In this age of progression and activism, it’s important to look back at the past and be taught essential lessons from it. Orwell’s essay teaches us that the quality and form in which we share our information can affect the effectiveness it has on the audience.
While reading “Politics and the English Language” I became all too familiar with the use of complicated and meaningless words that plague my writing past. Growing up in a world of this “political vagueness,” my choice of words always imitated the corporate jargon that Orwell criticizes. I was under the impression that these big words made you sound much smarter, and clarified the meaning of what you were trying to say. It was quite the opposite effect. It wasn’t until these past few months that I learned to refine my vocabulary, and in turn, sharpen my assertions and thoughts. It’s a hard learning curve, but worth it in the end.
Another lesson that I’ve been trying to master is the concept of “show not tell,” and Orwell does this perfectly in all his narrative-driven essays. Getting good at this way of presenting information is much harder than it looks, and I would know as I’ve been trying to perfect it for my storytelling. I applaud Orwell’s flawless execution. In The Spike, an example of “show not tell” that struck me was the description of “so-called tea” (pg.13). Tea is, for me, one of the simplest hot drinks to make— herbs and water— and yet it’s still not possible for the Spike to make. We’re shown explicitly the horrendous treatment of the homeless within the Spike, without Orwell writing something along the lines of, “The tea wasn’t good, which was shocking considering the drink is quite easy to make.”
Diction and the presentation of language are critical to creating a meaningful message. Without proper consideration, meaning can be ineffective or lost while writing. My writing can always improve, and these essays helped me understand more about how to formulate an essay.