George Orwell: Essays Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    In many of George Orwell’s more autobiographical essays (“Such, Such were the Joys”, “Shooting an Elephant”, “A Hanging”) some details are less than factually accurate. Does this matter?

    George Orwell’s essays are rarely presented as entirely non-fictional and have come to be viewed more as an ambiguous cross-breeding of fiction and meta-non-fiction. The truth of any fiction should matter far less than the truth of any non-fiction, but there is a significant difference between fiction presented in the tone of outright creative writing and one that hints at or suggests it may be based on a true story. From the very beginning of “Shooting an Elephant” Orwell situates himself as a character in his narrative: “In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people” and it is vitally important to realize that throughout this and other stories, as the author, Orwell is organizing and editing the events and opinions expressed as deemed suitable for the purpose of creating interest. So, ultimately, factual accuracy matters less than

  2. 2

    How does the tone of “In Praise of English Cooking” come across as patriotic?

    The tone of this essay is established most firmly by the statement that “It is commonly said, even by the English themselves, that English cooking is the worst in the world.” The self-deprecation of this statement contributes to the overall tone of passive-aggressive patriotic fervor that permeates throughout the sentence structure. By first suggesting that it is actually others who view English cooking as bad with the clause “even by the English themselves” Orwell sets upon a journey of proving the exact opposite.

  3. 3

    What use is made of extended metaphors in the political essays of George Orwell?

    The elephant is massive and powerful and dangerous, but ultimately is also vulnerable. In this way, the elephant becomes a metaphor for the British government and army enforcing itself as an occupational force in a foreign land. This metaphor would be very strong by itself, but Orwell expands brilliantly upon it by forcing the reader to experience the long, slow, excruciating death of the animal so that it now becomes a metaphor for the way that imperialism and colonialism are also beasts that take a long time to expire and wither away.

  4. 4

    How does Orwell present class difference?

    The narrator of “Shooting an Elephant” establishes the significance of class differences almost right from the beginning when he admits that “at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing.” The entire narrative course of the story of the shooting an elephant pits colonialism and imperialism as the overriding social problem of the modern era. The subtle delineations of how the Burmese hate the British imperialists precisely for the condescending attitude that the British imperialists expressed the those they view merely as their colonists says everything not just about the important of class difference, but how it affects history.

  5. 5

    How does George Orwell use detail to make his memories convincing (or not)?

    One perfect example of Orwell’s mastery of details is exhibited in the wealth of information provided in the following lines: “people said that the elephant had come suddenly upon him round the corner of the hut, caught him with its trunk, put its foot on his back and ground him into the earth. This was the rainy season and the ground was soft, and his face had scored a trench a foot deep and a couple of yards long. He was lying on his belly with arms crucified and head sharply twisted to one side.” Here the reader leaders that an elephant can come upon a victim suddenly despite his massive size, that the elephant is smart enough to use his truck and feet as weapons. The reader also gains insight in the how climate conditions affect dangerous situation and, finally, he even uses details to create symbolic associations and literary allusions.

  6. 6

    Is George Orwell subtle in his political essays?

    The repetitive use of phrases like “it will be seen” and “could be obtained” and “it must be admitted” throughout his essay on English cooking reveals a mastery of the subtle power of tone. That essay in particular avoids one of the mandates of most writing instruction for the purpose of matching tone with intent: the passive voice that Orwell engages is vital is endowing what is actually a rather fearsome bit of patriotic fervor with a distancing device that makes it seem less outright offensive than it actually is.

  7. 7

    What does Orwell's essays reveal about his belief in the motivation and aim of writing?

    Animal Farm could very have been written entirely as children’s literature fitting somewhere between Charlotte’s Web and Babe and still be entertaining readers today. Instead, it is a political warning signal masquerading as such a tale. Such is the power of George Orwell’s direction to writers that they must seek an ambition higher than mere entertainment. Orwell’s short essay defending British food is an example of how even something seemingly written only for amusement on a subject hardly fit for deep thought can, in the hands of a talent writer who is determined to do more with that subject, become food for sociological and political thought.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.