George Orwell Essays

74

George Orwell’s 1984 as a Historical Allegory

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

One aspect of 1984 that is consistently dominant, is the theme of manipulation, and how even the most overt and simplistic forms of manipulation manages to keep the citizens of Oceania so loyal so successfully. One way in which manipulation is especially central throughout the novel is through the transcendence of the Party. The Party is omniscient within Oceania; it’s prevalence in society being “gradually pushed back in time”, as to conflate its power with its ubiquity, making even Winston not being able to “remember at what date the Party itself had come into existence”. The lack of precise dates in the Party’s history sees its attempts to solidify its power as somewhat ethereal and seraphic, while also avoiding meticulousness, which makes the world of Big Brother less susceptible to challenges, as it can then be seen to be above human authority, and yet, authority over humans is the nature of exactly what makes the Party prosper.

Winston himself attempts to resist the manipulation of blind loyalty to the Party – however, he literally perpetuates this kind of repressive culture by working in the Ministry of Truth, rewriting articles in The Times and diminishing the true history, if that could ever even be known by someone like him, as he notes; “All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often was necessary.” The falsifications that he and others in the Ministry of Truth create, begin to be accepted as the truth as the original is destroyed, and therefore, even with Winston being in the epicentre of the professed Truth, he actually has knowledge of fiction being dressed up as authenticity, making his uncertainty about when the Party was actually created and about the “unending series of victories over your own memory”, even more significant as evidence of the extent of Party manipulation.

In addition, the mere presence of the vast amount of indistinguishable workers in the different Ministries imply a level of dependence the government has to them, to maintain and uphold the values of Oceania’s administration, this ostensibly giving the workers some sort of leverage, and yet the fact that they have not revolted against the tyrannical regime they live under, reinforces how strong the manipulation and indoctrination is. The vehement anger present in the Two Minutes Hate is in itself a form of this indoctrination – as long as the Party has an enemy, which in this case is Emanuel Goldstein, the people become hypothetically secure against the Party because they have the power in numbers; the mass contempt they feel for Goldstein would pale in comparison if they were aware of the dictatorial rule they lived under, however, they don’t realize this, because of the imperious manipulation of their rage unconsciously being shifted from the Party, to the scapegoat of Goldstein. This also aids in unifying everyone in Oceania against a common enemy – echoing one of the slogans of the party, “War is Peace”.

Furthermore, manipulation as a mechanism for control must be very carefully placed in society, as to not evoke suspicion or rebellion – one way in which the Party does this incredibly triumphantly is by employing devout loyalty to the Party in children and within the family structure, overriding one of the most basic human emotions; familial loyalty, and replacing it with strict allegiance to Big Brother. Children knowing nothing but Newspeak and being essentially indoctrinated from birth strengthens the longevity of the Party; because, “Who controls the past”, ran the party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”. In addition, it ensures more security of the totalitarian regime, as, if people are intercepted in the impressionable years of childhood, their curiosity is subdued, and challenges of government are less likely, as Winston notes in Chapter 7 – “until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until they have rebelled they cannot become conscious”.

Furthermore, as the admiration and faithfulness is transferred from the family to the Party, the name Big Brother provides some sense of security and protection, implying that a family is not needed if instead, each citizen of Oceania has “brothers” and “comrades” in everyone; making the Party seem less daunting and perhaps more approachable, creating ease in indoctrinating the young so efficiently. In addition to targeting a specific age group, another tactic of the Party is the manipulation of class. The more secure an individual is within the inner Party, the more power they yield, which actually creates a complex dynamic wherein those who have the most power, which in Oceania is synonymous with those who are most fiercely loyal to Big Brother, actually have the most leeway with the rules. This paradox causes Winston to believe that “If there is hope…it lies in the proles”. The proletariat in Orwell’s fictional world are the underbelly of society; not worthy of Party membership, not involved with any organised Party occasions, but they are true – they live freely, if at a cost, they are without manipulation, but perhaps leading a worse life without it.

Another aspect of the book which is especially poignant and compelling in Part 1, is the constant parallels to the historical context of the time period surrounding the novel. Written in 1948, and published in 1949, the year in which China fell to Communism, many believe the book to be a warning of totalitarianism governments being able to be taken to extremes, as was being seen around the world, with Fascism and Nazism just ending in Germany and Italy, and Stalinist Communism being in a very powerful stage in Russia. The altering of truth that Winston and his fellow colleagues carry out at the Ministry of Truth, can also be seen in Stalin’s Russia, with the removal of Nikolai Yeshov, the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs, from photographs after he was blamed for “disloyal purges” of Russian military and political establishments.

The indoctrination of the youth can also be linked to the compulsory attendance of all young German children into the Hitler Youth and the League of German Maidens, where girls and boys were taught honorable Nazi values – the boys were taught to fight and handle weaponry in preparation for becoming soldiers, and the girls were taught maternal skills, such as cooking and infant care, in preparation for having as many children as possible, “for the Fuhrer”. This dedication to war, with absolute devotion from all aspects of life is also seen in the obsessive rationing of all goods and services to citizens of Oceania, in aid of the war effort. Children in Nazi youth programs were also educated on the dysfunctionality and inferiority of the Jewish people – Jewish children were banned from German schools in 1938, German court judges could not cite legal commentaries or opinions made by Jewish writers from 1936, and sexual relations between Jews and “persons of German or German-related blood” were made illegal as part of the Nuremburg Race Laws in 1935.

Emmanuel Goldstein, a man with a “lean Jewish face”, embodied everything that the Party saw was wrong with society. He had an appearance with a “clever face”, while also being “somehow inherently despicable” – reinforcing the subliminal messaging that intelligence could lead to challenge and rebellion, which then becomes “inherently despicable”, even in the eyes of a less devout follower of Big Brother like Winston. His presence also indicates totalitarian governments are always discriminating against someone or something, with anti-Semitism being a prolific choice not only in the book but in many countries around the world in which Orwell was living. In my opinion however, the main function of Goldstein is his ability to highlight the need for any leadership to establish dichotomies to ensure orthodoxy: good-evil; us-them; hero-villain. The mere fact that no-one actually knows whether or not he exists is redundant; he serves instead to reinforce the seemingly perpetual nature of totalitarianism. “Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”

Institutions and ideas in 1984 also are reminiscent of the real world and its establishments. The Ministry of Truth represents the logical extrapolation of media methods used by totalitarian governments – because contradictions between utter conformity and devotion to the ostensible truth even in those who erase the actual truth exist, it mirrors the unlikely alliances between Fascism and Communism throughout history; that they share many more characteristics than is expected, as seen in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939, between Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. Additionally, both Hitler and Stalin also assigned traits to themselves that were not entirely based in fact; as with Big Brother, the fact that these people or traits of these people are not real is the key, because a truly powerful, omniscient government is beyond the need for even basic realities and truths.

The Theory and Practise of Oligarchical Collectivism, the fictional manifesto by Emmanuel Goldstein also follows this principle of being above the truth – without having read any of it, it immediately establishes itself as a completely incompatible and conflicting guide. Theory, is just that, it merely is a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something – it differs significantly from the practice of something; the practice does sprout from the theory, but they are paradoxical elements of one idea. Furthermore, ‘oligarchical’ pertains to “a small group of people having control of a country or organization”, completely contrasting ‘collectivism’, which refers to “the practice or principle of giving a group priority over each individual in it.” Not only does this completely imitate the antithetical governorship of totalitarianism, but it also mirrors Leon Trotsky’s 1937 manifesto “The Revolution Betrayed” – in which the fairly new Russian Bolshevik government had been, in Trotsky’s mind, betrayed, even though the Revolution had been completely borne of his and other insurgents, such as Vladimir Lenin’s ideas and decrees. This all emphasizes Orwell’s disdain for the Russian Revolution and Stalinism, as many have drawn parallels between Goldstein, the only discernibly overt enemy in the book, and Leon Trotsky.

Totalitarian governments are steeped in contradiction, and the novel does address these paradoxes of language and ideas. In Chapter 5, Winston sits down with Syme and has an almost comically fueled conversation about the calculated destruction of language that the Party are facilitating. “Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron – they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be.” – Syme views great literature here as being contradictory, and yet within this apparent contradiction lies another. If contradiction in Oceania is viewed defamatorily, Big Brother should not and would not thrive upon them, and yet, the Party would cease to exist without them – “War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery”.

The specificity of these authors in literature is a deliberate choice by Orwell, in order to highlight the absurdity of trying to remove and diminish authors who were creating art, and expressing themselves, reflecting the view of the Party that original thought and creative proclamations were incredibly dangerous tools, utilized just for sowing the seeds of dissent among the people. Additionally, John Milton and Geoffrey Chaucer were not only authors; they were both civil servants, both making a living from their writings; as too were Syme and Winston – therefore, the presence of Milton and Chaucer in Syme’s speech serves to allow the reader to compare the two pairs of writers and civil servants. One pair were making honest art, expressing themselves freely while simultaneously working loyally, but also being allowed to challenge their government. Syme and Winston believe these ideas to be inharmonious, so their writings instead reflect the restrictions of freedom and the loyalty that cannot be broken to the repressive regime of Big Brother.

In conclusion, Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism all emphasis e the subordination of the individual, while simultaneously having an absolute leader demanding utter adherence and devotion from the public. 1984, the story of one individual man is in itself Orwell’s ultimate form of rebellion. Totalitarianism believes in removing the distinction of individuality, and George Orwell devoted an entire novel about totalitarianism, to an individual, Winston Smith.

Essay Score 13/20

Focus

3/4

Organization

3/4

Voice

3/4

Sentence Structure

2/4

Evidence and Details

2/4

More about grading

The essay begins with a good introduction, flows well throughout, and ends on a strong conclusion. However, it would benefit from section headings, shorter sentences, and citation of evidence.

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291

Russian Revolution in the Animal Farm by George Orwell

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

As the animals under Jones lead lives of hunger, the lives of millions of Russians worsened during Nicholas’ reign. Old Major is the animal version of Vladimir Lenin , the leader of the Bolshevik Party that seized control in the 1917 Revolution.

As old Major outlines the principles of Animalism, a theory holding that all animals are equal and must revolt against their oppressors, Lenin was inspired by Karl Marx’s theory of Communism, which urges the “workers of the world” to unite against their economic oppressors. As Animalism imagines a world where all animals share in the prosperity of the farm, Communism argues that a “communal” way of life will allow all people to live lives of economic equality.

Old Major dies before he can see the final results of the revolution, as Lenin did before witnessing the ways in which his disciples carried on the work of reform.Old Major is absolute in his hatred of Man, as Lenin was uncompromising in his views: He is widely believed to have been responsible for giving the order to kill Nicholas and his family after the Bolsheviks had gained control.

Lenin was responsible for changing Russia into the U.S.S.R., as old Major is responsible for transforming Manor Farm into Animal Farm. The U.S.S.R.’s flag depicted a hammer and sickle — the tools of the rebelling workers — so the flag of Animal Farm features a horn and hoof. One of Lenin’s allies was Leon Trotsky , another Marxist thinker who participated in a number of revolutionary demonstrations and uprisings. His counterpart in Animal Farm is Snowball, who, like Trotsky, felt that a worldwide series of rebellions was necessary to achieve the revolution’s ultimate aims.

Snowball’s plans for the windmill and programs reflect Trotsky’s intellectual character and ideas about the best ways to transform Marx’s theories into practice. Trotsky was also the leader of Lenin’s Red Army, as Snowball directs the army of animals that repel Jones.

Eventually, Trotsky was exiled from the U.S.S.R. and killed by the agents of Joseph Stalin (1979-1953), as Snowball is chased off of the farm by Napoleon — Orwell’s stand-in for Stalin. Like Napoleon, Stalin was unconcerned with debates and ideas. Instead, he valued power for its own sake and by 1927 had assumed complete control of the Communist Party through acts of terror and brutality.

Napoleon’s dogs are like Stalin’s KGB, his secret police that he used to eliminate all opposition. As Napoleon gains control under the guise of improving the animals’ lives, Stalin used a great deal of propaganda — symbolized by Squealer in the novel — to present himself as an idealist working for change. His plan to build the windmill reflects Stalin’s Five Year Plan for revitalizing the nation’s industry and agriculture.

Stalin’s ordering Lenin’s body to be placed in the shrine-like Lenin’s Tomb parallels Napoleon’s unearthing of old Major’s skull, and his creation of the Order of the Green Banner parallels Stalin’s creation of the Order of Lenin. Thanks, in part, to animals like Boxer(who swallow whole all of their leader’s lies), Stalin became one of the world’s most feared and brutal dictators.

Numerous events in the novel are based on ones that occurred during Stalin’s rule. The Battle of the Cowshed parallels the Civil War that occurred after the 1917 Revolution. Jones; Frederick represents Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), who forged an alliance with Stalin in 1939 — but who then found himself fighting Stalin’s army in 1941. Frederick seems like an ally of Napoleon’s, but his forged banknotes reveal his true character.

The confessions and executions of the animals reflect the various purges and “show trials” that Stalin conducted to rid himself of any possible threat of dissention. In 1921, the sailors at the Kronshdadt military base unsuccessfully rebelled against Communist rule, as the hens attempt to rebel against Napoleon. The Battle of the Windmill reflects the U.S.S.R.’s involvement in World War II — specifically the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, when Stalin’s forces defeated Hitler’s (as Napoleon’s defeat Frederick). Finally, the card game at the novel’s end parallels the Tehran Conference (November 28-December 1, 1943), where Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin D. Roosevelt met to discuss the ways to forge a lasting peace after the war — a peace that Orwell mocks by having Napoleon and Pilkington flatter each other and then betray their duplicitous natures by cheating in the card game.

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171

The Adaptation of Language: An Analysis of Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Language is the basis of all human communication; one could even say language is the basis of humanity itself. In the essay “Politics and the English Language”, George Orwell explains the significance of proper and effective language. He examines a less obvious aspect of language deterioration; instead of focusing on blatantly incorrect usage, he focuses on the usage of unclear language, specifically that which is written by well-educated people. Language is not by any means an insignificant or fleeting matter: according to Orwell, people should be concerned about the deterioration of the English language and, therefore, should recognize the reasons for, forms of, and effects of bad language.

A writer may use bad language due to a variety of negative causes, the most obvious reason of which is lack of education. However, critics should focus primarily on the many writers who knowingly use incorrect language, out of sheer carelessness or an aim to deceive readers. Writers who are careless often fall into the pattern of using clich?s and “treating words as though they [are] unconnected to reality and therefore producing meanings that are arbitrary and internal to the language rather than engaging with the world.” (Joseph 9) Although these writers are directly lazy, others are lazy in a less obvious way, using poor language to cover up their personal lack of knowledge on a topic. Orwell uses the example of meaningless words to describe this deception: “Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way… the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows the hearer to think he means something quite different.” (Orwell 711) Here, Orwell describes the writer who is clearly aware of his bad language, who utilizes it to give the reader a vague positive or negative connotation for the writer’s message. Intentionally vague language can stem from more sinister political purposes too, such as to keep people in the dark so they “will not understand what is happening to them” and therefore “cannot rebel against what they do not understand.” (Joseph 5) In relation to lack of knowledge, a writer may use poor language simply because they do not know “what kind of language will fit what audience”. (Flesch 9) This error is equally unjustifiable, as a writer who wishes to be heard must put in the necessary effort. As all of these reasons for bad language are both negative and curable, society should be concerned with the preservation of proper language.

To vanquish poor language, one must be able to identify offenses. Orwell explains the different forms of bad language as either incorrect grammar and syntax or ineffective language. Although incorrect grammar and syntax may be a result of insufficient education, it is still prevalent in the writings of many well educated authors. These errors are a result of mere carelessness, and are, therefore, inexcusable. When a writer is inattentive towards their grammar, they often ignore their syntax and focus on finishing the product without fine-tuning it. Yet, according to Orwell, bad language is not limited to incorrect grammar and syntax; ineffective language is just as erroneous. This sort of language is not incorrect in a technical sense, but it still has the negative effects of incorrect language. Ineffective language ranges from dead metaphors, meaningless words, and pretentious diction. Orwell writes that dead metaphors are mostly “used without knowledge” and “used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves”; they are used carelessly and only lead to confusion. (Orwell 709) Meaningless words are those which have multiple vague definitions, which a reader may pick and choose to suit their viewpoint. To Orwell, “romantic, sentimental, dead, living, freedom, socialism, class, and science” make the list of his undesirables. (Orwell 711) Orwell’s last classification of bad language is pretentious diction. When a writer primps a simple statement with unnecessary or foreign words to make it seem more interesting, they become a culprit of pretentious diction. (Orwell 710) Writers who commit this fallacy will also often “overestimate people’s information”, meaning that they will write in a form that is unfamiliar to the reader in its formality or scientific terms. (Flesch 13) This linguistic mistake may be obvious or subtle, as it is mostly dependent on the writer’s audience. The simple solution is “to find out what people know and what they don’t know, and then to write accordingly.” (Flesch 14)

Although all these errors illustrate the negative nature of bad language, there are greater reasons why poor language is detrimental rather than simply being “incorrect”. The usage of bad language has negative effects on both an individual and on society as a whole. As a result of inattention to language, an individual may lose reputation, self discipline, and critical thinking skills. One’s language is one of the first things a reader or listener notices; therefore, poor language can make one “seem careless, sloppy and slovenly” or even “make readers … think [one doesn’t] know what [they’re] talking about.” (Wilbers) William Zinsser summarizes the relationship between reputation and language skills in the statement that “Bad writing makes bright people look dumb.” (Wilbers) On the other hand, when used properly, language can help a writer’s message rather than hurt it. For instance, both pretentious diction and overly academic writing can be cured by simplification. This simplification allows the reader to “read [one’s work] faster, enjoy it more, understand better, and remember longer.” (Flesch 147) In this situation, both the writer and the reader benefit. All of these affected individuals build up society, causing society as a whole to be affected by the preservation or deterioration of language. Since poor language is partly a result of political and economic causes, correct language is essential to “political regeneration”. (Orwell 707) The rise of proper language helps all to think clearly and therefore “serve the interests of truth, rather than merely those of power”. (Joseph 5) Proper language literally gives a voice to all those in society who wish to challenge the upper classes.

In the past, critics have examined the different aspects of language. Yet, as language continues to evolve, the discussion cannot be allowed to dwindle. In fact, Orwell, Joseph, and Flesch would all argue that the fight for proper language is more crucial than ever. Although the modern world is dismissing many characteristics of the past, standardized language must be preserved. To let go of effective communication would be to let go of a central part of the world’s humanity.

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147

The Literary Interpretation of the Specifics of Orwell’s Prose

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

George Orwell, most reputable for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949) uses his signature transparent writing style to record a personal anecdote of ‘A Hanging’ conducted in a Burmese prison camp where he worked during the British colonial era. Though not explicitly stated, the narrative demonstrates the process of cyclic desensitization towards acts of injustice due to purposeful self-blinding combined with subconscious effect from embedded societal norms. Orwell shows his recognition of these processes evolve over the course of the narrative through use of characters and metonyms. Despite the recount presenting non-fiction events as they happened from beginning to end structure, Orwell’s piece displays literary techniques used to ‘move’ his readers, thus making it a work of power over knowledge.

From the first paragraph onward, it is immediately noticeable how withdrawn the workers of the penal institution were from the detained prisoners. “We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. These were the condemned men, due to be hanged within the next week or two.” This extract suggests that the captives were identified to the writer merely as animals raised for slaughter (p.1.). Orwell also shows that the prisoners’ poor treatment was indifferent to him through the fact that he displays their bad living circumstances but never comments on them, a point further supported through the introduction of the main protagonist.

Despite the convicted man being destined for death, Orwell only reports his central figure’s physical appearance, “He was a Hindu, a puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes… thick, sprouting moustache, absurdly too big for his body.” The writer clearly shows his lack of concern towards ‘who’ he was guiding to death by never mentioning insight on the felon’s thoughts or what he was convicted of (p.1.). If Orwell was raised with morals against killing and did not know the prisoner’s crime, then it can be inferred that the author’s disregard towards his prisoner may have been shaped by his own self-numbing mechanisms, along with what the law he enforced communicated as ‘wrong’ and ‘right.’

Running off the Darwinist theory of evolution, the mentality of the imperialist era was that Anglo-Saxons were the sovereign race. Being upper-class Europeans, no-doubt this ideology impacted the writer and his colleagues, namely the Superintendent who stated upon looking at the time, “For God’s sake hurry up, Francis,’ he said irritably. ‘The man ought to have been dead by this time. Aren’t you ready yet?” Orwell makes known the superintendent’s previous profession as an army doctor and combined with his high rank, he was assumedly the most versed in witnessing death. It is not a shock that this character was virtually numb to sensitivity over the matter as displayed in his harsh dialogue (p.1.). Thus, being an example of the extent a human can detach from emotions towards killing. The next symbolic character featured however, is free from the imprint of the westernized caste system and therefore makes an interpretation of the prisoner without bias.

The first metonym comes in the appearance of “a large woolly dog, half Airedale, half pariah” on the way to the gallows and creates a light-hearted contradiction to the dark tone previously set (p.2.). “It came bounding among us with a loud volley of barks, and leapt round us wagging its whole body, wild with glee at finding so many human beings together.” Second to the superintendent, the dog shows the way in which societal hierarchy can affect perspective (p.2.). The animal, not being part of a social system, did not understand what was taking place. In its innocence, it saw not a group of men marching alongside an illegitimate, but a group of men marching. The canine confirms that it saw all of the men as equals when it “made a dash for the prisoner, and jumping up tried to lick his face.” Despite the dog’s interruption of the formal procession, Orwell continues to illustrate the prisoner’s death march as a seamless process unlike that of a murder (p.2.).

The description of the detainee’s systematic walking illustrates that everything was operating in a ‘business as usual’ fashion. “At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel.” It was not until the subject actively avoided walking through a puddle that the author began to view the impending hanging as a heinous act about to take place instead of a job or standard procedure to be dealt with(p.2.).

The prisoner stepping aside to miss the puddle is a curious action to perform while walking to one’s death and serves as a moral climax to Orwell who then realises, “what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive.” Through witnessing that this man, who seemed so invalid, was still able to perform basic actions of reasoning, the author was able to identify the prisoner correspondingly to the dog’s temperament, stating, “He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone — one mind less, one world less.” Similarly, to how the puddle affected Orwell personally, the lynching itself clearly impacts other participants (p.2.).

Even though hangings occurred weekly, the author displayed that the prisoner’s “reiterated cry of ‘Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!” to his god, was disturbing to workers (except the superintendent) who shared the opinion of, “get it over, stop that abominable noise!” The moment of the drop acts as the physical climax in the piece and the negative affect this particular hanging had on the prison guards can be seen through the text, “Everyone had changed colour. The Indians had gone grey like bad coffee, and one or two of the bayonets were wavering.” Orwell mentions that after witnessing the atrocities of mankind even the dog “retreated into a corner of the yard, where it stood among the weeds, looking timorously out at us.” Whether the workers began to see the same traits in the prisoner that Orwell saw or they were simply shocked by the man’s unusual cries, all of the characters evidently felt disturbed (p.3.). This point can be further confirmed by the men celebrating amongst each other to reaffirm that what they had done was okay.

The celebration signals an end to the narrative but doubles as the beginning of a new desensitization cycle in preparation for the next week. It is obvious through multiple lines in the text that they all wanted to distract themselves not only by drinking, but also by garrulously laughing for minor reasons, “Several people laughed — at what, nobody seemed certain…. I found that I was laughing quite loudly. Everyone was laughing…. We all began laughing again. At that moment, Francis’s anecdote seemed extraordinarily funny.” Through all of this unnecessary laughter and questionable ‘happiness’ shown by the workers, the author is presenting the prison staff numbing guilt and reassuring the actions of peers (p.4.). The writer’s last words, “The dead man was a hundred yards away” display that the underlying issue was physically out of sight and mentally out of mind thus signalling a new ‘cycle’ beginning (p.4.).

In conclusion Orwell’s use of symbols such as characters, the puddle, the hanging itself and the celebration are effective in demonstrating the way in which humans purposefully blind themselves from transgressions of their own and of the people around them in order to accept actions that go against their core beliefs and values. Orwell’s seemingly concise writing style shares a double meaning to convey the writer’s own beliefs as if it were a work of knowledge, but because of this second agenda, ‘A Hanging’ can be identified as a work of power.

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152

Cause of Totalism and Rebelion in 1984 and Metropolis

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) is a cautionary novel which explores a dystopian society mired in propaganda and totalitarianism. Similarly, director Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) is a critique of a futuristic world where growth and industralisation benefit the few and oppress the many. Both texts reveal societies in which rebellion becomes the focus for unlikely protagonists, who dare to challenge the existing totalitarian values of their world, and who are inspired by the passions of their intimate relationships. Both novel and film were created in post-war contexts: Metropolis post-World War I and 1984 post-World War II, and both to provide warning and caution for future generations at risk of exploitation. The composers of these texts created worlds of totalitarianism and rebellion, as expressed through their different textual forms.

Orwell explores the impact of power through ‘Big Brother,’ a ubiquitous leader of a tyrannical government in which ‘The Party’ is a socio-political power oppressing the lives of citizens. Orwell depicts the oppression and loss of individuality brought about by this totalitarian regime. The language, ‘Newspeak,’ dehumanises citizens by destroying their freedom of speech and expression. Omniscient telescreens and Big Brother’s poster, “Big Brother is watching you,” force conformity on society as “whichever way you turned the telescreens faced you.” The use of hyperbole exaggerates the constant supervision of The Party. Although there are some more private places (such as the Charrington’s room, where the thought of supervision is abolished), the characters are never really free of the danger of hidden telescreens or microphones – always under the everpresent fear of surveillance. The absence of freedom and constant restriction in associating with others prohibit privacy and freedom of speech, showing the extent of oppression and totalitarian power.

Beyond Orwell’s depiction of totalitarianism in 1984, Lang also shows the power of a totalitarian society when it is pitched against those who are initially oppressed. Metropolis emerges from a context of German leadership and focuses on the stratification of social classes: the head (Industrialists) and hands (Workers), in the film’s analysis of the machines. Lang visually represents the debasement of humanity, at the point of subjugation to the power of technology. Lang’s film visually presents a dystopia where the machines are God and the factory Workers are expendable. Through the use of expressionistic chiaroscuro and body language the characters are divided into the Workers and ‘oligarchical heads’. The dark clothing, the hunched shoulders and robotic movement of the Workers at the beginning of the film symbolise a society of dystopia exploitation, whereas the light clothing of the oligarchical rulers in the city above create an exotic montage, in stark contrast to the bare functionalism of the Workers’ city. In using this setup, Lang employs this contrast to condemn the overt control and inequality in his futuristic dystopia. Audiences are presented with his concerns regarding the expendability of human life. They become aware of how strongly he values freedom and equity through his depiction of its antithesis.

In 1984, the depiction of satirical extremes as seen through the eyes of the protagonist, Winston Smith, allows the reader a greater understanding of the values of language and human emotions. An ordinary man, Winston, seeks in extraordinary circumstances, to rebel against ‘The Party’ to regain individual thought and speech. Concepts of ‘thoughtcrime’ and ‘doublethink’ incorporate the idea of control, where even the simplest questioning of The Party is a dangerous and rebellious act. The key motif can be recognised in the repetition of the line, given as a fact “two plus two equals five”, symbolising the power of The Party’s mind-control mechanisms, which persuade someone to believe that the illogical 2+2=5 is correct. At first a friend and then a betrayer, O’Brien organises a campaign of physical and psychological torture that transforms Winston, who no longer has the desire to question The Party, but only to “love Big Brother.”

The loss of spirit and humanity in Orwell’s depiction of Winston’s failed revolt calls to mind the upshot of Lang’s film dystopia, as a nihilistic future reducing humanity to either bestial workers or an exploitative elite, but where revolution is possible with the Heart’s participation. The revolution ends Lang’s film with a utopic accommodation of the ‘hands’ and the ‘heads,’ the possibility bringing optimism and a new future. The revolution that brings this about is led by the rebellious robot, created by Rotwang, provoking the uproar of the ‘hands’ of Metropolis (Workers) and causing mayhem in the underground Metropolis. Rotwang’s creation of a false robotic duplicate of Maria, who has preached the phrase, “the mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart”, incites rebellion in the Workers in the hope of destroying the Heart Machine, the source of energy for Metropolis. Dramatisation of the machine steaming out of control and intense music between the scenes of Freder’s mediation and the destruction of the machines highlights the folly committed by the Workers, whose collective mindset reduces their humility and leaves their children threatened with flooding. This demonic action symbolises the impact of the regime upon society and suggests that in taking control of the present, the children, who represent the future, may become sacrificial offerings. Hence, Lang’s desire for a cooperative approach can be distinguished from Orwell’s bleak portrayal of pointless individual rebellion.

Thus, Orwell’s text and Lang’s film are sources that share similar concerns but represent different contexts, and different understandings of such key values as human freedom, equality, and role of language. Depicting acts of rebellion and the resultant totalitarian responses, they resonate with future audiences to serve as warnings about corruption and about the consequences of blind disobedience and revolt.

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227

Repercussion of Exploitation of Power as Depicted in 1984 and Metropolis

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Intertextual perspectives of personal and political ideals are often shared by composers, regardless of forms and contexts, due to controversial periods of history causing the historical paradigms to resonate with audiences. Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis released in 1927 and George Orwell’s satiric novel ‘1984’ composed in 1948, address concerning ideas such as totalitarian power and dehumanisation through dystopian societies in which the catastrophic repercussions of the exploitations of power are exemplified. In Metropolis, Lang conveys the hope of a disenfranchised society reflecting his concerns due to the economic downturn of post-WW1 Germany. Contrastingly, ‘1984’ hyperbolically presents the absolute power of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia through a satirical voice, exposing the political manipulation of Orwell’s context. Through the comparative study of both dystopian texts, the responder can attain a greater understanding of the contextual influences due to the composers’ perspectives of power and control.

In circumstances of totalitarian power and control, a character’s perception of society is often reformed through the composer’s ideas reflected in their text. In Metropolis and ‘1984’, we witness the similar degradation of human values as the ramifications of post-war conflicts and dictatorial power. In Metropolis, the establishing shots of machinery maintaining the city, in conjunction with the long shot of the workers dehumanised through uniformed choreography, portray the workers as “machinery” maintaining the city too. Contextually, the financial disaster of the Weimar Republic caused mass unemployment, which the film represents through the dehumanisation of workers conveying the result of a totalitarian state as Lang’s visual medium of film is a dire warning of the continued consequences of political upheaval. These enslaved workers are further physically juxtaposed by the freedom of the upper class as presented in the extreme long shots of the ‘sons’ preparing for a running event in the stadium, unrestricted of what they can and can’t do. Additionally, the differing positions of the two groups demonstrate their place in society; workers are underground while the ‘sons’ are above ground. This is reflecting the dichotomy of the upper and lower classes in 1920 Weimar Republic where the ‘conservative elite’ had the will to live freely while workers were constrained to endure labour. The extended metaphor of dehumanisation, emphasised through the monochromatic mis-en-scene, stresses Lang’s key concern of the vitality of unity between the social classes in order to develop a cohesive and functional society. This notion is conveyed through the final scene of Grot shaking Fredersen’s hands. The long shot of the Art Deco church background reiterates Lang’s hope of unification and his perspective that developing a cohesive and functional society is imperative as portrayed throughout Lang’s film, especially though the hands, head and heat motif. It is the contextual influences and Lang’s textual form that represents absolute power and control with a heightened understanding of the negative impacts of a world consumed by totalitarian rule.

Unlike Lang’s film depiction of a capitalist totalitarian government’s eventual succumbing to the notion of a communist and socialist society, Orwell’s novel stresses totalitarian rule will ultimately stifle an individual’s attempt to rebel. This notion can be demonstrated through Orwell’s depiction of O’Brien to convey the immense control that a totalitarian government has, as reflected in “a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. The provocative imagery and violent verb “stomping”, portray the dictatorial governmental power over humanity through fear. Similarly, ‘1984’’s paradoxical slogan of “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” portrays the government’s ability to psychologically manipulate the Oceanians into an everlasting life of propaganda-induced fear, unable to rebel to overthrow the government and therefore resulting in the totalitarian government’s enduring reign. Here, Orwell draws parallel allusions to Stalinism through the heavy propaganda used as the Oceanians kept silent through violence and fear, and the Party ruled via the Central Committee. However, technology is also portrayed as a futuristic means of power to monitor the masses; “hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted again” where the simile and visual imagery of the provocative and intimidating Thought Police characterise the way in which they deliver a powerful “sting”, like a jellyfish when provoked, presenting the responders with the negative impacts of such a governmental system. Despite the varying textual form and contextual influences, Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ continues to provide a thorough understanding of the detrimental effects of a totalitarian rule.

It is without a doubt that both Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and George Orwell’s ‘1984’ portray thematic concerns that ultimately reveal the composers’ similar perspectives despite diverging in contextual period and textual form. Through the exploration of Metropolis, we have a greater understanding and appreciation of the hope for unity between societal classes of late 1910 and early 1920 post-WW1 Germany that was ironically juxtaposed by the subsequent Nazi Germany ruling. Similarly, ‘1984’ reveals the despair and hopelessness for society after the rulings of Stalin and Hitler that has ultimately changed the way in which the responder experiences the world. Thus, it is evident that the contextual periods have significantly influenced intertextual perspectives through the shared ideas of power and control.

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152

Distortion attitude of the society towards the present life

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Nowadays, financial and employment-related matters frequently become the subject of concern for many people. A widespread system, capitalism implies that individuals themselves are to take care of their bread and butter, but not everybody succeeds in these conditions. However, this situation is hardly new. In his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, George Orwell touches upon the same subject and examines what may happen to a person under these circumstances. On the example of Gordon Comstock, the writer examines how a unique type of an antihero develops. Similar to the protagonist, contemporary members of capitalistic society may become a passive antihero notable for their distorted attitude toward money, job, friendship, and romantic relationships which makes the novel relevant to the present.
Money is portrayed as the manifestation of evil the absence of which paradoxically makes a human being unhappy and pathetic. The main character loathes money because he lacks it and, consequently, life values are unavailable to him. At the same time, he knows every detail associated with the object of his contempt and its acceptance by salespersons: “…that absurd little thing, all by itself, sticking on the end of your finger like a tiddley-wink. The shop-girl sniffs. She spots immediately that it’s your last threepence in the world.” He is maniacally scrupulous about the impression he makes on people in relation to his financial opportunities and almost always thinks about what he hates – money. With these constant thoughts, Comstock has a masochistic desire to make himself small and miserable. In other words, he not only simply notices the fact that he is poor, but also “savors” it as if trying to humiliate himself. Rather than try to find new, better sources of income, at least temporarily, he prefers doing nothing except counting coins and being in debt.

On the surface, it seems that Gordon despises money. The further events are, however, surprising: in the course of time, he faces the choice between applying his skills in advertising and shifting with little money; when he chooses the first option, he turns out to be…happy. What makes the character an antihero is that he secretly, passively longed for wealth and denied it as a form of psychological defense, unable to admit it openly. Whether people who loudly criticize money and wealth actually want it may be questionable, yet the story gives modern readers food for thought: would they be happy if they had a chance to obtain money this way? Is there such an antihero lurking in their minds?

Similar to changing the attitude toward money, job-related issues also demonstrate that the protagonist is an antihero. As the story runs, a reader learns that Gordon used to have a well-paid job in an advertising company “New Albion,” but eventually quitted and started working in a book store, even though he was paid little. His dream to become a writer clashes the harsh reality; just like he accepts money in his life, he is involved in advertising again in the end – again, the act of betrayal is present. Due to this double disloyalty, the ending feels like the gloomy final chapter of “1984” because Winston’s rebellion is turned into loyalty to The Party. Indeed, what looks like a happy ending is actually the funeral because the Gordon has lost the core of his character and turned into one of the ordinary middle-class citizens with no ambitions or desire to express himself. The moment when Comstock finds his poem draft is especially illustrative. As he looks at the unrealized work of his, it seems absurd for him that he wanted to write: “The sole fruit of his exile, a two years’ fetus which would never be born. Well, he had finished with all that. Poetry! Poetry, indeed! In 1935.” This dramatic change speaks for itself: once an intelligent, promising poet who just lacked luck and sensitive audience, Gordon is now an empty body and antihero belittling the power of art and life inspiration. This transformation becomes a warning for a modern reader who might consider choosing the job they do not like since the salary is good – it is a perfect opportunity to step back and look at the situation from the outside.

The antiheroic nature of the main character is also materialized in his relationship with his friend Philip Ravelston. Unlike the self-centered, resentful protagonist, Philip is more empathic and perfectly understands his friend’s needs because he “could always see another person’s point of view.” Still, Gordon cannot eliminate his fixed idea that money matters in every aspect of human existence and even close connections are not the reason to relax and enjoy interaction. Comstock childishly avoids viewing their friendship as the territory free of prejudice because he never believes that people might be generous and sincerely mean good to other people. In fact, it is likely that Gordon projects this attitude from his own: as an antihero, he is unable to be a real friend and stop expecting a wicked trick from everywhere. The author emphasizes how stubborn Gordon is when it comes to friendship and money: “His friendship with Ravelston was only possible on the understanding that he paid his share of everything.” Having realized it, a reader may reconsider their social network and make sure that only for antiheroes, everything is measured with wealth. Thus, the main character’s antiheroism manifests itself in his inability to be on equal terms with his friend which devaluates the very concept of friendship and suggests that Gordon will never change for the better, for he has no values related to interpersonal integrity and trust.

Finally, love suffers the same fate as friendship: instead of enjoying it, the passive antihero stays away from it, too scared to take first steps and dare build his life outside the conventional norms. That is why, after all troubles he had given to Rosemary, such as touching her up against her will, he ends up marrying her because the woman is pregnant – Gordon can do it and accept the ordinary lifestyle only after he betrays himself and turns into a complete antihero. It is symbolic that Gordon wants an aspidistra in his new house – the plant stands for a settled and simultaneously stagnant life. His desire is derived from the fact that “’it’s the proper thing to have” – thus, it is apparent that the character’s moral decay is complete. In a similar way, many modern people consider marriage as a way of growing up and settling down rather than the quintessence of love; the novel becomes an implicit critical comment on such actions.

Overall, the modern world is very much alike the world pictured in Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying. People face the same challenges related to earning money, choosing a career, making friends, and finding one’s love. Because the world demands to give up fantasies and cherished dreams, Gordon gradually becomes an antihero who refuses to sell his abilities for the sake of the “money-god.” Instead, he consciously ceases to act and complaints about the reality ignoring people who wish him only good and betraying his ideals. Considering the similarity between the issues discussed in the book and today’s problems, the modern generation will probably look at the subject from a different angle and reflect on finding balance between self-realization and surviving.

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143

1984 and the Blind Assassin: Trying to Find the Real Balance

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

As human beings, we are fascinated by our past. The past affects society in so many ways most don’t even notice the effect and humans accept that conclusion. Whether it be the language spoken or the city a person lives in, everything around us has history or some sort of meaning behind it. As a society, we have chosen to embrace and learn from our past. While this is one way of handling history, both George Orwell and Margaret Atwood make a statement about the role and power of the past in their respective novels, 1984 and The Blind Assassin. George Orwell’s novel 1984 describes a dystopian world where “Big Brother” and the government controls everything its citizens do, say, and even think. One major aspect of Orwell’s society is the complete control and erasure of history. In Orwell’s novel, the government takes precautions to ensure that the history of their nation is hidden or completely rewritten. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood in contrast, tells the story of an elderly woman named Iris as she writes a novel of her entire past life to her granddaughter Sabrina. Atwood emphasizes, maybe even over emphasizes, the past. Orwell and Atwood both create storylines that describe the two extremes of ignoring the past and completely living in it in an effort to prove the importance in finding a balance between the two.

In 1984, Orwell tries to belittle the past by eliminating “Oldspeak” and replacing it with a completely different language called “Newspeak”. Newspeak is an overly simplified language that is completely detached from any history.. Real language has history and roots. Oldspeak, or English, has Germanic and Latin roots. When people share a common language, they share a common history and this brings them together. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood is a perfect example of people being able to connect through language and literature. The unnamed man and woman connect with each other as the unnamed man tells his stories to his lover, the unnamed woman, about the thrilling adventures of X and the Silent Princess. Atwood makes sure to focus on the importance of language and the history behind it.

Moreover, Orwell removes all literary connections to the past. Syme speaks to Winston about Newspeak describing, “By 2050, earlier, probably – all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron – they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be.” (Orwell 56). In today’s society, the knowledge and appreciation of people like Shakespeare and Chaucer allows people to connect. By eliminating Oldspeak and literary figures, Orwellian society loses all sense of community and history, and this is exactly what Orwell wants his readers to see and understand. He shows us that a society that does not have history to guide it does not function.

Atwood places considerable emphasis on literary references in her book. She definitely does not shy away from name dropping people like Ovid, Lord Tennyson, and even Victor Hugo. Although their general education is quite limited, Iris and Laura learn Latin, French, and they read books upon books. Iris once said, “I’d pick out books that interested me: A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens; Macaulay’s histories; The Conquest of Mexico and The Conquest of Peru, illustrated. I read poetry as well, and Miss Violence occasionally made a half-hearted attempt at teaching by having me read it out loud” (Atwood 155). The girls literary education is far beyond just limited. This is a way for Atwood to further show the importance of history. But at the same time, Atwood connects their literary education to someone horrible, Mr. Erskine. Their abusive tutor who, “would whack the desks beside our fingers with his ruler, and the actual fingers too, or cuff us across the back of the head when exasperated or last resort hurl books at us or hit us across the backs of our legs” (Atwood 162). Iris and Laura’s connection to history and education would be destroyed if every time they thought of it they would be reminded of him. This could be a warning from Atwood to not get to close to your past.

In 1984, in a manner that calls to mind Iris in The Blind Assassin, Winston has a diary. In this diary he uses Oldspeak where he writes down his “forbidden” thoughts. But because of Big Brother and the government Winston is prohibited from writing anything down at all. Winston tells the readers, “Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go one with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same” (Orwell 19). On the contrary, the entire novel of The Blind Assassin consists of Iris spilling out all her emotions and her entire life onto paper, using her language to describe how she feels in an attempt to connect with her granddaughter. While writing her book, she describes every single detail she can remember, as she relives her entire life again. As we go further into the book most of Iris’ time is spent writing. By writing her novel and hanging onto the past, in Iris’ mind she hopes to go back and fix the wrongs she made when she was younger. She even says, “To pronounce the name of the dead is to make them live again” (Atwood 191). Iris is living in her past. All her feelings and regrets that she felt as a young woman come back to her as she writes. She states, “Time rises and rises, and when it reaches the level of your eyes you drown.” (Atwood 478). Iris is drowning in her past, she is overwhelmed by all the memories she relives when writing her book.

Both Iris and Winston are suffering in their own way, as they both struggle in their search for an equal balance. Even though both authors take very different approaches, Orwell and Atwood both come to the same conclusion. The role of history in a society or a person’s life is significant, but it is important to have a balance. Orwell points out the flaws in completely ignoring and erasing history by making examples of people like Winston or Julia. Atwood warns against living in the past as she focuses on Iris, who spends her whole life feeling guilty about decisions she made when she was younger.In my opinion, the powerful role of history is sometimes under acknowledged and therefore underbalanced. Everything that the human race is, all advancements and knowledge, an inheritance from those who came before us. Without them, we humans would be nowhere near as advanced as we are today.

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128

The Waning Days of British Imperialism in “A Passage to India” and “Burmese Days”

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

In the preface to The English Novel in the Twentieth Century [The Doom of Empire], Martin Green claims that “One could read all the works of the Great Tradition, and never know that England had an empire”. While this argument could be applied to the bourgeois, largely domestic nature of the nineteenth-century literary canon, E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India (1924) and George Orwell’s Burmese Days (1934) mark the development of a post-war, politically engaged consciousness, largely triggered by the brutal Amritsar massacre of 1919. Both novels – influenced by the writers’ own experiences in the East – launch a fiercely satirical attack on the conduct of the British Raj overseas and the moral bankruptcy of the English country club. A particularly noticeable aspect of Orwell’s and Forster’s critiques is the complicity of English women in encouraging and reinforcing masculine ideals of belligerence and jingoism in the East, thus exacerbating the strained relations between natives and their British rulers. However, although both texts exhibit a shared disdain for the overbearing, Kiplingesque pomposity of the British ruling classes in the East, Forster’s liberal pragmatism and humanist approach contrasts to the more radical and nihilistic tone of Orwell’s novel, thereby demonstrating how the works of both writers present us with innovative and challenging, yet strikingly distinguishable, interpretations of the flagging days of British imperialism.

E.M. Forster wrote A Passage to India against a backdrop of political turbulence and simmering racial tensions, largely compounded by the incompetence of the British colonialists in the East. His novel consistently contrasts the blind complacency and barely-hidden racial prejudice of the colonists with their repeated assertion that they “are out here to do justice and keep the peace” [45]. The callous conduct of the British inevitably has a detrimental effect on cross-cultural understanding and friendship, and, despite the naive efforts of Mrs Moore and the aptly-named Adela Quested to gain an authentic view of India, the oppressive and unjust political structure of the country results in the two women experiencing a divisive and strikingly unfathomable environment. Indeed, while observing her son, the City Magistrate, at work in the court, Mrs Moore laments the insensitivity and negligence of the British Raj in India:

How he did rub it in that he was not in India to behave pleasantly, and derived positive satisfaction therefrom… One touch of regret – not the canny substitute but the true regret from the heart – would have made him a different man, and the British Empire a different institution. [46]

Amongst this destructive mire of bigotry and suspicion, it is only the elderly Brahmin, Godbole, with his distinctly non-British form of wisdom, who expresses the intrinsic unity of East and West (“When evil occurs, it expresses the whole of the universe. Similarly when good occurs”). Through the character of Godbole, Forster skillfully adopts the ancient values of Hinduism as a vehicle for an alternative and remarkably contemporary mode of thought regarding cross-cultural relations, thus paving the way for a succession of ground-breaking and provocative literary representations of colonialism.

Published a decade after Forster’s novel, George Orwell’s Burmese Days embarks on a vitriolic and darkly humorous attack of the grandiose illusions of imperialism and the crass, mindless debauchery of the administrative staff, whose crude reliance on “Booze as the cement of empire” [37] results in the development of a society steeped in moral failure and corruption. Despite being set during the waning days of British colonialism, the bullish nature of the exclusive and fiercely racist “Kipling-haunted little Clubs” [69] ensure that any form of political dissent is crushed, leaving the protagonist, John Flory, isolated in his comprehension of the ways in which Empire degrades the natives whom it self-importantly claims to uplift. Similarly to Forster’s narrative, Orwell expresses a firm belief that no member of a subjugated race can develop a true friendship with a member of the dominant race, as the oppressive political structures at work in Burma ensure that such a friendship will end in betrayal and resentment. As Flory reflects following a heated political exchange in the European Club, “With Indians there must be no loyalty, no real friendship.” [80], a notion which augments the socially-constructed and seemingly impenetrable barrier to positive relationships between Englishmen and their colonial subjects.

Paradoxically, however, both novels feature an unlikely alliance between a Western male and an educated native, in both cases a doctor. Indeed, Orwell uses the bond between Flory and Dr. Veriswami to humorously employ the diagnostic language adopted by many politically engaged writers during the interwar period, derisively likening the British Empire to an elderly patient: “Aha, Mr Flory, she iss very low, very low! Grave complications setting in. Septicaemia, peritonitis and paralysis of the ganglia.” [35]. By adopting the language of diagnosis and cure as a metaphor for the dying British Empire, Orwell evokes a disturbing sense of cultural sickness and contagion, which, in turn, warns of the corruptive nature of the Anglo-Indians’ crudely mercenary approach to society. Instead of bringing peace and justice to the native people of the East, Orwell suggests that the function of the British simply amounts to “rubbing our dirt onto them” [40], with Englishmen and Burmans alike committing abhorrent deeds for the sake of social mobility and prestige.

Forster’s novel addresses a similar process of moral debasement at work amongst British expatriates in India: “They all become exactly the same, not worse, not better. I give any Englishman two years” [9]. Even the Indian Dr. Aziz – an affectionate and youthful presence for much of the novel – becomes consumed by a “genuine hatred of the English”, eventually isolating himself from Flory as a result of his humiliation at the hands of the British law: “I am an Indian at last, he thought, standing motionless in the rain” [278-9]. It is therefore clear that, rather than bringing a beacon of hope and prosperity to the East, as literary antecedents such as Rudyard Kipling had implied, the narratives of Forster and Orwell depict the presence of Anglo-Indians as a deeply destructive force in the East, circulating petty resentments and deep-seated prejudices which eventually tear apart positive human relationships.

In this way, the highly anglicised colonial setting evoked by Forster and Orwell is arguably a microcosm of British society, with its myopic “country club” mentality acting as a poor recreation of suburban England. Indeed, the political somnolence of Middle England is a recurring theme in Orwell’s writing; his personal account of the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia (1938), expresses his dismay at returning from Spain to a complacent, distinctly “English” society, with seemingly no connection to foreign affairs (“Earthquakes in Japan, famine in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don’t worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning”). Interestingly, however, both Orwell and Forster’s biting satire is most ruthlessly exercised towards Anglo-Indian women, whom they frequently depict as chief collaborators in the colonial system of oppression and subjugation. For example, the haughty, colonial wife in A Passage to India, Mrs Turton, most effectively encapsulates the Englishwoman’s scornful and highly gendered intolerance of Indian natives through her series of increasingly absurd outbursts: “Why, they ought to crawl from here to the caves on their hands and knees whenever and Englishwoman’s in sight, they oughtn’t be spoken to, they ought to be spat at” [204]. Similarly, the primary female character in Burmese Days is mystified and repelled by Flory’s admiration of Burmese culture – “She was grasping, dimly, that his views were not the views an Englishman should hold.” [121] – yet becomes attracted to him when he adopts a conventional, “manly” demeanour at a shooting expedition. Through their position as agents of chauvinism and oppression, therefore, women are equated with British “civilisation” and become a destructive and dogmatic force in the East, a consensus between the two authors that has prompted the feminist literary critic, Jenny Sharpe, to conclude that the Anglo-Indian woman “perhaps more than anyone else, embodies the memsahib in all her contradictions”.

However, it is important to recognise the differing ways in which Orwell and Forster approach their critique of English colonialism. Unlike Forster in A Passage to India, Orwell actually addresses the underlying economic reasons for the British presence in the East: “how can you make out that we are in this country for any purpose except to steal? It’s so simple. The official holds the Burman down while the businessman goes through his pockets” [38]. Through Flory’s withering account of colonial ambitions in Burma, the reader gains an insight into Orwell’s growing political radicalism, with critics agreeing that his experience in the country doubtlessly accentuated his sensitivity to the unjust caste system at home in Britain. As such, his acute disillusion with the British social system is reflected through the troubling sense of nihilism that permeates the text, a powerful scepticism that manifests itself most palpably in the novel’s tragic and unsettling conclusion: “There is a rather large number of suicides among the Europeans in Burma, and they occasion very little surprise” [295]. Orwell’s Burma is a socially fragmented country of indigenous corruption and imperial hypocrisy, and the reader is offered very little hope of redemption or justice.

Forster, on the other hand, avoids making these sweeping structural condemnations, instead placing emphasis on the personal rather than directly addressing the social and political implications of British colonialism. This humanist tendency is apparent through his repeated speculation over whether an Englishman and Indian can ever be friends under colonialism, a preoccupation that runs throughout the text. It is important to remember that Forster is not advocating an end to British imperialism – instead he favours a more conciliatory and tolerant form of British rule in India – thus his text lacks the radical undertones of Orwell’s Burmese Days. Moreover, Forster does not share the overly bleak outlook held by Orwell, as memorably demonstrated in the final horseback-riding scene, where Fielding and Aziz attempt at reconciliation:

But the horses didn’t want it – they swerved apart; the earth didn’t want it…the birds, the carrion, the Guest House, that came into view as they issued from the gap and saw Mau beneath: they didn’t want it, they said in their hundred voices, “No, not yet,” and the sky said, “No, not there.” [306]

The literary theorist Edward Said believes this conclusion to be “disappointing”, serving as a gloomy mark of the East’s permanent estrangement from the West. However, he arguably fails to acknowledge the resonant sense of hope embedded in these lines (“not yet… not there”), and the gentle poignancy of the two friends’ final outing. Through its depiction of the complexities and development of Fielding and Aziz’s relationship, the novel subtly implies that cross-cultural friendship, though frustratingly elusive in colonial times, may be achieved in the future. As such, Forster could be said to share the “evolutionary meliorism” of writers such as Thomas Hardy, who favoured a reasoned and rational approach to social issues. While Mrs Moore and Adela ultimately fail in their “quest” for true communion with India, the reader is awakened to the possibility of a new age of tolerance and understanding, therefore raising hopes for the liberalisation of Anglo-Indian rule and improved relations between East and West.

In conclusion, both Forster and Orwell present a penetrating and socially conscious depiction of Britain’s weakening control over the East, exhibiting varying degrees of pessimism with regard to the future of relations between Englishmen and natives. While Forster’s ire is directed chiefly at the negligent and callous attitudes of the public schoolboys who rule India, Orwell presents a sustained critique of the political structures that maintain imperialism, making it possible to identify Burmese Days as a radical 1930s rejoinder to Forster’s influential novel. In any case, Orwell and Forster’s bitingly satirical representations of British imperialism mark a significant departure from the nationalist, soldierly rhetoric of Rudyard Kipling, and have therefore proved instrumental in shaping the public and literary discourse surrounding imperialism in the East.

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278

Political Views and Perspective on Imperialism of Orwell

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

George Orwell continues to be one of the most frequently quoted and best-loved British authors of the 20th century. Even years after his death, he is still celebrated by people all over the world. The political consciousness that pervades his writing ensures that he remains to be a touchstone for most readers. In particular, most readers refer to him as a primary literary protagonist during the Cold War era. This is confirmed by The Socialist Party of Great Britain by arguing that “Orwell was a fine, though somewhat confused, journalist who became famous for the plain style of writing evident in his essays; his successful attempt to make political writing an art; his famous satires on totalitarianism; his search for objectivity and honesty in journalism depicted most graphically in Homage to Catalonia (1938)” (1). Orwell’s writing became a source of great controversies during his lifetime. 1984, his last novel, was the definition of a ‘canonical text’ that focused on conservative anti-communism. His miscellaneous work, The Collected Essays, enabled the readers to understand the context of Orwell’s books.

As World War II came to an end, Orwell was finishing up his novel, 1984. The book became famous, so much so that its key phrases and title are still used to show the dangers of excessive government control. The developed ideas in his book expressed the dangers he witnessed through the fascism of Italy, Spain, and Germany, and the Soviet Union’s communism (The Socialist Party of Great Britain 1). “Nineteen Eighty-four” – are ideas Orwell developed to express the dangers he saw mid-century in the fascism of Germany, Italy and Spain and communism in the Soviet Union (Christie 1).” It is argued that future generations will continue using Orwellian terms to fight authoritarian governments. Furthermore, the generations to come may also use the terms to decry democracies that utilize Big Brother techniques under the pretext of self-preservation. Orwell was critical of individuals who accepted, as well as parroted, the party line regardless of the party values and style of leadership.Nobody ever imagined that Orwell’s essay, which praised the Common Toad, would become famous sixty years after it was written. In the beginning, the article was written to fill a newspaper column. The article had all the characteristics that had been associated with Orwell’s style of writing. Particularly, “it focused on an unglamorous subject matter, the unnoticed details, the baleful glare, and the belief in humanity” (Paxman 1). The piece is not about the Toad, but about spring, which is the most promising time of the year. The essay is one among the many articles written by Orwell that criticized governments and their leaders. After reading this piece, the question that one asks is why would he write an article focusing on controversial political issues?

George Orwell was initially known as Eric Blair, and was the son of a government official who oversaw the opium trade. He was born in India, but was transferred to Burma as an imperial police officer (Biography 1). “The son of a British civil servant, George Orwell spent his first days in India, where his father was stationed. His mother brought him and his older sister, Marjorie, to England about a year after his birth and settled in Henley-on-Thames. His father stayed behind in India and rarely visited (Biography 1).” Initially, he did not show any signs of liberal ideas, but as time went by, he started to change his thoughts. It was as if something had interfered with his conscience, making him adopt a liberal view. Blair began to hate the dirty job of breaking strikes and maintaining order among the locals. After going through these situations, it is likely that Blair started developing a hatred for what the government was doing. It became clear to him that he could not go on being a member of a regime that was oppressing other people. In those days, prisons overflowed, and the villages were destroyed and burnt to the ground. When someone sees other individuals undergoing too much suffering at the hands of his or her people, he or she may become affected.

In this case, Blair saw that enough was enough, and he could not continue being a part of the imperial government. It might have been wise for Blair to refrain from writing about controversial political issues at the time. However, the experience he had in Burma made him adopt a liberal view and start criticizing governments. Five years in Burma was enough to change Eric Blair into George Orwell, a man who hated imperialism at all costs. As Chen writes, “Five years in Burma had transformed Eric Blair into “George Orwell”, a man who hated the imperialism I was serving with bitterness which I probably cannot make clear” (1). Christie adds that “Orwell’s political lines started to fuel with the increasing loathing that he developed towards imperialism. He decided that he was going to satirize the absurd claims by the British colonialists regarding their racial superiority” (1). Going to Burma and later changing his mind about the actions of the British Imperial government proves that Orwell did some self-analysis. He observed the atrocities being directed to the locals and made a decision that it was not fair at all.

To get a deeper insight of the works of Orwell, one has to dig further into his experiences as a police officer. For example, while in Spain, Orwell recollected about the conditions that were present on the battlefield. At first, he was fascinated by the fact that workers had taken over the city of Barcelona. It becomes evident that Orwell argued that the rich were cruel because they exploited the poor. In Barcelona, he came across a working class that was fast turning into a class for itself. It appears that Orwell wanted the poor members of the society to rise to the occasion and start taking advantage of the available opportunities (Chen 1). Venturing into controversial political topics and issues was a chance to enlighten the members of the public about what was taking place. However, the thrill he had experienced dwindled after he was put on the front line. “Orwell’s writing was the source of as much controversy during his life as it was when left and right fought over his literary corpse after his death (Chen 1).”Orwell did not like the conditions that the soldiers faced while on the battlefield. They had to put up with muddy trenches, the terrifying presence of rats, drenched dugouts, human excrements, and infestations of lice. What kind of a government lets its citizens face such conditions in the name of fighting its enemies? Additionally, the Imperial soldiers had antiquated weaponry, as well as inadequate training. If the government wanted them to defeat its enemies, would it not have trained them well and given them superior weapons? His experience in Spain can help us answer the question regarding Orwell’s focus on controversial political topics. It is clear that he saw the top government officials and leaders as being individuals who only cared about themselves. In particular, they wanted the British Empire to fight its enemies to push forward their personal agendas. These experiences made him criticize dictators regarding their selfish nature and treatment of their subjects.

Orwell’s essays also help in providing answers to the question of why he preferred to cover controversial political issues. One such essay, “Shooting an Elephant”, tells us of an experience he had in Burma. He sees an elephant that has run amok and is using its knees to beat a bunch of grass. He aims at the elephant decides to pull the trigger, but the beast seems to remain standing. However, a mysterious and terrible change comes over the elephant’s body and every line on its body changes. All of a sudden the elephant appears struck, shrunk, and immensely old. At this point, questions are likely to start crossing the minds of the readers. What did Orwell want to represent after using the elephant as an example? What message did he want to pass across to the audience? Assessing the essay closely, one can conclude that Orwell was representing a political issue. (Paxman 1). Paxman states, “The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it’ (1). In particular, he wanted to demonstrate that the imperial project taking place in Burma was futile. Earlier, Orwell stated that the life of a white man in the East proved to be a struggle and could not be laughed at. In his bibliography, it is written “Orwell took all sorts of jobs to make ends meet, including being a dishwasher” (1). He goes on to say that he killed the elephant so as not to look like a fool. It becomes clear that Orwell hated imperialism because he acknowledged that imperialism was not going to be a success. Having experienced the difficulties that white men faced in the East, he addresses the issue for people to know his discontent with it. The stance that Orwell adopts on the issue of imperialism paints a man who seems to know all its negative effects. He believes that countries in the East need to be given the chance to rule themselves and make their own decisions. He took it upon himself to try and create awareness about the disadvantages of imperialism.

Looking at Orwell’s style of writing, he had his reasons as to why he wrote the essay praising the Common Toad and other texts. For instance, when he wrote the essay he was referring to the spring political season but not about the toads. This is confirmed by The Orwell Prize “I mention the spawning of the toads because it is one of the phenomena of Spring which most deeply appeal to me, and because the toad, unlike the skylark and the primrose, has never had much of a boost from poets” (1). The article also adds that“As for Spring, not even the narrow and gloomy streets round the Bank of England are quite able to exclude it. It comes seeping in everywhere, like one of those new poison gases which pass through all filters” (The Orwell Prize 1). Additionally, When he was a young boy, he wrote for the sake of writing by making up stories or describing scenes. “However, as he grew up, his writing started to evolve, and he began to focus mostly on political issues” (Wengraf 1). Additionally, Wengaf writes that “Orwell did not become a militant in and of the working class movement, nor did he adopt the world outlook of the workers’ movement, that is, Marxism. Rather he adopted the role of the self-conscious outsider who, while investigating the conditions of the workers and the poor (and sympathizing with them), would retain his individual independence and detachment” (1). He provided four reasons that drive people to write. A close assessment of these issues can help us understand why he decided to follow a political dimension in his writing. The first reason why people write, according to Orwell, is because of sheer egoism. Pure egoism occurs when writers become extremely self-centered and vain, making them desire writing about themselves. In this case, they hope to show the world what they can do or make their opinions and views noted. Could Orwell have focused on controversial political issues to make his opinions and views prominent? The second reason for writing is aesthetic enthusiasm among the writers. In this case, Orwell postulated that people write because they take pleasure in the words and beauty of the world. Such writers hope to express and share their valuable experiences with their audience. At this point, we get to understand why he focused on the issue of imperialism. Going to Burma opened his eyes on the suffering the locals were facing at the hands of the British police officers. Therefore, he focused on topics that would allow him to share his experiences with his audience while serving as a law-enforcement officer. The third reason for people to write is because of historical impulse. Such types of writers have an interest in facts concerning the contemporary world, and they want to record them to inform future generations. Orwell must have wanted the next generation to understand and appreciate the political landscape during his time. In this case, he decided to write his texts and essays following a political landscape to educate future generations on the predicaments at the time. The fourth reason for people to write is because of political considerations. Writers with this motive aim to change their societies through raising awareness, altering peoples’ perceptions, and so on. It is evident that to Orwell, this is the most important reason for writing. During his time, momentous political revolutions were occurring in Europe, World Wars were ensuing, and grim totalitarian regimes such as Nazism and Stalinism were reigning. He made it his responsibility to raise awareness on issues that were of political importance.

Orwell was said to be a self-described socialist, as a result of the lessons he learned in his early life. His experiences in Burma turned him into an anti-imperialist who wanted to expose the oppression of the poor and working class. As portrayed in the NPR article, “Orwell had lived in Burma in the 1920s as an officer in the Imperial Police Force” (1). This experience shaped his writings. Moreover, he wanted to increase the rights of the poor and the working class in the society. He became a contradictory and controversial writer who took diverse and courageous positions regarding his works. The essay “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad” paints a clear picture of a person who hated what the dictators of the time were doing. He acknowledged that the only platform he was going to use to reach these dictators was his writing. He became obsessed with criticizing Stalinism, especially towards the end of his life. In the essay “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad”, Orwell argues that “So long as you are not actually ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison or a holiday camp, Spring is still Spring. The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it” (Paxman 1). He wanted people to understand that regardless of what the dictators were doing, they could not stop them from enjoying what they wanted. Therefore, Orwell focused on controversial political issues because he wanted to promote awareness among the people.

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