Politics and the English Language

by

George Orwell

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Writers and Readers Character Analysis

Orwell writes for an audience of writers and readers who want to improve their political condition. To begin, he outlines two shared concerns with the audience: bad writing and bad politics. Early on in the essay, Orwell acknowledges that the audience shares a concern about the “abuse of language.” However, he also attempts to appeal to both “professional” and non-professional writers. In his analysis of “inflated prose,” Orwell frequently describes the effect of vagueness on the reader, thus empowering the reader to identify bad prose. The last section of the essay directly addresses writers, as Orwell outlines several specific and general writing rules for producing better political prose. He also addresses readers in the conclusion, urging them to reject lousy prose. Moreover, throughout the essay, Orwell describes the experience of a writer as the experience of a reader, particularly as the writer reads over his or her own work. Thus, while Orwell may speak to non-professional writers and readers, he does not see writers and readers as wholly separate groups. On another note, Orwell frequently addresses the audience with pronouns “you,” “we,” and “us,” suggesting that Orwell is speaking to his peers. But Orwell’s tone with writers and readers isn’t always friendly; throughout the essay, he sharply criticizes writers of bad prose. However, as Orwell himself admits to relying on bad writing habits, it’s also possible that the writers and readers he ridicules are in fact part of this peer-audience. Note that Orwell always relies on masculine pronouns (him, his, and he) suggesting that he imagines his audience as entirely male. This was common practice of the time.
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Writers and Readers Character Timeline in Politics and the English Language

The timeline below shows where the character Writers and Readers appears in Politics and the English Language. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Politics and the English Language
...uncontrollable “outgrowth of nature,” Orwell argues that language is a tool that he and other writers can “shape for our purposes.”  (full context)
The Danger of Intellectual Laziness Theme Icon
...and stupidity. Because of the language’s active role in encouraging stupidity and laziness, Orwell urges writers and readers to take an active part in interrupting the corruption of language.  (full context)
The Danger of Intellectual Laziness Theme Icon
Style as a Political Issue Theme Icon
...the anvil” as a misused metaphor. Behind such dead metaphors, Orwell describes a bored, lazy writer “not interested in what he is saying.” Writers thus string together a “huge dump” of... (full context)
The Danger of Intellectual Laziness Theme Icon
Honesty, Truth, and Concision Theme Icon
...and suffixes (e.g., “deregionalize.”) Behind “operators” and “verbal false limbs,” Orwell describes two types of writers: (1) those looking to “save the trouble” of more carefully choosing more precise phrasing and... (full context)
The Danger of Intellectual Laziness Theme Icon
Honesty, Truth, and Concision Theme Icon
...diction to hide a lack of tangible knowledge and make themselves seem more “objective.” For readers, pretentious diction makes prose more difficult to process. (full context)
The Danger of Intellectual Laziness Theme Icon
Style as a Political Issue Theme Icon
Honesty, Truth, and Concision Theme Icon
...with needless complicated and empty words. The resulting prose is gobbledygook. He claims that the writers turn to bad prose to save time.  (full context)
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...right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods.” Orwell thus warns the reader that, in the hands of a clever bad actor, inflated style can make violence seem... (full context)
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...far as to claim that relying on “readymade” phrases can “anesthetize” the brains of well-intended writers. To illustrate how “thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought,” Orwell turns to a... (full context)
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Despite the bad state of communication and politics, Orwell is hopeful that writers and readers can interrupt the cycle of lazy writing and political abuses. The solution, as... (full context)
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...with the potential of “blurring or even changing your meaning.” To this end, Orwell recommends writers spend more time thinking about their truth before they begin writing. (full context)
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Honesty, Truth, and Concision Theme Icon
...word where a short one will do.” Orwell ends his list of rules by encouraging writers to break any rule if that rule means saying “anything outright barbarous.” (full context)
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Honesty, Truth, and Concision Theme Icon
To conclude, Orwell encourages the reader to “change his own habits” as means to resist government manipulation. After all, he reiterates,... (full context)