Physical setting

Overview

Most of the plot takes place in the city of London. However, the middle section also zooms in on specific locations, such as a small bit of countryside near the city, or Winston and Julia’s secret hideout. The last section is almost entirely set within the Ministry of Love’s heavily guarded headquarters.  

London

London is part of Airstrip One (previously England or Britain, p. 34), a province within Oceania (p. 5). Oceania is one of three superpowers which are in control of the earth at this point in history, alongside Eurasia and Eastasia. We are told in an extract from ‘Goldstein’s book’ that “Oceania comprises the Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles, Australasia, and the southern portion of Africa” (p. 193).

London is described in mostly negative terms. It is clearly a city dominated by poverty, with apartment complexes smelling of “boiled cabbage and old rag mats” (p.3) and electricity being strictly rationed (p. 3). As Winston looks out of his window in the opening scene of the book, we get a sense of how grey and lifeless the environment appears:

[...] the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no colour in anything, except the posters that were plastered everywhere. (p. 4)

Later on, we get a description of the Inner Party district, which is a strong contrast to the poverty of the rest of the city - suggesting that London is an area with significant class differences:

[...] the huge block of flats, the richness and spaciousness of everything, the unfamiliar smells of good food and good tobacco, the silent and incredibly rapid lifts sliding up and down, the white-jacketed servants hurrying to and fro…” (p. 175)

The book’s opening scenes reve...

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