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Orwell Style Analysis

1638 words - 7 pages

“Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble.” This line, concocted by American author George Orwell, highlights the idea that language has become increasingly less honest throughout the world. Among other languages, English is extremely complex. Filled with metaphors, several words with the same meaning, and strong diction, it is easy to get wrapped up in glittering generalities. Language has the ability to relay ideas in an effective way; over the decades, however, it has been utilized by powerful figures to belittle citizens and cause them to do whatever the leader ...view middle of the document...

“Sentimental archaism” refers to holding onto past words connected with emotions, just as older technology is often regarded as nostalgic to many older people. Candles were more difficult than electricity, but they provided a more romantic aura. Hansom cabs were adventurous in that it involved being pulled by a horse on a carriage even though they took a much longer time than compared to recent technology within an aeroplane or electric automobile. He uses contrasting diction—positive to negative to positive again—to show the differences between the treatments of language. He says “decadent,” “collapse,” “struggle,” “abuse,”, and “sentimental.” The first and last of these words are associated with the old treatment of the archaic language while the rest refer to the new, tyrannical treatment of languages. Those associated with the former are positive, light, and bring forth images of happiness while those with the latter are consider negative and involve pain of some sort. The things being compared are also vastly different in pronunciation; “candles” flow off the tongue much more smoothly than “electricity” while “hansom cabs” sounds more romantic than an “aeroplane.” This contrast in diction within the simile allows the audience to be drawn into the argument; being teachers, professors, and journalists, they are used to writing regularly and are therefore acquainted with language. This connects to their emotions and allows them to become invested within Orwell’s argument. Without this simile, the audience would have likely become bored with the essay and would have been unable to see the point in reading it.
Orwell uses antimetabole to show that language and thought are intertwined as well as to prove to his audience that language is often used incorrectly. He states, “But if thought corrupts language, language can corrupt thought.” The antimetabolic structure shows that language and thought are similar and can be reversed. For example, a politician may want people to vote for him or her in order to become powerful enough to veto a bill that helps veterans. In order to be elected, he or she will use words with virtually no meaning in order to confuse voters into believing that he or she will do the right thing. If this is practiced by said politician often enough, he or she will start to believe what they are telling the people, whether it is true or not. Even if their intentions are good, they will start to believe their own corrupt thoughts. This was likely the case with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Regime. They had been taught from childhood that the Jewish people killed Jesus although that is completely untrue, yet Europeans everywhere believed it. When World War II was about to begin, the Nazis struggled to find a way for German citizens to get involved with the war effort. They decided that their best bet was to blame Germany’s loss in the first world war on the Jews, thus triggering anger among the citizens. It worked, and the Germans...

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