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George Orwell

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Literary Devices

"Essential when conveying theme"

           The literary devices George Orwell is most well known to employ in his writing are allusion and metaphor. Some may say that this contradicts the style section of this website but it most certainly does not. George Orwell is remembered for his commentary on communism and totalitarian governments, his commentary which employs both of these literary devices.

            George Orwell’s use of allusion is best seen in his novel 1984. This book describes a ruthless totalitarian government which controls everything. It controls the press, the amount of food people can have and which is constantly monitoring the people. This novel employs allusions to the totalitarian Soviet Union throughout the book. The famous phrase “Big Brother is watching” is a direct allusion to the idea of Stalin looking over the people of the Soviet Union. The entire book is set in such a framework, the re-writing of history, the control of the media and the allocation of sources are all direct allusions and comparisons to the Soviet Union. This form of literary device is extremely effective when making the book more realistic and in aiding the reader to relate it to a real world experience.

            The use of metaphor is best seen in the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. This book is a commentary on communism and its inherent defects. It highlights the problems of human nature and its inherent strive for power. Orwell presents this on a farm where the animals overthrow their human masters in a violent way, a revolution of sorts. The book essentially stylizes the pigs as a metaphor for the ruling elites of communism who abuse their power, the horse as old Marx and the dogs as the Secret Service (SS).  The use of metaphor to convey this is extremely effective throughout the book because it detaches the ridiculous seizure of power from humanity yet it presents how such instances occur.

            Orwell employs allusion and metaphor to transmit the stories entire meaning and purpose. These devices are the backbone and theme of both stories and help to make both the great literary works they are.


Vincent Andrews
World Author Website Project
Coral Gables Senior High School
IB English IV - period 2