Syme is far from the most important character in 1984. But, he is one of those that readers tend to remember due to his brief interactions with Winston Smith and the job he does at the Ministry of Truth.

The Definitive Glossary for 1984

When Winston Smith speaks to Syme, he can’t help thinking that the man is far too intelligent to stay alive. Despite the fact that he’s dedicated to the Party’s mission, Smith knows that the Party prefers those who don’t have the capacity to think for themselves. 

Job and Personality 

Orwell describes Syme as an intellectual and enthusiastic supporter of the Party and its ideals. Syme is friendly and welcoming towards Winston, and they often discuss the Party’s political philosophy. Syme seems to be well educated and he is passionate about language and literature. When introduced at the beginning of Chapter 5 of 1984, Orwell writes this about Syme from Smith’s perspective: 

Syme was a philologist, a specialist in Newspeak. Indeed, he was one of the enormous team of experts now engaged in compiling the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary. He was a tiny creature, smaller than Winston, with dark hair and large, protuberant eyes, at once mournful and derisive, which seemed to search your face closely while he was speaking to you.

His job is to help create a new edition of the Newspeak dictionary, which is designed to reduce language and restrict people’s ability to think freely. Syme is proud of his work, believing it to be an important contribution to the Party’s efforts. 

Newspeak is one of the most important creations Orwell included in 1984. It’s the official language of Oceania and it is hoped, by the Party, that one day no one will use anything but Newspeak words. It removes many words that could lead to ideas of freedom and rebellion, like “democracy” and “free speech”.

They hope that as time passes, people forget the old ways of speaking and use the simple and fast Newspeak words. By controlling people’s vocabularies, they hope to control their thoughts. 

Orwell also uses these lines to describe Smith’s perception of Syme: 

In an intellectual way, Syme was venomously orthodox. He would talk with a disagreeable gloating satisfaction of helicopter raids on enemy villages, and trials and confessions of thought-criminals, the executions in the cellars of the Ministry of Love. Talking to him was largely a matter of getting him away from such subjects and entangling him if possible, in the technicalities of Newspeak, on which he was authoritative and interesting.

What Happens to Syme? 

Little is revealed in detail about what happens to Syme in the novel. He disappears, as many citizens of Oceania do, and no one questions his absence. Winston Smith notices he’s gone and suggest that he’s be vaporized, a term used to describe what happens when people suddenly disappear, never to be seen again. 

Important Syme Quotes in 1984 

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

These are some of the most important lines that Syme speaks in the novel. He’s talking to Winston Smith and explaining to him what the purpose of Newspeak is (Syme has an insight into the language that’s dangerous for him).

The man appears to be far too smart for his own good and tells Winston that the Party plans to remove all unapproved words and ideas from the language. It will soon become impossible to express any ideas that go against what the Party believes.

One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his face.

While these lines are not spoken by Syme, they are connected to him and his ultimate fate. Winston knows, “with sudden deep conviction,” that one day Syme would disappear. He’s “too intelligent” and “speaks too plainly.” Smith knows that this kind of person is someone the Party finds dangerous. 

The fact that he’s going to one day disappear is “written in his face,” Smith notes. While discussing Syme, these lines also show how insightful Smith has become about the Party, what they believe, and what they want. His prediction for Syme is revealed as the truth as the novel progresses. 

His mocking eyes roved over Winston’s face. ‘I know you,’ the eyes seemed to say, ‘I see through you. I know very well why you didn’t go to see those prisoners hanged.’

Orwell uses these lines when describing an interaction that Smith and Syme have in Chapter 5. Smith believes, and is likely right to think, that Syme can see through him. He knows Smith for what he is, someone who doesn’t support the Party. 


What is Syme’s job in 1984

Syme plays an important role in 1984 as a character that helps convey the paranoia and danger of a dystopian world. He is an intelligent linguist and critic that ultimately ends up as one of the victims of Big Brother’s ever-tightening grip.

What is Syme’s job in 1984

Syme is a specialist at the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to help write the new edition of the Newspeak dictionary. He removes, creates, and recreates new words that replace those that the Party would like removed from the vocabulary of everyday people. 

What is Newspeak? 

Newspeak is a fictional language used in the novel 1984. It is designed to reduce and control thought, with its simplistic vocabulary, syntax, and grammar designed to eliminate personal thought. It is a tool used by the totalitarian government to reduce Thoughtcrime and prevent independent thought and freedom of expression.

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