Follow TV Tropes


Characters / 1984

Go To

Warning: as with the main page, spoilers are unmarked.

    open/close all folders 

Main Characters

    Winston Smith 
Portrayed by: Eddie Albert (1953 CBS TV Adaptation), Peter Cushing (1954 BBC TV Adaptation), Edmond O'Brien (1956 film version), John Hurt (1984 film version), Tom Sturridge (2017 Broadway adaptation)
Voiced by: David Niven (1949 NBC Radio Adaptation), Patrick Troughton (1965 BBC Radio Adaptation), Christopher Eccleston (2013 BBC Radio Adaptation)

The viewpoint character of the novel. A professional historical revisionist, he works at the Ministry of Truth taking old documents of the past and rewriting them to fit Ingsoc dogma. He is miserable with his existence and longs for freedom. When he meets O'Brien and Julia, he feels that he may finally get his wish.

  • The Alcoholic: Both at the beginning and end of the story, though his drinking is worse at the end, as the narration states that gin has become "the element he swam in. It was his life, his death, and his resurrection". Only during his relationship with Julia is Winston ever seemingly free of the urge to drink.
  • Awful Wedded Life: With his legal, Party-assigned wife.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: He's suspicious, bitter, cowardly and, initially at least, demonstrates few outward desires besides basic gratification. But given that he's the product of a society that reduces people to obedient, fearful cattle, the mere fact that he contemplates defying the Party makes him a hero, of sorts.
  • Cult Defector: He and Julia both resist the totalitarian cult of the Party and Big Brother— but after his imprisonment and torture, Winston comes to love Big Brother.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: In a manga adaptation of this novel, Winston was drawn to look like a combination of Peter Cushing and John Hurt, both actors who portrayed him in film adaptations.
  • Despair Event Horizon: In the Ministry of Love, Winston hits this when O'Brien shows him his reflection in the mirror and what all the torture has reduced him to— at least, this is the point where he asks when the Party will finally allow him to die. But even that is not the end, and Room 101 is what at last strips Winston of any capacity for independent thought.
  • The Everyman: Even in the horrific dystopia of Oceania, he is just an ordinary worker whose sympathetic human characterization is said by O'Brien to be "the last man." This makes his fate all the more horrifying, as if to emphasize that it can happen to anyone.
  • Genre Blind: Winston, in some respects. His first impressions of Julia and O'Brien is that they are members of the Thought Police and the Brotherhood respectively. On both counts, he couldn't be further from the truth. Inverted in that O'Brien is a member of The Brotherhood, in a sense; it’s just that Winston is completely wrong about its nature.
  • Hate at First Sight: Winston hates Julia on sight, because she appears to represent everything he hates about the Party and how it molds women. It turns to love later on when he sees her real loyalty is to freedom and the Brotherhood.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: As Winston's and Julia's admission into The Brotherhood show, his hatred of the party runs so deep that he's willing to do literally everything (no matter how heinous) to bring it down.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Winston's assessment of any individual's loyalty to the Party is almost always completely off the mark. None of the people he puts his trust in are actually deserving of that trust, and everybody he's suspicious of is a heroic rebel. He instantly distrusts Julia, who eventually becomes his lover, whereas he trusts O'Brien who turns out to be completely loyal to the Inner Party, and the shop owner, who is actually a Thought Police agent. The only person Winston was right about is Syme, who he concludes is too intelligent for his own good. Surely enough, Syme is vaporized by the Party not long thereafter.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Winston doesn't even question that O'Brien and the Thought Police have had him under surveillance for years, and were aware of his treason at every stage. Actually, he’s probably right; it’s implied that the Party noticed his momentary hesitation when holding a news cutting which he destroys, but subsequently appears again in O’Brien’s hands during the torture sequence. The second-hand shop where he bought his journal, other curios, and subsequently rented a room, was operated by a Thought Police agent (Mr Charrington). Winston doesn’t actually KNOW any of this in detail, but he is proven right in general terms.
  • Internal Reformist: He entertains thoughts of becoming this, but he never actually accomplishes anything of the sort.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Was like this in his youth. He terrorized his mother and sister, and the last thing he did in front of them before he never saw them again was steal chocolate from them when they dearly wanted it.
  • Meaningful Name: Winston Smith, from "Winston Churchill" and "Smith," The Everyman.
  • Moment of Weakness: Winston breaking down and screaming Julia's name near the end causes O'Brien to realize that he has not completely broken yet, and send him to Room 101.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Winston is a writer, and his job is his greatest pleasure in life.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: Winston has this attitude towards Julia, and he's perfectly comfortable with it. This is because having sex for anything other than procreation is forbidden by the Party, and Winston is enthusiastic to meet a fellow rebel.
    "The more men you've had, the more I love you."
  • Only Sane Man: He is the only Party member seen (other than Julia) that does not fall for the Ingsoc dogma. O'Brien later convinces Winston that he is more like the "Only Insane Man." The scary part about this is that it's technically true— because social norms define sanity and insanity, and most people believe the Party. In Oceania, knowing the truth makes you insane.
    Winston: Sanity is not statistical.
  • Rage Within the Machine: Winston is a Party functionary who doesn't really believe in the Party, and seeks to rebel.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Winston himself is quite intelligent, and comes back to chess on more than one occasion.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: In the 1956 film, Julia, played by the beautiful Jan Sterling, hooks up with the schlubby Winston, played by Edmond O'Brien.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Winston is terrified of rats, which is used against him in the most horrible way possible in Room 101.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Interestingly, he doesn't start as a naive idealist, as he expects from the beginning that his secret seditious diary will inevitably get him vaporized. It is only when his affair with Julia progresses that he starts to believe that the two of them can keep up their secret defiance— and wrongly so, because in the Party's world, even the simple act of falling in love qualifies as wide-eyed idealism in and of itself.
  • You Are Worth Hell: This is Winston's attitude about Julia... until his torture in the Ministry of Love starts. Before the first blow of the truncheon, it occurs to Winston that if he could double his own pain to save Julia, that would be the right thing to do. But after the beatings start, he instantly decides that for no reason whatsoever should one ever wish for an increase of pain. He finally rats on Julia to save his own sorry skin in Room 101, begging for her to get eaten instead, which results in his final submission to Big Brother.

Portrayed by: Norma Crane (1953 CBS TV Adaptation), Yvonne Mitchell (1954 BBC TV adaptation), Jan Sterling (1956 film adaptation), Suzanna Hamilton (1984 film adaptation), Olivia Wilde (2017 Broadway Adaptation)
A member of the Party and Winston's lover. She is also chafing under the rules of the Party and starts a forbidden sexual relationship with Winston.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the book, Winston finds Julia's lips to be the only part of her he could genuinely call pretty. In adaptations, she tends to look cleaner and relatively beautiful.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Julia was given the last name of 'Dixon' in the 1954 BBC Adaptation. In the book, her last name is not revealed.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: In a manga adaptation of the novel, Julia was drawn to closely resemble Suzanna Hamilton, who portrayed her in the 1984 film version.
  • Cult Defector: She and Winston both resist the totalitarian cult of the Party and Big Brother.
  • Fantastic Racism: She is indiscriminately sleeping with men left and right, except for two groups: She adamantly refuses to have sex with Inner Party members (whom she hates) - but she also completely dismisses proles, because she doesn't really think they're people.
  • Female Misogynist: At one point, she says she hates women.
  • Good Bad Girl: She acts like a slutty shallow woman, but is a decent person at heart.
  • Internal Reformist: While she works for the Party to survive, she does things considered illegal when she is not being monitored.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Sort of. In keeping with the trope, she is an untamed, free-spirited Love Interest who helps to bring the male character out of himself and overcome the drudgery of his daily life. Subverted by the end of the novel, in which she has become just as broken and defeated as Winston; the scar on her head implies that she might have been lobotomised.
  • Meaningful Name: Julia from Romeo and Juliet, hinting at her doomed romance with Winston.
  • Ms. Fanservice: In the film. Julia is quite clearly naked in some scenes. It's then inverted into Fan Disservice when the Thought Police enter the room while she's still naked, beat her up and drag her away to be tortured.
  • No Full Name Given: Her last name is never revealed (though the 1954 BBC adaptation gives it as Dixon).
  • Nothing Is Scarier: While we know what happened to Winston in Room 101, Julia's fate is left unclear (except for a scar on her forehead) - the only certainty is that it was every bit as terrible as what happened to him.
  • Older Than They Look: In the 1984 film. She is 26 years old, but her physique might pass her off as a teenage girl at best.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: In the 1956 film, Julia, played by the beautiful Jan Sterling, hooks up with the schlubby Winston, played by Edmond O'Brien. The 1984 film has the quite-attractive Suzanna Hamilton playing opposite an emaciated John Hurt.
  • Wrench Wench: Julia is a mechanic that works on the automatic writing machines that churn out prolefeed.

Portrayed by: Lorne Greene (1953 CBS TV Adaptation), Andre Morell (1954 BBC TV adaptation), Michael Redgrave (1956 film adaptation), Richard Burton (1984 film adaptation), Reed Birney (2017 Broadway adaptation)
An Inner Party member who meets Winston at a Two-Minutes Hate. Though initially seeming to be loyal to the Party, he befriends Winston, and his true loyalties may—or may not—lie elsewhere.
  • At Least I Admit It: O'Brien claims that their version of totalitarianism is superior to the regimes of Hitler and Stalin because the wicked means is the end goal in itself, whereas the Nazis and the Soviet Union (for all their brutality) never had the courage to admit that power was their real motive. Of course, the Party's propaganda doesn't state this openly.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: O'Brien successfully captures Winston and brainwashes him into loving Big Brother.
  • Big Bad: He is the most significant villain seen in the story, and responsible for both Winston's and Julia's ultimate capture and Winston's conversion to Ingsoc. Big Brother is more of an unseen Greater-Scope Villain, if he even exists.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: O'Brien asks Winston at one point why the Party puts its totalitarian policies in place. Winston says that it's Brainwashing for the Greater Good, thinking that that's what O'Brien wants to hear. O'Brien tells him that he should know better than to say things like that, and that in reality they just make people suffer to prove that they can.
  • Character Tics: Is constantly resettling his spectacles on his nose. The narrator remarks about the "curious, disarming friendliness that he always managed to put into the gesture."
  • The Chessmaster: He manipulates Winston and Julia into joining a fake rebellion (the real one most likely doesn't even exist) so he can capture them and torture them into loving Big Brother.
  • Evil All Along: He gains the trust of potential thought-criminals by pretending to be on their side, then orchestrates their arrests. Unfortunately for both Winston and Julia, they both fall for his manipulations.
  • Evil Plan: O'Brien seeks to crush Winston and Julia's dissent by pretending to be a Rebel Leader himself.
  • False Friend: He tricks Winston and Julia into thinking he's their friend and gets them to trust him, especially as far as identifying himself as a member of the Inner Party but really a member of La Résistance. He then organizes the raid to capture the protagonists, brings them to the Ministry of Love, and oversees their torture and brainwashing.
  • Faux Affably Evil: O'Brien talks to Winston in a calm, sometimes cordial tone throughout his torture in the Ministry of Love. The narrative even remarks that at times during this process, he has the vibe of a teacher or even a priest.
  • Fake Defector: Subverted, as it’s implied that there is no Brotherhood to begin with.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: O'Brien turns out to be this, though Winston initially considers his glasses and his habit of resettling them on his face to be disarming— "if anyone had still thought in such terms, [the gesture] might have recalled an eighteenth-century nobleman offering his snuffbox".
  • Genius Bruiser: Winston describes him as having a “prize fighter physique“. He is also highly intelligent and articulate.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: O'Brien takes on both roles in his interrogation of Winston. In one moment he will be applying torture and relentlessly beating into Winston's skull the despair-inducing state of the world, and in the next moment acting grandfatherly, kind, and even pleading towards him. This is probably part of the whole brainwashing process— by crushing all the prisoner's hope for the future of the world, he'll make submission to and assimilation by the Party seem sweet and comforting by comparison. It also shows just how steeped in doublethink you'd have to be in order to be an Inner Party member— many of O'Brien's statements blatantly contradict one another.
  • Grand Inquisitor Scene: Once he reveals his true colours to Winston, all his actions consist of putting Winston through a prolonged ordeal.
  • Manipulative Bastard: While he presents himself as a Brotherhood member, he's actually just trying to trick potential rebels into incriminating themselves.
  • Master Actor: He's extremely good at pretending to be a dissident and convincing people to trust him.
  • No Full Name Given: His first name is never revealed.
  • The Omniscient: For all intents and purposes of the story (and certainly from Winston's perspective), he - and by extension the Party - is this. Regardless of what Winston did and no matter how obscure, he has intimate knowledge of it; and regardless of what Winston thinks, he has already had the very same thought and is aware of what goes through Wintson's head.
  • The Sociopath: O'Brien, a totalitarian dictatorship's agent who pretends to be a rebel leader so he can lure potential rebels to be tortured, and admits that all the Party wants is power.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: O'Brien, especially as played by Richard Burton in the 1984 film adaptation. Even as he brutally tortures Winston, he never raises his voice.
  • To the Pain: O'Brien's explanation in the Ministry of Love of exactly what is going to happen to Winston is pretty discomforting.
  • Villains Never Lie:
    • O'Brien's breaking speech to Winston is a completely honest description of the Party's motives and power. Winston is actually comforted at times by finally getting honest answers to many of his nagging questions. In fact, the only time that O'Brien gets notably upset with Winston is when he asks Winston why the Party does what it does, and Winston flippantly says that it is for the good of the people. O'Brien responds by more vehemently torturing Winston and explaining that the Party is motivated solely by power.
    • When O'Brien reveals to Winston that he has reduced him to a wretched equivalent of a skeletal concentration camp victim, he defies Winston to state if there remains a single degradation that the Party hasn't inflicted on him by this point. Winston replies that he still has not stopped loving Julia... and O'Brien actually admits this is true, even though Winston has testified against her. He momentarily reveres O'Brien for his perception and honesty.
  • Wicked Cultured: He’s articulate in speech and mannerisms.


    Big Brother 
The supreme leader of Oceania. The founder of Ingsoc and all that it stands for. He sees everything, knows everything, and controls everything.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's never made clear if he even actually exists as a person, or if he's just a face that The Party invented to direct their Cult of Personality towards.
  • Evil Overlord: Big Brother is very much a traditional one, and very much the idea of the Evil Overlord regardless of whether there's an actual human being behind it or a fictitious vehicle for the Party, or whether or not that person is the "original" if they do exist. However, Big Brother could possibly be a deconstruction, since he does not establish absolute rule through simple displays of power, but surgical manipulation of information and brainwashing his subjects to love him and consider serving the state their only goal in life.
  • God Is Evil: He is worshiped almost as a God-type figure, and the official history of Oceania paints him as such in contrast to Emmanuel Goldstein, who is depicted as a Satanic Archetype. Big Brother is also an Evil Overlord who rules over Oceania and oppresses its citizens. Of course, it is ambiguous if Big Brother even exists or is merely an idea used by the Party to rally the citizens around, much like the belief that God is merely an idea created by man to rally around.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Big Brother is never seen in person, and it's ambiguous whether he even exists as an individual or is just an icon of the Party. While O'Brien is the only visible Big Bad, he outright states that even the Inner Party are slaves (at least to a certain degree) to the nebulous idea of Big Brother. He implies that the only real difference between the Inner and Outer Party is that the Inner Party has accepted losing their freedom and identity and thus can be fully trusted.
  • The Ghost: Big Brother himself never actually makes an in-person appearance in the novel; It's left ambiguous as to whether he ever even actually existed as a real person.
  • Ironic Nickname: Big Brother himself. The friendly, protective family member stereotype is so completely subsumed by the bullying one that, due to the novel's term being a pervasive Ascended Meme in its own right, the term on its own has no meaning: you can't tell whether someone's using it affectionately or making a reference to 1984 without context. Further perverted, as noted by Winston, in that the Party is deliberately breaking down family bonds, as can be seen with his neighbor being handed to the Thought Police by his children.
  • Invented Individual: Possibly.
  • Just the First Citizen: Big Brother is this, according to the Party's faux-egalitarian ideology. It's unclear if he's still alive, or if he ever existed at all, but, if he exists, he would be near-omnipotent.
  • Minor Major Character: Though the effects of his dictatorship are seen and felt throughout the entirety of the story, the man himself never makes an appearance (not counting his face on the telescreens), as the narrative focuses solely on Winston, an average drone. Of course, Big Brother could just be a vehicle for the Party and may or may not even exist — or have ever existed, for that matter.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: He is a clear expy of Josef Stalin, being the leader of the Soviet-like Oceania with a cult of personality.
  • Shadow Dictator: It's unclear whether he even exists as a real person; O'Brien describes him as "the embodiment of the Party" and says that he'll never die, implying that he doesn't.
  • Strawman Political: The entire point of the book. Big Brother and the Party are the Strawman Totalitarian. They are also a Strawman Communist or a Strawman Fascist or Strawman Theocrat depending on what aspects of Ingsoc you focus more on. There's a sort of Lampshade Hanging on this when O'Brien explains that, unlike previous totalitarian regimes in history, the Party is knowingly out for power for itself without any delusions of Utopia Justifies the Means.

    The Party 
The ruling body of Oceania. They answer to Big Brother and carry out his orders.
  • A God Am I: Collectivist variation. In Ingsoc's ideology, the Party is completely omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, existing at every point in space and time. O'Brien boasts that they, as the Party, are a collective Reality Warper that can distort and rewrite the past and even material reality itself, and everyone is forced to believe the absurdity lest they be tortured into believing it. Two plus two equals five if the Party wants it to. In George Orwell's own words:
    A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Everything the Party does is for the sake of endlessly acquiring more power for itself.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: A key component of doublethink is to "tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them." The Party has taught itself to believe its own propaganda while knowing it is a pack of lies.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: All the Party members. Winston eventually comes to the conclusion that the proles, ignorant as they may be, are morally better than Party members, because they haven't been dehumanized by the regime. He tells Julia: "The proles are human beings. We are not human."
  • Control Freak: The Party is a whole ideology of this. Thoughtcrime in general is the crime of not being controlled by the Party.
  • The Corrupter: The Party doesn't just kill dissenters: they brainwash then utilize them prior.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: In discussions with Winston during his "re-education," O'Brien drops all pretense that the Party is out for anything other than pure, unrestrained Power. As O'Brien explains:
    "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: Overlapping with Despotism Justifies the Means, the Party defines "power" as the ability to make their fellow man miserable.
  • The Evils of Free Will: This seems to be one of the few things that the Party actually believes in, besides their utterly cynical For the Evulz motivation. Remember, "Freedom is slavery" and "Proles and animals are free."
  • For the Evulz: O'Brien admits that unlike the older totalitarian movements of the early 20th century such as the Nazis and Communists, who still clothed their rhetoric as fighting for a utopian cause, the Party of Oceania is just nihilistic and completely unapologetic that it isn't looking forward to improving the world, only seeking power for the sake of power, oppression for the sake of oppression.
  • Ironic Nickname: The four Ministries of the Party have this. The Ministry of Truth (rewriting the past and spreading propaganda), the Ministry of Peace (the armed forces), the Ministry of Plenty (rationing to maintain Perpetual Poverty) and the Ministry of Love (torture and brainwashing).
  • Karma Houdini: Unsurprisingly, the Party are still in power at the end of the novel, with no indication that they can ever be stoppednote .
  • Kicked Upstairs: After getting arrested, tortured, and brainwashed, unorthodox Party members are allowed to hang around for several years, and are allowed to spend as much time drinking in the controversial Chestnut Tree Cafe as they can while given jobs which sound important but are really sinecures.
  • Knight Templar: Subverted. The party claims that they have the people's best interests at heart, but in reality, they pursue power for its own sake.
  • Moral Sociopathy: Probably the best way to describe the Party's guiding philosophy and the presumed mindset of the most stalwart Inner Party members. The pursuit of power for its own sake is viewed as the highest good of humanity, and the surest path to power is to unite and subsume one's own will within the will of the Party as a whole—and, in doing so, break those who won't get with the program utterly.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Like any dictatorship, the Party presents itself in propaganda as a benevolent force who wants to rule the citizens for their own good. Winston initially assumes that the Party's ruling ideology is some horribly corrupted attempt at the greater good mentioned in their propaganda, only for O'Brien to tell him that's all a lie and that the Party was founded solely to cause as much suffering as possible to as many people as possible because the only way the Inner Party members can be happy is if everyone else is miserable. O'Brien all but says there is no point or lofty intention behind their atrocities: the Party are just power-hungry thugs who love creating a society built on eternal subjugation.
    O'Brien: You understand well enough how the Party maintains itself in power. Now tell me why we cling to power. What is our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak.
    Winston Smith: You are ruling over us for our own good. You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore—
    [O'Brien electrocutes Winston for his wrong answer]
    O'Brien: That was stupid, Winston, stupid! You should know better than to say a thing like that. Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. [...] One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.
  • Peace & Love Incorporated: Minitrue, Miniplenty, Minipax, and Miniluv. The four ministries of Oceania are dedicated to the exact opposite: Minitrue is dedicated to propaganda and distorting the truth to make the state seem infallible, Miniplenty is dedicated to economic destruction and rationing resources, Minipax is dedicated to ensuring perpetual warfare to keep the people in a constant state of terror, and Miniluv is dedicated to ensuring that citizens only love Big Brother by wiping out all rival forms of love and loyalty.
  • The Philosopher King: Subverted. The philosophy embraced by the ruling Party is one of utter and complete self-interest.
  • Straw Hypocrite: The principle of "doublethink." Every Party member must believe that Ingsoc will win the war even if they know there is no war because their lives depend on it.
  • Strawman Political: The entire point of the book. Big Brother and the Party are the Strawman Totalitarian. They are also a Strawman Communist or a Strawman Fascist or Strawman Theocrat depending on what aspects of Ingsoc you focus more on. There's a sort of Lampshade Hanging on this when O'Brien explains that, unlike previous totalitarian regimes in history, the Party is knowingly out for power for itself without any delusions of Utopia Justifies the Means. Their sole concern is remaining in power, so in terms of government type they can only really be classified as a "nonspecific totalitarian" system.
  • Straw Nihilist: The few sincere beliefs they have — when not subjected to double thinking — consist of the notion that reality is meaningless outside their heads, and they only live for power for power's sake and its sadistic exertion over others, and that well intentioned extremists (and everyone else, for that matter) are deluded power-seekers.
  • Unreliable Expositor: The whole point is that the information given out by the Party is unreliable, and seeing how the only information the reader receives comes from the Party, nobody knows for sure any details about "the world" of 1984. Do Eurasia and Eastasia actually exist, or are they made up by the Party, which actually controls the whole world? Alternatively, does Oceania even exist, and does the Party actually control less than it says it does? The Party may not control any territory outside the British Isles. It may not even control the whole of the UK. Seeing as Winston never leaves London, we'll never know.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Subverted. Deep into his ordeal in the Ministry of Love, Winston comes to believe that despite the horrible atrocities the Party commits every day, its mission is this, but what the Party actually wants is only power.
  • Xanatos Gambit: One frequent interpretation of Goldstein's Brotherhood is that they're set up by the Party itself in order to identify possible dissidents; either people reject Goldstein and are loyal Party members, or they try to join Goldstein, alerting the Party to their treason. This also has precedent in real life, as the Cheka, forerunner of the KGB, did the same thing in the '20s when the Party was cementing its power over everyday life. Mao Zedong tried the same thing with the Hundred Flowers Campaign.

    Emmanuel Goldstein 
The principal enemy of Oceania and Big Brother. Though once a Party member, he betrayed them and formed his own secret organization dedicated to overthrowing the Party. He is the subject of the Two-Minutes-Hate, and generally everything that goes wrong is blamed on him.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Goldstein is a Jewish surname, and much about the man is reminiscent of Leon Trotsky, who was (ethnically) Jewish. It is also possible that he, as The Scapegoat of the Party, is meant as an allegory to the Nazi and Soviet anti-Semitic scapegoating of Jews.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's not clear if he's a real person or somebody invented by the Party as a boogeyman and a honeypot for potential dissidents.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: He's depicted by the Party as wearing glasses, possibly adding to his overly-intellectual appearance (though he lacks any in the movie adaptation).
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: The leader of the rebellious Brotherhood, though whether or not he actually exists is uncertain.
  • Invented Individual: It is very well possible he was a person invented by the Party to create a symbol of dissidence.
  • Meaningful Name: Emmanuel Goldstein from "Bronstein" (Trotsky's given surname) and anarchist Emma Goldman, who was prominent in Orwell's time.
  • Minor Major Character: He is the supposed leader of a rebel faction known as "The Brotherhood" who may or may not have ever actually existed, and either way has a limited presence in the story.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • He's pretty clearly based on Leon Trotsky. He even has a Jewish surname.
    • There are some theories that he was also inspired by anarchist Emma Goldman, due to their very similar-sounding names and Goldman's criticisms of the Soviet Union.
  • Satanic Archetype: The Party's Propaganda Machine portrays him as this (though the author George Orwell is more commonly thought to have based Goldstein on Leon Trotsky). According to the propaganda, Goldstein used to be a high-ranking lieutenant of Big Brother, the God figure, but he turned against his master and is currently the cause of everything bad that happens in Oceania. He has an insidious network of followers who help him carry out his evil bidding, and he likes to tempt good faithful Party members into sin — or thoughtcrime, Oceania's equivalent. Of course, since the Party is an incredibly Unreliable Expositor, we have no way of knowing the real story about Goldstein, or if he even exists In-Universe at all.
  • The Scapegoat: He and his supposed resistance are blamed for any problems the people under Big Brother and the Party suffer. Whether or not there's any truth to these accusations is never made clear, but given the nature of the book, it doesn't seem likely; in any case, there's absolutely no reason to believe he's to blame for everything that goes wrong for Oceania.
  • Strawman Has a Point: invoked A rare in-universe example; despite the party's constant vilification of him, many of the things he advocates for are entirely reasonable, like more freedom for Oceania's people.
  • Strawman Political: In-Universe, he's presented as one, and it's implied he might merely exist as one. He's also used to attract potential malcontents who can be re-educated.

    The Brotherhood 
The resistance against Oceania, led by Emmanuel Goldstein.
  • Resistance as Planned: The entire Brotherhood is implied to be simply a way for citizens to channel their anger and for dissonant thinkers to be funnelled into a Party-controlled subsystem. Winston's struggle to find like-minded rebels against the Party leads him to O'Brien, who is in fact an Inner Party member who provides Winston with The Book to structure and organise his rebellion.
  • The Unfettered: Part of the oath The Brotherhood apparently makes new members swear is that they will do anything, absolutely anything — even, say, throw acid in a child's face — if it becomes necessary to overthrow the Party. The Reveal that this was actually part of a Party sting operation turns it into a Deconstruction — when Winston attempts to assert moral superiority over O'Brien and the Party, the latter just plays a tape of Winston swearing his oath, specifically the "acid in a child's face" part. Downplayed, though, in that O'Brien seems to think that the point was barely worth making.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Winston and Julia agree to do whatever the Brotherhood requires them to topple the Party, including distributing addictive drugs, giving others sexually transmitted diseases, or even throwing sulfuric acid in a child's face.

    Mr. Charrington 
A widower and owner of a prole shop who sells a blank diary book to Winston and later rents a room without a telescreen to him and Julia.
  • Bad Samaritan: Is anything but the kindly old shopkeeper that he appears to be. Presumably, his shop's sole purpose is to lure dissidents into a deceptively safe space so the Party can spy on them more easily, which Winston and Julia don't find out about until it's too late.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: It never crosses Winston's mind that Charrington, the seemingly quiet, friendly little man he and Julia rent their room from, is actually a member of the Thought Police.
  • Evil All Along: Turns out the friendly old man who rents out a room to Winston was a Thought Police officer from the start. Presumably, he only rents out said room so that he can spy on potential dissidents.
  • False Friend: To Winston. He rents out a room to him and seems to be sympathetic to Winston and Julia, but eventually arrests them and reveals he was spying on them through a hidden telescreen behind a picture in the room he rented out and reporting everything to the Party.
  • Ironic Name: "Charrington" sounds like charity, and while he does rent out a room for Winston and Julia, he turns out to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and a Thought Police officer all along.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He seems to be on Winston's side and facilitates his and Julia's acts against the Party, but was actually luring them into a trap so he, a Thought Police officer, can capture him.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: “Mr. Charrington,” a Thought Police officer who pretends to be an old, harmless prole shopkeeper under that alias. The real him is so different that it’s disturbing.
  • Spotting the Thread: When pretending to be a prole, he is relatively intellectual and well-spoken, despite the rest of the book presenting the proles as basically trashy morons who speak in Funetik Aksents. Unfortunately, Winston never catches on until it's too late.

Portrayed by: Donald Pleasence (1954 BBC TV Adaptation and 1956 film Adaptation)
One of Winston's coworkers in the Ministry of Truth. He deals with developing and fine-tuning Newspeask to suit the purposes of the Party in censoring language.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Syme was given the first name of 'Harold' in the 1984 adaptation. Before that, he was referred to as "Syme. B" in the 1954 BBC Adaptation.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Winston. Both are fully aware of the Party's ways of controlling people. However, unlike Winston, Syme is fine with it and views it as a good thing.
  • He Knows Too Much: Syme gets purged because he fully understands that the purpose of Newspeak is to eliminate the ability to articulate dissent, even though he is a fanatical devotee of Big Brother who finds this completely acceptable and right. Though some readers have speculated that he was actually invited into the Inner Party and given a new identity.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: He expresses nothing but loyalty to his party's ideology. Guess how that Party rewards him?
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Even though he's a vociferous supporter of the regime, he "sees too clearly and speaks too plainly," and simply disappears one day.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Syme, who Winston sees as too intelligent for the Party to allow to run free, is also a member of the "Chess Committee"... until his name abruptly disappears from their list of members.
  • Too Clever by Half: For someone who sees through all the propaganda and understands what the government is doing, he isn't smart enough to keep it to himself.

    Tom Parsons 
One of Winston's coworkers in the Ministry of Truth. Fat, dumb, and loyal to the Party.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: The 1984 film cuts out the other Miniluv prisoners, so Parsons is the one who begs the guards to send another prisoner (Winston) to Room 101 instead of himself.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: Parsons is arrested after his daughter (allegedly) hears him whispering "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep. Parsons is such a faithful Party member that he's actually proud of her for doing this.
  • Fat Bastard: Notably averted, as despite his blind obedience to the Party, Parsons is pretty affable.
  • Gullible Lemmings: Never once in the whole narrative does Parsons question anything the Party says or does. On top of that, when he is arrested, Parsons makes no effort to protest his (immense) loyalty and/or deny that he committed the thoughtcrime that his daughter has accused him of. His only worry is whether he can continue to be of use to the Party even as he believes that he is facing deportation to a forced labour camp.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Parsons expresses nothing but admiration for his daughter when she denounces him to the Thought Police for whispering "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep. It doesn't even occur to him that his daughter might have made the whole thing up, with him actually having said nothing of the kind.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He plays this to an extreme: a jovial individual who worships his totalitarian state, so much so that he is ecstatic to be taken away by the secret police for his seditious thoughts.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: A likable simpleton that serves to foreshadow what happens to dissidents, real or imaginary. Along with Syme's example, it really shows how totalitarians will always find some excuse to purge you, no matter how enthusiastically you toe the line.
  • Stout Strength: Parsons is about as heavy as one can get in Oceania (it helps that he actually likes the unpalatable food), and he makes up for his lack of intelligence with sheer physical strength and energy.

    Eurasia and Eastasia 
The two other nations in the world. Initially, Oceania is at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia, but the alliances reverse. State propaganda initially demonizes Eurasia and claims that Goldstein is working with them, but after the switch, the new Party line is that Goldstein is working with Eastasia.
  • Ambiguously Evil: We never actually see either of them, so it is hard to say what morality they are. That Eurasia fights against Oceania at first might make them seem good, but then they ally with Oceania while Eastasia turns on them, hinting they may not be so selfless or good. Its suggested by Goldstein's book that all of them are evil and in cahoots using the war to control their citizens. However, the fact that INGSOC wrote the book makes it decidedly unreliable.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Eastasia seems to believe in this, as its philosiphy is called "Obliteration of the Self".
  • The Ghost: Much like Big Brother, we never see anyone from either of the two nations, making it hard to say if they even exist. All the information about them comes from either INGSOC propaganda or Goldstein's book, which was fabricated by O'Brien.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Party portrays them as such, with Goldstein being the primary enemy who is supported by whichever one they're fighting at the moment. Assuming they exist, they qualify out-of-universe, as they wage war on Oceania and help to keep the oppressive status quo going, with it being hinted they are doing this intentionally to keep power, but they never actually appear.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: As much as either one can be considered a face or heel. Eurasia is initially the enemy of Oceania, and Eastasia the ally, but right in the middle of a speech, the alliance shifts, and Eastasia is now the aggressor while Eurasia is the ally. It is heavily indicated that this is not the first time the sides have abruptly switched like this, nor will it be the last, and that the three countries are actually working together to keep the populace on their toes.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The "Blind Idiot" Translation of Eastasia's governing philosophy (mentioned in Goldstein's book): "Death-Worship." Its proper translation ("Obliteration of the Self") isn't much more comforting.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Oceania may be bad, but it's claimed in Goldstein's book that the two other superstates are almost exactly identical to it, with the story implying that this is one of the things the book is right about. They are always at war with each other, with nobody ever winning. If you live in one of the areas the three states are always fighting over, you are a slave in both body and mind to whoever has power over the area at the current time. It is heavily implied that an unspoken gentleman's agreement exists between the three states that they will never make a serious effort to destroy the others — this is the reason no state ever uses mass conscription or WMDs — because the war is part of the Evil Plan for the three of them to keep the standard of living down and mobilize the hatred of the population. Goldstein's book even mentions that Oceania could probably conquer all of Europe up to the Polish frontier, or that Eastasia could likely seize Australia, but that neither state does so for fear of upsetting the Balance of Power. In accordance with this, the fighting — if any is even happening — is confined to a territory roughly encompassing most of Africa (apart from the portion controlled by Oceania), the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia; the open oceans; and the polar caps.

    Comrade Ogilvy 
A fictional war hero made up by Winston, whose "obituary" is published in the newspaper. He was an ideal citizen of Oceania and member of the Party.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: At nine he was a troop leader of the Spies; at seventeen he was a district organizer of the Junior Anti-Sex League.
  • Celibate Hero: Granted, he is only a hero in the eyes of the Party but he took a vow of celibacy, "believing marriage and the care of a family to be incompatible with a twenty-four-hour-a-day devotion to duty."
  • Early Personality Signs: From birth, he was so devoted to serving Big Brother that, as a three-year-old, the only toys he would play with were a drum, toy gun, and helicopter.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: For a given value of "heroic". He died in action at 23 while being pursued by enemy jet planes, choosing to weight his body with his machine gun and leap out of his helicopter while carrying important despatches.
  • Indubitably Uninteresting Individual: He was the perfect soldier who did not drink, smoke, practice any hobbies (except a daily hour of exercise in the gym), or have friends or family. By the standards of the Party, this lifestyle is considered ideal and even enviable.
  • Invented Individual: He doesn't actually exist and was made up by Winston as a model of the perfect soldier.
  • Single-Issue Wonk: "He had no subjects of conversation except the principles of Ingsoc, and no aim in life except the defeat of the Eurasian enemy and the hunting-down of spies, saboteurs, thoughtcriminals, and traitors generally."
  • The Teetotaler: He neither smoked nor drank, presumably because doing so would be detrimental to his health, making him an unfit soldier and less able to serve Big Brother and the Party.
  • Toy-Based Characterization: Winston writes that, even as a small child, he refused to play with any toys except a drum, toy gun, and helicopter. To the Oceanians, it is a sign of how selflessly devoted he was to serving Big Brother. From the reader's point of view, it is a symptom of the mindless worship of Big Brother and the Party that is ingrained into every citizen of Oceania from the moment of birth.