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.
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
...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 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)
...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)
...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)
...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)