George Orwell’s 1984
Winston Smith, an intellectual and member of the Outer Party (middle class), lives in the ruins of an England already ravaged by World War II, civil conflict, and the revolution which brought the Party to power. At some point in the past he was separated from his family, placed in an orphanage, and trained as a civil servant by the state. Winston leads an austere existence, confined to a one-room apartment on a subsistence diet of black bread and synthetic meals washed down with Victory-brand gin.
He begins retaining a journal criticizing the Party and its enigmatic leader, Big Brother, which – if uncovered by the Thought Police – likely warrants certain death. The flat has an alcove, beside the telescreen, where Winston apparently cannot be seen, and thus believes he has some privacy, while writing in his journal: “Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death.”
The telescreens (in every public area, and the quarters of the Party’s members), have hidden microphones and cameras. These devices, alongside informers, permit the Thought Police to spy upon everyone and so identify anyone who might endanger the Party’s régime; children, most of all, are indoctrinated to spy and inform on suspected thought-criminals – especially their parents.
At the Minitrue, Winston is an editor responsible for historical revisionism, concording the past to the Party’s ever-changing official version of the past; thus making the government of Oceania seem omniscient. As such, he perpetually rewrites records and alters photographs, rendering the deleted people as “unpersons”; the original documents are incinerated in a “memory hole”. Despite enjoying the intellectual challenges of historical revisionism, he becomes increasingly fascinated by the true past and tries to learn more about it.