Winston Smith: A Tragic Hero Essay

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A tragic hero can be described as a great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is

destined for downfall, suffering or defeat. In George Orwell's 1984, the protagonist Winston

Smith is best described as a tragic hero. 1984 presents an imaginary future world where a totalitarian

state controls all aspects of people’s lives. Oceania’s entire population is under totalitarian rule and is

completely ignorant to the ideas of freedom of speech, action and thought. Winston Smith lives in a

society where everyone must abide by government rules and regulations. British parliament has

become a dictatorship, with "Big Brother" as it's leader and has destroyed and rewritten all evidence

of history. Winston struggles to face the
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Winston participates in

many unnecessary risks such as trusting O'Brien, renting the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop and

having an illegal love affair with Julia. Although Winston is aware these choices put him at risk of

being caught by the party he is driven by his search to experience the truth, beauty and love that he

knows once existed. Winston lives in a world in which realistic optimism is impossible and does not

have the strength to successfully break free.

Winston and Julia are both very strong-willed people, which is essential to their relationship

and the point Orwell is trying to prove. Both Winston and Julia desperately want to continue their

relationship with each other. While in the meeting with O’Brien, the couple agrees that they will do

anything they have to, with the exception of betraying each other. Despite their promise to each

other, when Winston comes face to face with his ultimate fear, his promise to Julia becomes

meaningless as he says “ Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what you do to her.

Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!.” (Orwell 300) Winston also reflects


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