Winston Smith, Hero in Disguise:
In George Orwell's dystopian, modernistic world of 1984, there are no true heroes or villains. There are no white knights and even the book's antagonist, O'Brien, is not clearly the main source of immorality. Yet, through all this the reader is rooting for Winston Smith. We want him to succeed and even when he ultimately fails, we have sympathy for him. In spite of his failing mind and body, we still search for that glimmer of hope in a hopeless world which probably does not exist. Winston Smith is an unconventional hero, and despite his failures he retains this status for defiance against all odds.
When Winston Smith is introduced to the reader Orwell ...view middle of the document...
They include his devotion to the work that he hates, as well as his lack of courage to believe his ultimate goal is possible. Above all, his most significant defect is his overly trusting nature. The best examples of these are to do with Julia and O'Brien. Winston puts his life on the line to be with Julia. St. Rosemary's Educational Institution explains this well saying, " that betrayal would be not loving him, however, through the manipulation and torture from the government Julia does stop loving Winston" (1). This becomes evident towards the end of the book when Julia shows no affections for him when they reunite. Winston also shows his flawed nature when putting his trust in O'Brien. Not only does O'Brien break his trust in the obvious manner of being a double agent for the party, he also breaks Winston's moral code.
O'Brien gets Winston to agree to the possibility of "throw(ing) sulphuric acid in a child's face."
(Orwell 153) So one might wonder; how could such a deeply flawed character could still be a hero? The logic behind this is that his greatest errors were the result of broken trust by others and betrayal by the people around him. If Winston's greatest sin was being too trusting he can certainly be qualified as a hero.
To finally validate that Winston Smith is a hero, his ultimate failure at the end of the book must be inspected. How can a character that fails in mind, in heart, and in body still be a hero? Again the justification lies in the circumstances. Pen's Nest suggests that Winston "is not necessarily very perceptive. In fact, he is naive in many ways." This becomes evident as the book progresses. When Winston sees Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford at the Chestnut Tree Cafe he recounts the story of their prosecution by the Party. He looks deep within himself and questions whether he may be a lunatic for his beliefs. He proceeds to write, "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted all else follows" (Orwell 73) in his journal. At the end of the...