The way George Orwell wrote is very much conditioned by the personal circumstances he had he lived. He had a very complicated life and he had the situations and difficulties he overcame are reflected in his way of thin (let’s say ideology) and consequently in the way of writing.
He wrote about those things that most concerned him. He based his works mainly in politics but he wrote about it in a very innovative way, he knew how to do so, he was a master using language for his own benefit and also satirized English society in many of his writing. His mastery makes the reader to get involved in whatever work he wrote, because he feels identify.
In order to understand why he based his works on this topic and no other and why he is considered so good in the usage of language for manipulating, it is important to know about his life.
He started writing about the poverty of the worker class in England, and the conditions in which they lived in:
“The road to Wieg Pier”.
Here Orwell set out to report on working class life in the bleak industrial heartlands of the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Lancashire. Orwell spent a considerable time living among the people and as such his descriptions are detailed and vivid.
Here, he explained the poor conditions in which workers lived, the situation of unemployment. Here, he discusses the relevance of socialism to improving living conditions.
The rest of the book consists of Orwell’s attempt to answer this difficult question. He points out that most people who argue against socialism do not do so because of straightforward selfish motives, or because they do not believe that the system would work, but for more complex emotional reasons, which (according to Orwell) most socialists misunderstand. He identifies 5 main problems.
- Class prejudice. This is real and it is visceral. Middle class socialists do themselves no favours by pretending it does not exist and—by glorifying the manual worker—they tend to alienate that large section of the population which is economically working class but culturally middle class.
- Machine worship. Orwell finds most socialists guilty of this. Orwell himself is suspicious of technological progress for its own sake and thinks it inevitably leads to softness and decadence. He points out that most fictional technically advanced socialist utopias are deadly dull. H.G. Wells in particular is criticised on these grounds.
- Crankiness. Amongst many other types of people Orwell specifies people who have beards or wear sandals, vegetarians, and nudists as contributing to socialism’s negative reputation among many more conventional people.
- Turgid language. Those who pepper their sentences with “notwithstandings” and “heretofores” and become over excited when discussing dialectical materialism are unlikely to gain much popular support.
- Failure to concentrate on the basics. Socialism should be about common decency and fair shares for all rather than political orthodoxy or philosophical consistency.
In presenting these arguments Orwell takes on the role of devil’s advocate. He states very plainly that he himself is in favour of socialism but feels it necessary to point out reasons why many people, who would benefit from socialism, and should logically support it, are in practice likely to be strong opponents. It is perhaps unfortunate that Orwell’s language in these passages is so lively and amusing that people tend to remember these parts of the book and forget its overall message.
He was against the English imperialism and in favour of the social justice after having observed and suffered deplorable life conditions of lower social class in London and Paris.
He was absolutely against any kind of Totalitarism, above all after his participation in the Spanish civil when experienced first hand what was it like.
So everything begins when he was young. The circumstances which surrounded him made him to mature fast and to know that world was not perfect, and that if you really wanted something you had to fight very hard to get it.
George Orwell’s writings are focused basically against Fascism. The situations he live throughout his life made him reject any kind of totalitarian society. He lived terrible moments which stroke him, like for example when he travelled to Catalonia during the civil war. At this moment it was when he really realised the dangers of totalitarism.
In “Homage to Catalonia”,
he describes his admiration for what he considers as lack of structures of social class in some areas dominated by pre- revolutionaries of ideas related to Anarchism. But he also criticises the Stalinist control of the Communist Party in Spain and the lies they used as political propaganda.
Orwell’s experiences in Spain were to occupy him for the rest of his life and in the end lead to Nineteen Eighty-Four. Later Orwell said to his friend Arthur Koestler [Note 17] that history stopped in 1936. Koestler knew at once what Orwell meant, and agreed. In 1936 objective history disappeared. Orwell did not believe that history was 100 per cent objective, but there had always been events that you with reasonable certainty could assume had taken place. In Spain, however, he saw that newspaper articles had no relation to reality. History was written, not according to what had happened, but according to what should have happened in accordance with the various party lines. And when he returned to England he saw English newspapers repeat the lies of the Spanish press.
In Spain he also saw a form of censorship that alarmed him. Instead of just censuring articles away and leaving an empty space, something else was inserted so that it was impossible to see what had been censured and not.
The Word War II also affected him very much indeed. Orwell was against the war because he thought it would lead to some kind of fascism in England. To him it was a repetition of Spain where some people during the civil war wanted to fight Franco in the name of bourgeois democracy.
He feared that England would become a totalitarian society and this obsession against this kind of societies drove him to write the sort of literature he made.
one of his most important novels was written after this II world war, where he became aware about the real problems of communism.
What is important here is the accurate language George Orwell employs, and also the use of satire. This two are important devices used by George Orwell throughout his writings. He makes use of the satire in order to manipulate reader and to disguise certain words and concepts. Language is of central importance to human thought because it structures and limits the ideas that individuals are capable of formulating and expressing.
Animal Farm is basically an allegory based on the corruption of social ideals of the Russian Revolution by Stalin. Here, he parodied the model of the soviet socialism: the characters are animals in a farm which rebel against his owners and the human beings in general. It is suppose that they pretend to create an improved social structure, but in fact the do not achieve its purpose.
What author does is to identify or compare representative political figures like Lenin, Stalin or Trotski with the animals that rebel in the farm, and what is more, this people are represented as pigs. It is not surprising the fact that the major leaders of the party are identified with pigs.
One of Orwell’s central concerns in Animal Farm is the way in which language can be manipulated as an instrument of control. In Animal Farm, the pigs gradually twist and distort rhetoric of socialist revolution to justify their behaviour and to keep the other animals in the dark. Again, what George Orwell is doing is reflecting in the novel how the members of the communist party, as happens in “1984” try to maintain the rest of society apart, try they to be unaware of what is actually happens, and this is reflected throughout the language.
The animals heartily embrace Major’s visionary ideal of socialism, but after Major dies, the pigs gradually twist the meaning of his words. As a result, the other animals seem unable to oppose the pigs without also opposing the ideals of the Rebellion. By the end of the novella, after Squealer’s repeated reconfigurations of the Seven Commandments in order to decriminalize the pigs’ animals are more equal than others.” This outrageous abuse of the word “equal” and of the ideal of equality in general typifies the pigs’ method, which becomes increasingly audacious as the novel progresses. Orwell’s sophisticated exposure of this abuse of language remains one of the most compelling and enduring features of Animal Farm, worthy of close study even after we have decoded its allegorical characters and events.
It is exactly the same that happens with “Animal”, with the difference that the plot turns around Totalitarism not Communist, although at the end everything is the same. It is again abuse of power, again reflected here in the language.
In Nineteen Eighty-FourOrwell created a totalitarian universe, Oceania, with its own history and inner mechanism and became so famous that it gave gay to a new term known as “Orwellian”
He thought that Totalitarian societies and specially the one portrayed in the novel wanted to turn humans into machines, to replace the organic by the inorganic, to create synthetic happiness by eradicating all that may evoke natural passions and personal inclinations. They want in this single state all buildings have walls of glass so that the actions of the occupants are visible. Only during sex are the curtains drawn for a brief moment, sexual behaviour being strictly controlled by the Sexual Bureau. This soulless society is ruled by a dictator, the Benefactor, who is supported and helped by a political police (who in this case would be The Big Brother), the Guardians, that hover above the cities with surveillance equipment. Confessions are extracted by torture and criminals are simply liquidated. Informing, even on family members and friends, is a sacred duty.
This is basically what is about Ninenteen-eighty-Four; but what is important here is the way they achieve so, the way they get to control people. They make use of plenty of techniques such as control of information and history, psychological manipulation, physical control, technology, etc, but the ones I going to deal with in depth in my essay are those related to mind control, the ways in which they manipulate people’s minds.
Orwell believed that totalitarianism and the corruption of language were connected.
He focused especially on political language where you distorted events and concepts by calling them something else. You said things in such a way that you avoided producing an inner picture of them. As an example, in Politics and the English Language. He said that ‘If thoughts can corrupt language, language can also corrupt thoughts. ‘ This idea would eventually lead to Newspeak.
Orwell believed that totalitarianism and the corruption of language were connected. He focused especially on political language where you distorted events and concepts by calling them something else. You said things in such a way that you avoided producing an inner picture of them.
As another example, in Politics and the English Language,
He said that ‘If thoughts can corrupt language, language can also corrupt thoughts. ‘
in his earlier essay, Politics and the English Language,(which is explained much more in deep here) where he laments the quality of the English of his day, citing examples of dying metaphors, pretentious diction or rhetoric, and meaningless words – all of which contribute to fuzzy ideas and a lack of logical thinking. It criticizes “ugly and inaccurate” contemporary written English.
Orwell said that political prose was formed “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Orwell believed that, because this writing was intended to hide the truth rather than express it, the language used was necessarily vague or meaningless. This unclear prose was a “contagion” which had spread even to those who had no intent to hide the truth, and it concealed a writer’s thoughts from himself and others.In short, Orwell advocates instead Plain English.
He related what he believed to be a close association between bad prose and oppressive ideology. The insincerity of the writer perpetuates the decline of the language as people (particularly politicians, Orwell later notes), attempt to disguise their intentions behind euphemisms and convoluted phrasing.
Orwell said that this decline was self-perpetuating. It is easier, he argues, to think with poor English because the language is in decline. And as the language declines, “foolish” thoughts become even easier.
SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT
‘‘Shooting an Elephant’’ functions as an addendum to Burmese Days. The story and novel share the same setting, and draw on Orwell’s experience as a colonial official in India and Burma, two regions of the British Empire, in the middle of the century between the two world wars. The story (which some critics consider an essay) concerns a colonial officer’s obligation to shoot a rogue elephant. The narrator does not want to shoot the elephant, but feels compelled to by a crowd of indigenous residents, before whom he does not wish to appear indecisive or cowardly.
It is the conflict between what the author believes as a humban being, and what he believes as an imperial police officer; as he is present at the beginning of the story. To show it, the author makes use of devices such as imagery and anecdotes to exemplify his feelings and describe the circumstances, as also the use of metaphors.
The use of symbolism is typical in George Orwell ‘s writings. The examples of symbols showed above are used in Shooting an Elephant:
- The mad elephant: symbol of the British Empire. As it is powerful, the Empire too. When the elephant assaults the bazaar, it symbolizes the British Empire attacking the economy of Burma. When he kills the coolie, he represents the British oppressing the natives.
- Then we have the dead coolie: it is a symbol of the oppressed Burmese.
- Mud: it is the symbol of the squalor in which the Burmese must live under British rule.
Another characteristic is the use of metaphors. He does it to represent his feelings about imperialism, the internal conflicht between his personal morals, and his duty to his country.
There is a clue point along the story and it is the final decision the narrator has to take: to kill the elephant or not. He fins himself in a difficult situation involving an elephant. The fate of the animal lies in Orwell’s hands. Only he can make the final decision, so he kills the elephant which lays dying in a pool of blood. Orwell wins the sympathy of readers by expressing the pressure he feels as an Anglo-Indian in Burma, showing compassion for the dying animal.
Shooting an Elephant is an important text in modern British literature and has generated more criticism than any other comparable short piece. Orwell expressed here his conflicting views regarding imperialism, by proving his power and dignity to the natives presenting imperialism metaphorically through the use of animals (as he already did in Animal Farm). He used the elephant as a symbol of imperialism representing power as an untamed animal that has control over the village.
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Power And Manipulation In Animal Farm By George Orwell And Power Of One Directed By John G Alvidsen
Power and manipulation are evident in the novel Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, where boys are stranded on a tropical island in the Pacific, without any adults or authority figures. Jack Merridew abuses his power and emerges as their leader, using fear and torture as he sees fit. Similarly, in the film, The Power of One, directed by John G Alvidsen, set in South Africa, in a time where Apartheid was law, Dr. Marais and his government maintain power over the majority of black Africans, using fear and physical threats to do so. For some time power and manipulation are the foundation on which these societies are built, however, fortunately this does not last forever, and things change for the better.
Lord of the Flies shows how Jack abuses his power and manipulates others to become leader of a society that is based on these same themes. Jack gains much of his power through the manipulation of the boys' fear of the beast. So, after exploiting his role in the group he controls them by ousting the previous leader Ralph, who tries to convince the group there is no beast. Unfortunately, Jack's power allows him make him look substandard, so they think he is superior. This is shown when Jack is able to admit his wrongs: "'I'm sorry. About the fire, I mean. There... I apologize.' The buzz from the hunters was one of admiration at this handsome behaviour... Jack had done the decent thing, and put himself in the right by his generous apology and Ralph, obscurely in the wrong."
Similarly, Dr. Marais' Apartheid regime gives him power over his government and allows him to control the black Africans. Like Jack in Lord of the Flies, he controls them using physical violence, and it is their fear of this that makes them so powerless. His authority is epitomised in Barberton prison, where the guards constantly beat the blacks. They threaten Giel Peit, (Morgan Freeman) saying; "Teach him [PK] good or I'll knock your black head flat." It is these threats that make them fear them so much, illustrated by him when he says to PK; "No, No Klein Baas, you must never call me sir." PK asks: "Because of the guards?" and he answers; "Yes." This shows that he is so scared of them that he cannot even allow PK treat him as a coach, as he is so used to being oppressed. When Giel Piet...
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