Winston Smith
Winston Smith is a fictional character
Character (arts)
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

 and the protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 of George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

. The character was employed by Orwell as an everyman
In literature and drama, the term everyman has come to mean an ordinary individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify easily, and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances...

 in the setting of the novel, a "central eye ... [the reader] can readily identify with". Winston Smith works as a clerk in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth
Ministry of Truth
The Ministry of Truth is one of the four ministries that govern Oceania in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four...

, where his job is to rewrite historical documents
Historical revisionism (negationism)
Historical revisionism is either the legitimate scholastic re-examination of existing knowledge about a historical event, or the illegitimate distortion of the historical record such that certain events appear in a more or less favourable light. For the former, i.e. the academic pursuit, see...

 so they match the constantly changing current party line
Party line (politics)
In politics, the line or the party line is an idiom for a political party or social movement's canon agenda, as well as specific ideological elements specific to the organization's partisanship. The common phrase toeing the party line describes a person who speaks in a manner that conforms to his...

. This involves revising newspaper articles and doctoring photographs—mostly to remove "unpersons," people who have fallen foul of the party. Because of his proximity to the mechanics of rewriting history, Winston Smith nurses doubts about the Party and its monopoly on truth. Whenever Winston appears in front of a telescreen
Telescreens are most prominently featured in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, although notably they have an earlier appearance in the 1936 Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times...

, he is referred to as "6079 Smith W".

Winston Smith, lured into joining a secret organization whose aim is to undermine the dictatorship of "Big Brother", is actually being set up by O'Brien
O'Brien (1984)
O'Brien is a fictional character and the main antagonist in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The protagonist Winston Smith, living in a dystopian society governed by the Party, feels strangely attracted to Inner Party member O'Brien. Orwell never reveals O'Brien's first name.Winston...

, a government agent
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

. Captured and tortured, he eventually betrays his accomplice and lover, Julia
Julia (1984)
Julia is a fictional character in George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Her last name is never given in the novel but she is called Dixon in the 1954 BBC TV production....

. His freedom is finally and completely stripped when he accepts the assertion 2 + 2 = 5, a phrase that has entered the lexicon to represent obedience to ideology over rational truth or fact. Winston's death at the hands of the party is not depicted in the conclusion of the novel (aside from the simple statement "the long hoped-for bullet was entering his brain"), but is deeply foreshadowed at the start of the novel.

Orwell conceived of the character sometime around 1945. His first name comes from Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and the common surname Smith
Smith (surname)
Smith is an English family name originating in England. It is the most common surname in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, the second most common surname in Canada, and the fifth most common surname in Ireland...

. He was also partly inspired by the character of Rubashov from Arthur Koestler
Arthur Koestler
Arthur Koestler CBE was a Hungarian author and journalist. Koestler was born in Budapest and, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria...

's novel Darkness at Noon
Darkness at Noon
Darkness at Noon is a novel by the Hungarian-born British novelist Arthur Koestler, first published in 1940...

, especially his response and reaction to his interrogation.

The character of Smith has appeared on both television and film in adaptations of the novel. The first actor to play the role was David Niven
David Niven
James David Graham Niven , known as David Niven, was a British actor and novelist, best known for his roles as Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days and Sir Charles Lytton, a.k.a. "the Phantom", in The Pink Panther...

 in an August 27, 1949 radio adaptation for NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's NBC University Theater. In BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

's Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four (TV programme)
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a British television adaptation of the novel of the same name by George Orwell, originally broadcast on BBC Television in December 1954. The production proved to be hugely controversial, with questions asked in Parliament and many viewer complaints over its supposed...

(1954) Smith was played by Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing
Peter Wilton Cushing, OBE was an English actor, known for his many appearances in Hammer Films, in which he played the handsome but sinister scientist Baron Frankenstein and the vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing, amongst many other roles, often appearing opposite Christopher Lee, and occasionally...

, and in a 1965 BBC adaptation by David Buck
David Buck
David Buck was an English actor. His most famous role was in the animated film The Lord of the Rings , for which he provided the voice of Gimli...

. In the 1956 film
1984 (1956 film)
1984 is a 1956 film based on the novel of the same name by George Orwell. This is the first cinema rendition of the story, directed by Michael Anderson, and starring Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasence, Jan Sterling, and Michael Redgrave...

, Edmond O'Brien
Edmond O'Brien
Edmond O'Brien was an American actor who is perhaps best remembered for his role in D.O.A. and his Oscar winning role in The Barefoot Contessa...

 performed the role. In a 1965 dramatisation broadcast on BBC Home Service
BBC Home Service
The BBC Home Service was a British national radio station which broadcast from 1939 until 1967.-Development:Between the 1920s and the outbreak of The Second World War, the BBC had developed two nationwide radio services, the BBC National Programme and the BBC Regional Programme...

, Patrick Troughton
Patrick Troughton
Patrick George Troughton was an English actor most widely known for his roles in fantasy, science fiction and horror films, particularly in his role as the second incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running British science-fiction television series Doctor Who, which he played from 1966 to 1969,...

 voiced the part. John Hurt
John Hurt
John Vincent Hurt, CBE is an English actor, known for his leading roles as John Merrick in The Elephant Man, Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Mr. Braddock in The Hit, Stephen Ward in Scandal, Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant and An Englishman in New York...

 played Smith in the 1984 film adaptation, 1984
Nineteen Eighty-Four (film)
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a 1984 British science fiction film, based upon George Orwell's novel of the same name, following the life of Winston Smith in Oceania, a country run by a totalitarian government...

. Coincidentally, Hurt also played a Big Brother-style figure named Adam Sutler in the 2005 film V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta (film)
V for Vendetta is a 2005 dystopian thriller film directed by James McTeigue and produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, who also wrote the screenplay. It is an adaptation of the V for Vendetta comic book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd...


External links

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