Characterisation of Winston Smith

Characterization of Winston Smith by Jan Zülchner

Winston Smith is the main character of the dystopian novel “1984”, written by George Orwell in 1948. The novel takes place in a future London, that is called “Airstrip One”. It is an absolutistic system by an unknown person, which called “Big Brother”. Winston questions the system and tries to find a way to abuse or overcome the gaps of the system in order to live more free and independent. The government of Oceania controls the minds of the citizens by observing nearly everybody. The party forbids words and at the same time creates new ones which are called „Newspeak“. In addition, the party forces citizens to feel certain feelings in specific moments and situations. This is possible through propaganda.

In the following I will analyze the main character Winston Smith under consideration of the first five chapters.

Winston smith is 39 Years old and has a lean physique, whose skinniness is emphasized by the blue jumpsuit of the party uniform. His hair is blonde; his face is reddish by nature, his skin rough because of sharp soap, dull razor-blades, and the cold of the winter which has just come to an end (p.8). It is peculiar that Winston has a varicose vein at the age of 39. He smokes regularly and drinks the party´s gin daily.

Smith is described as a sympathetic character. He is a member of the outer party and works as a simple employee.  More precisely, he works for the Ministry of Truth. His task is it to twist the history, the arts and the media as it suits the government. Because he is only a member of the outer party, he is under strict observation/supervision. The citizens of “Airstrip One” should not have their own opinion, and if they have an own one, they get a brainwashing from the government. The citizens are severely punished for mistakes. In an extreme case they are killed by the government. Then it is Winston´s job to make it looks like as if the person had never existed. His Job is his greatest joy, because he can live his creativity at work.

In his apartment he has an unobserved corner where he always writes in his diaries. This shows us the dissatisfaction of Winston opposite the party. He writes thoughts in his diary, starting with simple ones about the movies in the tv then moving on to criticism at the system for never thinking about anything and down with Big Brother-paroles. Too it is forbidden to have a book or paper and write a diary. To writes thoughts down is even much worse. Winston writes for the next generations. This proves his courage. In spite of everything he always deceives his feelings to protect himself from punishments. He does that what others do in the public.

He is interest in Julia, he „gazes“ on her und and gets the urge to sleep with her. Besides that he is not enthusiastic at all. He just does it without thinking about it. Winston understands how the system suppresses the citizens, and he also knows how the system works, so he can never be sure whether other people think the way he does, also because he can´t trust anyone.

Again and again he tries to remember what happened in his childhood. The memories of Winston’s childhood are largely blurred and indistinct. Only sporadically can he recall individual events (p.42). His parents and his little sister suddenly disappeared in the 1950s. He is really excited in things like his own history. because nobody knows anything about the history.

In my opinion Winston is outwardly a normal person. He just has normal needs like sex and other things but he doesn’t get this. Because of this he acts like a suppressed person, which definitely is a feature of a dystopia character. Winston rebel against „Big Brother“ and his system, which is really hazardous.


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