Characterization of Winston Smith

George Orwell’s dystopic novel “1984”, written in 1948, which takes place in a future where there is an absolutistic system, led by a mysterious unknown subject called “Big Brother”. Winston Smith is the main character, who is questioning the system and trying to find ways to abuse the gaps the system has in order to live more free and independent in his opinion and emotions. The system is controlling the minds of the citizens by observing nearly everything, prohibiting words and building new ones, forcing people to feel certain feelings in certain moments and changing the history the way they want to.

In this essay, I am going to characterize Winston Smith under consideration of the first five chapters:

At first Winston is not described and just being the medium to give the reader some impressions of the fictional London he lives in. But the further the story goes, the more of an insight we get into Winstons thoughts: Winston smokes cigarettes and has a verocity in his leg. After drinking gin the world looks more cheerful to him. Winston Smith is working for the system in the Ministry of Truth – “Minitrue” in Newspeak: His job is to twist the history the way he is told to do. To be good at his job it is necessary for Winston to believe in two truths, which cannot both be true at the same time. On the one hand he knows what really happened and on the other hand he has to believe what he has to change the original truth in to, so he is able to write realistically about it – otherwise he could one day become vaporized, like many people of the outer party get after a certain time, when they know to much and cannot perform the self-hypnosis to forget truths and believe in new ones anymore.

And even though he does not understand why some things are forbidden, he is not able to ask for the reasons because there is no need for a reason to let a law be valid in the system Winston lives in. Doubts get punished hardly. People are brainwashed and are not supposed to have an opinion.  He harshly tries to remember if this place has always been like this and what London looked like in his childhood – but he succeeds only partly.

The first thing that shows us that Winston is not conform with the system is the fact, that he owns a diary and also writes in it, which is forbidden. He is trying to hide his doubts and thoughts for his own security and also has a corner in his room where his televisions camera cant see him. In this corner he writes thoughts in his diary, starting with simple ones about movies he sees in tv then moving on to criticism at the proles for never thinking about anything and down with Big Brother-paroles. Additionally at the Two Minutes Hates, where people are supposed to hate and curse what the leaders show them on a screen, he sees a woman and notices that he has the desire to go to bed with her – even though this is forbidden as well. Winston is not enthusiastically engaged like most of the other people and just swimming with the flow in order to be not be spotted out as a thought-criminal. For his own security he just screams what the others scream – without thinking about it. And he puts on fake emotions to protect himself.  Winston understands how the system surpresses the people, and he also knows how well the system works, so he can never be sure whether other people think the way he does. And because he can not trust anyone, he has to keep his thoughts for himself. His reaction to the Parsons kids, yelling at him that he is a thought-criminal as a part of a fantasy game the kids were roleplaying, also prooved, that he is really scared of becoming detected and vaporized – that means killed and deleted from history.

In the following chapters he is trying to remember what happened to his family. In one of his dreams he sophisticates, that his sister and his mother died when he was about ten or eleven years old, and that this happening enabled him to survive.

He misses the conception of love as a loyalty that is private and unalterable and recognizes that in exchange today there are fear, hatred, and pain.

Winston has someone the auctorial narrator first accidently called a “friend”, but then corrected the term to “comrade”, which is the term that replaces all relationship terms, like “friend”, “boy/girlfriend”, “Mr” and so on. This Comrade, Syme, scares Winston a little because he is sharp-minded as well and sees through Winston, but he is not wise enough to keep his thoughts for himself, so Winston guesses that he will be vaporized sooner or later. Winston knows that stupidity can save your life, so he encases himself with it. Additionally, Winston is able to lie to Syme and later he lies to another person with the exact same words – both swallow it. Winston thinks he is smart enough to on the one hand keep his doubts and thoughts for himself and on the other hand, to judge whether someone will be vaporized or not.
Another proof for the paranoia of being found guilty is the paranoia Winston feels when a young girl who on an earlier “Two Mintutes Hate” sat just behind him, looks at him at the lunch. He fears that she is from the thought-police or the junior-spies.

[Line indications coming TODAY ACTUALLY!]

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4 thoughts on “Characterization of Winston Smith

  1. Thank you for your character analysis! You’re the first one brave enough to publish a text here – Hooray 🙂 I liked how you pointed out the isolation Winston experiences which is caused by the party’s systematic disintegration of all emotional relationships between family members, lovers, or friends. And you found examples for all of the above. You wrote that there are certain indications that Winston has a critical view on the system, like his writing a diary. Do you see a development or is he – in your opinion – an unchanging character in the first five chapters?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done. You worked out the most important parts of chapter 1 to 5. I liked your structure and how you used the red line. It became clear what your essay is about. It might be up to me but I missed a little of the Conflict between Winstons thoughts about Julia and O’Brien and how he handled them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done. You worked out the most important parts of chapter 1 to 5. I liked your structure and how you used the red line. It became clear what your essay is about. It might be up to me but I missed a little of the Conflict between Winstons thoughts about Julia and O’Brien and how he handled them.

    Liked by 1 person

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