A Written Analysis on Why I Write by George Orwell
George Orwell’s 1946 essay ‘Why I Write’ is enshrined with a set of innate values adhered to and advocated by Orwell himself. In recounting his personal journey in becoming a writer, Orwell enlists the underlying ideals justifying his initial motives for writing. Subsequently, it is the representation of deeply held ideals such as the innate personal connection to writing, the impact of context on a writer, the value of writing and the reasons for writing that captivate audiences and underpin the meaning of Orwell’s essay.
The eudemonistic virtues exhorted by Orwell as expressed through the essay form therefore serve to represent the values and ideals shaped by his context, that are eminent within his writings. The unfailing sense of personal connection Orwell bears to writing pervades throughout the essay, and subsequently captivates the audience. Orwell’s use of personal childhood anecdotes, of where he felt “isolated and undervalued” evokes a personal connection of sympathy from the reader, and thus signifies the development of Orwell as a writer.
From the opening anecdotes, where Orwell alludes to the Greek playwright ‘Aristophanes’ and the English poet ‘William Blake’ it is event that ‘writing’ remained an innate component of George Orwell’s identity and that attempts to suppress or neglect this passion would be “outraging” his true nature. Orwell argues that the essence of his writing stems from personal experience and the innate connection of he bore to literature from an early age. However, whilst Orwell does argue that writing itself must involve a self-driven personal engagement, he concedes that the development of language is influenced and shaped by other writers.
Therefore, the use of personal anecdotes underpins the innate, personal connection that Orwell shared with writing and thus captivates the audience. The exploration of context in shaping an author’s thoughts and writings are central concerns dealt with by Orwell within the essay. Orwell’s primary motivation, albeit obscured and categorically denied in the opening of the essay, is the political cause. Orwell concludes the essay in stating that “where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books… entences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally. ” However, Orwell laments the political motivation of his works to the revolutionising political sphere of his own context. The purpose of the poem in the essay however, is more so to illustrate the lingering uncertainties of war and conflict that plagued Orwell’s time. The poem reflects on the certainties of the past, whereby imagery through “A happy vicar I might have been, two hundred years ago” illustrates the changing paradigms of religion, and its subsequent impetus for conflict.
The poem is indicative of the “evil time” and increasing political tensions of Orwell’s context, and places his works into perspective. Therefore in exploring his personal development as a writer, Orwell further illustrates the impact of context in shaping a writer’s works creating a sense of personal engagement with the reader. Orwell’s presentation on the value of writing through the essay establishes an emotional connection that captivates the reader.
The use of imagery, through the comparison of ‘good prose’ to a ‘windowpane’ underpins the augmented message enlisted in Orwell’s Why I Write. The image of the windowpane serves as a symbol for writing as a connection between the reader, the writer and the text. Constituents of a good prose allow for the writer to connect and see clearly through the issues of the text whilst similarly, the reader is able to maintain an understanding of the writer’s motivation and reasoning for the nature of his/her works.
Therefore, Orwell concludes his essay with the argument that writing needs to be able to find a sense of commonality between the reader and the writer, with his ‘great motives for writing’ providing a conceptual framework in which such a connection can be fostered. Through the essay, ‘Why I Write’ Orwell constructs a balanced tone that is both anecdotal and reflective in order to crystallise and reduce any complications in meaning. The use of a particularly precise, authentic voice stems from the actual purpose of this essay which essentially was to provide a justification to the strong and confronting political-willed nature of his works.
His outspoken fervour of democratic socialism, a belief manifested from his personal disillusionment to the institutions of governance of his time causes him to maintain a concise and direct prose, in order to present an unequivocal justification for the nature of his works. The authentic directness of his prose is encapsulated in sentiments such as “I did try very hard… to tell the whole truth without violating my literary instincts”. The manner of his tone illustrates Orwell’s attempts to portray his character as one of integrity towards the literary cause.
Thus, Orwell attempts to maintain integrity and honesty whilst fostering an emotional connection with the reader in order to propagate his ideals of the motivation of writing. Orwell’s justification for the reasons for writing ensures that he is levelled with the reader, enabling his ideals to captivate the audience. Orwell’s classification of the ‘great motives for writing’ serves as an appreciative framework from which the reader is then able to interpret literature.
Orwell felt as though whilst an author maintains a connection to his/her works, such a connection may not be endeared by the reader. Therefore, Orwell classifies the ‘motives for writing’ in order to re-establish the connection between the author, the text and the reader by providing a conceptual framework serving as the basing point for an informed interpretation of the writer’s background, and reasons for writing. A secondary purpose of this classification predominantly focuses on the ideals of writing as a universal connector of people.
In conclusion, the structure of the essay in recounting a chronological and biographical development of George Orwell as a writer allows for Orwell to express his views in an unequivocal manner. Orwell seeks to foster a connection between the audience, and his concerns through the range of techniques he applies through the essay form. Subsequently, Orwell’s representation of his innate underlying values and ideals are what captivates the audience and establishes the emotional connection between the reader, the writer and the text.