Character Analysis of Winston Smith from 1984
Winston Smith, George Orwell’s main character from 1984, contributes greatly to the novel in many ways. While he is presented to be a simple man, Winston adds many complex ideas to the classic piece of literature. Orwell uses internal and external characteristics, symbols, and significant quotes to develop Winston’s role in 1984.
Internal Characteristics are a big part of the development of a main character and ideas relating to the character. They let the reader have a better idea of the character’s personality, beliefs, and motives.
One of Winston Smith’s internal characteristics is curiosity, he is curious about many different things through the whole book. Although he has an idea of what the Ministry of Truth is, he is still very curious about what goes on inside those walls. He is also curious about “the Party” and their motives. He wants to understand how and why “the Party” exercises absolute power. Winston realizes that “the Party” is preventing people from having the freedom of the mind but he does not understand why they want or need that absolute power.
As the novel continues the reader is able to see just how much Winston hates “the Party” and all they do. In the process of realizing how much Winston hates the world he lives in, the reader also realizes how rebellious he is; from Winston repeatedly scrawling in his diary “down with big brother” to having a love affair with Julia to then sharing in the smuggled goods that she brings to their “secret meetings” and lastly to Winston not betraying Julia which is his final act of rebellion. Winston enjoys taking part in experiences that he knows “the Party” would not approve of.
He continues to be rebellious throughout the novel partly because he has a fatalistic view. Why not rebel if one thinks their fate will turn out to be death even if they do not rebel? He is greatly paranoid about his fate and the reader can see this in the part of the novel when he is awake at night waiting to be arrested by the “Thought Police” because that day he bashed “Big Brother” in his diary. The reader’s visualization of Winston is greatly influenced by the internal characteristics that Orwell assigned to his main character.
External Characteristics help with the development of the character but also take part in helping the readers have a better understanding of the character and some parts of the novel. Winston Smith is not a “typical” male main character. He is not strong, young, heroic, smart, handsome, or widely known nor does he have a significant job. Rather, he is a thirty-nine year old, frail and thin, not in the best health, out of shape, he has a varicose ulcer on his ankle that gets worse the more sexually repressed he becomes and he is merely a record’s assistant at the Ministry of Truth. Nothing about Winston Smith’s external appearance could be called special but the fact that he, who is in bad health anyway, suffers to the extent that he does at the end of the novel is astounding to the reader. Knowing what his external characteristics are truly helps the reader picture the dramatic scenes, such as him being electrocuted and going through the torture that he does, in a much more realistic way.
Orwell uses these characteristics to evoke feelings out of the reader because naturally one would feel sorry for an older, thin, unhealthy man being tortured to death. External Characteristics of Winston Smith help the reader take part in the book because with them they are able to picture him in a more imaginative way while they read about his journey. External Characteristics help one’s imagination get to work.
Symbolism is the most important literary device that is used in the development of Winston Smith. The symbolism that Orwell uses helps readers learn more about Winston’s dreams and beliefs. There are many symbols that are related to Winston but some help the reader learn more than others. The “Coral Glass Paperweight” that Winston buys in Mr. Charrington’s store which happens to be the same place where he bought his diary is one of them. This paperweight represents many different things related to Winston. It symbolizes the past in which Winston strives to understand because it is a “little chunk of history they’ve (the Party) forgotten to alter.” It is something little from the past that Winston wishes he knew about.
The paperweight also represents his dreams of freedom of the mind, the ability to remember something that “the Party” does not want him to. Also the paperweight does not just represent the past, it represents Winston’s desire to make the substantially important connection to the past. The glass paperweight is also significant because it shows that “the Party” cannot always control every memory that someone carries with them. Also throughout the novel Winston mentions “a place” which is also a very significant part of the novel and his journey. “The Place Where There is No Darkness” is very symbolic to the development of Winston and his thoughts about his fate. Throughout the novel Winston imagines meeting O’Brien in this place.
The words first come to him in a dream and he ponders them for the remainder of the novel. Eventually Winston does meet O’Brien in “the place where there is no darkness” and instead of it being paradise like Winston imagined, it is a prison cell where the light is never turned off. Winston’s idea of “the place where there is no darkness” symbolizes his ultimate doomed fate. When the words first come to him Winston thinks that they have positive context when in actuality it contributes to Winston’s fatalistic approach on life and the future. The symbols ultimately allow the reader to understand more about Winston’s internal characteristics, just in a more unique way.
Quotes are a big part of any novel’s development but quotes can also play a huge role in the development of a character. Quotations allow the readers to see a glimpse of the characters mind and feelings. Winston Smith has many lines in the novel but there are some key ones that have a deeper meaning than just words. At the end of the novel Winston is going through torture because of his rebellion to “the Party”. Winston has begged and pleaded, and betrayed people but he takes pride in not doing one thing; betraying Julia. That is his final act of rebellion, not betraying Julia because that is exactly what they want him to do, it is what they are pushing him towards. Finally after being faced with rats which are his biggest fear, he breaks: “Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!”(Book 3, Chapter 6, page 286). This is one of the most significant quotes in the whole novel because this is where Winston loses his battle with the state, and from this point on he will never be free in his mind again. Another reason this is symbolic is because for Winston Julia represents hope and escape, by betraying Julia he betrays hope. Quotes are not always things that are said, they are also things that are read or realized or even wrote.
Winston is very fond of venting in his diary and writes rebellious thoughts in his diary often. One of his rebellious journal entries shows a lot about who Winston is and what he cares about: “theyll shoot me i dont care theyll shoot me in the back of the neck i dont care down with big brother…” (Book 1, Chapter 1, page 19). This quote is important because it shows that Winston cares less about himself and more about righting the wrongs of the government. This shows how much he hates “the Party” and what they are doing. It shows that he knows where he stands and he is willing to die for his belief that what “the Party” is doing is wrong and corruptive. Winston has many realizations throughout the novel but one an particular stands out. It is a realization about “the proles” who are the group of people in Oceania that are truly happy because they are not under the scrutiny that Winston and his peers are under. Why would a group of people who are not watched all their lives by the government not overthrow the government? Winston realizes why: “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” (Book 1, Chapter 7, page 70).
Winston has arrived at the conclusion that until “the Proles” realize they are being controlled by “the Party” they will never rebel. They are too busy with their personal plight to become conscious on the bigger picture and all of Oceania. Until they rebel and overthrow the government, they will never truly understand the power and control that “the Party” had on them. It means they would never truly become whole because if they continue letting the government control them then they are always going to be empty, mindless people. Without rebelling they are like the walking dead. All these quotes help with the development of Winston because each of these quotes either give him knowledge, take part in changing him, or allows the reader to see his feelings. Without these quotes one would not know much about Winston, or what changes take place in his life.
Winston Smith plays a major role in the novel 1984 through his quotes, the symbolism related to him, and his personal characteristics. Winston is the character that the reader most identifies with partly because the reader sees the world of Oceania through his perspective. It is through Winston that the reader is able to understand and feel the suffering that exists in the totalitarian society of Oceania. Winston has individuality and self-determination. He embodies the values of a civilized society; democracy, freedom, peace, love, and decency. He also represents the struggle between good and bad forces, he rebels for a good reason, that reason being freedom. Without Winston Smith what would this novel be? Winston is no hero, but he allows the reader to identify with him and what bigger role than that could one play?
Cite this Winston Smith Character Analysis
Winston Smith Character Analysis. (2016, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/winston-smith-character-analysis/