Winston Smith is a disillusioned Outer Party member in Oceania, in the year 1984, and he begins to question the validity of the Party and its doctrines, like no sex for joy (only for procreation) and the ever-present telescreen which monitors his apartment all day. He feels the Party is restrictive and overpowering free thought and will (what Winston feels are fundamental to being human), but he is fearful of the Thought Police who patrol people's heretical thoughts and make people "disappear" (into "nonpersons") if they think poorly about the Party and its leader, Big Brother. His job working for the Party involves falsifying history for Party purposes, but he is tormented by the idea that soon, no one will have a sense of true history, since the Party can change it whenever it wants to say whatever it wants.
One day, he meets Julia, who becomes his mistress, and together, they decide to take the risk of outwardly combating the Party.
They arrange with O'Brien, an Inner Party member, who leads them into the world of the "Brotherhood," an underground organization dedicated to fighting against the Party. However, their relationship is destroyed when it turns out the O'Brien is really an agent of the Party, who has set them up to be discovered and re-habituated. Winston is taken to the Ministry of Love (which maintains law and order in Oceania) and tortured endlessly until his thoughts change from hatred of the Party to undying love to the organization and its purpose in controlling the masses (called "proles"). After his exhaustive torture, Winston is a new man, completely loyal to the Party and Big Brother. The Party has won out over humanity.