George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” Rhetorical Précis
Goerge Orwell, in “Politics and the English Language”, demonstrates how to effectively express oneself with written language. To do so, Orwell states the “dos” and “don’ts” of effective writing. Because the rules for writing effectively are so complex, Orwell utilizes parallel structure to make the body structure of his essay more cohesive: “… it has nothing to do with archaism… it is especially concerned with the scrapping of… It has nothing to do with correct grammar… it is not concerned with… Nor does it even imply… though it does imply…” (Orwell). Orwell interlaces multiple parallel structures to give the body both unity and a back-and-forth feel that keeps the audience on their toes. If he had not done so, his arguments would have quickly become repetitive and monotonous.
Although Orwell specifically states that “correct grammar and syntax… are of no importance”, one can see that he has gone to great lengths to achieve an engaging effect through syntax. The back-and-forth action of the body paragraphs and his self-contradiction alludes to a rule he introduces later in the writing: “Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous” (Orwell). He then goes on to break a number of his previously stated rules, some more blatantly than others: “… send some worn-out and useless phrase… into the dustbin” (Orwell). He also uses polysyllabic diction at some points, though he expressly states to “Never use a long word where a short one will do”. His contradiction of himself may at first leave some readers puzzled, but ultimately establishes the concept that a writer should not be afraid to break conventions to make a point.