George Orwell World Literature Analysis
Orwell’s writing of both novels and essays divides fairly distinctly into two parts, the periods prior to, and after, 1936. Orwell himself, in “Why I Write,” makes the division, citing as the turning point his participation in the Spanish Civil War and alluding to other events occurring in the same year.
Orwell’s writing up to 1936 includes essays recounting his experiences in Burma, India, Paris, and London. These works sharply criticize British imperialism, economic inequity, and class barriers. The works are highly analytical narratives, characterized by flashes of insight into humanity. In “A Hanging,” for example, Orwell narrates his participation in the hanging of a man in Burma. As Orwell and the other executioners escort the condemned man to the gallows, the man sidesteps a puddle. At this moment, Orwell says, he realizes the “unspeakable wrongness” of cutting a man’s life short when it is in “full tide.” Again, in “How the Poor Die,” Orwell recounts his experience of admitting himself, while impoverished, to a hospital in Paris. He concludes that the fear of hospitals that one finds among the poor is warranted. Yet again, in “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell narrates an experience in Lower Burma during which he unnecessarily destroys an elephant because he fears losing face with the natives. He suddenly realizes that he has no choice in his actions, and that one of the effects of imperialism is that it changes him, as...
(The entire section is 4064 words.)
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