The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

George Smiley Character Analysis

A former agent for the Circus, Smiley is retired when the novel begins. In 1959, before the action of the novel, Smiley worked on a case involving Mundt, who was then a spy in England and tried to kill Smiley. He plays a shadowy role in Control’s plot to save Mundt, and it is never made clear whether he really wanted to see Mundt killed or saved. Smiley is a central character in many of Le Carré’s other works.

George Smiley Quotes in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The The Spy Who Came in From the Cold quotes below are all either spoken by George Smiley or refer to George Smiley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold published in 2013.
Chapter 11 Quotes

They'd talked about it in the meeting of her party branch. George Hanby, the branch treasurer, had actually been passing Ford the grocer's as it happened, he hadn’t seen much because of the crowd, but he'd talked to a bloke who'd seen the whole thing. Hanby had been so impressed that he'd rung the Worker, and they'd sent a man to the trial—that was why the Worker had given it a middle page spread as a matter of fact. It was just a straight case of protest—of sudden social awareness and hatred against the boss class, as the Worker said. This bloke that Hanby spoke to (he was just a little ordinary chap with specs, white collar type) said it had been so sudden—spontaneous was what he meant—and it just proved to Hanby once again how incendiary was the fabric of the capitalist system. Liz had kept very quiet while Hanby talked: none of them knew, of course, about her and Leamas. She realised then that she hated George Hanby; he was a pompous, dirty-minded little man, always leering at her and trying to touch her.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas, Liz Gold, George Smiley, Ford the Grocer, George Hanby
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

London must have gone raving mad. He'd told them—that was the joke—he’d told them to leave her alone. And now it was clear that from the moment, the very moment he left England—before that, even, as soon as he went to prison—some bloody fool had gone round tidying up—paying the bills, settling the grocer, the landlord; above all, Liz. It was insane, fantastic. What were they trying to do—kill Fiedler, kill their agent? Sabotage their own operation? Was it just Smiley—had his wretched little conscience driven him to this? There was only one thing to do—get Liz and Fiedler out of it and carry the can. He was probably written off anyway. If he could save Fiedler’s skin—if he could do that—perhaps there was a chance that Liz would get away.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas (speaker), Liz Gold, Fiedler, George Smiley
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

Fiedler, who had returned to his chair and was listening with rather studied detachment, looked at Leamas blandly for a moment:
“And you messed it all up, Leamas, is that it?” he asked. “An old dog like Leamas, engaged in the crowning operation of his career, falls for a . . . what did you call her? . . . a frustrated little girl in a crackpot library? London must have known; Smiley couldn't have done it alone.” Fiedler turned to Mundt: “Here's an odd thing, Mundt; they must have known you'd check up on every part of his story. That was why Leamas lived the life. Yet afterwards they sent money to the grocer, paid up the rent; and they bought the lease for the girl. Of all the extraordinary things for them to do . . . people of their experience . . . to pay a thousand pounds, to a girl—to a member of the Party—who was supposed to believe he was broke. Don't tell me Smiley's conscience goes that far. London must have done it. What a risk!”

Related Characters: Fiedler (speaker), Alec Leamas, Hans-Dieter Mundt, Liz Gold, George Smiley
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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George Smiley Character Timeline in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The timeline below shows where the character George Smiley appears in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Circus
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...is an ex-Hitler Youth, not a principled Communist. Control then tells Leamas to speak to George Smiley, whom Mundt once tried to kill, and Guillam: both men worked on Mundt’s case... (full context)
Chapter 6: Contact
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...he is dropped off at King’s Road, Control opens the door. He tells Leamas that Smiley is out. Leamas tells him he was followed by Ashe that morning, then describes hitting... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Leamas asks why Smiley isn’t at the house, and Control says that Smiley doesn’t like the operation. Control asks... (full context)
Chapter 11: Friends of Alec
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...that he had a job to do. The short man (who turns out to be George Smiley) asks Liz if she knows that Leamas had a wife and two children, but... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...the men leave, Liz looks at the card, which is expensively printed and says, “Mr. George Smiley.” (full context)
Chapter 15: Come to the Ball
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...the letter, accepting the offer. As she closes her desk drawer she catches sight of Smiley’s card, and remembers him asking her if the Party knew about her relationship with Leamas.... (full context)
Chapter 16: Arrest
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...After hours, the door opens and a man enters. Leamas recognizes Mundt by a description Smiley had given him of his eyes. (full context)
Chapter 17: Mundt
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Mundt asks Leamas when he last saw Smiley. Leamas says he cannot remember, but Mundt persists, asking him again and again. Mundt asks... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Witness
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...he defected because he was broke. Karden asks if Leamas is a good friend of George Smiley’s. Leamas says he knows Smiley, but has not seen him since leaving prison. Karden... (full context)
Chapter 22: The President
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...casual lovers like Leamas. Sobbing, Liz says they were friends of Leamas’s. A man named George Smiley left his card. Addressing the court, Karden says that Smiley went to Liz to... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...way. He had even told them to leave Liz alone. He wonders if it was Smiley’s conscience that prompted him to take care of everyone. Now the only thing left for... (full context)
Chapter 23: Confession
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...is not the only man who wanted Mundt dead. Leamas goes on to say that Smiley had always said something could go wrong, but that it was crazy for him to... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...really messed up the operation by falling for Liz. He says that it’s odd that Smiley sent money to Ford the grocer and bought the lease for Liz, if it was... (full context)
Chapter 25: The Wall
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...have been able to make it look as if they had been involved, especially because Smiley went to call on Liz. Liz says she feels dirty and used. (full context)
Chapter 26: In from the Cold
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...and Leamas feels Liz’s body shudder. From the other side of the wall, he hears Smiley’s voice, telling him to jump over, and asking him where the girl is. (full context)