What is Syme's role in the book 1984 by George Orwell?

1 Answer | Add Yours

thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Syme is a friend and colleague of the protagonist Winston in 1984 by George Orwell. He is an expert in Newspeak and is employed in the Records Department. He is an expert philologist and is working on the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary. Although Winston does not like him, he appreciates his intelligence.

Syme is a fairly minor character in the novel but nonetheless serves as an important foil to Winston and illuminates an important aspect of the society of 1984. Unlike Winston, Syme is an enthusiastic and loyal party member, avid and vocal in his patriotism. Despite this, Winston predicts, correctly, that he will be vaporized, because he is simply too smart and too vocal. Thus the character of Syme shows that the Party relies on its citizens being dull, numb, and complacent, and that all intelligence and initiative, even if completely devoted to the cause of the Party, must be suppressed for a totalitarian society to survive. 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question