Task 1: Message and linguistic devices in "An Atrocious Institution"

Task 1 of the exam set requires you to read a text by George Bernard Shaw (“An Atrocious Institution”) about Christmas. First, you have to summarise the author's message, after which you should pinpoint at least three linguistic devices used by the author in his argumentation for enhancing his message.

Task 1A: Author’s message

George Bernard Shaw’s message is that Christmas has become an artificial holiday defined by a series of obligations towards others, but also a holiday filled with excess and waste of all sorts.

Task 1B: Linguistic devices

George Bernard Shaw’s text is a manifesto against Christmas, a holiday which he hates. To put his ideas forward, the author uses several linguistic devices that have the role of enhancing his message and convincing his readers of its reliability.


First, we notice the use of repetition:

We must be gluttonous because it is Christmas. We must be drunken because it is Christmas. We must be insincerely generous; we must buy things that nobody wants, and give them to people we don't like; we must go to absurd entertainments, that make even our little children satirical; (p. 6...

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