Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Poverty, George Orwell, Social Issues, Orwell, Society, England, London, Poor

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/11/15

Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London” reflects the social issues of poverty and the impact it has on the society. For many individuals, the issue of poverty is common in the society and the way individuals deal with poverty varies according to the society. Conversely, the reader sees poverty in the novel through the eyes of a plain, candid observer who has a passion for reform in the society. Orwell’s life experiences has transformed into a realistic art form that shows his authenticity as he writes on the issue of poverty without detracting from the horrors of poverty. In the novel, Orwell writes clever plot that is not sentimental or flappable, but one that is objective. The fact is that the novel sends a clear message to the reader that poverty degrades the soul and the body and that the political leaders in Paris and London are not concerned with the issue at hand. George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London” exposes the conditions of poverty in order to condemn societal norms and the misunderstanding about the nature of man.
The novel looks at the characters as they face many days without food or shelter. The poverty intensifies as the readers see that the physical appearances of the characters become disheartening as they wear clothes that have no buttons. Clearly, the picture plays on the emotions of the readers who see such simple acts as a reality for homeless people living in abject conditions around the world. A number of the poorer classes of individuals cannot escape the poverty and neither are they able to find a way to alleviate their bleak conditions. In fact, only a few of those living in poverty seem to escape the hardships of their lives. Those individuals who escape often find ways to improve their lives and the lives of others in poverty. Orwell skillfully shows the ability of those in poverty to work together to reach the common goal of finding freedom and shelter from the suppression of the lower class. Arguably, many of those individuals who suffer through poverty encounter the harsh treatment of the government and the society as a whole.
Through Orwell’s personal experiences, he writes of the commitment and friendship that connects those living in poverty. The poorer class in the society shares the dismal prospects of poverty and tries to find ways to get past the poverty. Orwell openly criticizes the way the society treats the poor. Still, “the anarchists tend to hold Orwell in high regard, appreciating his criticism of totalitarian regimes of both the right and left and his understanding of imperialism and capitalist values,” (The Political Ideas of George Orwell, par. 19). In 1933, Orwell noted that the society despises beggars as beggars fail to earn a decent living, (Orwell 1933, as cited in The Political Ideas of George Orwell, par. 19). Of course, one could easily see Orwell’s ideas as those of the Marxists who accept the social and economic classes in the society. Arguably, the society embraces those that are able to afford the basic necessities quite easily and turn their backs on those who are less fortunate. As a consequence, the less fortunate recognize and accept the negative treatment even as they struggle to rise above their living conditions.
The harsh reality of poverty and the treatment of the poor in the society are similar in the modern world. Nobody cares for the poor because money serves as the ultimate test of virtue. Poverty automatically forces the victims to fail this test, and as such, the beggars turn their backs on those who are poor. But, Orwell’s character, Bozo, suggests that he is free in his mind even though he is poor. The statement leads critics to try to justify the context of the novel as the intimate details of poverty and its effects coincides with Orwell’s sociological perspective and understanding of the harsh treatment of the poorer classes. The fact that Orwell writes of two fast – paced and financially stable society leads one to the conclusion that poverty knows no boundaries. Additionally, the treatments of those who are poor remain constant in the society even as critics attempt to trivialize Orwell’s treatment of the subject. There is a direct contrast in between the two cities. Charlie is an interesting character in Paris and the street artist, Bozo has the appearance of factuality, which makes him an exceptional character. Still Bozo and Charlie attempt to define their freedom despite their poverty.
Coombes postulates “Orwell’s text tells us little about poverty in itself; it tells us more about its author and his perceptions of poverty,” (Coombes, par. 32). The idea that poverty cripples an individual’s economic mobility is not clear in the Coombes assertion, yet Orwell’s perception of poverty draws sympathy from the readers. The image of London is low-keyed and has the potential to improve labor, yet poverty exists as a scourge of the society. As such, one can easily agree with Coombes idea that “the questioning of society as a whole in France, substitutes a mere suggestion of the transformation of the ‘spikes’ in England into smallholdings,” (Coombes, par. 32). Still, it is Orwell who reinforces the idea when he notes that the tramps “might even cease to be regarded as paupers and be able to marry and take a respectable place in society,” (Down and Out in Paris and London, p. 184).
Pederson reinforces the argument that poverty is one of Orwell’s least discussed topics, yet he deals with the issue quite effectively, (Pederson, p. 1). Pederson further suggests that Orwell was able to give the poor a voice because of his life among the tramps in London, (Pederson, p. 1). The readers see the unfairness, the desperation, and the unfairness that comes with poverty. In fact, the novel does not deal with the simple issue of not having money but goes further to look at having one’s mental and physical needs neglected because of poverty. The society treats the poor as outcast as they remove the rights of the poor. Literary critic, Craig L. Carr is more concerned with the way Orwell experiences poverty and suggests that Orwell’s experiences makes him a socialist, (Carr, as cited by Pederson, p. 3). The justice system creates numerous laws that apply to the tramps and they are prosecuted when they do not adhere to these laws. Orwell shows that the tramps face inhumane treatment by the society when he suggests that at some spikes the government officials steal your money (Down and Out, 153). Clearly, the Tramps are in a demeaning situation as the society treats them like animals. Still, they receive limited care based on the sacredness of life even as Pederson points to the fact that Orwell “paints a picture of poverty that is complex and ambivalent, with ordinary human beings stuck in animalistic existences and neglected by society,” (Pederson, p. 3).
The fear of shame that comes with poverty is clear in the novel. The harsh reality is that the society turns its back on the most devastating cases of poverty and makes no attempt to intervene and offer financial assistance to the poor. As such, one realizes that the state is responsible for the harsh conditions that those in poverty endure. Orwell writes: "I got up and went out, feeling as though my back was broken and my skull filled with hot cinders. I did not think that I could possibly do a day's work. And yet, after only an hour in the basement, I found that I was perfectly well," (Down and Out in Paris and London, p. 66). At the end of the novel, Orwell implies that a tramp represents an Englishman who does not have a work and is “forced by law to live as a vagabond” (Down and Out in Paris and London, p. 218).
Epstein questions George Orwell role as a social scientist as Orwell combines literary appeal with strong evaluation of the existing social order, (Epstein, p. 2). In fact, Orwell’s nameless character takes the reader on a journey that leaves Epstein to conclude that Orwell is a social critic who engages his readers in the challenges of society. In Chapter 3, the readers see that “there is another feeling that is a great consolation in poverty, (Down and Out in Paris and London, p. 20). Additionally, the narrator suggests that “everyone who has been hard up has experienced it,” (Down and Out in Paris and London, p. 20). The idea that poverty is rampant in the society and the fact that Orwell experienced the effects of poverty leads to his authority on the topic. Still, one is appalled at the implication of the reference to being treated as dogs because of one’s economic standing: “You have talked so often of going to the dogs—and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety," (Down and Out in London and Paris, p. 21).
Still, the narrator is optimistic about his conditions as his thinks: “England is a very good country when you are not poor, and of course with a tame imbecile to look after, I was not going to be poor, (Down and Out in Paris and London, p. 113). In addition, the narrator suggests that one can rise above the levels of poverty as he thinks: “The thought of not being poor made me very patriotic,” (Down and Out in Paris and London, p. 113). One clearly sees that there is a strong sense of patriotism towards the economy, even though Orwell presents this idea “through a sardonic throwaway which undercuts conventional middle-class charitable assumptions, into a sharp, liberating irony, (Coombes, par. 11).
In concluding, Orwell describes the ideas of poverty and the reality that poverty functions as an optimistic factor in the social changes and the personal growth and development of the poor. “Down and Out in Paris and London’ adds perception into the conditions and treatment of the poor. Additionally, Orwell shows the lower middle-class’ fear and agonizing struggles as they attempt to maintain their dignity. While Orwell does not look at the issue of poverty, he looks carefully at the treatment of the poor in two societies that could offer a better life for the misfits in the society.

Works Cited

Coombes, John E. : Construction of Poverty: around Orwell’s Down and out in Paris and
London, Vol. 11, No. 2 Viewed at http://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/?id=1427 Accessed
February 16, 2015
Epstein, Richard A. (2002), "Does Literature Work as Social Science? The Case of George
Orwell," 73 University of Colorado Law Review 987(2002).
Ferdinand – Pederson, Jan (2013) “George Orwell and the Threshold of Poverty” Master in
English Literature, Department of Foreign Languages Spring 2013 Viewed at https://bora.uib.no/bitstream/handle/1956/6731/106777290.pdf?sequence=1 Retrieved
February 15, 2015
Orwell, George (1933) Down and Out in Paris and London, Viewed at
http://www.planetebook.com/ebooks/Down-and-Out-in-Paris-and-London.pdf Accessed
February 14, 2015
The Political Ideas of George Orwell, George Orwell, Viewed at http://www.worldsocialism.org
Retrieved February 15, 2015

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WePapers. (2020, November, 15) The Effects Of Poverty Essay. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-effects-of-poverty-essay/
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The Effects Of Poverty Essay. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-effects-of-poverty-essay/. Published Nov 15, 2020. Accessed March 01, 2021.
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