Winston Smith

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This article is regarding the character in Nineteen Eighty-Four. For the artist, see Winston Smith (artist). For the athlete, see Winston Smith (track).
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Peter Cushing as Winston Smith in the 1954 BBC Television adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four, with Donald Pleasence as Syme.

Winston Smith is the protagonist of George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. His name has become a metaphor for the man in the street, the unwitting and innocent victim of political machination. In the book, Winston is a clerk for the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to rewrite historical documents so that they match the current party line, which changes on a daily basis.

In the novel, Winston is lured into joining a secret organisation whose aim is to undermine the dictatorship of "Big Brother". He does not realise that he is being set up by O'Brien, a government agent. When captured and tortured, he eventually betrays his only accomplice, Julia, the woman he loves, and discovers that the underground movement, The Brotherhood, to which they believed themselves to have joined, may not, in fact, exist.

The character was born about 1945 (the same year as Orwell's son, Richard) and was probably named after Winston Churchill. Given Oceania's rewriting of history, it seems quite possible that Smith would never have heard of Churchill.

The character of Smith has appeared on television and in film in various adaptations of the novel. In the BBC's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) he was played by Peter Cushing, and eleven years later in another BBC adaptation, by David Buck. In the 1956 film, Edmond O'Brien took the role and, in the more faithful adaptation 1984 (1984), John Hurt played Winston. In a dramatisation broadcast on BBC Home Service radio in 1965, Patrick Troughton voiced the part.

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