Room 101

Room 101

Room 101 is a place introduced in the novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell. It is a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love in which the Party attempts to subject a prisoner to his or her own worst nightmare, fear or phobia.

Such is the purported omniscience of the state in the society of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" that even a citizen's nightmares are known to the Party. The nightmare—and therefore the threatened punishment—of the protagonist Winston Smith is to be attacked by rats. Smith saves himself by begging the authorities to let his lover, Julia, have her face gnawed out by the ferocious rodents instead. The torture—and what Winston does to escape it—breaks his last promise to himself and to Julia: never to betray her emotionally. The book suggests that Julia is likewise subjected to her own worst fear, and when she and Winston later meet in a park, he notices a scar on her forehead. The original intent of threatening Winston with the rats was not necessarily to go through with the act, but to force him into betraying the only person he loved and therefore break his spirit.

Orwell named Room 101 after a conference room at BBC Broadcasting House where he used to sit through tedious meetings. [cite web |title=THE REAL ROOM 101 | |url= |accessdate=2006-12-09
Meyers, Jeffery. "Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation". W.W.Norton. 2000. ISBN 0-393-32263-7, p. 214.

Cultural impact

The novel's popularity has resulted in the term "Room 101" being referred to in many fictional works as a place where unpleasant things are kept. On the TV show "Room 101", celebrities are interviewed and asked to list their pet hates, which are then condemned to the unseen room at the discretion of the host.

References in popular culture include a locked room in the computer game "Half Life 2" and multiple areas of this name in "The Matrix". In the 2005 series of "Big Brother" (UK), a housemate was required to enter a Room 101 to complete tedious and unpleasant tasks, including sorting different colours of maggots. In "", the physical location of Room 101 (and the Ministry of Love) is given as the MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross.

Erich Mielke, the last Minister of State Security (Stasi) of the former GDR, had the floors of the Stasi headquarters renumbered so that his second floor office would be number 101. [cite web
title=Anna Funder: Inside the real Room 101
publisher=The Independent
(Profile of Funder and her book, "Stasiland")


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