"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks." Why is this quote an example of good, bad or interesting writing?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote is taken from "Politics and the English Language," an essay in which Orwell argues that the English language is in "a bad way." Specifically, it has deteriorated as a result of vagueness and "bad habits" which are not grammatically correct and don't convey a clear meaning.

Orwell uses this quote as an analogy: just like a man who feels a failure may turn to drink (and thereby creates further failure), the English language is suffering from a cause which has reinforced the effect. Orwell cannot identify a single cause for the decline of the English language; there are numerous causes, just as a man might turn to drink for a number of different reasons.

This quote does more than provide an interesting analogy. By comparing the language to a man, the speaker personifies language; it becomes a living and breathing organism for the reader. Moreover, the fact that the language is failing (like the man) transforms this essay into a call for action: it prompts the reader to think carefully about the way he uses language in his daily life.

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quotation, an observation by George Orwell the author of Animal Farm and 1984, would be an example of interesting, good writing.  The quote is an observation of human nature stated in an interesting way that if someone feels like a failure, the choice to drink will only add to the burden.  The most interesting phrase is that the man "feels himself to be a failure"  as though feeling makes it so.  Perhaps the man's feelings are incorrect even though in his eyes, the feeling of failure is true.  To choose drink as a solution is truly a bad decision as drinking is a depressant, takes away the desire to do well, feeds the idea  of failure, and thus explains  the rest of the quote, "then fail all the more completely because he drinks."  The quotation is concise with no superfluous words to muddy the observation, uses a direct approach to make the observation real to the reader, and states a truth with which many readers may identify, all of which good writing does.