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What if Shakespeare
wrote ‘1984’?

We asked ChatGPT to reimagine George Orwell’s “1984′ as a Shakespeare play. This is what it wrought …

Title: “1984: A Tragedy in the Style of William Shakespeare”

Act 1, Scene 1:
[A dimly lit room in Oceania. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is introduced, expressing his discontent with the oppressive regime.]


O, cruel world! How dost thou bind me tight,
With iron chains of surveillance and fear?
My thoughts confined, my spirit crushed beneath
The watchful eye of Big Brother’s reign.
But I shall not submit, nor bow my head,
For in my heart, rebellion stirs its fire.
Though dark and treacherous be the path ahead,
I’ll fight the powers that seek to control,
And reclaim the freedom that they have stole.

[WINSTON’s struggle against the Party’s control is portrayed through soliloquies and interactions with other characters.]

Act 1, Scene 2:
[A bustling street in the heart of London. WINSTON encounters JULIA, a fellow rebel.]


Fair maiden, art thou also trapped within
The labyrinthine web of Party’s lies?
Thou seemest like a soul who yearns for light,
Amidst this world of darkness and deceit.

Indeed, good sir, my heart yearns for freedom,
Away from thought police and telescreens.
But let us tread with caution, for the eyes
Of Big Brother are watchful and unblinking.

[WINSTON and JULIA form a forbidden bond, their shared desire for liberation fueling their rebellion against the Party.]

Act 2, Scene 1:
[A secret room in the Proles’ quarters. WINSTON and JULIA meet with O’BRIEN, a member of the Inner Party who claims to be a rebel.]


Thou art not alone in thy dissent, dear souls,
For I too resist the Party’s iron fist.
Together, we shall fight against their tyranny,
And restore truth and justice to this realm.

But how can we trust thee, noble O’Brien?
For in this world of treachery and lies,
Friendship can be a fragile mask of deceit.
Yet, desperate times call for desperate acts,
And if thou art true, then lead us to the light.

Winston, my trust thou shalt not take for granted,
But through trials and tribulations we shall pass,
To prove our loyalty and shared conviction.
This path we tread is fraught with danger deep,
But united, we shall face our destiny.

[O’BRIEN’s true allegiance is revealed as he betrays WINSTON and JULIA to the Party.]

Act 3, Scene 1:
[A prison cell. WINSTON is tortured and broken by the Party.]


I, once a rebel, now succumb to pain,
As my spirit crumbles under their might.
O, what betrayal and deceit have I faced,
In this treacherous world of doublethink.
Yet still, a flicker of defiance remains,
A flame of truth within this sea of lies.
Though tortured and broken, I shall not yield,
For even in darkness, the light may be revealed.

[WINSTON’s struggle intensifies as he battles his inner demons and confronts the ultimate test of his loyalty.]

Act 4, Scene 1:
[A cold, stark room in the Ministry of Love. WINSTON is confronted by O’BRIEN.]


Thy rebellion ends here, Winston Smith.
Thou art but a puppet on the strings of power,
A broken soul in the face of their might.
Confess thy crimes and embrace their doctrine,
Or suffer the consequences of thy defiance.

Though I be broken, my spirit shall endure,
For truth and freedom cannot be extinguished.
Though darkness looms, a spark remains within,
And history shall judge the Party’s sins.
I’ll not betray my soul, nor bend my knee,
To the oppressors who claim to know what’s best.
In this final hour, I stand firm and proud,
Defiant, even as they seek to crush me.

[The play reaches its climax as WINSTON defies the Party’s control, leaving the audience to contemplate the price of resistance and the resilience of the human spirit.]

Act 5, Scene 1:
[A desolate room, representing the aftermath of WINSTON’s rebellion.]

Enter WINSTON SMITH, alone and battered

I am but a fragment of what I once was,
A broken vessel in this desolate world.
But I take solace in knowing I’ve resisted,
In my own small way, the forces of oppression.
Though victory eludes me, my spirit’s flame
Shall inspire others to rise against tyranny.
For the fight for freedom is eternal,
And even in defeat, hope shall prevail.

[The play ends with WINSTON’s defiant words, leaving the audience to reflect on the enduring struggle for liberty and the consequences of unchecked power.]


* We attempted the same exercise with Google Bard and Microsoft Bing Chat. The former provided a short and boring precis of the story in unpoetic verse form, while the latter shirked its duties, saying: “It is difficult to say how 1984 would read if William Shakespeare had written it.”

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