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The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a Party member who, due to his sensitive nature and honesty, is unable to come to terms with the society created by Big Brother's ruling Party. Winston rebels against the controls imposed on individual freedom, questions the deliberate falsification of facts, especially historical facts, and believes that human nature will triumph over all the lies, deception, and control of this authoritarian government.
The antagonist, Big Brother, is symbolized in O'Brien. O'Brien imposes the views of the Party on Winston through force and torture. He makes the hero confess his mistakes and accept everything the Party says or does unquestioningly.
The climax of the story occurs when Winston and Julia are caught and arrested by the Thought Police. This takes place in the last chapter of the second part of the novel. From the moment of their capture, their fate is doomed. They are punished for plotting against and breaking the rules imposed by the Party. After severe torture and brainwashing, Winston is eventually killed.
The novel ends in total tragedy for Winston. He is tortured and brainwashed into accepting the ideas of the Party. After being "freed" from prison, he is killed by the Thought Police when he is shot with a thought-bullet; even in death, he is controlled by the Party, for he dies with a feeling of deep reverence for Big Brother.