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Laura Amy Schlitz

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Characters: 1984

1984 by George Orwell 60second Recap Decoder Resources PageNineteen Eighty-Four is about isolation. It’s about paranoia. It’s about not knowing who you can trust, or if you can trust anyone. But it’s also about Winston Smith and his journey from Outer Party flunky to Inner Party antagonist.

The story follows Winston’s emotional journey as he tries to sort out his feelings toward the Party and toward himself. Which means that a lot of the action happens inside Winston’s head. The rest falls to a fairly short list of gloomy characters.


George Orwell, 1949
Famous for: Big Brother, doublethink, and some of the 20th century's most memorable quotes: "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

1984 by George Orwell A Streetcar Named Desire Winston Smith Blanche DuBois

Recap Four, 1984

Orwell’s Dystopia: The Cast of Characters

Winston Smith

The protagonist. Winston opposes the Party’s control and tries to rebel, but is finally crushed. Winston is a fatalist: Though he wants to rebel, he wants to believe that things will change, he’s also certain that he’s doomed.

All the other significant characters in this story are relevant because they turn on Winston (reinforcing his fatalism, isolation, and paranoia, of course).


The girl with whom Winston has a love affair. During a moment of torture, she betrays Winston … and after that finds him loathsome.

1984 by George Orwell: Plot. 60second Recap Decoder Video Study Guide

Recap Three, 1984: The Plot.


Member of the ruling Inner Party member. Initially, Winston (mistakenly) thinks O’Brien is a fellow rebel. Instead, O’Brien turns out to be Winston’s torturer—and “reprogrammer.”

Mr. Charrington

Owner of an antique store—a man who seems, at first, like a symbol of hope. But in one of the story’s most chilling moments, he turns out to be not an ally, but a member of the Thought Police.


A colleague of Winston’s at the Ministry of Truth. Ampleforth rewrites old poems to bring them in line with Party ideology. He is arrested for thoughtcrimes when he leaves the forbidden word “God” in a Kipling poem.


Another Ministry of Truth colleague. Parsons is dull-witted, unwaveringly loyal to the Party. He’s arrested when his daughter reports him for shouting “Down with Big Brother!” in his sleep.

1984 by George Orwell Theme 1

Up Next…Recap Five, 1984: Theme 1


Also from the Ministry of Truth. Symes works on the systematic destruction of language and loves his job, so much so that he violated Party policy, an offense punishable by death.

Jones, Aaronson. Rutherford

Three of the Party’s original leaders. Later denounced as traitors and executed.

Emmanuel Goldstein

According to the Party, Enemy of the People Number One.  He’s said to be the author of a subversive book and head of a mysterious anti-party organization called The Brotherhood.

Big Brother

He’s everywhere you don’t want him to be. At work, at home, in your bathroom, and your bedroom. He’s the personification of the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-oppressing superstate.

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