian soldier, walking towards them with his gun, so close that some people shut their eyes for a second and moved back in their seats. But at the same moment the soldier became the face of Big Brother, black-haired, moustached, filling the telescreen. Nobody could hear what Big Brother said, but it was enough that he was speaking to them.
Then the face of Big Brother disappeared from the telescreen and the Party slogans came up instead:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Then everybody started shouting ‘B-B! B-B!’ again and again, slowly, with a long pause between the first B and the second. Of course Winston shouted too - you had to. But there was a second when the look on his face showed what he was thinking. And at that exact moment his eyes met O’Brien’s.
O’Brien was pushing his glasses up his nose. But Winston knew - yes he knew - that O’Brien was thinking the same thing as he was. ‘I am with you,’ O’Brien seemed to say to him. ‘I hate all this too.’ And then the moment of intelligence was gone and O’Brien’s face looked like everybody else’s.
Winston wrote the date in his diary: April 4th 1984. Then he stopped. He did not know definitely that this was 1984. He was thirty-nine, he believed - he had been born in 1944 or 1945. But nobody could be sure of dates, not really.
W h o am I writing this diary for?’ he asked himself suddenly.
For the future, for the unborn. But if the future was like the present, it would not listen to him. And if it was different, his situation would be meaningless.
The telescreen was playing marching music. What had he intended to say? Winston stared at the page, then began to write: Freedom is the freedom to say that two and two make four. If you have that, everything else follows . . . He stopped. Should he go on? If he wrote more or did not write more, the result would be the same.
The Thought Police would get him. Even before he wrote anything, his crime was clear. Thoughtcrime, they called it.
It was always at night - the rough hand on your shoulder, the lights in your face. People just disappeared, always during the night. And then your name disappeared, your existence was denied and then forgotten. You were, in Newspeak, vaporized.
Suddenly he wanted to scream. He started writing, fast: DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER
DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER
DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER
There was a knock on the door. Already! He sat as quietly as a mouse, hoping that they would go away. But no, there was another knock. He could not delay - that would be the worst thing he could do. His heart was racing but even now his face, from habit, probably showed nothing.
He got up and walked heavily towards the door.
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