Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984

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  • 0:04 Introduction to 1984
  • 1:15 Who Is Emmanuel Goldstein?
  • 2:56 Goldstein Versus Big Brother
  • 4:01 Goldstein's Brotherhood & Book
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Liz Breazeale
George Orwell's dystopian novel ''1984'' remains an integral part of literary study, academic analysis and popular culture because of its compelling plot and fascinating characters. Learn about the enigmatic character Emmanuel Goldstein in this lesson.

Introduction to 1984

George Orwell's hugely popular novel 1984 tells the story of one man attempting to fight an oppressive government in a futuristic dystopia. A dystopia is a fictional society in which the citizens are miserable due to some factor, whether it's a totalitarian government, human-killing androids, or zombies.

Winston Smith, the protagonist of 1984, attempts to fight the super-oppressive and controlling Ingsoc Inner Party that controls the superstate Oceania, where Winston lives. The Inner Party is made up of a tiny group of men who run everything from behind the scenes. Their systematic oppression of the citizens of Oceania means people have no privacy and are constantly monitored by telescreens, which are televisions that can both be watched and can watch the viewer in return.

Citizens must be completely devoted to the Party, and they basically must worship the symbol of Ingsoc: Big Brother. Big Brother is a mustachioed man appearing on almost all propaganda in Oceania. He probably was made up by the Party. So is there any opposition at all to Ingsoc or to Big Brother?

Who Is Emmanuel Goldstein?

Emmanuel Goldstein is the number one enemy of the state and a mysterious, enigmatic former Party member who went rogue at some point in the past. This is all very good and interesting, but here's the thing about Emmanuel Goldstein: he may or may not actually exist. He may, in fact, be a creation of the Party's propaganda machine, created in order to drum up support and affection for Big Brother. This means you never get a clear, fully-formed picture of the guy throughout the novel.

Although Goldstein was once a close ally of Big Brother, it's rumored that he split from his former comrade shortly after the Party took power and fled to go into hiding. There's also a rumor that, after the split, Goldstein formed a Brotherhood to oppose Big Brother. The Brotherhood supposedly fight for freedom from the oppressive government. Goldstein is portrayed as the enemy of Big Brother and, therefore, the enemy of all right-thinking Oceanians. According to Ingsoc propaganda, Goldstein is a wormy, slimy, good-for-nothing traitor. In artist renderings, which appear on telescreens across Oceania, he's ugly too. Not only this, but Goldstein is used as a scapegoat. Someone betrays Party secrets? Must be Goldstein's fault!

There's got to be a catch, though, right? It all seems too perfect. If you're thinking that, then you're absolutely correct in your suspicions. Goldstein is supposedly the head of an anti-Party, anti-Big Brother group that may or may not actually exist. He's supposedly written an anti-Ingsoc book that may or may not be churned out by the Party in order to catch traitors. He's supposedly this sinister, evil man, bent on throwing out Big Brother.

Goldstein Versus Big Brother

Goldstein is portrayed as Big Brother's complete opposite. He's the foremost enemy of the state, and is to be hated and derided by everyone in Oceania. Big Brother, on the other hand, is portrayed as a kindly, gentle, big brother type, who only wants to protect his citizens. That's the thinking behind scapegoating Goldstein: make the Oceanians hate and fear Goldstein so that they won't realize it is actually Big Brother who should be hated and feared. Smart move, guys.

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