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George Orwell Anti utopian Reality in 1984 Novel

Main Characters and Roles of 1984

The characters of the book each serve very specific roles and purposes in the text, so let’s first briefly explore what the 1984 book is about. The book talks about a possible scenario for the development of the world. After several sanguinary wars and revolutions, the Earth was divided into 3 super states named Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. Their alfa governments are in constant conflict with each other. Such never-ending conflicts are needed to distract the attention of the population from poor internal public management, terrible living conditions of the counties. More importantly, the existence of the conflict allows the government to fully control the inhabitants of the states.

Winston Smith Character Analysis

In one of such “superstates”, namely Oceania, lives the protagonist of the book. He is 39, he is thin and has a somewhat unhealthy look on his face. An employee of the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith serves the government institution that works day and night to rewrite the past and destroy the facts that are unwanted by the government. Every day Winston changes the past with his own hands and makes it conform to the new standards devised by the ruling party.

In addition to changing the past, the Ministry of Truth also works tirelessly to promulgate the values and mantras of the county’s political elite. Seeing such truth tailoring and past elimination on a daily basis, Mr. Smith can’t help but wonder whether what is happening is right.

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His soul grows a seed of suspicion and doubt and that induces him to start writing a diary. This diary is the only thing that hears what Winston thinks about his job, his life and his government, it marks the beginning of his protest.

The protagonist has to be very careful and do the writing in complete secrecy, hiding from other people and devices. As mentioned in Part 1 Chapter 1, his TV is not only a tool to feed him proper information, it also spies on him:

Big Brother Character Analysis

Big Brother is the supreme ruler of Oceania. He has zero tolerance for individualism or diversity and absolutely no need for pluralism of opinion. He also has a network of Spies and tools set up in the country to make sure that every move of his citizens is observed, controlled and can be contained, if necessary. The Spies adore him and the Party:

It’s impossible to do something privately in Oceania: all the houses are made of glass, all walls have surveillance and wiretapping, the Thought Police watches every move of every citizen. However, there is a difference in how Big Brother treats certain classes of its citizens. For example, for their love affair, Winston and Julia often choose secret places for dating, such as the countryside or other places where normally low-class labor workers hang out because the state doesn’t have that much security there. Low worker class is considered to have less tendency for thinking thus is treated as a lower-risk population.

Big Brother is an ultimate leader of Oceania, he is like a God and the ultimate goal is to please him. All the mistakes and loopholes of Big Brother or the Party are simply rewritten just like the newspapers. His pictures are everywhere, all the slogans are signed by his name. He is the only source of information, faith and worship in Oceania.

O’Brien Character Analysis

O’Brien is an undercover agent of the party. He secretly works for the Thought Police trying to find people who are thinking about rebellion. He is well-behaved, reserved, has a strong body. He deliberately pretends to oppose the party and Big Brother. His role is similar to that of Mephistopheles in Faust, he is the agent of the devil.

O’Brien is both a character and a concept in the book. He invades the dreams and provokes Smith to think that he doesn’t share Party ideas, he constantly pushes Smith to give birth to his unspoken internal conflict. Finally, when Smith and Julia are ready, he offers them to join the rebel movement. Later O’Brien will personally supervise the torture of his capturers, slowly killing any traces of personalities or thinking in them.

Emmanuel Goldstein Character Analysis

Emmanuel Goldstein was once a leader of the Party that brought it to power. He is now in exile and represents the only opposition available. He established an organization “Brotherhood” that is proclaimed by the Party to be the Enemy of the People. In fact, nobody knows for sure whether the organization really exists and what it does. Goldstein is an imaginary magnet for potential opposition, he serves the purpose of bringing all those who are against the Party under one roof to be destroyed then.

The Party spends a great deal of effort to publicly broadcast the hate clips about Goldstein and the Brotherhood just to give a bait for those who are seeking allies to create a rebellion.

The Party spends a great deal of effort to publicly broadcast the hate clips about Goldstein and the Brotherhood just to give a bait for those who are seeking allies to create a rebellion.

Tom Parsons Character Analysis

Tom Parsons and his wife Mrs. Parsons live next door to Winston. Tom is a complete opposite of Smith, he follows the Party blindly and never doubts Oceania for a second. He is devoted to the war against other states and will do whatever he can to contribute to Oceania’s victory.

Ironically, he brought up a daughter who is just as fierce and loyal to Oceania as her parents are. One day she betrays her father by reporting to the Thought Police that Parsons spoke badly of Big Brother in his sleep. To aggravate the irony even more, Orwell makes Tome immensely proud of his daughter for “doing the right thing”.

Julia Character Analysis

Julia is another protagonist of 1984. She is 26, she also works for the Ministry of Truth in the Fiction Department. She writes novels depicting the greatness of her country and its ruler. She is quite experienced sexually and is known to seduce Party members. She is instinctive, not very logical, irrational, with lots of untamed desire and energy. She is courageous and much more adventurous than her lover Smith. In fact, she is the one who tells about her feelings to Winston and takes him outside of town.

It’s difficult to elaborate on the nature of Julia’s and Winston’s relationship since they are the only creatures with a soul portrayed in this book. So it makes sense that they found each other and grew fond of each other. Would they have felt just as fond of each other if there were other options available – who knows? But the main point Orwell makes is that in such an authoritarian government as Oceania, finding people who think and have their own opinion is an extremely rare thing.

Julia’s sexual and emotional freedom is her way to protest against the strict order of her country. She wants to put her energy into love, emotions, memories and enjoyment, not for the glorification of Big Brother and Oceania. And it only makes the reader even more upset when in the end she breaks under the tortures of O’Brien and says in Part 3 Chapter 6:

Mr. Charrington Character Analysis

Mr. Charrington is the owner of a thrift shop in a parole district. Proles are the majority of Oceania population who are not part of the Inner Party (those who rule) or Outer Party (those who serve the rulers) and are deemed incapable of thinking or posing a threat to the government. However, in Part 1 Chapter 7 Winston expressed his opinion in the diary that proles might rebel one day and take the Party down:

Winston buys his diary from Mr. Charrington and that marks the beginning of Winston’s journey into critical thinking and rebellion. Later, Winston will rent a bedroom upstairs above the shop to meet with Julia there.

Winston trusts Mr. Charrington because he holds on to the past (second-hand items) and thus keeps the past intact when Oceania is doing everything it can to change or destroy the past. At some point, Winston even thinks that Mr. Charrington is a member of the Brotherhood. But as it turns out, he is an informant of the Police and spies on everything Winston and Julia do in his shop.

Full Summary

After the Second World War, the civil war broke down in Great Britain, which lead to it being occupied by a new superstate – Oceania. The citizens of Oceania live under the rule of an ideology of one Party. The ruler and impersonification of that Party is a leader called Big Brother.

The Party is divided into Inner Party (the 2% of the ruling population), Outer Party (the 13% who implement their policies) and the others, who are called proles and don’t have any opinion or importance whatsoever. But not all members of the Outer Party are in unanimous agreement with the Party ideology. Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth and is starting to question the Party’s right to rule and tell him what to do. But he understands that there’s nobody with whom he can share his concerns. So he shares his thoughts in a diary, which is also quite a dangerous thing to do.

One day Smith notices that his colleague Julia is paying a lot of attention to him. At first, he is afraid that she busted him and will give him up for the Thought Police. But after some time he finds a love note from her. They start a secret relationship that is prohibited by the government. They hide and dream about a revolution. Smith believes that their relationship will not end well – such encounters between men and women are strictly prohibited in Oceania.



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