Some readers may have different opinions on what the five most important events in George Orwell’s 1984 are. However, the following are some of the main events that are key to the development of the plot.
The first is when the book’s protagonist, Winston Smith, writes “Down with Big Brother” in his diary. He knows that by doing this he is betraying the Party. He feels “a twinge of panic” when he sees the words he wrote and is even tempted to tear the page out. But he doesn’t, because he knows that at this point it would be useless: “The writing of those particular words was no more dangerous than the initial act opening the diary.”
The next important event is when Winston receives a note from a dark-haired girl named Julia. The note says “I love you,” and soon after Winston receives it, the two begin a sexual and emotional affair. This affair brings a much-needed spark to Winston’s life. As the narrator explains, “At the sight of the words I LOVE YOU the desire to stay alive had welled up in him.”
The third important event is when Winston and Julia are arrested. They have been meeting secretly for some time in a room above Charrington’s shop that they thought was free from the Party’s constant surveillance. But one day they are lying together saying “We are the dead,” and they hear a voice behind them confirm “You are the dead.” They spring apart and realize that there is a telescreen behind the picture on the wall of St. Clement Danes. Winston and Julia are separated, arrested, and tortured.
The fourth most important event is when Winston betrays Julia. The couple swore they would never turn on one another, and Winston even said,
Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn’t matter: only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you—that would be the real betrayal.
Julia agreed with him, replying, “It’s the only thing they can’t do.” But in the end, Winston is tortured with rats, which are his worst fear. This pushes him to the brink, and he screams: “Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her.” Thus, he was wrong—the Party was capable of making him betray his love for her.
Finally, the fifth most important event comes at the very end of the book. Winston is drinking gin in a cafe, “sitting in a blissful dream.” He hears on a telescreen that victory has come to Oceania, and he gazes up. The narrator says, “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” This haunting last line is proof that the Party has finally destroyed his ability to resist them. Despite his previous awareness of and resistance to the Party’s dangerous power, they were still able to get to him. This is Orwell’s final warning to all readers about the dangers of totalitarianism.