In 1984, is the point of view through Winston third person omniscient or third person limited?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

1984 is told from the perspective of the protagonist, Winston Smith. This perspective is defined as the third person point of view. This point of view is also limited, as the reader only has access to Winston's thoughts and feelings. (In contrast, an omniscient point of view would give the reader access to the thoughts and feelings of many more characters in the book.)

To see this point of view in action, take a look at Part One, Chapter Two, when Winston visits his neighbors, the Parsons family. Winston notices Mrs. Parsons's unease around her children, and thinks, "with those children. . . that wretched woman must lead a life of terror.

In this example, our understanding of Mrs. Parsons's relationship with her children is told only from Winston's perspective. She may well lead a "life of terror," but this is Winston's observation, not Mrs. Parsons's. Because of this limited point of view, the reader will never know how Mrs. Parsons truly thinks and feels.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

1984 is told through the third person limited point of view through the consciousness of Winston. One quick way to check for a book's point of view (omniscient or limited) is to ask yourself as a reader if it feels like you are following a variety of people or just one.

1984 is of a unique dystopian genre. In this genre, a typical disenfranchised character is used to stand for the everyman literary archetype (Winston Smith). The third person limited point of view is generally used in this genre because it helps reveal both thoughts and events of the main character. In an omnicient point of view, readers know thoughts of all or several characters.

Chapter 2 begins:

As he put his hand to the door-knob Winston saw that he had left the diary open on the table. DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER was written all over it, in letters almost big enough to be legible across the room. It was an inconceivably stupid thing to have done. But, he realized, even in his panic he had not wanted to smudge the creamy paper by shutting the book while the ink was wet.

Here, readers receive the report of the event that Winston had left his diary open and readers see Winston's thoughts in the narration as noted by bold print.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial