Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth, the government propaganda/media center, editing old history to make the government and Big Brother look truthful. He comes home and begins writing rebellious thoughts in a journal, which is "thoughtcrime". A woman who also works at the Minitry, Julia, sends Winston a note telling him she loves him.
Yes, you are the dead.
Winston and Julia begin an affair, which is treasonous. They begin to question the government, and Winston wants to find out more about the rebellion called “The Brotherhood,” headed and influenced by a mysterious figure named Emmanuel Goldstein. Julia is less interested in revolting against the Party, but she is having a good time with Winston.
Winston places his trust in a man named “O’Brien,” a member of the Inner Party who Winston believes is collaborating with the Resistance. O’Brien provides Winston with a copy of Goldstein’s book, and Winston and Julia take it to their room over Mr. Charrington’s shop in the Prole district. The book does not shed any new light on the Resistance, or Ingsoc’s need to control the people.
After reading the book, Winston decides that if there is any hope to overthrow Big Brother’s government, it lies in the proles because they are the greatest in number, and they are not being watched as closely. All of a sudden, the picture on the wall begins speaking, and Winston realizes it is Mr. Charrington, who is a member of the Thought Police, and who set Winston and Julia up. They are arrested.
Winston and Julia are brought to The Ministry of Love, where they are tortured by O'Brien. The torture brainwashes Winston, which is the Party’s ultimate goal: they turn those who are traitors before they kill them. Winston is brought to Room 101, where his greatest fears await him: rats. When the rats are brought close to Winston’s face, Winston tells O’Brien: “‘Do it to Julia!...I don’t care what you do to her.’” O’Brien knows that Winston’s re-education is complete.
The novel ends with Winston sitting at the Chestnut Tree Cafe, devoid of all emotions. He and Julia ran into each other once, but they were both so changed by their torture that they do not have feelings for each other anymore. Winston absentmindedly sips Victory Gin, listens to the telescreen, and thinks to himself, “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”