Student Question

How are Winston Smith from 1984 and Macbeth similar as heroes?

Quick answer:

Both are victims, and we don't really like them. But neither of them deserves what comes to them, either. Both seem doomed from the beginning. Neither have friends or support; both seem fated to fail before they begin.

Expert Answers

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Both are victims of circumstance and unlikely, even unlikable heroes. We don't particularly *like* either of them, and we wish not to indentify with them yet, for all that, we do. They show us possibilities within ourselves that nobody wants to own. Macbeth falls victim to his own desire for material wealth and position; Winston falls victim to his own desire for truth and independance.

Both seem doomed before they begin. Macbeth's future seems to be in the hands of the fates; Winston's in the thought police and Big Brother.

Neither of them have the strength of mind to succeed in what they attempt; nor do they have any real support.

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I would not call either character a "hero," though both are problematic protagonists.

The traits they share are defiance, extremely personal agendas, and a doomed fate from which neither can escape.

As for Macbeth, he defies King Duncan's rightful rule in order to succeed with his personal agenda of becoming king himself. Similarly, Winston defies the party rule, not to free others or achieve some good for humanity; he acts for and in his own best interest.

Winston and Macbeth are both ultimately doomed. Macbeth cannot escape the prophecies of the witches and Winston cannot free himself from the oppression of party rule.

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