The Role of Big Brother in 1984

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What role does big brother play in the novel and what effect does he have on Winston? In the novel 1984, written by George Orwell, “Big Brother” is the face of the party in control of the dystopian society of Oceania. Big Brother plays the role of what might be considered the most important character in the novel; without this character, the government would have much less control over the public. It is because of Big Brother that Winston and Julia get themselves a private apartment, and it is also because of Big Brother that they get caught later in the novel. He is shown to be “larger than life” as Winston Smith is told that Big Brother exists as the embodiment of the party, and can never die. In a sense, Big Brother symbolizes the party as it is for the citizens of Oceania- the title “Big Brother” connotes someone to feel safe with as well as look up to, but it also connotes someone to fear and never go against. However, he is also a very vague public manifestation and face of the party, acting as a metaphor for the power held by the party, as the citizens do not know whether or not he actually exists, or who really rules Oceania and what life is like for them as opposed to what it is like for the citizens. Later, we learn that Big Brother is simply a symbolism of the party that the government has created and brought to life in order to invoke fear and maintain control over the people. He and the telescreens are an open threat that no one can escape. We could say that Big Brother was created as a scapegoat for the government- it uses him as an intimidating law enforcer to ensure loyalty to the guidelines of life in Oceania, because he is constantly watching everyone, as well as someone who no citizen would dare to go against.

One of the key themes related to “Big Brother” and his effect on the citizens of Oceania, such as Winston Smith, is memory and the idea of a distorted reality. Winston remembers Big Brother as having arisen in the 1960s, but records...
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