The Essays of George Orwell are a personal anthropological and cultural artifact, serving as authorial cathartic metalanguage that is ‘essentially communicative’ of omnipresent themes [John Donne, Metatempsychosis, 1601]. Such are indicative in ‘Why I write?’, ‘Writers and Levithan’ and ‘Politics and the English Language’, which are perpetually and contemporaneously relevant through Freudian ‘Ontological Pastiche of Experience’, as changing milieus offer new interpretations, producing continual fascination evidenced through Jungian conception of ‘collective unconscious’. Textual accessibility is forged through probing at political reflections, through reading perspectives, concerning the moral erotesis representative of his oeuvre, ‘for how is political writing art?’ [George Orwell, Polemic, March 1984]. Through his skillful manipulation and use of form, Orwell highlights his concern pertaining to the misuse of language amongst writers, to achieve political agendas. Such is indicative of his context, through influence to Jingoism, intelligentsia, and democratic socialism, as ‘all knowledge of cultural reality is always knowledge from particular points of view’ (Weber, 1949, p.81).
The essays of George Orwell are the artifacts of comprehensive contextual influences, representing to the responder the composers concern regarding the power of language. Orwell articulates that language has the capacity to shape ones sense of reality, conceal truths and even manipulate history. This concern for the misuse of language was particularly pertinent in light of his context, where the political upheaval throughout and following the Second World War, shaped the course of politics in modern history. During this period, Europe witnessed the rise and fall of totalitarian governments in Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as the spread of communism throughout the Cold War. Orwell acknowledged that the subject matter of a writer ‘will be determined by the age he lives in’, which he aptly considers in his essays, ‘Politics and the English Language’ and ‘Writers and Leviathan’. Therefore, to understand the essays of Orwell and their relevance to the modern audience, one needs to consider the context that evoked their composition. In particular, one needs to consider his involvement in the Spanish Civil War, where he witnessed the threat of ‘absolute political authority in an age of advanced technology’. Orwell recognised that based upon his fight against fascism, ‘every line of serious work that [he had] written [was] directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it’. He uses the essay form to analyse the psychology of power and the ways that language can be used as a mechanism of control, with political leaders deliberately obscuring political ideas with the help of language.
In ‘Why I Write’, the ideas of the writer and his strong sense of compulsion to write are explored. In his examination of his urge to write, Orwell permits the reader to examine how his personal and historical context shaped the content and style of his oeuvre. His anecdotes representing his isolation and use of the first person pronoun, in ‘I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feelings of being isolated and undervalued’, establish an intimate connection with the responder. Orwell not only contextualizes his purpose for writing, but also appeals to pathos “he impels us to feel discontented with stock ideas and conventional opinions”. The plain and “clear-seeming style in his essays is the result of deliberate craftsmanship” in which he characteristically writes, using direct language free of ‘purple passages’, creates a unique personal tone and appeals to the reader, who perceives Orwell as the ‘common man’. His ability to connect with the ‘common man’ appeals responders to accept personal responsibility in the fight against the misuse of language. William E Cain reinforces this view...
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