Orwell’s way with words

Orwell’s focus on seeking and writing about injustice is comical, for his original aspiration as a writer was to write romances as fate chose differently for Orwell. As his political books and essays would be what he was known for, his writing being examples of political writing at its peak, few writers today would go to war and live like tramps for their beliefs and truly stand for their ideals, but Orwell was different. When he goes to write, he does not think, “I am going to produce a work of art.”.(Why I Write p.6) He writes because “there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” (Why I Write p.6) He does this by exposing in ways rarely seen in modern writing that the stories he writes about live. He does not just stand on the sideline gathering evidence from others and writing about it. He takes steps to see the problem entirely and make as many people aware of it as possible.

My father worked in journalism for a few years in New York and Vancouver. He describes that he started writing at the tail end of freelance investigative journalism when writers were given time and money and told to bring back a story worth the time and money. These stories would be a deep dive into a topic that the writer would spend months investigating. This is similar to the experiences Orwell had during his time as a policeman or living in a spike. This type of writing was where the romance in journalism came from traveling the world, spending months in conflict zones or train surfing or uncovering secrets, or writing about a revolution or just in an unknown part of the world. Examples can be seen in Ida Tarbell’s writing about standard oil or David Halberstam’s writing in Vietnam, Bertil Lintner’s writing about the atrocities in Burma during the civil war, and his talking with his colleagues in the US embassy bar. This idea of being an investigator set free on the world to chase stories you wanted to tell and tell the people back in your home country how the world works and usually given lots of time and money to do it was appealing to a particular group of people. This type of in-depth experience collecting that Orwell and others practiced for a living was popular among readers. While not pioneered by Orwell, this type of writing would be significantly influenced by him. 

This is what appeals to me the most about Orwell. He can make not entirely accurate events feel grounded and written in a style as if they were real experienced events written about in a newspaper or magazine. His essays, mainly comprised of fact and his own first-hand experience mixed with a bit of fiction, are written with his grounded style and as convincingly and as plainly as possible despite the ongoing events adding to the realism. This became a signature of Orwell wrote with clarity, directness, and simplicity. This gives a convincing effect making his thoughts your own and making nothing feel like it’s filtered through the writer before you read it. His writing seems more like journalism than essay writing. This serves wonders for the events; you feel like none of them are exaggerated or made up, making his point even more convincing. His ability for Orwell to convince you of an idea or concept through plain language and a mix of his own experiences and fiction is the best quality of Orwell’s writing style. 

The Awakening

Finding one’s self and realizing the error of the old ways is core to Edna’s story. This search for herself and who she is are similar to Pygmalion and A Doll’s House as both those stories also involve rivaling the power that be and subverting them. Edna eventually comes to the same conclusion as them all to “never again belong to another than herself”(P.85). This path she sets herself on to find love and meaning are timeless questions that conclude in a vast sea of despair at her finding no meaningful propose in the world. Her last hope was her love for Robert and her children, but on the realization that those would not last forever, she said, “There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert, and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone.” (P.136) This is sad to me Edna having so little to live for and finding no meaning is disheartening and with no feasible solution, especially after all she tried to do fix it is tragic.

Discovering one’s self-identity is a thing everyone goes through it is something to be considered throughout life but is especially important in the stage of life I am in now as the decision I make now and who I am or want to be now will have an impact on the next decade of my life. At this stage in my life, I am gaining some of the anatomy that Edna is only experiencing for the first time, even thought she is 26. I still have limitations, but those are rapidly fading away and, within a matter of years, disappearing completely. Edna does not have this freedom and comes to the realization that there is no place in the world for her.

The similarities between The dolls House, Pygmalion, and Awakening are very much alike all three feature oppressed women who are seen more as objects than people and men who care more for how the world and their societies see them. All the women eventually leave due to similar circumstances. Edna can’t find a meaningful place in the world and a meaningful self-identity, so she drowns herself, leaving her children and husband, who cared for her well-being. Nora doesn’t know who she is and leaves to try and find out after realizing the world is not how she thought, leaving her children and caring husband. The story is the same with Eliza she leaves to go and find herself and not be molded by the ideas of others. These similarities to me seem like beating a dead horse. They are all different but come back to the same point of self-identity and unfulfillment in life and breaking free of that trend.

A Doll’s House Response

I did not connect with Doll’s House. Maybe I am not old enough, or the issues it talked about were not relevant to me, but I never unintentionally thought about its ideas. I had to force myself to think about what is the relationship between men and women and how to do love and money-related. It seems like a child’s book, like the problems is so simple to solve. If there was a little trust and some communication, the story would be over. To me, a doll’s house is a story about a flawed relationship falling apart. Maybe something went over my head. But I can’t think of how this applies to the modern day. The problem they encounter in this story is step one in a relationship make sure you can communicate and trust each other. The problems of this relationship may have been major problems in 1879 when this book was written, but not now. The issue of men and women in a relationship will always be an issue. It will never be solved ever. So I thought of this book as more of a history of Norway in 1879 and the social problem they had at that time. In that time, this was the problem with relationships, just as a book today will become the new idea of what is right with relationships.
Another idea I found was obvious “Do we inherit traits from our parents?”
As children, we first take our ideas from our parents, our favorite color, and our favorite food, and this is how we define ourselves as children. We then look for answers in different places, other people, and places and think this all is put together to produce a person who can walk and talk like any other but is different from what information they have seen and experienced, including the ideas and traits of our parents. As a small boy, I would imitate the groans of my grandfather when he would get up from his seat, as that is what I thought you did when you got up from your chair. We are the sum of the people we spend time with, especially when we are young, so our parents or gardians and the experiences we encounter. Maybe I am missing something major, but this book was not that gripping for me.

The merchant of Venice

The merchant of Venice was very thought-provoking. It used some interesting contrasting ideas that made you need to think a lot more. An example of this would be between the two sides of justice vs. mercy or Judaism in favor of law overall and Christianity in favor of mercy. As all people sin, you must show mercy to others so they will in retune for you. Or in Judaism, where the rules are mode, and you follow them, understanding the punishment if you break them. This is similar to the story of the bully and victim at school that we read. In the merchant of Venice, Shylock is the victim, and Antonio is the bully for spitting in the face of Shylock. Shylock then seeks his friendship and then his revenge, just as the victim in the bully story did. Both are punished for their actions, Shylock by half his wealth and his religion, and the victim by the extent of our laws today. But Shylock is given mercy and not put to death, and the victim would most likely be given more leeway in court as the bully provoked him. Both, in the end, have been shown mercy but suffer the conquests of their actions. It was interesting to see the difference in response to the two situations by the class. Many people, in their responses, gave the victim of bullying little too on mercy, and many felt bad for Shylock and his punishment. I think this might have been the punishment Shylock got was to convert his religion, and in so, his beliefs in today’s world would be considered unjust or plain wrong to force someone to change their fundamental beliefs against their will. So with this punishment of being a Christian, Shylock lost all he defined himself by. He could no longer practice his religion; he could no longer lend money; he could no longer know his old self.

Provocation and Violence

There is a reason we judge each other based on the rules of law, rules agreed upon by all because we are all equal under it, at least in theory.
What that bully did was provoking, and that has to be acknowledged, but the first option should not be violence, nor should the 5th option there is very little use for violence in retribution as it always has lasting consequences. This bully’s troubled youth will stick with him forever, as he will never walk straight in his life ever again. There is a reason we don’t punish children as harshly as adults, they are foolish and need a second chance.
Judging this case, I would charge the bully with petty theft and verbal and physical abuse. I would charge the victim of bullying with assault with intent to harm.

Reflection on Langston Hughes

I admire Langston Hughes’s work. He is brilliant at creating images and using freedom and justice in his work. However, his writings did not connect with me or make me think and contemplate questions as much as other writings. I have never gone through the events that he and other African Americans have, nor do I wish ever to have to, so I have a disconnect and lack of experience in the trials of his life and experience. Another quality of Hughes’s poems is displaying the world around him and breaking down stereotypes of the time.

I found his use of simple, understandable words and sentences enjoyable, as there was little to get in the way of what he does best in his imagery and ability to cement his point. He focuses less on wordplay and more on displaying elaborate imagery that is easy to see. This is an apparent influence from Whitman and his free verse style. This effect works best in his poems of lists, like in “The Negro who speaks of river” and “Negro” where the effect of his use of imagery is the clearest to the picture and is unimpeded by anything.

His work did not provoke the same intense contemplation that other stages and poems have for me, but I think it has to do with the fact I was not the intended recipient of most of his writings. Having never experienced discrimination, a line like (There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.” (l.15-16) doesn’t have the same impact as a line like “And in that sleep what dreams may come” from William Shakespeare. Having witnessed loved family members pass away after a year of suffering from dementia and cancer makes a line like this burn into my mind like a hot iron after they were gone and buried. This line of Shakespeare raised questions I had never asked and gave me solace one day, for I would know the answer in the future, but for now, I could just ponder it and think of the possibilities. I got nothing like this for Langston Hughes, but I have not experienced racism and discrimination, but everyone is acquainted with the reaper.

Hughes’ work makes ample use of the problems faced by African Americans of the time and incorporates them into his work. Examples of contouring stereotypes like that all black people are the same using “Deferred” and lines like “This year, maybe, do you think I can graduate?” (l.1) and ”All want is to see my furniture paid for” (l.25) he uses these and many more examples like to make his point. Another example is in Dream Boogie, where “Sure, I’m happy! Take It away” (l.15-17) is used as a satire that black people are always happy and never unhappy.

I thought Langston Hughes’s work was brilliant. His effect seems to have influenced many people and is a shining example of the work we can create even under pressure and discrimination. Although Hughes has many qualities in his work, that was little for me to ponder as many questions and imagery went over my head as I had never experienced anything like it.




Outsmart Your Brain

I don’t have much experience reading textbooks. None of my teachers saw them as effective and efficient learning tools, Except for math textbooks. Still, those are procedures, examples, and problem things that can be memorized by thinking about and doing them. So will draw from other similar readings to textbooks like essays and encyclopedia reading. However, I will not deny I have gone through some arduous reading of texts that seem to go in one ear and out the other. So the ideas and methods are intriguing to me, especially SQ3R. I found an interesting strategy as I have done all the steps in some way or another but have yet to put them together. Except for asking questions before reading, naturally, the question will arise on looking at a title, but I have never gone beyond asking questions about what I have already read. One issue with SQ3r is that you need lots of time to develop good questions and summaries. SQ3R can make the dry reading of a particularly dense textbook or essay even more mind-numbing. Despite this, since it has been around since the 40s, I think it has a high chance of being effective.

Taking good notes is one of the most rewarding processes. At the end of a unit, having all the answers you need where you know they are in your notes is reassuring. Unfortunately, when writing notes, especially for English, I get sidetracked and write about ideas and concepts rather than characters and places. I suffered from this at the end of reading Candide. I was laser-focused on the arguments Voltaire was making; I did not write new characters’ names. This book brought up some interesting and more focused ideas for note-taking. I think all of the ideas he mentioned are at least worth a try. I think some will work better than others, but they seem to have stood the test of time.

Reflecting on Voltaire’s Candide

Voltaire’s Candide makes a strong argument against optimism and this being the best of all possible worlds. I enjoyed how he presented his idea by telling Candide’s adventures and each chapter behaving as a body paragraph in his crusade to disprove optimism. I like this structuring format because it negated one of the significant problems with essays that can be dry to read. Voltaire does not run into this problem, though, as we are kept entertained by the bumbling idiocy of Candide mixed in with all sorts of jokes and political commentary. Nevertheless, we still get the overarching points and ideas through a less-than-direct way and give a human character to the argument, a blend of political satire and storytelling. This structure was my favorite part of the piece of writing.

About halfway through the book, the arguments started to get a bit old as Voltaire had made his points and given plenty of evidence. At this point, I had been convinced by Voltaire that he was right, and these other adventures Candide felt like overkill. So I looked for other questions raised by the book and whether he had given his answer to them. Questions like what the best of all possible worlds looks like? He answers this question with the need to cultivate a garden and live like those of El-dorado, which is an underwhelming answer. Personally, I would rather live in an imperfect world and be able to find the secrets of this world and improve and solve problems than live in a perfect world and garden like the people of El-dorado and have little to do as all is fine the way it is. This book was good at arguing against optimism but did not provide any further answers to the questions it raises.


A Deliberate Look Into My Latest Errors

A summary of the mistakes I made while writing my terrible explanation of how to create mood in a poem. This essay gained its abhorrent status the moment I put pen to paper, causing havoc in errors and mistakes. These mistakes can be separated in two ways. First, weak arguments can quickly become empty body paragraphs that don’t serve a purpose, and Second Careless mistakes were made from a lack of thought, poor proofreading, and the manic time crunch to try and write something legible. Punctual errors and improper use of capitalization would also fall under the canopy of carelessness and haste. Most, if not all, these mistakes could be fixed in one simple but arduous task of going through your work with a fine tooth comb, but this can be unpleasant, like listening to your voice recorded.

All of this matters less whether or not there was any improvement. Compared to the last essay, I have improved in reducing the number and severity of the errors I make. I am happy with that for now, and it will be intriguing to see if I continue to improve or hit a wall of mistakes I can’t entirely fix for some reason, i.e., spelling mistakes.

There and back again.

An Odyssey is an adventure of epic proportions, like any adventure it eventually comes to an end. You slay the dragon, reach the highest peak, and now you must return home. This is a question raised by Oddessy when after everything, do you want to return home? After all that Odysseus is offered, he still wishes to return home. The paradise the Phaeacians offer him, the eternal life and youth calypso offers him, he still wants to return to the wind-swept rock he calls home. There are two reasons for this. First, home is comfortable and familiar, which is nice but can get boring. That is why we go on adventures. And Secondly, home is where the things you care about most are and happen, the loss of those close to you. For example, Odysseus learns the consequences of his adventure. The loss of those you call friends, the loss of his mother, who he will never be able to see in the flesh again. The change of places that you knew before, The overtaking of your home with strangers, disruption of the peace. Both of these reasons, I think, are Odysseus’ main motives that keep him wanting to return. Likewise, I want to go on an Odyssey and see and impact the world. We all go on an odyssey and leave home to go on an adventure, whether at university, a job, or travel. When you leave the nest of youth and to go out into the world to leave your mark, you will one day return home to the comfort and familiarity of it. And just like Odysseus, when we land on Ithica and do not recognize it, everything is smaller and different than we remember when we first left home for our adventure through life, but we still like to come back.

The Tragic Hero

To answer the question of who is the tragic hero, you must define the two words. A hero is admired or idealized for courage, A tragedy in an event causing great suffering and destruction. I believe the person who fits these definitions best is Antigone. She is admired by the population of Thebes and idolized for upholding the gods’ rule.” Cities grieving for sons unburied(l.853)” She causes a great tragedy as she kills herself and causes Euripides and Haemon to do the same. Although what she did, I don’t think, was very heroic, the people of Thebes did, and in the end, she pleased them and death, but death took her anyway. That may have even been her plan or that of the gods. “And even if I die in the act, that death will be the glory.” & “I have longer to please the dead than the living. (l.86-89)” In the end, Creon was seen as horrible, and Antigone was the woman who defied the law of man to do what she thought was right. Creon did what he thought was correct as punishment for his unruly nephew who brought war to Thebes; whether his cause was just is a matter of perspective. Polyneices bringing the armies of other city-states to the door of Thebes was an unforgivable crime. That deserved punishment beyond life and into death. This deed was not heroic. It was not perceived as a heroic deed by the public. Yet he did it nonetheless. What he did was tragic, to cause great suffering to his nephew in death. The people saw a tragedy: a man who died in service to what he thought was right was punished for it after he had been proven wrong by the will of the gods and lost in battle. To that end, Antione is the closest match to a tragic hero, although Creon certainly suffered for his actions.


Hello, my name is Leeland. I was born in Vancouver and now live in the greater Victoria area. Things I enjoy doing include computer stuff, video games, coding, and messing around with electronics. While relaxing or on long car journeys, I also enjoy reading. My favourite book is Dune by Frank Herbert. For physical activity, I enjoy sailing, both in big and small boats. If I am in the mood to roll my ankle, I will do some trail running. My goal this year in English is to improve at writing, understanding, and comparing texts. I think this year will be difficult, I think, and I am not looking forward to it.