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1984 Character Analysis

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/18/2015

This analysis of 1984 includes an examination of the following important characters: Julia, Winston, Big Brother, O'Brien and others.

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    Winston Smith - The novel's protagonist makes an unlikely rebel. He works in the ministry of truth as a minor party member. He is 1984 by George Orwell guilty of thoughtcrime, manifested through the purchase of a diary, writing "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER", and having a romantic encounter. As with all criminals, he is caught and confesses.

    Analysis: Winston is weak and sick as the novel begins. He constantly drinks gin and secretly harbors ill will toward Big Brother and the party. He desires more than anything to have a real love affair. Winston's most dominant attribute is fatalism, the belief that everything will end up bad (kind of like being a Cleveland sports fan). His fatalism causes him to test the limits of rebelliousness and eventually displays just how powerful the party is.

    Julia - Winston's lover sends him a secret note proclaiming her love for him. The two meet in the countryside at a location discovered while Julia participated in Junior Anti-Sex League community hikes. Whereas Winston seeks to destroy the party and overthrow the government, Julia desires only to break enough rules to have fun.

    Analysis: Winston calls Julia a "rebel only from the waist down," a polite way of calling her immoral. Of course, by calling her that name, he is giving her a compliment. Other than a desire for intercourse and their hatred for the party, the two have very little in common.

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    O'Brien - Winston believes O'Brien, an inner party member, shares his hatred for the party. O'Brien gives Winston his address and invites Winston over. Winston shows up with Julia, proclaims his hatred for the party, and receives instructions from O'Brien on how to receive a book that divulges the party's secrets. It's all a set up. O'Brien becomes Winston's main torturer and converter.

    Analysis: O'Brien remains a mystery. He knows an awful lot about things he should not know about. It is unclear whether he was rebellious in the past or whether he has always been a strict party supporter.

    Big Brother - Big Brother is always watching. He's the public persona of the party, yet in reality probably does not exist.

    Analysis: The character itself is ironic in many ways. The party severs all familial ties, yet uses a familial, loving image to win hearts. Loving Big Brother is the ultimate sign of party loyalty.

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    Mr. Charrington - Winston rents a room above Charrington's shop, only to find out that Mr. Charrington is a member of the Thought Police.

    Syme - The ministry's expert on Newspeak disappears, as Winston predicts, because he is too intelligent.

    Parsons - a dull, stupid neighbor and co-worker of Winston whose children are obnoxious and members of the Junior Spies. Winston believes Parsons is safe from thoughtcrime and is surprised to see him arrested.

    Emmanuel Goldstein - Oceania's public enemy #1 probably doesn't exist either. He is a former party member who runs the Brotherhood that fights against Big Brother.

    Ampleforth - A poet in The Ministry of Truth, Ampleforth is arrested for leaving the word God in a poem.

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