1984 by English author, George Orwell. The

1984 Literary Essay: Winston a Hero or Not?

Elisabeth Covert


British World Literature

Mrs. Kushner

1984 is a dystopian novel is published in 1949 by English author, George Orwell. The novel is set in Airstrip One formerly, Great Britain, a province of the super state Oceania. Oceania is a world of perpetual war, government surveillance and public manipulation. George Orwell once offered his definition of heroism: Ordinary people doing whatever they can to change social systems that do not respect human privacy, even with the knowledge that they can’t possibly succeed. Winston Smith is a hero by trying to rebel against the government.

Winston Smith

Winston Smith, the main character in George Orwell’s book, “1984”; is a member of the Outer party and is under the ruling of the Inner Party. Winston is pretending to be a follower of Big Brother, because those who go against Big Brother have vanished and are never seen again. The party’s laws make Winston feel frustrated. He sees them changing the history to represent the present. And that soon leads him to going against the party. Winston cannot openly revolt since Oceania is filled with telescreens to spy on the people. There are even events such as the Two-Minutes Hate where citizens agree to publicity. Winston revolts by his eyes as “there was a space of a couple of seconds during which the expression of his eyes might have conceivably have betrayed him.” (Orwell 16) Winston is a rebellious man who riots for freedom in a totalitarian society, showing how he accounts for his actions as a hero. Winston gains the title of a true rebel when he looks for O’Brien, an Inner Party Member, to ask to join the Brother Hood. Winston declares that “we believe that there is some kind of conspiracy some kind of secret organization working against the Party, and that you are involved in it. We want to join it and work for it.” (Orwell 170) At this time, Winston is fully aware that there is no turning back as O’Brien begins asking his questions to see if Winston is fully committed to being part of the Brotherhood and Winston agrees, showing great bravery for engaging in thought crime ad other acts of resistance. His bravery for engaging in these courageous acts shows Winston in a heroic light, as he fights the Party with worst crimes.


Winston’s heroism is initially reflected in little acts of open reticence against the Party, with him writing troublemaking thoughts in his diary itself. Winston shows that he fails to go against the Party in the end. Winston is to signify as a hero through his actions, rather than by his ending; Winston shows characteristics of a hero through rebellious attitude to do what is right, his boldness to go against the law, and the determination to keep disobeying until the very end, as highlighted in the novel “1984.” In the start of the book, Winston already shows signs of being a hero as he engages in an act rebellion against the unfair laws of the Party. He visits the Prole districts and shops in ordinary shops; buying many items from the past. In Oceania, the act of buying such items is against the law as “Party members were not supposed to go into ordinary shops.” (Orwell 6) Winston slips through the district and buys a diary as “At the time he was conscious of wanting it for any particular purpose.” (Orwell 6) The fact that Winston buys items from the Prole district shows that he enjoys these rebellious acts since it allows him to revisit the past.


After Winston has trouble thinking about whether he should keep rebelling, he meets a girl name Julia, his girlfriend, the soon afterwards they decide to rebel together. He no longer doubts whether he should quit rebelling, he now rebels because it is the right thing to do to gain independence. He officially starts his revolution with Julia by making love to her with Julia by making love to her “even if it were only once in his whole life. The sexual act, successfully performed was rebellion.” (Orwell 68) This shows how Winston is brave by eve connecting with Julia, is it can end by both of them being vanished in the end for their rebelliousness, Winston is persistent with his acts of bravery by getting a place where he and Julia can continue rebelling in privacy; he rents out the room above the antique shop. Now they both can cause more crimes that could qualify them for death. For example, Winston stops “to talk with Mr. Charrington for a few minutes on his way upstairs.” (Orwell 150) in a society in where trust is rare. Winston also come out to their room to talk about more acts of rebellion with Julia, and of course, they also continue to make love despite it being against the law.

In Winston Smith, the protagonist of 1984, Orwell creates an ordinary person, an “everyman” who stands for all the oppressed citizens of Oceania. Yet as the novel closes, Winston crises as his love for Big Brother overwhelms him. In Orwell’s definition, Winston is the novels hero. But he’s not exactly a hero that readers can admire and look up to.

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