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Transcript of George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair
Orwell's extensive traveling was clearly a huge influence on him as a man and as a writer. He learned early on of how society tends to decide your fate unfairly as he was unable to afford access to any desirable universities, while his literary friends were nearly all admitted. This caused him a considerable degree of isolation, social embarrassment and envy. Later experiences in Burma helps shape his resentment of the Empire -- even though he was employed as a policeman there.
Contrary to the order of events in 'Down and Out', Blair actually had his experiences of poverty in London prior to living in Paris slums.
Influences on Life and Writing
The language used in 'Down and Out' is admirably unpanicked and down-to-Earth despite the unrelenting catastrophes. His resilience of manners and politeness is reflected in the consistently formal language and aversion from tones of self-pity, optimistically focusing on the fascinating, profound and occasionally amusing nature of tramphood.
Orwell takes time out of recounting his journey to comment on the state of Britain and the life of tramps for a section near the end of the novel, and even deliberates possible solutions to the torrid societal divide he has willfully bridged. This shows he is deeply concerned for his fellow citizen and desires for his writing to have real resonance within the lives of his readers and possible political influence.
Stylistic Writing Choices
Purposes of 'Down and Out'
'Down and Out in Paris and London' was written in the midst of the Great Depression, a period of unheard of financial and economic failure leading to mass unemployment and widespread poverty.
Context of the Writing Period
The novel was also written in between the First and Second World Wars, as both England and France were struggling to return to civil life.
'Burmese Days' documents Orwell's disillusionment with the British Empire and its oppression of many of the natives within colonial expansions.
Nineteen Eighty-Four forms a prediction of dystopian life under totalitarian rule.
Animal Farm was a political allegory for the ravaged condition of Europe in regard to the views and relationships held between Britain, Russia, Germany and others. Its child-like appearance masked an insight into the true agendas and undertones of WW2.
With his novel, Orwell wanted to provide a social commentary 'from below', giving a voice to those who many viewed as insignificant and separate to the rest of society. He wanted to portray their humanity and deconstruct the middle class's preconceptions about tramps and people living in slums.
The novel also gives harsh criticism to the institutions of the British Empire and how it neglects the unfortunate, potentially shaking the assurance that may have been previously held about the system's sanctity.
Orwell's experience in trying to illegally enter spikes and become consumed by the poverty lifestyle were admittedly incomparable to the genuinely down and out because he could have returned to a relatively comfortable life if he had chosen. Nevertheless, his account is insightful, and most of the documented events occurred in reality -- such as having all his money stolen whilst working at the Rue de Rivoli.