How do I draft a summary response essay on "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell?

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In general, when writing an essay that analyzes a piece of writing, there are two key components: first, you must summarize the author’s key arguments. Then, you must respond to the author’s claims with your own unique analysis, argument, or point of view.

The structure of this type of essay...

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In general, when writing an essay that analyzes a piece of writing, there are two key components: first, you must summarize the author’s key arguments. Then, you must respond to the author’s claims with your own unique analysis, argument, or point of view.

The structure of this type of essay might look something like this:

  1. Introductory paragraph. This paragraph introduces the piece of writing that you are about to analyze and its key themes. The last sentence of this paragraph should be a thesis statement, or a clear, one sentence summary of your own unique point of view. For example, a thesis statement for Orwell’s “Politics of the English Language” might be: I will argue that Orwell overstates the power of words to shape social reality.
  2. Body paragraphs. In an analytical summary response essay, there are two different ways you might go about structuring your body paragraphs. You can, (a) summarize the text at the same time as you deliver your own argument, integrating both summary and response in a single paragraph, or, (b) you can first summarize key points from the entire text, and then deliver your argument. Generally, option B is easier, while, in my opinion, option A lends itself to a better written essay. However, which approach to take depends on your own style and on the piece you are analyzing. For example, the first few sentences of a body paragraph analyzing Orwell in the style of option A might read: Orwell argues that words such as ‘class, totalitarian, and progressive,’ are so overused and abused that they exist only to deceive and manipulate. Here, Orwell overstates his argument--- while these words can be used in manipulative ways, the meaning of progressive, for example, tends to be well understood as politics that challenge the status quo. In this example, the summary and the response exist side-by-side. In your body paragraphs, you may want to consider addressing some of the counter-arguments that readers might be thinking about as they read your essay.
  3. Conclusion. In your final paragraph, you should conclude by restating your argument, and taking the reader on a whirlwind tour of Orwell’s key points and your own responses to them. End by addressing the significance of what you have been saying. A good conclusion will leave the reader able to answer the question, “so what?” For example, you might end by saying: While Orwell makes some important points about the ability of language to obscure, it is important to remember that words always have some degree of vagueness and flexibility. While sometimes language must be condensed and made clear, at other times, situations call for language to be more poetic and vague. It is this flexibility that gives language its powerful ability to express.
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