Describe the opening scene of George Orwell's 1984.

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literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The opening scene, of George Orwell's novel 1984, describes Winston Smith (the central character of the text) walking into the doors of Victory Mansions. It is one o'clock on a cold April afternoon.

The imagery presented in the opening of the novel presents a bleak view of Winston's life. Victory Mansions smells of cabbage and carpet. The walls are adorned with inappropriately large posters, which are simply tacked to the wall. The elevator (of lift) seldom works and forces Winston to tackle the seven flights to his apartment (flat). Given that posters with the words "Big Brother is Watching You" appear on every landing, a sense of insecurity overwhelms the residents and visitors alike as they ascend the flights of stairs.

Inside Winston's flat is no better. He has a television which cannot be turned off (and it constantly drones on). His view from his window is filled with the bleak and cold streets out side of the Victory Mansion. The only color Winston ever seems to come across is coloring of the intimidating posters found on each flight of stairs.

Overall, the opening scene is depressing and bleak. It seems that nothing positive surrounds Winston at all.

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thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The opening scene of George Orwell's 1984 is intended to introduce the reader to three main elements of the novel.

The first element is the context, an imaginary dystopian future world. By having the narrator look out over London as it has changed under its new regime, Orwell provides the exposition necessary to explain the context of the story to readers. We learn of Big Brother, the government agencies that enforce social rules, ubiquitous surveillance, and impoverished bleak surroundings. We see the narrator's home, Victory Mansions, as depressing and dilapidated. 

The second element we are introduced to is the narrator of the novel, Winston Smith, a minor bureaucrat working for the Ministry of Truth. We learn about his job and his personal life.

Finally, we are introduced to the beginning of the major conflict in the novel, that between Winston and the society in which he lives. The first stirrings of his rebellion appear as he reacts to the errant thought that he actually hates Big Brother. 

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