Syme 1984

Who is Syme and what is his role in 1984?

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Characters might be flat or round, static or dynamic, but in 1984, Syme plays a specific role.

In my opinion, Syme is a foil to Winston. A foil is a character intended to help show a main character's traits by being opposite in many ways. While Winston is just your average guy, Syme is depicted as rather intelligent. This intelligence further demonstrates that intellect is not valued in this society, because Winston knows that Syme will ultimately die. This discrepancy in how each man reveals his thoughts makes readers empathize even more with Winston. Readers want him to keep living to keep the story alive and hopefully watch him overthrow Big Brother.

Other differences that help show contrast include devotion to Big Brother, level of excitement for the Party, and level of directness in communication. Winston knows to be quiet about his thoughts, whereas Syme blurts out his every idea. Syme clearly loves Big Brother, while Winston wants to take him down.

This contrast also develops readers' eventual disappointment in Winston. Readers realize he does not have all it takes because they have seen more intelligent characters, like Syme.

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Syme is one of Winston's coworkers at the Ministry of Truth.  The man works specifically in the Research Department of the Ministry, and his current assignment is to develop the Party Dictionary's "Eleventh Edition", paradoxically eliminating scores of words from the lexicon so that "in the end...thoughtcrime (will be) literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it".  Syme is a true believer in Big Brother, and works feverishly to execute his job to perfection.

Syme is always anxious to talk about the work he is doing, and to sing the praises of Big Brother.  He is "venemously orthodox", and he makes Winston feel uncomfortable,  because Winston feels that Syme can see right through him and knows his deviant thoughts.  Winston realizes though, that ironically, Syme will soon be vaporized despite his unquestioning loyalty to the Party.  Winston recognizes that Syme "is too intelligent...he sees too clearly and speaks too plainly...the Party does not like such people...one day he will disappear" (Part I, Chapter 5).

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