What are other examples of Orwell using similes and metaphors in "Politics and the English Language"? Please include the rhetorical effectiveness of these devices as part of your answer.

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A simile is simply a figurative device which serves to illuminate one thing by comparing it to something else. In the first paragraph of this piece, Orwell uses a simile to illustrate the general argument stating that it is foolishness to struggle against the changes which inevitably take place in...

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A simile is simply a figurative device which serves to illuminate one thing by comparing it to something else. In the first paragraph of this piece, Orwell uses a simile to illustrate the general argument stating that it is foolishness to struggle against the changes which inevitably take place in language: to do so is "like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes." The simile presents straightforward examples to make the picture very clear for the reader; it is persuasive exactly because it so aptly illustrates the silliness of choosing what is evidently an inferior option, but it also, perhaps, suggests that these grammarians are being excessively literal. Later in this paragraph, Orwell uses metaphor in stating that language is "an instrument which we shape for our own purposes." While it is common to metaphorically compare language to an instrument or tool, this metaphor forces us to view language in a different way which, perhaps, helps us see the point Orwell is making. If language is an instrument or tool, then it makes sense for us to want to mold that tool into a proper shape to fit the new concepts we may need to articulate. Orwell's argument is that language can, in fact, be consciously shaped, changed and refined by its users, just as tools can be changed and reshaped to be more fit for purpose.

In his desire to present the English language as uniquely moldable, Orwell uses another metaphor to describe its misuse, with sections "tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house." This simile illustrates the lack of care with which some users put language together, as if any one piece can be slotted in anywhere, and without any attempt being made to customize language appropriately. A "prefabricated hen-house" will look the same in anyone's chicken coop, and each one will have been made to look exactly like any other. This, Orwell says, is not the way in which we should think of language.

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A first example occurs in paragraph 4 as Orwell writes:

the concrete melts into the abstract.

Concrete does not melt, therefore readers read this knowing it to be a comparison to something that does indeed melt. This serves to illustrate the point that a gradual, yet inevitable change is taking place.

Another example in the 4th paragraph occurs in these words:

phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.

Here, Orwell demonstrates the ineffectiveness of phrases which are often used to just fill the necessary space on a paper to be a complete piece of writing or speech. If a carpenter were to put together a well-built hen-house, he would select materials that fit each other perfectly and he would fasten the pieces together himself with precision. This simile compares writing to construction. Both processes are creative, but can be done either poorly or effectively. This simile gives a visual representation to the reading audience.

Orwell uses the pretentious nature of Latin derivitives to "haunt" and the need to look for solid language as the "hunt". These occur in paragraphs 7 and 11 respectively. These figurative uses of these words function to create a feeling or mood in the reader. This mood feels both overshadowing and labor-intensive as these figures of speech portray.

The simile

an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink

demonstrates a comparison that once again readers can visually relate with. The process of clearing a clogged sink is irritatingly frustrating. This provides a relatable example that helps portray overused stale phrases.

Orwell's rhetorical strategies of using similes, metaphors, and figurative language are highly effective because they both clarify his intended points and help persuade the reader that he is right. The abilities to relate and clarify meaning position readers to agree with Orwell.

 

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