I am always looking for more content to add to this site, so if you have written any essays or articles relating to Orwell, please feel free to contribute it!
Later, Orwell spent the next twenty years as a writer; the essay “Shooting an Elephant,” set in the Burma of the 1920s and written in 1936, is one of his most famous works.
However on page 532, Orwell did I good job revising a verse from Ecclesiastes. When I read the original, it was unclear as to what the purpose of the passage was. In Orwell’s revision, he uses appropriately sophisticated language to make the original message clear and concise. I believe writing in this way may take practice, but in the end it will be beneficial!
As I read this essay I couldn’t quite place my feelings towards this author. I agreed with him in some instances, then disagreed in others. Once I completed the reading however, I realized that this essay had very similar effects to that of a political speech. In the beginning, I was skeptical and unsure what I thought of Orwell. He seemed extremely critical and gave off the know-it-all impression. As I read on however, I found myself agreeing with his views and supportive of his tips to become a better political writer. I finished the essay with an a new respect for Orwell. This thought process has occurred before when listening to political leaders. Skepticism at first, followed by a new found respect.
Orwell deals with two related issues in this piece. The first is the decline he sees in the quality of the English language. It is easy to agree with the argument he makes here. The trite metaphors he produces as examples are as common today in 2015 as they were when Orwell penned this article in the 1940’s. These overused metaphors have become a part of the writing vocabulary of a majority of English speakers. This failure of the English language is most prominent in the field of politics. It is very easy to use modern English in a vague way. This can be very useful to politicians. Euphemisms are the order of the day (it is almost impossible not to use the unoriginal phrases Orwell bemoans in this essay). Many examples of this can be found in American politics. Vagueness is especially important in the more controversial issues. Abortion is never referred to by that name. Supporters prefer to be labelled “pro-choice.” Critics are referred to as “pro-life.” Both of these labels are unassailable. Who would not want to be considered pro-choice? To stand against such a label means that the person must prefer a restriction of choice, which means a restriction of freedom which is anathema in democratic society. On the other hand, to stand opposed to the idea of being pro-life means to be de facto pro-death which is an equally unappealing option. Vagueness in speaking and in vocabulary prevents true political discourse. This vagueness pervades all manner of political discussion in the modern United States. It is fruitless to listen to many politicians speak. All use references to concepts such as freedom, democracy, and America. All lack a clearly defined image of what these concepts entail.
Another example that Orwell hones in on are “Meaningless Words”, something that a lot of young writers struggle with. When met with word counts and page requirements it is easy to add extraneous adjectives that contribute nothing more than another word to the word count. Not only do these adjectives fail to add anything substantial to your writing but they also detract from the concise and beauty of your written words.
George Orwell leefde lang voor de uitvinding van internet. Regelmatig wordt hij nog aangeroepen als van de tijd waarin ‘Big Brother’ een einde heeft gemaakt aan privacy en persoonlijke vrijheden. Onzin, als je het mij vraagt. Vooral Orwells ideeën over effectief schrijven in zijn essay ‘’ zijn zeer relevant voor iedereen die in ons internettijdperk woorden aan papier of scherm toevertrouwt.
I was a bit skeptical when first reading through Orwell’s assertions about the collapse of the English language. Even at first glance of the five passages he chose to dissect and reprimand, I could not detect major flaws other than a lack of clarity in some cases. With further thought, however, I began to see validity in his arguments.
Orwell’s main criticism towards the decaying English language is the vagueness that makes English incompatible of precisely describe. Too often unnecessary words are added, idioms are misused or over generic words are utilised, and they all lead up to a complete vagueness in writing of the modern era. Though Orwell’s contemptuous tone make readers hard to agree with him if haven’t fully digested his text, I do see the problems Orwell point out in writings or conversations nowadays.
Overall, in this essay, Orwell uses effective language to make his narration of the story more impressive and thoughtful, and to explore an imperial officer’s struggle between his good nature and his imperial role.
Many of the errors that we make in writing isn’t because of the lack of control that we have over our language. We simply do not take the time and effort to truly think about how we construct our sentences and the impact of each word in it. Even now when I’m writing this blog post, my ideas are flowing from my mind onto the computer screen. Yet, I am not really considering the effect of how I arrange the words of each sentence. I believe, the process he describes in which writers should think (1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: 1. Could I put it more shortly? 2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?) would truly make ones writing better. However, like Orwell says, “But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in.”
Throughout the story, Orwell chooses language carefully to develop his narration so as to help the readers explore a young imperial officer’s emotional struggle.
In "Shooting an Elephant," by George Orwell, the author recounts an event from his life when he was about twenty years old during which he had to choose the lesser of two evils.