George Orwell’s Concept of the Ideal Writer

Orwell opens his argument with a bold statement, encouraging his readers to immediately agree with him and “most people” that the English language has been badly abused by the decadent culture of the modern world.&nbsp. “Our civilization is decadent and our language – so the argument runs – must inevitably share in the general collapse” (para. 1).&nbsp. As he builds his case regarding the poor use of English in 1946 when the essay was written, he illustrates the various ways in which it is abused and thus builds an image of the ideal writer.&nbsp. Within the course of this argument, he also illustrates why it is important to keep good English in use, how he defines good English and, in connection with this, what he looks for an ideal political expression.&nbsp. What emerges is not the formal support for the dry academic style seen in most papers today or even a call for more rigid instruction of common grammar and usage rules.&nbsp. Instead, Orwell supports the use of everyday language, concrete connections, and thoughtful expression.&nbsp. Anything else, he says, is designed to conceal the truth from the audience.
To facilitate discussion, an outline of Orwell’s argument is helpful.&nbsp. He begins with his assumption, that the English language has become slovenly as the result of political and economic games designed to lull the public into acquiescence.&nbsp. He supports this assumption by demonstrating how the English language has become meaningless through the use of phrases and other literary ‘tricks.’&nbsp. This type of meaningless communication fosters foolish thoughts in the minds of the public forced to use it.&nbsp. He provides several examples of the type of writing he is criticizing, describing it as a “mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence” which “is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing.&nbsp. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse” (para. 9).&nbsp.&nbsp.