1984 Characters Essay, Research Paper
Winston Smith – the protagonist and main character of the novel. He is an intellectual middle aged man of 39 and a member of the Outer Party. He is also an honest man who questions and rebels against the lonely and insecure life, stripped of all human feelings, in the state of Oceania. He falls in love with Julia and is punished for the relationship with her. The first name reminds one of the famous British statesman, Winston Churchill, and the surname Smith is a very common English name. The combination of Winston and Smith, therefore, gives the impression that the main character is like any common English man, and yet uncommon in many ways. In a society where everyone is merely existing and fulfilling the Party’s wishes, Winston
continues to think, question, love, and feel like all free human beings should. Through Winston Smith, Orwell also brilliantly portrays a common man’s struggle to retain his identity, sanity, and natural rights in a society that is filled with fear, loneliness, listlessness, and insecurity.
Julia – a beautiful young girl of 26. Although a worker for the Party, she rebels against its ban on love and sex. She falls in love with Winston and looks towards him for emotional and physical companionship. She is an intelligent and practical woman who is cautious in selecting the meeting places for Winston and herself and careful in not being seen in public with him. Her superficial knowledge is all she wants; when Winston tries to talk to her more deeply about the Party’s methods or idea, she responds by dozing off. Unlike Winston, Julia has not experienced life before the revolution; she knows only the new society, except through the history books that give a false picture of the past. To the animalistic Julia, love and sex are her only weapons against the Party. In blatant defiance of the Party’s rules on chastity, Julia jumps from one sexual relationship to the next, with young and old alike. Her human desire for companionship and love, however, attracts her to Winston.
O’Brien – a shrewd, intelligent man who holds a high rank in the Inner Party. He comes across as a friend to Winston in the opening chapters of the novel. Later, he turns out to be the informer from the Party who turns Winston in and punishes him. He epitomizes
the brute force and fanaticism of the Party. In O’Brien’s character, there is a combination of charisma (which attracts Winston towards him) and an almost fanatical urge for power. In fact, O’Brien can be compared to the 19th century dictator Hitler who enjoyed mass appeal, in spite of his fanaticism and single-minded hatred towards a particular race. Through the character of O’Brien, the writer reveals to us that the
top party members lead a life of privilege and luxury as compared to the rest of society. In doing so, Orwell criticizes the belief that ‘all men are equal’; he does not believe that equality can ever exist in a society. He says that the party’s goal is ‘Power over all men’. O’Brien tells Winston that human spirit does not exist. Ingsoc seeks to create a society where men do not think, but act like the machines around them. In other words, the dehumanization of man is the ultimate aim of O’Brien and the Party he supports.
Big Brother – the head of the Party Ingsoc. Though Big Brother does not exist in reality, his presence throughout the novel is overwhelming. His goal is to instill fear and suspicion into the society. It emphasizes the fact that the people aren’t free. He is the symbol of how the Party distorts the reality, for he really doesn’t exist. He serves to build aggression and hatred for the world outside Oceania.
Tom Parsons – a co-worker and neighbor to Winston. He is a stupid but loyal member of the Party. He is extremely proud of his children who spy on others and report them to the Police.
Syme – Syme is an intelligent and witty philologist who likes to spend time with Winston. He is ‘vaporized’ by the Party because he can see through the lies that the telescreens churn out and is rather blunt and frank in expressing his opposition. As a result, Syme is seen as a threat to the Party and is silenced forever. Before his death, Syme reveals that Newspeak, the new language f the new society, is another political endeavor on the part of the Party. By eliminating offensive words, like sex and emotion, from the language, it is another means of controlling the minds of the people.
Mr. Charrington – the owner of a small shop selling odds and ends and secondhand articles. He lets Winston and Julia use the top floor of his shop as their hideout. In the end, he reveals himself to be a member of the Thought Police.
Ampleforth – a poet who makes a brief appearance in the staff canteen. He also works at the Ministry of Truth.
Tillotson – a man with a fierce look, who works with Winston in the Records Department.
Rutherford – one of the prominent members of the party who is accused of plotting against the Ingsoc. He is punished, forced to confess, and disappears.