Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Animal Farm


1. Animal Farm, written by George Orwell, is a masterpiece mocking communism. Animalism, which represents communism, was a revolution that didn't work. Animalism was supposed to make life better for the animals but instead their lives got worse. By the end of the story, everything had changed. The government had become corrupt, there was a dictator, and the animals had become slaves to the pigs. Life for the animals couldn't get any worse.
At the beginning of the story, the animals revolted because of the way they were treated by Mr. Jones, the farmer. They felt that the farmers made all the profit, reaped all the rewards but didn't do any of the work. So they formed a government called Animalism. In Animalism, there are no owners, no rich, but no poor, workers got a better life, and all animals are equal. They had even established laws called the Seven Commandments, which were intended to give basic rights to animals and protect them from oppression. The goals of the government were also established. The goals said that everyone was equal, there would be more food and sleep for all, there was to be respect for all animals, and they would build a windmill to make life better for all. By the end of the book, all this no longer existed. The animals were getting less sleep, less food, and less respect. The windmill became a source of money for the leaders, not for all the animals. The seven commandments were gradually changed to suit the pigs and then there was only one Commandment left. "'Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?' There was nothing now except for a single Commandment. It ran: All animals are equal but some are more equal than others"(133). That single commandment made the pigs more powerful. Animalism no longer existed.
At the beginning of the story, there were two leaders, Snowball and Napoleon, which were sharing power. Snowball was good with words, honest, good at arguing, was inventive, and believed in technology. He stayed in touch with the animals, and wanted to make things better for them. Napoleon, on the other hand, was bad with words, dishonest, hated arguing, and was not inventive. He wanted to be above all the animals; he didn't care about making things better. He only believed in serving himself. In order for Napoleon to be above all the animals, he had to get Snowball out of the way. Napoleon did that by getting his dogs to scare him away so Snowball would never come back to the farm. Napoleon was now in total control of the farm and the animals. Napoleon and the pigs started acting like humans - they would drink, wear clothes, sleep in beds, fight, and walk. They did everything that they had once said was wrong. Things were worse for the rest of animals than when Mr. Jones was running the farm.
Just after the revolution, the animals worked on the farm because they wanted to. All the animals owned the farm, so all worked for it. It was their farm. After Napoleon takes over and creates a dictatorship, the animals are forced to work. Napoleon and the pigs owned the farm and the others became slaves to them. The animals "volunteered" or they got less food. The dogs used force; and Squealer, a pig, would lie to them to make them work. The pigs weren't fair to the other animals at all.
Orwell shows that revolutions are not always for the better. The outcome of it is not the same as it would be if there is someone who wants more power and is never satisfied with what he has already achieved. It is imbibed in human nature to think about himself instead of the good of the others. It seems to be in "human" nature to act that way.

2. Power Corrupts
In George Orwell's Animal Farm, power and control of the farm shifts from Mr. Jones to Snowball and from Snowball to Napoleon. Each, no matter how well their leadership, was corrupted by power in some way as compared to Russian leaders of the time. The most corrupt, Napoleon uses several methods of gaining more power and luxury.
Like Stalin, Napoleon uses a Propaganda Department to make himself look good. The one responsible for Napoleon's looking good and propaganda is Squealer. With a name like Squealer he better be damn good using his wits to Napoleon's and the pigs' advantage. In the seventh chapter, Squealer responds to Boxer's question of whether Snowball fought bravely at the Battle of the Cowshed by making Snowball look deceiving. He says, "That was our mistake, comrade. For we know now - it is all written down in secret documents that we have found - in reality he was trying to lure us to our doom." This quote proves that propaganda was used to make Napoleon look good and his opponents look evil. One of many reasons Napoleon and Squealer get away with these false allegations is that the animals are too dumb to remember what happened.
Another way Napoleon uses methods to make him look good is simply changing the rules to favor himself. Squealer again is responsible for the wrongdoing. All of the Seven Commandments of Animal Farm are eventually broken before the commandments are "revised" to prove the pigs did nothing wrong. In the eighth chapter, the commandment that strictly forbids animals to kill one another was cunningly changed to "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause" after a series of executions of supposed traitors and probable Snowball followers. Napoleon forced confessions and eliminated these probable traitors under the newly revised rule. The new rule favored his popularity, respect, and increased his hunger for power.
Napoleon's actions were not unnoticed though. Those who noticed were intimidated by his guard dogs and were silenced. In one situation, young pigs protested Napoleon's leadership. "But suddenly the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again." Violence worked perfectly to drive away any opponent Napoleon might have had. Without any opposition, Napoleon is free to do his own bidding. As a result, Napoleon again is drowned with power and pride because the animals must respect him, or they will be turned into corpses.
Too much power brings the worse in us. Any amount of power also corrupts. Great or little power corrupts us in a way that only seems natural to instincts of an animal.

3. Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pseudonym George Orwell, is an English author commonly known to write about political issues. Orwell has been highly acclaimed and criticized for his novels, including one of his most famous, Animal Farm. In a satirical form, George Orwell uses personified farm animals to express his views on Stalinism in the novel Animal Farm.
Throughout Orwell's early novels, democratic socialism kept the author from total despair of all humans. After his better experience in the Spanish Civil War and the shock of the Nazi-Soviet pact, Orwell developed Animal Farm. The socialism Orwell believed in was not a hardheaded "realistic" approach to society and politics but a rather sentimental, utopian vision of the world as a "raft sailing through space, with, potentially, plenty of provisions for everybody".
Animal Farm is a satirical beast fable which has been heralded as Orwell's lightest, gayest work. It is a novel based on the first thirty years of the Soviet Union, a real society pursuing the ideal of equality. His book argues that this kind of society has not worked and could not. Animal Farm has also been known as an entertaining, witty tale of a farm whose oppressed animals, capable of speech and reason, overcome a cruel master and set up a revolutionary government. On another, more serious level, it is a political allegory, a symbolic tale where all the events and characters represent events and characters in Russian history since 1917.
Orwell uses actual historical events to construct Animal Farm, but rearranges them to fit his plot. Manor Farm is Russia, Mr. Jones the Tsar, the pigs the Bolsheviks who led the revolution. The humans represent the ruling class, the animals the workers and the peasants. Old Major, the inspiration of the rebellion, is a combination of Marx, the chief theorist and Lenin, the actual leader. Old Major dies before the rebellion just as Lenin did in the Russian revolution. In actuality Stalin and Trotsky argue over power after Lenin's death, which Orwell satirizes in Napoleon and Snowball.
In Animal Farm, Orwell immediately establishes the Soviet political allegory as Old Major (Marx/Lenin) describes the exploitation of animals by humans and the statement "all animals are comrades." The animals continuous singing of "Beasts of England" can be seen not only as a symbol of the decay of communist notions of a perfect state, but also as Orwell's more general comment on the decline of true liberty and equality in the west.
The progress of the revolution from a common idealism to a state system of leader, police, and workers happens rather rapidly. The animals take over the farm and the pigs (Bolsheviks) emerge as natural organizers. The pigs reduce the principles of animalism in seven simple commandments and develop a green and white version of the Russian hammer and sickle flag. Instead, theirs has "a hoof and horn which signifies the future Republic of the animals which would arise when the human race had been finally overthrown". Orwell demonstrates both the greed and the hypocrisy involved in the urge to power when the clever pigs contribute to none of the work and keep for themselves all the milk and apples.
During the novel, the pigs continue to gain more and more power. In the pigs’ up rise of power, the Seven Commandments are an effective structural device. Their different alterations resemble the pigs' progressive rise to power. The pigs' gradual acquisition of privileges- apples, milk, house, whisky, beer, clothes- leads to the final identification of pig and human, Communist and capitalist.
The blurring of the past and the hardening shape of the present, grim, greedy, or just pragmatic, are accompanied by betrayal of the spirit of the revolution exemplified in the amendments made into the "Seven Commandments" of "Animalism". Constantly these are changed by one of the deceiving pigs, Squealer. The puzzled animals can not figure out with trying to keep pace with the pigs increasing authority. So the commandments such as, "No animal shall sleep in a bed" becomes, when the pigs move into the farmhouse, "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." Also, after the savage killings "No animal shall kill another" is modified by the addition of "without a cause."
Each event that occurs in Animal Farm has a historical parallel. The Rebellion is the October 1917 Revolution, the Battle of the Cowshed is the subsequent Civil War, Mr. Jones and the farmers represent the loyalist Russians, the hen's revolt stands for the brutally suppressed 1921 mutiny of the sailors, Napoleon’s deal with Whymper represents Russia's 1922 Treaty of Rapallo with Germany. The most significant of all the events is the building of the windmill, which in Soviet terms represents industrialization. Orwell ends the novel with a satiric portrait of the Teheran Conference of 1943, the meeting of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin who are now allies.
Throughout the entire book, the pigs gradually gravitate towards the human world. First, through trade and alliances with Mr. Frederick. The selling of timber to Mr. Frederick of Pinchfield is the animal equivalent of the short-lived Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact of 1939. Then as the pigs celebrate the Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of the Windmill, they drink alcohol. More and more has Napoleon, now "elected" president, become the remote object of a personality cult in a system marked by "readjustment" of rations for workers and the empty "dignity of" more songs, more speeches, and more processions. Despite this, all the animals, except the pigs, still hope for days before the Rebellion. They figured if they worked hard, at least, they worked for themselves. "No creature among them went upon two legs". "No creature called another creature 'Master'". "All animals were equal".
Orwell finishes Animal Farm with a surprise ending. He demonstrates the pigs' complete corruptness as they walk on their hind legs. The pigs train all the young sheep to walk on their hind legs and chant "Four legs good, two legs better." Orwell throws in irony throughout the novel to show that not all the animals are fair and equal.
On the whole, Orwell's intentions to discredit the Soviet system by showing its inhumanity and its back-sliding from ideals is achieved. It is Orwell's sharpness of visualization and emotional resonance that have ensured Animal Farm what seems to be a permanent place in literature. Graham Greene rightly noted in his review that we "become involved in the fate of the animals. We care about them too much merely to translate events into their historical equivalent." There is no such possibility in Animal Farm, nor, by the end, can we escape the weight of the book's sadness by thinking that these things have only happened to animals. We look from the oppressed animals in the book to the oppressed human beings outside and back again, and can see no difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment