The Analysis of George Orwell Essay “Why I Write”


When reading any body of work, one must analyze the validity of the author’s point of view and acknowledge whether or not their words are properly supported and effective. While reading George Orwell’s essay appropriately titled “Why I Write”, he states that all writers have “four great motives for writing” that are all active within them, at any given moment, in varying degrees of intensity (207). The first motive detailed is “sheer egoism”, which is a strong compulsion to write and be remembered. The second and third motives are “aesthetic enthusiasm” which is an appreciation of beauty in the world and “historical impulse” which is the desire to preserve the current and modern for future generations. The final motive is “political purpose” which is a call to action, meant to alter others’ ideas and push the world in a certain direction. After reading this essay, I have concluded that his argument is effective and well-supported through his tone and voice, through his structure, and based on his target audience.

For example, in my opinion, one of the strongest means of support a writer can draw upon is their own experiences. Orwell conducts his expository essay in an introspectively autobiographical voice, which means he focuses within himself and on how past events have shaped him personally, as a growing and evolving individual. While detailing his backstory to the reader, he also encourages them to, when reading any literature, research background information about the writer’s personal life, as he believes a person cannot “assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development” (207).

Often times, researching a writer’s background can be helpful in providing insight into the purpose of the author’s writings and on the historical time period during which the author’s writings take place. In the same way, a reason as to any possible choice of diction or slang dialect, which may be influenced by factors such as time period or region of the world, can be uncovered by delving into an author’s background and history. Tone can also be understood better by understanding and being familiar with the author’s personality.

In addition to his writing style, Orwell structures his essay in such a way that it is clear and coherent, so as to be easily understood by various sections of the general population. The reader can connect to his words and feel compassion towards him and his struggles, which helps to build a rapport between him and his audience. His use of various figures of speech provides differing writing techniques and which help him to rephrase ideas eloquently and engagingly. An example of this is when he makes use of the simile “good prose is like a windowpane”, which means that writing, when done well, provides a window into another reality or another point of view (211). Furthermore, every one of his ideas correlate with each other, which aids to provide clarity and consistency so the reader can easily grasp the concepts that he is writing about.

Further, while reading this essay, I have found that Orwell’s words and concepts are prevalent and relatable in a broad sense, which allows them to have the opportunity to reach a wide scope of recipients, thus allowing his “intended audience” to be varied. One of the most substantial groups of his diverse intended audience is the variety of general and literate readers. Orwell wishes to educate these readers on relevant motives and help to open their eyes to any possible outstanding bias within other pieces of literary work. Another segment of his intended audience is other writers like himself. When detailing the four motives, he presents other writers the opportunity to acknowledge what motive they agree with on a personal level, while Orwell recognizes that at the bottom of every writer’s motive to write, “there lies a mystery” (211). He acknowledges that every writer is different and their personal, detailed motives can vary from person to person, but the four base motives that he listed, generally speaking, are valid in the sense that every motive can fit, even somewhat, within them.

Overall, when examining the argument of any given piece of literature, my job as the reader is to orderly and accurately analyze statements made by an author and their work and come to the conclusion of whether or not I believe their ideas are valid based on the support they provide within their text. Furthermore, while studying Orwell’s essay, I have concluded that his argument, which states that an individual’s motive for writing can be filed down to fit into four base motives: sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose, is rational and well grounded. His utilization of a simple and unbiased tone, a clear, easy to follow, and easy to understand structure, and his appeal to a widely diverse audience, which includes both readers and writers alike, contribute to the validity and effectiveness of this argument.

 

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