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English Literature books summary

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Last update: 17.12.2002 (version 3.1)

21984 by G.Orwell

Animal Farm by G.Orwell15

Childe Harold by G.G.Byron_____________________________________17

The French Lieutenant's Woman by J.Fowles18

French Lieutenant’s Woman in Russian20

Gulliver’s Travels by Daniel Defoe21

Heart of Darkness by J.Conrad29

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott32

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H.Lawrence36

Lord of the Flies by W.Golding38

Middlemarch by G.Eliot42

Oliver Twist by Ch.Dickens55

The Poor Laws63

What does the phrase "justice is blind" normally mean?64

The Victorian middle class's stereotypes of the poor.65

A Passage to India by E.M.Forster65

Pride and Prejudice by J. Austen71

Pygmalion by B.Shaw82

The Quiet American by G.Greene_________________________________86

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe87

The Picture of Dorian Grey by O.Wilde92

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1866 - 1946)102

Ulysses by J.Joyce103

Vanity Fair by W.Thackeray109

William Shakespeare117

Extremely Short Summaries. Good for Seminars117

A Midsummer Night's Dream117

The Merchant of Venice118

The Tragedy of Richard II118

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark118


King Lear, 1594119

The First Part of King Henry IV119

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar120


Romeo and Juliet120

Full Summaries of Some Shakespeare's Works121


King Lear127


The Merchant of Venice138


Richard III144

Romeo and Juliet149

The Tempest152

Twelfth Night153

Wuthering Heights156

1984 by G.Orwell

Part 1

Chapter 1


The book opens on a cold April day with 39-year-old Winston Smith returning to his dilapidated flat in Victory Mansions. The hallway sports an enormous poster of a man known as "Big Brother"; the caption reads, "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU." The eyes of the poster seem to follow Winston as he moves.

Upon entering his flat, Winston dims the telescreen (where someone is reading statistics about pig-iron production), which can never be turned off completely, and which both receives and transmits. Outside, Winston can see "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU" posters, a poster with the word "INGSOC" on it, and the police patrol spying on people.

Winston is living in London, the predominant city of the province known as Airstrip One in Oceania. Bombed sites reveal that some sort of war is going on. Winston tries to recall his childhood, to see if things have always been like this, but cannot.

Outside his window stands the Ministry of Truth (a.k.a. "Minitrue" in Newspeak, the official language of Oceania), an enormous structure displaying the three slogans of _the Party_: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. There are four Ministries: the Ministry of Truth concerns itself with the spread of information through news, entertainment, education and the arts; the Ministry of Peace (Minipax) deals with war; the Ministry of Love (Miniluv) administers law and order; and the Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty) handles economic affairs.

After swallowing some shocking Victory Gin and plying himself with a cheap Victory cigarette, Winston carefully tucks himself out of the telescreen's visual range with an old book, an old pen and an inkbottle. These are compromising possessions, acquired through various means; Winston is secretly something of a rebel, unhappy with the status quo. What he is about to do--start a diary--is not "illegal" (since, we discover, there are no laws anymore), but is certainly life-threatening.

Unused to writing by hand, Winston falters momentarily before writing "April 4th, 1984." He sits back, uncertain whether it actually is 1984, and he suddenly wonders for whom he is writing. Here the concept of _doublethink_ (see Analysis) hits him; his attempt to communicate with the future is impossible, futile. He is no longer sure what he wanted to write; the moment has been building for weeks and suddenly he finds himself wordless. Even when he tries to write, he finds he is not recording the incident which had inspired him to begin the diary on this day .