Like every other author, George Orwell, too, has his unique writing style. He uses direct, straightforward, and journalistic language. It is because of the journalistic language that he learned during his long journalistic career. Specifically, discussing the style of writing like that of George Orwell, who himself has discussed it, is an arduous task. In terms of word choice, sentence structure, figurative language, rhetorical patterns and themes, his style has the following features.
George Orwell’s Word Choice
Regarding word choice, George Orwell is highly choosy and selective in his writings. He does not use any word that seems fluffy or flowery. He has also coined several words and phrases such as Newspeak, goodplus, Minitru, doublethink, Ingsoc and others that have become familiar words in writing. Careful and scrupulous use of words has made his vocabulary highly accurate, and his writings condensed and concise. This passage shows his choice of words and their uses in an excellent way.
“This was early in March. During the next three months there was much secret activity. Major’s speech had given to the more intelligent animals on the farm a completely new outlook on life. They did not know when the Rebellion predicted by Major would take place, they had no reason for thinking that it would be within their own lifetime, but they saw clearly that it was their duty to prepare for it. The work of teaching and organising the others fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognised as being the cleverest of the animals. Pre-eminent among the pigs were two young boars named Snowball and Napoleon, whom Mr. Jones was breeding up for sale.” (Animal Farm)
George Orwell’s Sentence Structure and Syntax
It is highly interesting to note that George Orwell was not only an accomplished writer, but also a writing advisor. In his essay, “Politics and the English Language”, he himself has advised the writers how to use language, specifically, sentences. He has asked the writers ask four questions from themselves before writing a sentence. These are about what, how, when and where to say. The passage given above shows it amply how he uses sentences. Interestingly, he has stuck to his suggestions and has used very short, very crispy and interesting sentences to narrate the story of animal rebellion on the Manor Farm in his novel, Animal Farm.
George Orwell’s Figurative Language
Like his sentences and diction, Orwell also uses literary devices in his figurative language very selectively. First, he advises not to use metaphors if it is avoidable. Second, his advice is to use not “tired metaphors” but fresh ones. This passage shows metaphors and connotations but almost in a new way and quite fresh. For example, “many mouths to feed” is a metaphor. Guessing at their parentage shows the use of a connotation.
“There were many more mouths to feed now. In the autumn the four sows had all littered about simultaneously, producing thirty-one young pigs between them. The young pigs were piebald, and as Napoleon was the only boar on the farm, it was possible to guess at their parentage. It was announced that later, when bricks and timber had been purchased, a schoolroom would be built in the farmhouse garden. For the time being, the young pigs were given their instruction by Napoleon himself in the farmhouse kitchen.” (Animal Farm)
George Orwell’s Rhythm and Component Sounds
Rhythm naturally comes with sounds and rhyme. Although Orwell has written some poems which show rhythmic pattern in his language, his prose also does not miss it. His suggestions of not using tired metaphors, cutting words and not using passive seem to synchronize with his rhythm. This song from his novel, Animal Farm, shows the use of rhyme scheme, consonance and assonance with which he creates melody and rhythmic movement.
Friend of fatherless!
Fountain of happiness!
Lord of the swill-bucket! Oh, how my soul is on
Fire when I gaze at thy
Calm and commanding eye,
Like the sun in the sky,
George Orwell’s Rhetorical Patterns
Regarding rhetorical pattern, Orwell surpasses his contemporaries. From example, from his novels, it seems that he is an accomplished narrator. His narrative of rebellion, animal farm, animal working hard and struggling to meet both ends meet shows this amply. However, side by side, he has also compared Napolean and Snowball and their behavior. This shows his skill while constant stress upon governance and management in the animal farm has lend credibility to his narrative. Besides these, he also uses repetitions and rhetorical questions in his novel, Animal Farm.
George Orwell’s Themes
As a journalist, Orwell knows full well his theme and their impacts on the readers. Therefore, he has used freedom, totalitarianism, corruption, power, censorship and surveillance along with propaganda. Animal Farm shows his theme of power, corruption and centrality of the government, while 1984 shows surveillance and propaganda along with freedom of expression and thought.