In 1984 written by George Orwell, there are many aspects to be looked at that help analyze the book on a further level. Orwell uses 1984 to portray his thoughts on the dangers of totalitarianism as well as oppression on citizens and tries to warn his readers of a world like the one he wrote about. While the point of view, themes, and symbolism all aid in the understanding of the storyline; the setting plays a crucial role in outlining the mood and tone of the novel. The setting can describe the situation they are in as well as the mood in the storyline depending on where they are. Many places are seen in 1984 but there are a few that are the most significant to the novel and the characters. As seen through Mr. Charrington’s Shop, the forest, as well as room 101, Orwell effectively utilizes the setting to show key ideas and develop a structured plot.
Mr. Charrington’s shop is where the conflict all started. It began when Winston bought the diary a while back and then re-visited it in hope of finding some answers to his many questions about what the world was like years before. Mr. Charrington’s shop was a connection to the past for Winston as it had many weird as well as beautiful antiques that all came from somewhere and all had a story behind them. One of these antiques, the paperweight which Winston purchased, linked Winston to the shop and the room upstairs. Upon Winston’s discovery of the room above the shop, he was amazed to find out that there was no telescreen. Although later on this was proven to be untrue, during his time in his new apartment, he felt safe and reassured that no one was watching him. The paperweight linked him to Mr. Charrington’s shop as well as the room above as he was similar to the coral inside the paperweight as long as the paperweight was still intact. As soon as the paperweight was smashed to pieces, Winston’s safety bubble had been disrupted. The setting of Mr. Charrington’s shop was used as a safe place, far away from the party and big brother. This allowed for the mood to be more carefree and light as Winston grew to enjoy his time in this new scenery. When it was all stripped away, the value of the room increased because he did not have that feeling of privacy anymore however at the same time, the knowledge of knowing that he had been being watched the whole time was devastating.
Although Mr. Charrington’s shop proved to not be as private as Winston and Julia thought, the one place that was safe for them was the forest. The forest was a place that Julia showed Winston and was where they first made love. Getting there was tricky as they could not be seen entering and or leaving together, however, once they were there, there was endless freedom to do whatever their hearts desired. Upon Winston’s arrival in the forest, he noticed a bird singing and the fact that there was no one around to appreciate its beauty and hear its song. He realized there was no reason for the bird to be singing however it still did because it simply could. This forest and the birds signing clearly represented the freedom Winston longed for. This particular setting shows a change in the storyline. Before the mood was heavy and negative, without hope; however this forest and change in setting allowed for the plot to develop into something the reader did not before expect. The change in setting allowed for a change in the growth of the characters as Winston and Julia kept pushing the limits and becoming more confident. It is seen that Orwell used the setting to not only keep it interesting but to show how it affected the attitudes of the characters as well.
Moreover, it is important to realize that all along Winston and Julia understood that their time would end eventually and that they would be separated. After the arrests of the two, they were taken away by the party and room 101 was the way these situations were dealt with. Up until the arrest, there was no talk of what happened in room 101 however all that was known was that whoever came back from it was “corrected”. By using propaganda and other tools of manipulation, the party was able to instill the fear that room 101 was something to be afraid of and the only way to steer clear of it was not to do anything that would be considered incriminating. Winston’s experience with room 101 could be easily compared to torture because that is what it was. By using the victim’s worst fears, the party’s goal was to confirm them back into the ideal Oceanian citizen whose loyalty lay with big brother. This setting, negative compared to the first two, allows for a major shift in the mood and tone of the story. Things were back to being dull and the hope that Big Brother wasn’t always watching was gone. Orwell used the setting to show that no matter if some freedom was acquired, the grasp of totalitarianism was too strong and it was impossible to avoid. The rats in room 101, Winston’s fear broke him down along with the other methods of torture. Mentally and physically Winston could no longer tolerate the torture. Due to this, he confessed and Julia was killed, ending whatever connection they shared.
Orwell in “1984” effectively utilizes the setting to show key ideas and develop a structured plot and does so through Mr. Charrington’s shop, the forest, and lastly room 101. Each setting delivers a different message to the audience. The shop was Winston’s connection to the past, the forest was his freedom in the present, and room 101 was the outcome of all his crimes and brought all the fear he experienced in the beginning, back. The change in setting portrays how human connections can also change. Winston opened himself to love and affection when he felt safe, but the minute he was in danger, he shut it out; costing Julia her life. Through 1984, Orwell’s thoughts on oppression and totalitarianism surfaced and it was seen that he had a bias. This bias against the ways of life in Oceania was mostly noticed through the use of setting as well as other literary devices.