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“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell


In the essay, Politics and the English Language, Orwell portrays that politics and economics create certain writing standards while making expression vague with no intended meaning in words and repetition (362). In this case, paying substantial attention to the selection of suitable language forms can help avoid using extra words that confuse readers and distract them. Consequently, the main questions are ‘Do the ineffective usage of figurative language and vagueness make the articles confusing? Do the politicians take advantage of this trend? ’.

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The answer to this question is affirmative since, in his work, Orwell shows that simplicity of the language is one of the vital characteristics of writing that reflects an actual explanation of the situation (357). Thus, writers have to consider returning to simple and detailed descriptions in their works, as this matter will make texts easy to understand and interesting to follow. Meanwhile, a new template pressured by politics should not be discovered as ideal, as figurative language and vagueness are usually used to change the opinion of the audience about problems. Reading The New York Times’ (NYT) article through this lens will help understand the true meaning of the publication and show that focusing on details and facts can make the article clear and concise and unveil its implicit meaning.


As it was mentioned previously, Orwell claims that expression of the modern English language tends to become worse, as current articles lack details, “precision”, and use the words that have no meaning (355). In this case, using these constructions confuse readers while transferring his/her attention from the implicit idea reflected in the text to unnecessary information. This intention is reasonable since it helps portray the issue from a different angle and manipulate the perception of the audience. In this case, metaphors and scientific words are used to persuade readers and “make lies sound truthful” (Orwell 367).

Nonetheless, these matters have to be avoided in academic writing, and writers have to show respect to readers by carefully selecting figurative language and using simple and short words. To understand the concepts of the proposed lens, Subway’s Slide in Performance Leaves Straphangers Fuming by Fitzsimmons was chosen for analysis. This publication focuses on the problem related to the issue with subway’s functioning and its overcrowding (Fitzsimmons). The article reflects different opinions about this issue, and the interviewer utilizes quotes from both authorities and people, who use the metro every day. Analyzing this article will help reflect reality, various viewpoints, and determine whether the selected lens can be applied in this context.

Based on the factors reflected above, it could be said that the main intention of this lens is to discover both implicit and explicit meaning of the article by illuminating unnecessary information and figurative language. Apart from the fact that this publication describes feelings of people and their discomfort when using the subway, it has clear political implications. It is apparent that this article attempts to change people’s opinions about the authority responsible for the problem by stating that Mayor Bill de Blasio is “mistakenly” blamed by society (Fitzsimmons).

Thus, Andrew Cuomo is the one, who has to be in control of the situation and propose an effective plan of action to improve the condition of the subway (Fitzsimmons). The article continues its description with the statement that Cuomo is aware of the issue and presents defensive arguments by claiming that it will take some time to find a solution (Fitzsimmons). In this case, the article can be discovered as a political instrument that has an intention to change their attitudes towards authorities. It is the original implicit meaning of the publication. Nonetheless, to gain respect and trust of readers, it is essential to present opinions of subway riders and portray these claims as an explicit and central goal of the article. Describing the authorities in one or two paragraphs makes the political context hidden and not apparent without the application of Orwell’s lens.

Nonetheless, to provide a clear rationale for the claims and suggestions mentioned above, it is essential to refer to the examples of the text. In the first place, Orwell indicates that critical characteristics of the language are clarity and simplicity of words (367). Thus, the selected article does not reflect this concept from the beginning. For example, its title “Subway’s Slide in Performance Leaves Straphangers Fuming” uses complicated words and figurative language such as “straphangers”, “performance” and “fuming” (Fitzsimmons). It remains apparent that the main heading has to be catchy and interest readers. Nonetheless, using these metaphors may be confusing since there are simple and short words that can replace them such as ‘daily traveler’, ‘upset’, ‘mad’ and ‘angry’. It could be said that the author of the article uses these language constructions to ensure that readers believe that the source is reliable and interesting to read. For a similar purpose, the author provides a variety of unnecessary facts from authorized sources and repetition such as presenting information about delays several times. A combination of these factors helps the writer make the explicit topic visible to the reader while skillfully hiding explicit political content.

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Alternatively, Orwell indicates that there are many other characteristics that define the modern English language such as complicated words, archaisms, and scientific terms (367). The primary intentions of these instruments are to create an emotional bond with readers and persuade them that the publication is reliable. The examples of these ‘bad habits’ are clearly reflected in the selected NYT article. “Increasingly regularity”, “a torrent of complaints”, and “panacea” are only some examples presented in the text (Fitzsimmons). The first quotation is complicated and uses an uncommon combination of words, and its central goal can be referred to as adding a scientific meaning while making the article trust-worthy. Using figurative language as in the second quote distracts readers from the implicit content. As for “panacea”, this word plays a similar role as in the first example, as it helps build associations with scientific studies (Fitzsimmons). Overall, these tools are used to develop a trusting relationship with the audience and change their attitudes towards governmental authorities. Nonetheless, after this analysis, it is apparent that the publication is less concise and informative than it was originally presented.


The Orwell’s intentions, claims, and ideas had a reflection in the modern English language and chosen the NYT article. In this case, the author of the publication in The New York Times presented the issue with the subway by relying on vagueness, complicated words, and figurative language. Apparently, these instruments were used to build trusting relationships with readers and change their attitudes towards authorities. Nonetheless, apart from emphasizing an important regional issue, using these concepts help present hidden implicit political content and persuade the reader that the actions of the authorities are rational. Thus, reviewing this publication through this lens not only provided guiding principles for writing but also unveiled the actual meaning and mysteries of the articles presented in trusting sources such as the New York Times. Using the lens helps discover the world of writing and reveal the details that a hidden from ordinary people.

Works Cited

Fitzsimmons, Emma. “Subway’s Slide in Performance Leaves Straphangers Fuming.” The New York Times. 2017, Web.

Orwell, George. “Politics and the English Language.” Collected Essays, Martin Secker and Warburg LTD, 1968, pp. 353-367.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. ""Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell." December 18, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) '"Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell'. 18 December.

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