Winston Smith As A Tragic Hero
Spiderman, Macbeth, Mother Teresa, and Princess Diana. These well-known people or fictional characters are all considered, by society to be heroes. They are heroes through a positive light and negative one as well. Some continued being a hero up until their death, others had a specific flaw that caused their downfall. This is what differentiates a __ hero and a tragic one. A tragic hero, according to Aristotle is a man of an elevated social stature who falls from his or her position through the effect of a tragic flaw. A tragic hero also experiences a sense of recognition that he has contributed to his downfall through his own actions. In the novel 1984, the author, George Orwell, creates a fictional character, Winston Smith, who is clearly a tragic hero. 1984 presents an imaginary future where a totalitarian state controls every aspect of people’s lives, even their thoughts. Winston, the main character, struggles to face the state and eventually dies trying. Winston Smith, is definitely a tragic hero, for he is a man of a high class, with a tragic flaw, that sparks his downfall in the end.
The protagonist of 1984 is Winston Smith. Winston is an outer-party clerk for the Ministry of Truth. His job is to rewrite historical documents so that they always match with what the party claims to be true. Winston is not part of the inner-party, which means he does not have access to the real information of the party. However, he is not a part of the third world society either. The third-class of the state, which are called the proles, live in suburban filth. Winston on the other hand, lives in a higher class area with a better financial situation. His mediocre class in society, allows him to be in the eyes of Aristotle, a tragic hero.
A tragic hero is mainly characterized by a flaw that encompasses the hero. At first, this trait may be inevitable, but it is the hero’s personality that allows the flaw to take over and play a crucial part in their down fall. In Winston’s case, his errors in life were because of his good-natured character. Except for the party, Winston generally saw the good in people. Because of this kind and friendly spirit, he allowed himself to form risky relationships. The first Smith developed was a loving, and sexual relationship with a fellow inner party member. Her name was Julia. From the moment she introduced herself and passed him a note with the words, “I love you,” written across it, he was hooked. They began to sneak around to find time for one another, something that the party considered illegal. Overall, she was a great distraction to him. Before he had met her, he was on the path to destroying the party. He had the mindset, determination and intelligence to attempt to investigate how to overthrow the state. After meeting her, he became weak. Winston began to fantasize about her, and no longer focus his thoughts onto the destruction of the party. As well, since Winston became enthralled in his love and happiness with Julia, he became foolish. In order to keep their love alive, he formed other non-secure relationships. Winston met with Mr. Charrington, a man who was a seemingly an older prole, a man of no harm, who rented them a room where they could engage in sexual relations. Winston befriended the older man, and trusted him, with the most important thing: his life. Winston did the same with a man named O’Brien. He told O’Brien of his thought crimes. He confided in O’Brien, and revealed all the illegal things that he had been doing. As a result of Winston’s love with Julia it caused him to be naive and foolish, causing his utmost downfall.
Winston’s foolish mistakes lead to great pain for Winston and his lover, Julia. Unfortunately, for Winston, both Mr. Charrington, and O’Brien worked for the inner-party. They had been scamming Winston together, and reported Winston’s illegal acts and thought crime to the crime police. Subsequently this lead to two of Winston’s downfalls. The first, was the torture that betraying the party brought forth. Winston went through months of pain and brutality. This was the first thing that broke his hope and sprit. The second was his betrayal of Julia. Earlier in the novel, Smith and Julia were discussing about what would occur when they were inevitably caught. Julia stated that, “everybody always confesses. You can’t help it. They torture you.” But Smith argued that, “confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn’t matter: only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you – that would be the real betrayal.” The two agreed on this. Later on, however, in room 101, the torture room, O’Brien was about to put rats on Winston’s face. To avoid the pain, Winston screamed, “Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her.”(p.300) He had truly betrayed her. Winston came to finally realize this when he spoke with Julia after room 101. The narrator speaks of Winston’s betrayal, “He had meant it. He had not merely said it, he had wished it.” This truly crushed Winston’s character. Not only was Winston brutally tortured to the point where he now believed and followed the party dutifully, but the pain had caused him to lose the one thing in life he had truly enjoyed: his relationship with Julia. Losing the little freewill he originally had, and loosing his rebellion with his lover, cause Winston to lose himself. He lost his character, his hope of destroying the party, he lost his love of life. Perhaps, Winston didn’t die like other tragic heroes, but he lost his soul, he finally became what the party wanted, a robot.
Despite Winston’s fall, he was hero. After all, he was a man who strongly believed in a free life, in a world where the Party had robbed everyone of any meaningful opportunity of life. He stood up to the party. Winston committed thought crime, he found love, and expressed it to. When being tortured, he put up a fight, he stuck to his beliefs, until humanly possible. Inevitably, the party broke Winston down. They pain induced him so much that they had finally had a hold on his brain. With the pain, they also forced him to betray his lover, and thus take her emotionally away from him forever. Winston Smith was a hero, that came to a downfall. But, what would have occurred, if he had not had a downfall, would if have destroyed the party, afterall?