1984 Main Characters – Introduction
The novel’s main character is Winston Smith. He is the protagonist as well as the narrator. He can also be considered the story’s hero as he represents a force of relative “good” in the face of “evil” and fights against it, even though he does not come out victorious. The novel’s antagonist would be the oppressive government that controls all people. The Thought Police are the portion of this government that actively spy on and set Winston up for rebellious acts and they are the ultimate cause of his downfall.
1984 Character List
Here is an overview of the main characters in 1984.
- 1984 Protagonist/Hero – Winston Smith
- 1984 Antagonist/Villain – The Thought Police
- 1984 Narrator – Winston Smith
Winston Smith Description
Winston Smith – Winton is the novel’s protagonist/hero as well as the narrator. He represents the fear and oppression that citizens can feel under a totalitarian government as well as the inherent spark to fight back against that oppression. As the novel progresses, Winston finds it more and more difficult to resist the urge to fight back against the government’s stifling of his individuality as well as his desire to love freely and find purpose in life beyond his government-required work. Winston is thoughtful and commit several acts of defiance from small things like writing anti-Big Brother journal entries to having an illegal love affair. Ultimately, Winston represents everything that The Party (the oppressive government) wishes to suppress to prevent uprisings.
Julia – Winston’s secret lover. Julia is more pragmatic against Winston’s impulsive and emotional nature. She is sensual and does her best to truly just live in the moment, finding whatever pieces of pleasure she can in the world she is forced to live in. When Winston tries to convince Julia to join opposition groups, she shows that she is more concerned with day-to-day activities that can, even in small parts, defy The Party without getting caught.
Big Brother Description
Big Brother – The ruler of the nation, Oceania. He is the leader of the revolution that allowed The Party to come to power as rules and created a new government. Big Brother is used by The Party as a symbol that they are always watching, monitoring, and controlling. The city has giant posters that read “Big Brother is watching you.” Big Brother is not a physical character in the novel, but rather more of a concept that represents the government’s oppressive nature.
O’Brien – The mysterious member of the Inner Party who potentially used to be rebellious like Winston but fell to the control of The Party. Earlier on in the novel, O’Brien tends to sympathize with Winston but there is never a clear indication as to why. Although O’Brien seemed to be a trustworthy character due to his sympathizing with Winston, it turns out that he is actually one of Inner Party members when he shows up at Winston’s jail cell to torture him into submission. He represents the obscurity of the Inner Party and the idea that nobody can be trusted.
Mr. Charrington Description
Mr. Charrington – The old man who owns the secondhand shop where Winston buys several things that contribute to his anti-Party development such as his journal. Winston thinks that Mr. Charrington used to be an artist before the revolution and trusts him to the point that he rents a room from him to use as a meeting place for his affair with Julia. Mr. Charrington’s shop and room are in the lower class “prole” district, which is relatively unmonitored, so Winston feels safe. However, Mr. Charrington is a member of the Thought Police and ultimately sparks Winston’s downfall by turning him in.
Syme – An outgoing coworker of Winston’s at the Ministry of Truth. Syme is working on a new version of the Newspeak dictionary, which is an altered dictionary that removes any language that could be anti-Party.
Emmanuel Goldstein Description
Emmanuel Goldstein – Although he is not actually in the novel, he is a legendary leader of an anti-Party movement that provides inspiration to Winston.
Parsons – Another coworker of Winston’s in the Ministry of Truth. He is dull and his children are members of the Junior Spies. He represents everything that The Party wants out of their citizens—unimaginative, dull, and obedient.