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Winston Smith as the dystopian protagonist in Orwell's 1984

Summary:

Winston Smith, the protagonist of Orwell's 1984, embodies the struggle against a totalitarian regime. He experiences internal conflict as he seeks truth and individuality in a society that demands conformity and suppresses dissent. Smith's journey highlights themes of freedom, control, and the impact of oppressive governance on human spirit and identity.

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In 1984, what is the role and function of the protagonist, Winston Smith?

The main role of Winston is a platform for Orwell to describe and show his vision of this dystopian future that he has created.  Through Winston's eyes, we can learn both about the workings of party members, their everyday lives and routines, the philosophies of the party itself, and even the life of the proles that exist outside of the minute control of the party.  Orwell needed a character that was a part of the party itself, but also someone who could show the life of the proles; for that, he needed a discontented party member who would wander about and show the lives of other people.  But, being a party member allows Orwell to explain, in detail, the inner workings of the party itself, and its many manipulation techniques.  Winston's discontentment and rebellion also is staged in order for Orwell to show just how horrific and awful the party can be, and how far it is willing to go to brainwash its citizens when they rebel.  Winston is the perfect character to show how the party gains complete and total control, both through subtle means, and blatant tortuous means.

Through Winston's point of view, we see how the party works, but also how it is awful.  His misery relates the misery of being a human being in this society.  The themes of control, brainwashing, and totalitarian government are shown through is discontent.  Through Winston we are allowed to meet Julia, a fellow discontented citizen, and because of Winston and Julia's rebellion, we are able to meet O'Brien, party devotee and enforcer.  Winston's life in his apartment building allow us to meet other types of characters--tattling children brainwashed by the party, the mindless, sheep-like followers of the party, and the haggard, lifeless women and citizens that survive day to day under the party's rule.  He is a character that encounters all other types, allowing Orwell to show just what living is like in their society, no matter what type of person you are.

Winston is a very carefully created character, one with all of the right traits to show a complete and rounded viewpoint of the dystopian society that Orwell paints.  I hope that helped; good luck!

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In 1984, what is the role and function of the protagonist, Winston Smith?

Orwell uses Winston's character as an example of an individual in a society that has stripped people of their humanity.  1984 is a satirical work that was written to highlight the dangers of Totalitarianism, especially in reference to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  Orwell predicted that the world would become dominated by Totalitarianism if people did not begin to question the power and authority of oppressive leaders like Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.  Orwell was disheartened by the lack of protest against these leaders.  Winston represents the few individuals who are willing to question authority and fight for their freedom and individuality.  Winston's ultimate fate is death by the hands of The Party, and through his torture and reconditioning, Orwell is encouraging people to act out against the government before it is too late.

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How does Winston fulfill the role of a dystopian protagonist in 1984?

In several ways. First and most simply, he is unhappy, and his unhappiness does not stem from simply personal roots, but rather from problems in society. Second, he reflects upon his society. This begins in his mind, when he feels himself apart from the rest of the crowd, and continues when he starts his journal. Third, he gains reasons to push back against the society (namely Julia), and this expands his quest into the roots of society. Doing that research is a fourth way; his study of the theories behind the state are essential here. Fifth, his life is fundamentally shaped by this dystopian society, and he lives in such a way as to demonstrate it visibly for us. He is a living example.

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How is Winston Smith a dystopian protagonist in 1984?

A dystopian protagonist is one who realizes that his or her society is deeply flawed and who helps the reader to see and understand the problems in it. Winston is a classic dystopian protagonist because his journey in the novel centrally concerns his battle against the oppressions of the Party.

We meet Winston as he has reached a breaking point in keeping his feelings pent up inside. He has bought a diary and a pen, and as the novel begins, he transgresses in a serious way when he opens the diary and begins to write. He realizes he has jumped in a slow motion way off a cliff and that from this point forward, there is no going back: he will either end up dead or, at best, be serving twenty-five years of hard labor.

Winston's transgressions against the state continue as he gets involved in a love relationship with Julia and makes contact with O'Brien, who he thinks is part of a mysterious group called the Brotherhood dedicated to overthrowing the state. Until the moment of his arrest, Winston continues to act in covert ways against the dehumanizing ideology of the Party, from trying to join the underground to renting a room where he can spend time with Julia.

Through Winston's eyes and mind we see the many problems with Oceania, from the miserable physical conditions in which people live to the constant rewriting of history to make it conform to the will of the Party. Winston shows us a world where people are crushed into inner and outer conformity through fear, lies, and surveillance. It is a world in which nobody would want to live, and we identify with Winston's desire to overthrow and change it.

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How is Winston Smith a dystopian protagonist in 1984?

To a certain degree, one might suggest that Winston Smith is a dystopian protagonist by definition of the term. Remember, the term protagonist refers to nothing more than the leading character of a work of fiction, driving the narrative forwards. The protagonist does not even need to be a hero. One can easily imagine an even darker version of 1984 following O'Brien as the brutal enforcer of the Inner Party, creating and crushing supposed enemies of the state. There is a long history in fiction of villain protagonists: one can point towards a classic example such as Shakespeare's Macbeth (which follows the rise and fall of a brutal and murderous tyrant), or, for a more contemporary example, the Star Wars prequel trilogy, which tells the origin story of Anakin Skywalker and his fall into darkness. A character can be actively evil and still be a protagonist.

Thus, if we hold that Winston Smith is a protagonist, by virtue of being the lead actor whose actions drive the story of 1984, it is worth asking what kind of protagonist Winston is. How is he characterized, and how does he fit into this world, and what do these questions suggest about dystopian protagonists in the first place (or rather, the possibilities open to creating dystopian protagonists)? Again, remember, the term protagonist refers only to the role that the character plays within a narrative, leaving a lot of flexibility, especially compared to more definitive terms such as hero or villain.

I would say one of the most important elements to be aware of is that Winston Smith is not particularly convincing as a hero. More than anything else, he is a pawn, created to be sacrificed by the book's villain—O'Brien—passive, and almost helpless against the all-powerful totalitarian state. This is in contrast to more active and decisive characters such as V (from V for Vendetta), who is a revolutionary and represents an existential threat to said totalitarian state, but it does share common ground with other dystopian heroes such as John from Brave New World (who is ultimately driven to commit suicide by the novel's end) or Rubashov from Darkness at Noon, the old-guard communist abandoned and liquidated by the newer Stalinist power structure. With that in mind, this sense of helplessness can even be considered an archetype within the genre so that, within dystopic literature, one can imagine two primary routes a character can take (to some degree or another): being the revolutionary, actively working in opposition to the state (either to overthrow it or, at the very least, to escape its reach), or the victim, crushed by the state, unable to resist.

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Why is Winston the protagonist in Orwell's 1984?

To get a better understanding of life in a totalitarian state, it's always best to see things through the eyes of a protagonist with whom we can identify. That's where Winston Smith comes in. There's nothing particularly remarkable about Winston, and that's precisely how Orwell intended it. Winston is a kind of everyman character, an ordinary Joe who doesn't much stand out from the crowd. Among other things, this means that we can put ourselves in his shoes and understand more readily the day to day struggles of living—or rather, existing—in such a grim, repressive society.

In a world where the state creates its own reality, its own parallel universe of lies and propaganda, it's important that there's at least one person who still holds fast to the truth, someone who is prepared to assert that two plus two equals four. Winston is able to do this because, unlike most people in Oceania, he's still old enough to remember the pre-revolutionary past, a past that the state is actively seeking to erase. Even if we don't share the same past as Winston, we can still see in his deeply personal memories something recognizable in our own lives which enables us to establish a measure of truth and reality against which life in Oceania may be judged and found wanting.

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Why is Winston the protagonist in Orwell's 1984?

According to Orwell's outline of 1984 in Appendix A to Bernard Crick's biography George Orwell, Orwell envisioned a lonely, ordinary man who sometimes doubted his sanity as the hero of what he then called The Last Man in Europe. That man became Winston Smith in the final version.

Orwell created Winston to show the effects of totalitarianism—in particular, its lies, rewriting of history, worship of a leader, dumbing down of language, spying, violence, and isolation—on an individual who has some sense of the time before the Party took over. Winston contains within himself the seeds of a past that he identifies with the Proles. He grew up, if in deprivation, in an ordinary family of the type no Party member could belong to any more. His mother wholly loved him and his sister and was willing to sacrifice for them. Together, they had a private life that was not under surveillance, and they did not worship Big Brother. But Winston, as a Party member, is also a product of the Party; as the novel opens he experiences the fear, anger, hatred, and enjoyment of violence that the Party indoctrinates its members with. At the time he meets Julia, the Party is winning in terms of who Winston is, despite his rebellion in buying the journal. But as he falls in love with Julia, he rehumanizes. Because he has lived in two worlds, he is the perfect vehicle for Orwell to use to contrast the two worlds of traditional past and totalitarian present.

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Why is Winston the protagonist in Orwell's 1984?

In 1984, Winston Smith is employed within the Party's propaganda department, the Ministry of Truth. His job is to ensure that all existing documentation matches the aims and beliefs of the Party, to create the perception that the Party is consistent in its views; this involves changing documents, erasing the names and photographs of individuals who the Party deems "unpersons," and generally rewriting history. Having the main character serve this role is important to the story, because Winston has more insight into the truth about the world he lives in than others employed in different sectors of the Party. It is important throughout the story that Winston is a person who is aware of the Party's propagandizing, lying, and revisionism; it is the knowledge he gains from doing his job that allows him the awareness he needs to begin secretly hating and rebelling against the party. If, for example, Julia were the narrator of the story, there would be no insight into the process of revisionism; Julia hates the oppressive government too, but her job doesn't put her in a position of constant awareness of the ways in which she is being lied to.

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