by George Orwell
Analysis: Writing Style
Orwell’s imagined world of Oceania in the year 1984 is scary enough, just looking at the facts he provides, but Orwell’s style contributes to this world’s bleakness. His sentences are direct, with minimal flourish. We learn about 1984’s world through dull, matter-of-fact explanations – which (good job, Orwell!) subtly drives home how dull and matter-of-fact daily life is for Oceania’s people.
Orwell describes his imagined world and lets the story unfold in a detached manner, but he knows that any intelligent reader will find his descriptions alarming and creepy. Orwell also gets some dark humor into his storytelling. Take a look at this passage, discussing Julia’s sexual history:
“She had had her first love affair when she was sixteen, with a Party member of sixty who later committed suicide to avoid arrest. ‘And a good job too,’ said Julia. ‘Otherwise they’d have had my name out of him when he confessed.’”
In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell famously laid out a few of his own “rules” for good writers, including, “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out,” and “Never use a long word when a short one will do.” Is it any surprise that he composed these rules in 1946, and 1984 hit bookstore shelves in 1949? We think not, since his style in the novel couldn’t be more “rule” abiding. This works well for 1984, especially – high efficiency and little embellishment mirrors the drabness of the Oceanic world precisely.