What role does Big Brother play within the novel? What effect does he have on Winston? Is Winston’s obsession with Big Brother fundamentally similar to or different from his obsession with O’Brien?

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Big Brother is the ominous and omniscient entity who is implied to be the leader of the Party and, by extension, the ruler of Oceania. It is not made clear whether Big Brother is a single person or a group of people, and oftentimes it is even implied that "Big...

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Big Brother is the ominous and omniscient entity who is implied to be the leader of the Party and, by extension, the ruler of Oceania. It is not made clear whether Big Brother is a single person or a group of people, and oftentimes it is even implied that "Big Brother" is illusory in nature. Rather than an actual person or group, Big Brother may simply be the name for the all-seeing surveillance system that constantly watches the populace.

Winston's obsession with Big Brother is one that revolves around hatred and resentment. Winston feels that the only way that he will ever become a complete human is by overcoming it. It is, in fact, this obsession that in turn leads to his obsession with O'Brien. Winston sees O'Brien as his only hope for an ally who can help him get what he wants. Winston does not seem to be entirely sure what his objective is. All he knows is that O'Brien may be his only chance to find some form of meaning in the world. This becomes tragically ironic when it is revealed that O'Brien is not a leader of the resistance but a devout Inner Party member, and O'Brien tortures Winston into compliance.

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Big Brother is the symbol of the government's complete control over Oceania, where Winston resides. Big Brother's image is seen posted all around London, accompanied by the phrase "Big Brother is Watching." Big Brother is the face of the government and its total surveillance over the society. Citizens are afraid to rebel even in any small way because they believe they will be seen and thus caught and thrown into the Ministry of Love to be tortured. Winston's "obsession" with Big Brother is sort of obligatory in the sense that he has no choice to have a relationship with or interest in Big Brother; he simply cannot escape him. 

O'Brien is different from Winston, as Winston at first thinks that he is a friend and a leader of the rebellion. Winston trusts O'Brien, whereas he, of course, cannot trust Big Brother but instead fears him/it. The nature of Winston's "obsession" with O'Brien is different because he places hope in O'Brien and the rebellion, thinking he may be able to escape Big Brother's control. This is ironic, of course, because O'Brien ends up being a government official who turns in Winston and Julia to the Ministry of Love. Eventually, Winston is tortured until he, presumably, "loves Big Brother." The government manipulates him until his obsession with Big Brother becomes not one of rebellion but one of utter devotion and loyalty. 

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In the novel 1984, Big Brother is the figurehead of the Party who controls the dystopian nation of Oceania. Big Brother's image is located everywhere throughout the society, along with the ominous message that reads "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU." Big Brother's image symbolizes government intimidation, surveillance, and control throughout the novel. In Oceania, citizens are constantly reminded that they are being watched and scrutinized by government agents at all times. Big Brother's presence makes Winston Smith feel uneasy, frightened, and anxious. Winston realizes that he needs to suppress his genuine emotions and feelings in order to survive each day. Winston absolutely detests the Party and everything it stands for, but cannot express his hatred because he will be arrested and tortured.

Winston has a forced obsession with Big Brother because he cannot escape the Party's presence. In O'Brien, Winston sees a confidant who shares the same feelings of hatred towards the Party. He becomes obsessed with the idea that O'Brien is a member of the Brotherhood and is willing to collude against the government with him. However, O'Brien is actually an agent of the Party who tricks Winston into believing that he is a member of the opposition. Winston's obsessions with O'Brien and Big Brother are fundamentally different. Winston is obsessed with the controlling nature of Big Brother but is drawn towards O'Brien for the completely opposite reason.

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Big Brother plays the role of fear in the novel.  It is because "he's always watching" that the Party members act the way they are expected to act.  The Party forces obedience through that fear of being watched, listened to and caught doing something illegal.  Winston is effected tremendously by Big Brother.  He loves and hates him...we all need a routine, a purpose, but we rebel against an overabundance of restriction and authority.  This is what Big Brother is to Winston--an overabundance.  Winston's obsession with O'Brien stems from his belief that the two men are alike.  O'Brien proves that this is only true in that he thinks the way men like Winston do in order to catch them and put them back on the correct "Big Brother" road. Winston felt a connection with O'Brien. His obsession with BB stems from the rebellion against stifling oppression.  So, in my opinion, these obsessions are fundamentally different.

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Big Brother is an abstraction, an enemy to Winston as a kind of mystic, unconquerable force rather than as an individual. Winston hates Big Brother as he hates the regime, the Party. When he writes almost uncontrollably in his diary,

DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER
DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER

he does so with an exhilaration but a consciousness as well of how useless and impotent this act is. He observes others and their apparent belief that Big Brother is a real person or, rather, a kind of god, and the disconnect between Winston and other people is emphasized. Syme, the most intelligent person Winston knows, comments about the "beauty" of transforming language into a skeletal nightmare of non-expression and admiringly says, "It was BB's idea." Winston just sits there and listens passively.

The obsession with O'Brien is something totally different because not only is O'Brien a person in the flesh, but he is seen by Winston as potential salvation. A subliminal vibe comes through, or Winston thinks it does, that he and O'Brien are on the same wavelength and that O'Brien is a subversive and will help Winston join the Brotherhood. O'Brien is an actual elder-brother figure to Winston, in distinction to the false and metaphorical Big Brother. The cruel irony of the situation, as Winston finally discovers, is that he has been completely wrong about O'Brien and that O'Brien does represent the unlimited power of the regime in the flesh, unlike the mere concept shown on a poster that Big Brother is.

Yet in one sense Winston was right about O'Brien, who turns out to be a kind of evil alter-ego of him. O'Brien, even as he tortures Winston, tells him he's taking all this time on his case because Winston is worth it, is worth taking time over. It is as if O'Brien himself bonds in his totalitarian way with Winston and therefore takes the trouble to "convert" him rather than just having him killed.

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Winston's father disappears when he is young, and his mother is left to raise Winston and his younger sister alone. One could argue that throughout the novel, Winston is in search of a father-figure. Big Brother should be that figure to him according to the ideology of the state, but Winston rejects him. He can't look up to Big Brother because he hates what Big Brother stands for: as endless surveillance and a regimented life without freedom. Big Brother is the father he rebels against and of whom he wants to break free.

Winston therefore turns to O'Brien as a more satisfactory father-figure. He believes—despite a complete lack of evidence—that O'Brien is fighting the government and shares his hatred of it. He falls into O'Brien's trap and admits to wanting an active role in a conspiracy against the state because he is so sure that O'Brien is on his side and is willing to guide him in the right direction. While Big Brother is the father-figure who represents oppression to him, O'Brien represents freedom.

Even while being tortured, Winston continues to regard O'Brien as a father-figure, even while resisting his counter-factual assertions. By the end of the novel, Winston is so broken that he turns in love to Big Brother.

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Big Brother consumes Winston Smith's life, and images of Big Brother's austere face are posted everywhere throughout the dystopian nation of Oceania. Big Brother is the Party's figurehead and an ominous reminder that Winston is under constant surveillance. For the majority of the novel, Winston Smith despises Big Brother and he even commits thoughtcrime by writing "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER" numerous times in his secret journal. Winston Smith is a political dissident who desperately wishes for the Party's demise. He hates everything Big Brother stands for and views his image as a reminder of the oppressive, authoritarian regime that controls every aspect of his life.

In contrast, Winston Smith initially admires O'Brien and believes that he is a political ally. Winston believes that O'Brien also despises the Party and wishes for Big Brother's downfall. He dreams of O'Brien and trusts that he is also dedicated to undermining the Party. O'Brien gives Winston hope and is perceived in a positive light. Unfortunately, Winston is fooled and discovers that O'Brien is a loyal supporter of Big Brother. O'Brien becomes Winston's torturer, who successfully brainwashes him into loving Big Brother at the end of the novel.

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In 1984, Winston has a very negative attitude toward Big Brother. In fact, he hates Big Brother, and this is shown clearly in part one, chapter one when he writes "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER" over and over in his diary. This attitude only changes at the very end of the novel after his incarceration in the Ministry of Love, especially in Room 101, where Winston is tortured so much he finally comes to love Big Brother.

In contrast is Winston's feeling towards O'Brien. He is obsessed with him because he feels that O'Brien might be a potential ally who shares the same hatred of Big Brother. This feeling is based on a dream that Winston has in which he hears O'Brien's voice. Winston's obsession with O'Brien reaches its climax in part two when he is initiated into the Brotherhood. It is only later, however, that Winston learns the truth about O'Brien: he is not an ally or member of the Brotherhood, but, in fact, an agent of the state.

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Big Brother is the all-seeing, all-knowing God-like leader whose watchful eye over every party member in Oceania keeps them on 24-hour alert in George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984. His image is plastered everywhere, and Big Brother demands absolute respect and all-consuming love from his subjects. Although it is hinted that Big Brother is a living being, it is obvious that he is merely a symbol of the totalitarian regime that rules the former United Kingdom. The party members are fearful of Big Brother and for good reason: Cameras and microphones are placed in virtually every corner of the nation to keep tracks on its citizenry. Oceania's paranoid party members claim to love Big Brother; it would be suicidal to admit otherwise. However, some party members, such as Winston and Julia, recognize the extreme limitations and dishonesty that Big Brother imposes, and they go to extremes to gain a few moments of personal pleasure and freedom.

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Winston holds a sort of contempt for Big Brother. When he sees posters of Big Brother, instead of being moved with respect or fear for the figure, Winston questions the existence of him. In the end, of course, he succumbs to the torture and brainwashing and proclaims his "love" for Big Brother.

In contrast, Winston adores O'Brien.  Even in the middle of being tortured by O'Brien, Winston thinks he loves him. While O'Brien certainly represents the Big Brother mindset, he is a living, breathing entity with whom Winston has an intellectual connection.  That connection is what allows Winston to be deceived and eventually completely brainwashed.

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