Winston Smith lives in an England which has become Airstrip One, part of the territory of Oceania, a huge empire encompassing Britain and the Americas. The totalitarian regime of Oceania is led by Big Brother, a figure at once comforting and terrifying. The citizens of Oceania (split conveniently into Party members and “proles” (proletariat)) are constantly under surveillance from the Thought-Police and privacy is impossible due to the “telescreens” (television and security camera-like devices) found in every apartment and public place.
In this atmosphere of complete social control, Winston is a misfit. He remembers the past and he remembers that is wasn't quite the way that the authorities say it was. For a start, according to them Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, but he distinctly remembers it being at war with East Asia less than five years ago , and he is sure that the Party didn't invent aeroplanes.