'1984' is set in London 35 years after it was written. The main character, Winston Smith, lives under an oppressive government in the nation of Oceania, in which people are monitored by screens and forced into absolute compliance with the Party, or their government regime. Oceania is one of three nations in the entire world, the other two being Eastasia and Eurasia. These three nations are constantly at war, and Oceania changes its alignment almost weekly. At one point, they will be fighting Eurasia alongside Eastasia; the next week they will fight Eastasia alongside Eurasia. However, when Oceania is at war with one of these powers, they claim that they have always been at war with that power. They deny any past relation to that state.
Oceania is a highly unequal and oppressive society, in which lies are accepted and classes are sharply divided. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth, a government department that specializes in propaganda and changes old articles to reflect the ideas of the Party. The class system of Oceania mirrors that which Karl Marx despised -- the Party represents the bourgeoisie, or the rich, and the "proles", or the poor, represent the proletariat. Citizens of Oceania are forced to hail "Big Brother", an unseen political figure who personifies the Party.
Opposition to the Party results in torture and death, however Winston secretly dislikes the Party and Big Brother. He writes his ideas in a journal and enters a relationship with a young woman named Julia, who helps him join a secret society that attempts to sabotage the government of Oceania. They are eventually caught, and Winston is tortured and humiliated until he truly loves the Party and Big Brother. The books ends years after Winston is released from prison, and victory is announced in the war with Eastasia and Eurasia.