Is Winston Smith from 1984 a tragic hero? Explain.

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Winston Smith does not meet the traditional qualifications of a tragic hero, but he is a tragic figure because he struggles to retain his individuality and human spirit in an oppressive society.

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Winston Smith does not fit the definition of a classic tragic hero. He does not hail from a prestigious family, is not royalty, and is certainly not destined for greatness. Also, Winston Smith does not possess an extraordinary talent or ability that makes him better than others. Unlike classic tragic...

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heroes, Winston Smith does not possess a tragic flaw that leads to his unfortunate downfall. Hamlet, Macbeth, and Marcus Brutus are examples of classic tragic heroes, who were destined for greatness but failed to fulfill their true potential because they fell victim to their tragic flaws. Despite the fact that Winston Smith does not exactly fit the mold for a classic tragic hero, he does possess heroic qualities and his failure to succeed against the Party does make him a tragic figure. Winston demonstrates his heroism by committing thoughtcrime, engaging in an affair withJulia, and even attempting to join the Brotherhood. Unfortunately, his quest to retain his humanity and individuality are futile when he becomes brainwashed by O'Brien into being a loyal supporter of Big Brother.

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Tragic heroes are usual slightly better than ordinary men and have an excess of a quality--may be positive or negative--which causes them to make choices that bring about their downfall and the downfall of the people around them.

Often this quality is pride (hubris); this is not Winston's downfall.

Winston has two issues: he wishes to be part of a revolutionary movement and he wishes to speak the truth, as he sees it. Both of these desires leave him vulnerable. Making the wrong friends and trusting the wrong people leads to his arrest, along with the arrest and eventual destruction of Julia; trying to speak the truth as he sees it leads to his mental breakdown and his ultimate destruction.

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Yes, he is, in my opinion, but it is sometimes difficult to see this because Winston is such a self-centered character, and thus a problematic protagonist.

He is motivated by his own agendas rather than any altrusim. However, is bitterness is understandable, given the stranglehold of the ruling party.

As a character, Winston is tragic because he eventually loses his desire to fight the party. They, in effect, "win."

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Is Winston Smith, the protagonist of 1984, a tragic hero? If he is, why and what is his tragedy?

This is an interesting question. In the Aristotlean sense of the word tragedy, Winston Smith is not a tragic hero.

First, 1984 is not a tragic drama, which is what Aristotle has in mind.

Second, Aristotle's ideal tragic hero is a person of noble birth (royals like Oedipus or Thyestes) who goes from a position of good fortune to a position of bad fortune. Winston Smith is not a person of noble birth, but rather an "everyman."

Also, Smith does not strike me as someone who is ever in a position of good fortune in this novel. He starts off as mid-level member of the Party and he ends the novel as a mid-level member of the Party and his spirit is completely broken, but he does have, in some ways, a better job than he had previously. 

Additionally, Aristotle's "best" tragedy involves the destruction of one family member by another family member (compare son Orestes killing mother Clytemnestra). Winston Smith and Julia are not related and, even though they betray one another, at the end of Orwell's novel they both remain alive. 

Thus, I would say that Winston Smith is not a tragic hero in the Aristotlean sense of word. In the modern American sense of the word, however, that would be a different story.

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Is Winston Smith a tragic hero? How is he like Macbeth or isn't he?

Orwell named his central character Winston Smith after Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England during World War II; he also gave him the most common British last name, Smith. A thirty-nine-year-old man who works in the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith is fairly ordinary. His heroism is heartfelt, not out of false notions of rebellion for the sake of power and glory. In this way, he is very different than Macbeth, who became obsessed with both power and glory. Because of the visceral nature of his actions, he acts in a foolhardy manner. For example, he keeps a diary in order to record events as he experiences them, even though he is very likely to get caught by the Thought Police. Similarly, he rents the room above a junk shop to use as a love nest with Julia despite the obvious risks. Finally, Winston trusts O’Brien, not suspecting that he is a loyal member of the Inner Party who is trying to entrap him. In this way, he is very like Macbeth, who also acts foolishly and rashly, before consideration. He is easily swayed to risk by the witches' prophecies, and thus leaves himself open to attack.

Despite these similarities, however, Winston - unlike Macbeth - is not a tragic hero. Winston's downfall is not the result of his own frailties, but the society with which he is conflict. The Thought Police are Winston's antagonist, not his own rebellion. Macbeth, the archetype of a tragic hero, is brought down by his own desires. Winston, an unlikely but true hero, is the voice of reason in a totalitarian state.

When Winston is captured and tortured, he continues his defiance as long as possible. He has a strange respect for his torturer, O’Brien, and seems to enjoy their battle of intellect, ideas, and wills. Indeed, he has been thinking about and fascinated by O’Brien for years, even dreaming about him. In a way, he seems happy to be confronting him at last.

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