Room 101

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Room 101 - The final punishment for thoughtcriminals in the Ministry of Love.

"The thing is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world....The worst thing in the world varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths..... "


Room 101 is a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love in which a prisoner is subjected to his or her own worst nightmare. Due to constant surveillance, every citizen's worst nightmares are known to the authorities. The nightmare - and therefore the threatened punishment — of the protagonist Winston Smith is to have his face eaten 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; to never betray her emotionally. The book never suggests Julia is actually subjected to the rat torture (although it is strongly implied she was threatened with her own worst nightmare and betrayed Winston), and the original intent of threatening Winston with the rats probably was not actually to go through with the act, but to force him into betraying the only person he loved and therefore break his spirit

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[edit] Background

Template:Unreferenced Room 101 could have been named after a conference room at BBC Broadcasting House where Orwell used to sit through meetings. Broadcasting House certainly had a Room 101 - its door was at the far end of a long corridor on the east side of the building - and it's possible that Orwell's wartime work at the BBC was part of the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth. One report said that Room 101 at BBC Broadcasting House was used by the Personnel Department, Orwell is said to have found their keeping files on all BBC staff sinister. Room 101 was demolished as part of the refurbishment of Broadcasting House, however before this a cast was taken of the room by the British artist Rachel Whiteread.

Alternatively, it has been said that Orwell's Room 101 was inspired by Office 101 in the Senate House library of London. Senate House is known as a menacing, and powerful looking building, and may have served as the inspiration for the Ministry of Love itself.

[edit] Influence on the real world

Erich Mielke, longtime head of the Stasi, was fascinated by 1984 and the concept of Room 101. Mielke's office was on the second floor of Stasi headquarters; he ordered the first floor renamed the mezzanine so that he could label his office "Room 101". [1]

[edit] Other appearances of the term

  • Room 101 is a 2001 movie directed by Mark Sheppard and starring Vincent Castellanos.
  • 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 Big Brother (Germany) (Season Six) there was a challenge Room 101, too. Worker 101 had to find out, that only he works in the rooms and the other housemates have parties in the meantime (worker 101 was told that everybody works).
  • Room 101 is also a BBC comedy radio and television series, running since 1994, in which celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates with the host in order to have them consigned to Room 101.
  • Room 101 is the room in which Russell Crowe as John Nash first works on secret codes in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. When at the main codebreaking room he responds to the first appearance of Ed Harris's character with: "Who's 'Big Brother' over there?"
  • In V for Vendetta, V's experiment room is labeled "V," which is 5 in the Roman numbering system, which is 101 in binary.
  • Neo, the main character of The Matrix trilogy originally lives in apartment 101. When he first meets the The Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded, the suite number is also 101.
  • Room 101 is also a luxury lifestyle brand/movement based in Los Angeles, its owner named it such partly as a tribute to George Orwell's book 1984.
  • Room 101 is the title of a song by In Strict Confidence, an electrogoth band.

[edit] See also

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