At a Glance

  • Winston Smith is the protagonist of 1984. He rebels against Big Brother by joining the Brotherhood.
  • Big Brother is the symbolic leader of the Party. He watches over Oceania's citizens night and day.
  • Julia falls in love with Winston and colludes with him to rebel against the Party.
  • O’Brien pretends to be a member of the Brotherhood. He later tortures Winston until the man has a psychotic break.
  • Mr. Charrington is secretly a member of the Thought Police. He disguises himself as an innocent shopkeeper.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Winston Smith

Winston Smith, a citizen of Oceania. He is an intelligent man of thirty-nine, a member of the Outer Ring of the Party who has a responsible job in the Ministry of Truth, where he changes the records to accord with the aims and wishes of the Party. He is not entirely loyal, however, for he keeps a secret journal, takes a mistress, and hates Big Brother. Caught in his infidelities to the Party, he is tortured until he is a broken man; he finally accepts his lot, even to the point of loving Big Brother.

Mrs. Smith

Mrs. Smith, Winston’s wife, a devoted follower of the Party and active member of the Anti-Sex League. Because she believes procreation a party duty, she leaves her husband when the union proves childless.


Julia, a bold, good-looking girl who, though she wears the Party’s red chastity belt, falls in love with Winston and becomes his mistress. She, like her lover, rebels against Big Brother and the Party. Like Winston, too, she is tortured and brainwashed and led to repent her political sins.


O’Brien, a member of the Inner Party. He leads Winston and Julia to conspire against the Party and discovers their rebellious acts and thoughts. He is Winston’s personal torturer and educator who explains to Winston why he must accept his lot in the world of Big Brother.

Mr. Charrington

Mr. Charrington, a member of the thought police who disguises himself as an old man running an antique shop in order to catch such rebels as Winston and Julia. He is really a keen, determined man of thirty-five.

List of Characters

Winston Smith–main character of the novel, 39 years old, employee at the Ministry of Truth, inquisitive, intelligent.

Big Brother–supreme leader of the Party, controlling force of Oceania, never physically appears in the novel but is ever-present.

Thought Police–secret militia; Big Brother’s agents who eliminated potential rebels.

O’Brien–member of the Inner Party, employee at the Ministry of Truth, Winston’s chief.

Julia–Winston’s lover, 26-year-old employee at the Ministry of Truth, worker for the Junior Anti-Sex League.

Syme–Winston’s friend, specialist in Newspeak, employee in the Records Department.

Mr. Charrington–63-year-old shopkeeper, rents hideaway to Winston, secret member of the Thought Police.

Ampleforth–a poet.

Tillotson–employee in the Records Department, disliked by Winston.

Tom Parsons–Winston’s neighbor at Victory Mansions, devoted to the Party, arrested for “thoughtcrime.”

Mrs. Parsons–Tom’s wife, about 30, looks older, possibly will be denounced by her children to the Thought Police.

Martin–O’Brien’s servant, fellow Party member.

Emmanuel Goldstein–Enemy of the People, commander of the Brotherhood, former member of the Party, author of the “book,” probably a creation of the Party.

Katharine–Winston’s wife, disappeared 11 years ago, loyal member of the Party.

Winston’s mother–disappeared years ago; appears only in Winston’s dreams and vague memories.


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Divided into a rigid system of social classes, the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four consists of proles, representing the vast majority of the population, the Outer Party, and the elite Inner Party. Yet, within the faceless, uniform mass of human existence, the character of Winston Smith emerges to become the protagonist of the novel. Winston is a member of the Outer Party, an employee of the Ministry of Truth. His job is largely to rewrite the history and documentation of the state in order to satisfy current Party policy and interpretation. Of dramatic consequence, however, Winston surreptitiously attempts to establish his own identity and derive a sense of his social and cultural heritage in a form of personal and unaided...

(The entire section is 359 words.)