What are your feelings about Mr. Charrington and the part he plays in the novel? Mr. Charrington is a fairly older man with a cockney accent whom we meet at the start of 1984. We have many mixed emotions about him as at the start we like him, and by the end, we realize he is extremely “two-faced”. We first meet Mr. Charrington at the start of the book when Winston recalls buying his diary from a rough neighbourhood in the Prole district. The first description Orwell gives us of Mr. Charrington is a man with an “unclean yet friendly smell.” In my opinion, this is quite a positive remark because unclean is a very positive word compared to its synonyms such as dirty. Plus, grandparents stereotypically have a weird smell but are also stereotypically friendly.
This description makes us relate to him, and we quickly accept him, as he seems normal in a very abnormal environment. Furthermore, the fact that he is helping Winston to rebel draws us to him. Orwell also describes his voice as “very soft,” making him seem friendly and approachable. He seems down to Earth. Winston and Mr. Charrington seem to click very early. Mr. Charrington opens up to Winston about his business and private life, “between you and me, the antique trade is just about finished.” Orwell depicts him as a very accepting man. Although they have only known each other for a matter of minutes, he has already opened up to Winston and seemingly accepted him by saying “between you and me”.
He trusts him. Mr. Charrington then shows Winston the room upstairs, “we lived here until my wife died.” There is a sense of mutual trust as he has shown Winston a very personal space. We also feel sorry and empathetic for him as he is widowed. Although we are lead to like Mr. Charrington at the start of the essay, he becomes the enemy towards the end. Obviously, the main reason for this is that he rented Winston a room with a concealed telescreen, which ultimately led to his and Julia’s downfall and capture, “you are the dead said an iron voice behind them. It was behind the picture”. He then enters the room, and Orwell says, “his hair, almost white hair, had turned black”.
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This is a very clever metaphor as white symbolizes hope and friendliness, and black is the colour of death and evil. As soon as we read that quote, we become less attached to Mr. Charrington as he almost becomes less friendly. “He gave Winston a sharp single glance, as though verifying his identity” The word sharp seems cold and uninviting, and the way Orwell uses the word glance, which in my opinion is an untrustworthy world, makes us unlike him even more. “It occurred to Winston that for the first time, that he was staring at a member of the Thought Police”.
All the way through the novel, the two main enemies are Big Brother and the Thought Police, and to find out that Mr. Charrington is definitely a member is the final straw, in my opinion. My feelings are that Mr. Charrington is the ultimate enemy for Winston in 1984. Mr. Charrington symbolizes the amount of distrust and how a seemingly honest and helpful man can be so untrustworthy and deceitful, how this character change is just another reminder of the society of Oceania in 1984.
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