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George Orwell Essay, Research Paper

Raymond CalderonProfessor TilleyEG121 / English CompositionNovember 29, 1998 George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair was born in 1903 at Motihari in British-occupied India. While growing up, he attended private schools in Sussex, Wellington andEton. He worked at the Imperial Indian Police until 1927 when he went toLondon to study the poverty stricken. He then moved to Paris where hewrote two lost novels. After he moved back to England he wrote Down andOut in Paris and London, Burmese Days, A Clergyman’s Daughter and Keep theAspidistra Flying. He published all four under the pseudonym GeorgeOrwell. He then married Eileen O’Shaughnessy and wrote The Road to WiganPier. Orwell then joined the Army and fought in the Spanish Civil War. He became a socialist revolutionary and wrote Homage to Catalonia, ComingUp for Air, and in 1943, he wrote Animal Farm. It’s success endedOrwell’s financial troubles forever. In 1947, despite Tuberculosis,he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. He died in 1950. This essay will show and prove to you that George Orwell’s life has influenced modern society a great deal. BIOGRAPHY In 1903, Eric Arthur Blair was born. Living in India until he was four,Blair and his family then moved to England and settled at Henley. At theage of eight, Blair was sent to a private school in Sussex, and he livedthere, except on holidays, until he was thirteen. He went to two privatesecondary schools: Wellington(for one term) and Eton (for four and a halfyears). After Eton, Blair joined the Imperial Indian Police and was trained inBurma. He served there for nearly five years and then in 1927, while homeon leave, decided not to return. He later wrote that he had come tounderstand and reject the imperialism he was serving. He wasstruck…between hatred of the empire and rage against the native peoplewho opposed it, and made his immediate job more difficult. Blair, on hisfirst six months of release, traveled to the East End to research theEnglish poor. In spring of 1928, he took a room in a working-class district of Paris. He wrote two novels, which have been lost, as well as publishing a numberof articles in French and English. He became ill with pneumonia, workedten weeks as a dishwasher and kitchen porter, and returned to England atthe end of 1929. He used his parents’ home in Suffolk for writing and earned money fromoccasional articles and teaching. Blair then completed several versionsof what was to become his first book, called, not by his choice, Down andOut in Paris and London. The book was a record of his experiences, but”If it’s all the same to everybody, I would prefer [it] to be publishedpseudonymously”. Discussing the publication of his first book with his agent, he decidedon three possible pseudonyms: Keneth Miles, George Orwell and H. LewisAlways. He favored George Orwell. The Orwell is a river in Suffolk,south of his parents’ home. “George Orwell” published his first book in1933. Down and Out… was followed by the novel Burmese Days, publishedfirst in the United States rather than in England because of his EnglishPublisher’s fear of it’s giving offence in Burma. After Burmese Days cametwo more novels: A Clergyman’s Daughter, published in 1935; and Keep theAspidistra Flying, published in 1936. In the spring of 1936 he moved to Hertfordshire and married EileenO’Shaughnessy, an Oxford graduate in English, a teacher, a journalist, andlater a London, graduate in psychology. Orwell’s reputation at this timewas based mainly on his accounts of poverty and depression. His nextbook, The Road to Wigan Pier was written for the Left Book Club andstarted his career as a political writer. Much of this book was composedof an essay on class and socialism, which was Orwell’s first statement ofhis political position. In July, he left for Spain to fight (and write) in the Spanish civil war. For the next two or three years, Orwell became a revolutionary socialist. When he returned from war, he wrote Homage to Catalonia and in the winterof 1938, wrote Coming Up for Air. In 1941 he wrote London Letter’s and inAugust joined the BBC as a talks producer in the Indian Section of theEastern Service. Later in the year, he began writing Animal Farm. It didnot appear until August 1945, at the end of the war. He and his wife adopted a son in 1944, but in 1945 his wife died duringan operation. Animal Farm’s success ended Orwell’s financial worriesthat he had suffered from for twenty years. In 1946, he settled in Jura,Scotland, with his younger sister as housekeeper, though he returned toLondon for the winter. During 1947, in the early stages of renewedTuberculosis, he wrote the first drafts of Nineteen Eighty-Four. In 1948,amid several attacks, Orwell wrote the second draft. In September, 1949,he went into a hospital in London, and in October married Sonia Brownell. In January 1950, Eric Arthur Blair, a.k.a. “George Orwell”, died. (Williams7-15) WORKS In 1933, Orwell wrote Down and Out in Paris and London. This was hisfirst book. It is the record of a young man’s (most-likely Orwell’s)experiences with poverty in Paris and London. It did very well for afirst novel. In most ways it was a long, autobiographical essay onpoverty. (Wykes 71-72) Orwell’s second novel was Burmese Days. It was an account of Orwell’sexperiences working for the Imperial Indian Police in Burma. For fear ofinsulting Burma, this novel was published first in the U.S. rather than inEngland. (Wykes 44) His next two novels were A Clergyman’s Daughter and Keep the AspidistraFlying. A Clergyman’s Daughter, published in 1935, is the journey ofDorothy Hare. A journey of escape and self-exploration (Wykes 4). Keepthe Aspidistra Flying, published in 1936, is a novel about middle-classdecline and compromise (Wykes 7). Orwell regarded these novels asfailures. The Road to Wigan Pier, written for the Left Book Club in 1936 wasOrwell’s fourth novel. This book started Orwell’s life-long career changeto political writing. The first part of this book is reporting on thepoor and unemployed. The second part is an essay on class and socialism,as I mentioned before. It was the first statement of Orwell’s politicalposition. (Wykes 50-60) Homage to Catalonia, Orwell’s fifth novel, completed his break with theorthodox left. It is an attempt to tell the truth about war from Orwell’spoint of view. The genre to which this book belongs was later defined byOrwell as the “Political book…a sort of enlarged pamphlet combininghistory with political criticism”. Orwell came to believe that Homage toCatalonia was the best book he had ever written. During winter in 1938, Orwell wrote his sixth novel Coming Up for Air. Itis the discovery of George Bowling, that his boy-hood home has changedlike everything else. It is regarded as his best novel (with theexception of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four). It illustrates ingreat detail, the fact that everything peaceful eventually becomescorrupt. After Coming up for Air, Orwell wrote one of his most-loved novels, and my personal favorite, Animal Farm. Animal Farm is a spiritual parody of the Communist Manifesto (Calder 5-20) Animal Farm was followed by Orwell’s eighth and last novel, NineteenEighty-Four. Another of Orwell’s best novels, 1984 is the story ofWinston Smith. Smith is a member of a totalitarianism party ruled by theGod-like big brother. There is no freedom, privacy or choice. Nofriendship or love. There is only love for Big Brother. It is the storyof Smith’s secret rebellion from the party through love, sex, free thoughtand choice. It is said to be Orwell’s greatest achievement (Calder 74-88). CRITISCISM This is the kind of book I like to read, where I get the truth in chaptersof real life…” writes W. h. Davies about Down and Out in Paris andLondon. Daniel George for the tribune says, “Much of it is, I shouldjudge, written from first-hand knowledge.” Hames Farrell comments”[Orwell's] account is genuine, unexaggerated and intelligent” (Meyers

39-49) About Burmese Days, an anonymous author writes, “Burmese Days, by GeorgeOrwell is symptomatic of the reaction against conventional portrayals ofBurma as a land of tinkling temples bells, gentle charming Burmans, andstrong silent Englishman”. For the Fortnightly, G.W. Stonier observes,”Burmese Days is another novel, and I recommend it to all those who enjoya lively hatred in fiction” (Meyers 50-57) About Orwell’s next novel, A Clergyman’s Daughter, Peter Quennel writes”A Clergyman’s Daughter is ambitious yet not entirely successful”. MichaelSayers comments “George Orwell is a popular novelist sensitive to valuesthat most other novelists are popular for ignoring”. For the Commonwealth,Geoffrey Stone reports, “…in A Clergyman’s Daughter, [Orwell] arrangescircumstance so that the pessimistic conclusion will seem inevitable”(Meyers 58-64) “Mr. Orwell’s new book, bitter almost throughout and often crude is alsoall about money,” writes William Plomer of Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Cyril Connoly, for the New Statesman and Nation, writes, “The book is therecital of [Orwell's] misfortunes interrupted by tirades against money and the spiritual evil it causes”. An unsigned notice in the Times LiterarySupplement states, “If this book is persistently irritating, this isexactly what makes it worth reading; few books have enough body in them tobe irritants” (Meyers 65-90) Walter Greenwood writes about The Road to Wigan Pier, “Mr. Orwell has thegift of writing vividly, of creating in the mind’s eye a picture of thescene described.” “Of Mr. Orwell’s book, there is little to say exceptpraise…,” comments Arthur Calder-Marshall. “It takes an ugly section ofBritish life, and it forces us to confront it for what it is,” writes H.J.Laski (Meyers 91-118). “Homage to Catalonia is… a book which is at the same time a work offirst-class literature and a political document of the greatestimportance,” reports Geoffrey Gorer. John McNair for the New Leader,writes, “There have been many books written on the Spanish civil war, butnone containing so many living, first-hand experiences as this” (Meyers119-151).”Mr. Orwell writes with hard, honest clarity and precision of unanswering feeling,” states of Coming Up for Air, an unsigned notice in the TimesLiterary Supplement. John Cogley for the Commonwealth, writes, “GeorgeOrwell, a hard man, is frankly sentimental about the world he knew as aboy”. “Coming up for Air, written in 1938, reverts to the journalisticstyle of ease and understatement, the disquietude of Burmese Days workedout of it (Meyers 152-190). “..it is a devastating attack on Stalin and his betrayal’ of theRussian revolution, as seen by another revolutionary,” writes CyrilConnoly on Animal Farm. “The story is very well-written, especially theSnowball episode, which suggests that that the communist Trotskyite’ isa conception on much the same plane as the nazi Jew’…”writes NorthrupFrye for the Canadian Forum. Isaac Rosenfield for the Nation, writes,”George Orwell, to judge by his writing, is a man, not withoutimagination, who is never swept away by his imagination.” Of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Fredric Warburg comments, “This is amongst themost terrifying books I have ever read”. “Mr. Orwell’s latest book,Nineteen Eighty-Four, can be approached either as a political argument oras an indictment of materialism cast in fictional form,” writes HaroldNicolson. “Mr. Orwell is in every way similar to Huxley, especially inhis contempt for people, in his aim of slandering man,” reports IsaacAnisimov for the Pravda. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a political satire of a totalitarian society ruled by a mighty dictatorship, in all probability an allegory for the events surrounding the Russian Revolution of 1917. The animals of “Manor Farm” overthrow their human master after a long history of mistreatment. Led by the pigs, the farm animals continue to do their work, only with more pride, knowing that they are working for themselves, as opposed to working for humans. Little by little, the pigs become dominant, gaining more power and advantage over the other animals, so much so that they become as corrupt and power-hungry as their predecessors, the humans. The theme in Animal Farm maintains that in every society there are leaders who, if given the opportunity, will likely abuse their power. My favorite Orwell work is Animal Farm. The book begins in the barnyard of Mr. Jones’ “Manor Farm”. The animals congregate at a meeting led by the prize white boar, Major. Major points out to the assembled animals that no animal in England is free. He further explains that the products of their labor is stolen by man, who alone benefits. Man, in turn, gives back to the animals the bare minimum which will keep them from starvation while he profits from the rest. The old boar tells them that the source of all their problems is man, and that they must remove man from their midst to abolish tyranny and hunger. Days later Major dies, but the hope and pride which he gave the other animals does not die. Under the leadership of the pigs, the most intelligent of the animals, they rebel against their human master managing to overthrow him. After the rebellion, under the direction of Napoleon, the most outspoken pig, and Snowball, the most eloquent pig, the animals continue to work the farm successfully. As with all societies, the animals have laws which must be obeyed. Their laws stated that animals shall never become like humans, cruel and manipulative. They shall not wear clothing nor sleep in beds. Most importantly, they are to respect one another’s equality and killing another animal is strictly forbidden. Meanwhile, the pigs as leaders are taking bigger food rations for themselves justifying their behavior as something necessary for the “brains” of their animal society. At this point we begin to suspect that the pigs will abuse their positions and power in this animal society. Mr. Jones tries to reclaim his power but the animals prevent him from doing so in what they call “The Battle of the Cowshed”. After the battle, Napoleon drives Snowball off the farm telling everyone that Snowball was on Mr. Jones’ side. Napoleon is further appreciated by the other animals for exposing and removing the traitor, Snowball, from their midst. Slowly, Napoleon gets a stronger and stronger hold over the other animals, dominating their every action. The situation at “Animal Farm”, the new name for “Manor Farm”, really starts to change now. Napoleon moves into Mr. Jones’ house, sleeps in his bed, and even wears his clothes. In order to make his actions appear legal, the law had to be interpreted differently, which Napoleon arranged. In defiance of the original laws, Napoleon befriends Mr. Pilkington, the human owner of a nearby farm. Napoleon had such control over the other animals that they accepted such a blatant disregard of their law about fraternizing with humans. The book ends with the pigs sitting at a table, eating with humans. Napoleon announces to those around the table that the name “Manor Farm” will be reinstated. The humans and pigs converse while the other animals outside look on. They, the lowly creatures according to the pigs and humans, look from pig to man and from man to pig, unable to differentiate between the species. The theme throughout Animal Farm is presented through the allegory of corrupt pigs and the passivity of the other barnyard animals. The humans in the story represent the Russian royal family and aristocracy, tyrants who abused their power with no regard for the peasants who, in essence, supported their royal lifestyle. The pigs represent the Bolshevik revolutionaries who led the masses in rebellion against the Czar and the entire royal family. Unfortunately, as with the pigs, power corrupted and the people were then oppressed by their “comrades” under the new communist government. Orwell’s message about power, in the hands of a few, is corrupting and does nothing to benefit the masses. CONCLUSION As you can see, George Orwell is one of the most beloved and respectedauthors in history. His works speak out against money, hypocrisy, povertyand injustice. His style has influenced many modern authors and will,most definitely, influence many more authors to come.

Calder, Jenni. Animal Farm & Nineteen eighty-four. Philadelphia:Milton Keynes, 1986.Meyers, Jeffery. George Orwell: The Critical Hertige. Boston:Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975.Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,Inc., 1982Williams, Raymond. Orwell. London: Raymond Williams, 1991.Wykes, David. A Preface to Orwell. New York: Longman, Inc., 1987.


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