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George Orwell

Term Definition
George Orwell

Most of Orwell's writings show a strong awareness of issues of social injustice. His dystopian novel 1984, for example, portrays a world ruled by the totalitarian government of Big Brother, in which there is no respect for either truth or liberty. Orwell was also known for his defense of the proper and accurate use of the English language. This was related to his belief that the abuse of language is one of the main tactics used by totalitarian regimes.

Who Was George Orwell?

George Orwell was the pen name for Eric Arthur Blair, a renowned English essayist, novelist, and critic. He often used his work to bring awareness to social injustices and to openly oppose totalitarianism. His work has been widely acclaimed and translated into many different languages and he is second on the New York Times list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945. Orwell’s writings still influence pop and political culture, as the term "Orwellian" has come to mean authoritarian social practices. He is best known for his novel about a dystopian society, 1984, and his allegorical novel Animal Farm.  

Literary Works

  • Burmese Days 
  • A Clergyman's Daughter
  • Keep The Aspidistra Flying
  • Coming Up For Air
  • Animal Farm
  • 1984
  • Down And Out In Paris And London
  • The Road To Wigan Pier
  • Homage To Catalonia

Writing Style and Continued Inspiration

George Orwell’s style is very direct and somewhat journalistic. He never employs allusions or utilizes extended metaphors. However, he never includes unnecessary imagery and fluffed up, flowery descriptions. He describes settings and characters well, but with language that is as direct and concise as possible. His style is to the point and contains very little emotional imagery, leaving room for only facts. George Orwell only wrote a handful of novels, but the work he produced was incredibly impactful and influential, and remains so to this day. Orwell used his work to make social commentary and his direct and concise style continue to make his work popular today. He had influenced countless other writers and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

George Orwell’s writing continues to have an impactful effect on contemporary writing and literature. While most writers are constantly seeking for ways to improve upon their skills, Orwell authored an essay which is still used as a guideline for eager writers today. Orwell discussed the importance of concise and clear language in one’s writing. Orwell believed that vagueness can be used as a powerful tool of political manipulation. In his guide, Orwell provides six rules for writers to follow.

  1. Never use metaphors or similes that are typically seen in print.
  2. Never use a long one when an equally good short word will do just fine.
  3. If a word is not absolutely necessary, then do not include it.
  4. It is important to never use the passive tone when the active tone is also usable.
  5. One should never use a foreign phrase or scientific term if there is an everyday equivalent that can be used.
  6. It is absolutely imperative to break any of these rules if the only other option is to say something barbaric. 

George Orwell's Influence on Popular Culture

The influence of George Orwell’s work has extended to popular culture as well. Several words used in his novel 1984, and the film it was adapted into, have become part of everyday, popular language. Such terms include:

  • Thought Police, a law enforcement branch set on suppressing all opinions that contradict that of the government
  • Prolefeed, used to describe manufactured literature, music, and movies that are set to control what the population is exposed to
  • Big Brother, an all-knowing, all-seeing dictator
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