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Radical Insight Into Orwell’s Popular Essay, Politics and the English Language

Radical Insight Into Orwell's Popular Essay, Politics and the English Language

More famous for his books Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, George Orwell also wrote a very popular and widely anthologized essay, "Politics and the English Language," which discusses the language abuses of British politicians in the 1940s. Despite seeming to be outdated, however, the essay’s timeless new view insight can improve language uage in every age, every field, and every country. The essay’s message is easily seen if we bear in mind the three steps of the old view – new view relationship that underlies the structure and meaning of all published essays.

So let me tell you how Orwell’s essay begins, as all good essays begin-with an old view (=a statement of value already accepted, already shared by the author and the readers, often a rather strongly asserted statement).

Step #1 – Identify the Old View

Usually in the first paragraph of an essay, an old view is stated that leads directly to a new view thesis, most often a reversal of the old view. The new view thesis is stated at the end of that paragraph or within the next paragraph or two or so, depending on the length of the essay.

Orwell sets out the old view in the first paragraph’s second sentence-

Our civilization is decadent and our language-so the argument runs [the accepted, shared old view]-must inevitably share in the general collapse because language is a natural growth of our civilization and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

The second paragraph asserts Orwell’s new view thesis that the process is reversible [a new view reverse]…. If one gets rid of these bad linguistic habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration.

He summarizes even more briefly about the support for his new view: If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.

And Orwell even points to the future a bit, though not very strongly: One can at least change one’s own habits, and send some worn out and useless phrase into the dustbin [British for ‘garbage can’] where it belongs.

Now, here are five sample new view thesis statements that can give you ideas for writing your own essays about Orwell’s popular "Politics and the English Language" –

  • In his essay, "Politics and the English Language," Orwell unexpectedly provides far too many examples of the old view and spends very little time developing his new view reversal.
  • Orwell’s essay, "Politics and the English Language," follows the classic presentation of first old view and then new view; but then he surprisingly begins supporting his old view instead of his new view, which he neglects until almost the end.
  • In George Orwell’s classic essay, "Politics and the English Language," he not only overdevelops his support for his old view and under-develops his new view, but he also provides a weak conclusion.
  • The widely popular essay, "Politics and the English Language," shows good reasoning in the introduction of the first two paragraphs, but disappointingly falls short of solid reasoning in the rest of the essay.
  • The popular essay "Politics and the English Language" begins well, but it unfortunately fails to deliver any fully developed stories that would help make the essay’s new view easy to remember and to relate to.

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