In George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984, the character of Ampleforth plays an important role in the story. He is a minor character but he has a significant impact on the characters and the plot.

The Definitive Glossary for 1984

Ampleforth is one of the many characters in 1984 that Orwell mentions a few times but does not spend large portions of the book exploring. Ampleforth’s job and personality are briefly alluded to, but the most memorable parts of his inclusion in the novel come in the final pages when he, along with Winston Smith, are arrested and held in the Ministry of Love. 

Who is Ampleforth? 

Ampleforth is a middle-aged man known to be friendly, polite, and kind-hearted; he has an interest in poetry and has an immense knowledge of how words were used in the past, known as Oldspeak (in contrast to Newspeak). 

Much of what readers know about Ampleforth comes from assumption. Because of his interest in poetry, readers can assume he has a broader interest in literature, language, and even free speech. 


Ampleforth is a middle-aged man who Winston Smith finds to be somewhat irritating due to his nervous habits.

He is somewhat absent-minded and forms an attachment to Winston Smith that the latter doesn’t understand. When it’s lunchtime, Ampleforth looks for Smith as a companion. 

Readers can interpret a certain obliviousness to the Party’s agenda that contrasts Winston Smith’s acute awareness of the Party’s doublethink and manipulation.

Though Ampleforth is aware of the Party’s tendency to rewrite history and twist language, he does not take it as seriously as Winston does. He is often seen making small jokes about language or word games with his colleagues, showing his whimsical side.


Ampleforth works at the Ministry of Truth in the Records Department (the same place where the protagonist, Winston Smith, works). Ampleforth is responsible for altering and rewriting documents to conform with the Party’s ever-changing policies, specifically poetry. He has to make sure that any poem previously written in Oldspeak or containing ideas objectionable to the party is changed. This means rewriting poems to fit the message the Party wants to share. 

He has to carefully review documents to ensure they are politically correct and up-to-date. He also has to be able to think critically and understand the politics behind the Party’s decisions. Ampleforth must also ensure that documents are written in the best possible way, so they can effectively communicate the Party’s message.

Unlike Winston Smith, Ampleforth seems to enjoy his job. He has a passion for that Winston does not. When readers meet Ampleforth, he’s working on rewriting the collected works of Rudyard Kipling. He’s arrested for not removing a word from a Kipling poem. He left the word “God” in the poem ‘McAndrew’s Hymn’ after being unable to find another word to rhyme with “rod” at the end of the previous line.


‘To tell you the truth — ‘ He sat down awkwardly on the bench opposite Winston. ‘There is only one offence, is there not?’ he said.

These lines are found near the novel’s end after both Ampleforth and Smith have been arrested. Smith has just asked Ampleforth what the offense was that he was arrested for, and rather than go into specifics (he does so later), he says that there is “only one offense” for one might be arrested for. That being an act that goes against the Party. This could be something physical or even a thoughtcrime

Ampleforth looked startled again. ‘I had hardly thought about it. They arrested me — it could be two days ago — perhaps three.’ His eyes flitted round the walls, as though he half expected to find a window somewhere. ‘There is no difference between night and day in this place. I do not see how one can calculate the time.’

Later on, in the same conversation with Smith, he struggles to think about what day it is or what time of day it is. Smith asks him, ‘Do you know what time of day it is?” and Ampleforth replies with the above lines. He notes that it’s impossible to tell the time of day in the Ministry of Love. They keep the lights on all the time, making it impossible to know how long one has been there or what day it is. 

“Has it ever occurred to you,” he said, “that the whole history of English poetry has been determined by the fact that the English language lacks rhymes?”

These lines are part of the same conversation and one of the few quotes that help define Ampleforth’s personality. He has an unending interest in English, even while worrying about imprisonment. Winston Smith has no interest in Ampleforth’s small piece of trivia and specifically notes that he finds it “unimportant” and “uninteresting.” 


Is Ampleforth important in 1984?

Yes, Ampleforth is an important character in George Orwell’s 1984. He is a poet who works in the Ministry of Truth’s Record Department with Winston Smith and is tasked with rewriting poetry.

What is Ampleforth’s role in 1984?

Ampleforth serves as a foil to Winston Smith, the protagonist in 1984. He is portrayed as a kindly man who remains true to his principles, despite the harsh and oppressive environment of the novel. He is an example of one who is not as aware of what’s happening around him as Smith.

What happened to Ampleforth in 1984

It’s unclear what exactly became of Ampleforth in 1984 by the underwent the same, or similar, torture to Winston. He was likely brainwashed in a comparable way. 

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