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Examining Rhetoric: Orwell’s Essay ”Politics and the English Language”

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This 4 page paper critiques George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language.” Bibliography lists 4 sources.

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4 pages (~225 words per page)

File: D0_HVOrEssy.rtf

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argues that he uses all three common rhetorical devices, logos, ethos and pathos, in his essay about poor English; but it also argues that he falls prey to some of the problems he criticizes. Discussion Before we turn to the essay, lets consider Orwells novels, in particular 1984, in which he showed that "the destruction of language is an essential part of oppression" ("George Orwell"). It was in this novel that Orwell invented a language called "Newspeak," the language of the totalitarian state, the purpose of Newspeak was "to remove all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple dichotomies (pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, good thoughts and thoughtcrimes) which reinforce the total dominance of the State" ("Newspeak and George Orwells 1984"). Orwell understood that taking control of language in great measure also means taking control of society. To see how this works, we have only to consider whats happening in the U.S. today, as ordinary Americans join together to protect the consolidation of the media. People understand that if there are only a handful of news outlets left, we will hear only what the station owners want to broadcast, and they will of course parrot their party line. A democracy depends on the exchange of information as well as a press that is free to investigate, and even criticize, its government. These freedoms are now in danger. Thus Orwell, perhaps more than anyone else, is in a position to examine the decline of the English language. The essay is well written, thoughtful, and very funny-not perhaps the first quality that one associates with Orwell. He uses all three rhetorical devices to good effect. To review briefly, "logos" is using logical arguments; "pathos" is creating sympathy in the audience/reader; and "ethos" refers to the qualities of the speaker/writer that give ...

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