Politics and the English Language Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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Why might one find George Orwell's writings to be misleading with regard to "Politics And The English Language" and "Shooting An Elephant"?

Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" and "Shooting an Elephant" are potentially misleading because both essays, though they make valid points, tend to overstate them and to present the reader with a slightly caricatured view. Orwell realistically focuses upon problems that exist in both left-wing thinking and the colonialist system of the British Empire. In doing so, he perhaps oversimplifies the issues and ignores crucial facts that make the situations he describes more complex than they initially seem.

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Each of these essays is a critique of a dynamic Orwell observes in the social and political climate of his time. Though the conclusions he draws are largely correct, his forceful rhetoric has the potential to obscure other facts that complicate the situation, and perhaps have led some readers to doubt even the valid points he makes.

In "Politics and the English Language ," the central thesis is that modern political writing has deteriorated precisely because its purpose is to make lies sound truthful. Though a left-wing person himself, Orwell is critical of the left. He gives several examples of bad writing, and describes them, correctly, as being convoluted to the point of incomprehensibility. Whether the writers of the cited passages were deliberately trying to confuse their readers, however, is another matter. There is also no way of knowing if equally bad samples of writing can't be found in earlier periods, not necessarily for the purpose of political deception. Some writers simply...

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