Perhaps one of the most revolutionary of novels, both at the time it was put into writing and today, 1984 is a study in human behavior when confronted by power, war, and authority. The character list, in and of itself, is also quite impressive.
Consider the following description of the main characters in the novel:
1. Winston Smith
The protagonist, Winston Smith couldn’t be more against the Party. As such, he finds the most innovative albeit unobtrusive methods to show his rebellion all the while hopping that they will largely go unnoticed. The motive behind all of this resistance lies in his innate desire to remain human, feel like a man, and think independently even in the face of the most inhumane of circumstances.
A minor member in the ruling party in a future London, Winston is described as fatalistic, intellectual, contemplative, frail, and think 39 year old. His views are totally against totalitarian control as well as the enforced repression that has become the chief characteristic of his country’s government. This leads to his revolutionary dreams and actions.
The protagonist’s chief lover, Julia is described as a lustrously handsome dark-haired girl with an upcoming career in the Fiction Department, Ministry of Truth. Her character is such that she is a bit of a nymphomaniac considering her claims about the many affairs she has had with various members of the Party.
However, Julia comes across as being optimistic and pragmatic. Her rebellion against the Party seems to be personal and at a smaller scale than Winston’s – it is also designed for her personal enjoyment with no ideological motive behind it.
Winston’s chief ally and love-interested throughout the novel, she too is against the doctrines of the Party but is more interested in breaking rules rather than completely overhauling society.
Sophisticated, powerful, and mysterious, O’Brien is a core member of the Inner Party. Winston, as such, believes that he holds membership within the Brotherhood – a legendary group that is completely against the party.
A bit dark and concealing of his personality, O’Brien is both the protagonist’s chief enemy and friend. He is also the reason why Winston ultimately gets indoctrinated into the Party.
As the Party’s personification, O’Brien serves as the conduit which the author uses to describe the Party, what it stands for, as well as the doctrines and ideals it follows.
4. Big Brother
With no other name apart from Big Brother, this is the god-like, all-powerful, eternal, and all-present head of the Party. Intangible at best, no face is used to describe Big Brother.
Although he never actually appears anywhere in the book – and it is highly likely that he doesn’t even exist – he reigns supreme as the perceived head of Oceania. He is also extremely important going by the fact that Winston sees Big Brother’s face in all the posters exclaiming BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING. The image is also stamped on the broadcast of telescreens and on coins.
Notwithstanding, Big Brother haunts and taunts Winston by filling him with fascination and hatred in equal measure.
As with any other novel of such depth and magnanimity, 1984 does have a number of other characters. These include Mr. Charrington, Syme, Parsons, Emmanuel Goldstein, and Ampleforth.
The above-mentioned and described characters form the core cast in 1984. Their personalities are as varied as are their motivations, ideals, personal values, and outlook on life.