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Critical Appreciation Of Down And Out In London And Paris

952 words - 4 pages

A Critical Appreciation of "Down and Out in Paris and London" by George Orwell "Down and out in London and Paris" is more than a work of fiction. It is semi-fictional in that it was the culmination of a number of years between 1928-31 spent in the slums of Paris and wandering around London as a tramp. This soon became a quest, by Orwell, to uncover the lives of the poor and to reveal the variety of characters and life to be found in the slums. What is clear is that Orwell's book is more than a series of anecdotes. If anything, these anecdotes are case studies used to put across a social message. Orwell uses his representation of characters, settings and themes to break down socially imposed barriers between rich and poor.The setting is all-important for getting Orwell's message of reform across. From the opening Orwell presents us with a Parisian scene which seems almost Dickensian (another writer who challenged established society). The passage "It was a narrow street "" a ravine of tall, leprous houses, lurching towards one another in queer altitudes" gives the buildings a sinister personification. This feeling of isolation is seen in Great Expectations when Pip is confronted with London: "The distorted adjoining houses looking as if they had twisted themselves down to peep down at me." (p. 151) Orwell's use of settings is vital. Firstly it helps give Orwell's story authenticity but it also seeks to highlight the grim reality of poverty. Orwell does this by stimulating all of the reader's senses to help them envisage the scene, and this is done to great effect. Every detail of discomfort in the Hotel X is imparted to us: The "stifling" cellar, the "deafening"¦clanging of pots and pans", the 110 degrees Fahrenheit heat. In fact, in light of the moralising middle class, the kitchen is given almost a hellish quality. "In the middle were furnaces, where twelve cooks skipped to and fro, their faces dripping with sweat"¦Round that were counters where a mob of waiters and plongeurs clamoured with trays. Scullions, naked to the waist, were stoking the fires and scouring huge copper saucepans with sand." (p. 51) This almost grotesque display can to be found later in the book, during bathing at Romton spike. "Fifty dirty, stark-naked men elbowing each other in a room twenty feet square, with only two bath tubs and two slimy roller between them all." (p. 129) Despite the different atmospheres of the scene there are common feelings of demoralisation and dehumanisation. But because of this there is a great sense of injustice, an injustice that Orwell wants to reveal. A prime example of this injustice can be seen through inequality. This occurs at Lower Binfield when the "Tramp Major" discovers that...

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