Orwell’s Bugman in 1984

Institute for Virtue Research

Orwell’s main characters are difficult to fit into familiar archetypes. Not only did Orwell push modernism to its limits by describing the complicated and often unglamorous struggles of people in foreign or dystopian settings, but his characters are also highly flawed. Few, if any, are traditionally-defined heroes: someone with relatable or admirable intentions who encounters a problem and must transform to find a resolution. Instead, his protagonists often end up worse off and defeated by their circumstances. 1984 epitomizes this storytelling theme. Winston, the protagonist, could at best be described as a beaten hero. More aptly, through this novel, we can also hone in on another archetype, one less discussed but more relevant for the modern era – the bugman.

The colloquial term, recent in both usage and typical application, has long roots in literary history. In Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky remarks, “I could not become anything; neither…

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