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1984 Vs. Animal Farm Essay, Research Paper
1984 vs. Animal Farm
1984, by George Orwell, is a very powerful drama which involves man and
totalitarian society. It is a story of a lonely rebel whose only valuable is his mind and who later conspires with another in an attempt to separate from their increasingly dominant hate-infested society. In 1984, Orwell depicts the susceptibility of today’s society and its possibility of becoming a realm of lies. In it, the masses live in constant fear, being monitored at all times. He also admonishes the fact that this society can be in store for us in the future. The main theme of 1984 is that without independent thought and freedom, corruption can and will transform decent order into unbeatable, truth-hiding oppression.
It is 1984 in London, Oceania, one of the three major super powers of the world. Winston Smith, an Outer Party member (middle class), works in the Ministry of Truth ‘correcting’ the past so as to make it agree with the present. He is totally upset with the government of omniscient, omnipresent Big Brother and so out of despair, he rebels against it by doing everything from communicating with proles (low class-proletariat) and writing in a diary to having an affair with a younger woman. Winston first thought that Julia, the younger woman, was an Inner Party member (high class) and had dreams of her and even had thoughts of killing her, until she took enough initiative and courage to admit her love for him. After making love many times, they decide to rent the basic room from Mr. Charrington, directly above his rubbish shop. The two of them then go to meet O’Brien, an Inner Party member, who has them believe him to also be a rebel with the Brotherhood against Big Brother, giving them an illicit book authored by public enemy Emmanuel Goldstein. After lying in secret for days and weeks, and after feeling trapped by their society (major conflict), the two are arrested at the hands of O’Brien and Mr. Charrington, a member of the Thought Police. Then, each of the two are incarcerated in the Ministry of Love, with O’Brien supervising/torturing Winston in his ’sanitation.’ By means of severe pain and torture, Winston is almost finished with his training and has come to admire O’Brien. After nine months of starvation, neglect, and abuse, the last step requires Winston to go to Room 101, containing Winston’s greatest fear: rats. After finishing, he is released, having lost his diary, memories, personality, and love for Julia; he has, however, attained love for Big Brother (resolution), and is now more useless than ever.
The setting for 1984 is in dirty, dull London, looking more run-down than ever. The Golden Country in Smith’s dream, however, is paradise from the frozen-over hell that is London. It cannot be overlooked that London is full of disease, pests, pollution, and hate; basically, it consists of filth, both physical and spiritual. Like many other books of its time, 1984 mentions the loss of independent thought and its outright effects on today’s society. It is for that loss that Winston most cherishes his thought and reason. Orwell is also trying to drive home the fact that if it happened with Stalin and Hitler, it most certainly can happen with us, with or without Big Brother. Another major point to be looked at is the ‘truth.’ Without everybody thinking for themselves, they all tend to rely on a major source for their info. With the Party being that source, that masses have no other to turn to. Thus, they must believe it for their own good. In effect, the Party can churn out any little lie to the public without any fear of not being believed. Without free thinking, there is also no end to the ‘war,’ yet another Party-fabricated lie. The government has gotten to the point that, without any rules, it can denounce anything and everything it fears as a crime. Anyone seen as independent opposition to the Party’s power is efficiently suppressed. Winston realizes that the paperweight was made in some other time, for it is forbidden in 1984, if it really is 1984, and it is for that reason that he cherishes it. The society that Orwell depicts has nothing more than betrayers and fear of strangers as is evident by O’Brien, Charrington, and the masses. With Big Brother posters everywhere and no freedom of speech, all live in constant fear of detection. All may be under surveillance, giving birth to paranoia and lack of trust. One of the few things admirable about the Party is how they have invented their language for the elite. Newspeak, yet another ingenious idea of Orwell, is the constantly refined version of Standard English, or as the Party calls it, Oldspeak. That is one of the rare success stories of the Party. This work provides an insight into a world lacking free reason, and shows the consequences of it, not to mention the state of oblivion and ignorance in which the people live. 1984, by George Orwell, depicts a lie-making, truth-hiding, corrupt, totalitarian nation lying in ruins, afraid of the truth and consumed with hatred.
All aspects of Orwell’s 1984 are symbolic in one way or another. Orwell undoubtedly based Big Brother on Russian leader Joseph Stalin, whose means concerned sole power and totalitarianism. The description of the steel-faced, black-mustachioed Brother bears a great resemblance to Stalin, whose last name means steel. He also used Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in depicting him. One cannot help but notice the composition of the hero’s name; Winston came from Winston Churchill, England’s leader throughout World War II, while Smith is one of the world’s most common last names, thereby signifying his importance as the best of the ordinary. He is constantly shown as consciously putting his life in danger, when he starts a diary, lives among the proles, starts an affair, and conspires against the party. He therefore symbolizes independent thought and individuality. Julia, Winston’s love interest, symbolizes corruption and rebellion, as is evident by her total devotion to him in spite of what she knows she is risking. O’Brien symbolizes ‘the next best alternative’ that many face in situations. He is like the least worst-not the best-choice, also known as ’sweet pain.’ Emmanuel Goldstein, with a Jewish last name, symbolizes the scapegoat in all situations. He was also undoubtedly based on Leon Trotsky, leader of the Russian Revolution who was purged by the totalitarian Stalin. The Party represents those loyal to Stalin during his corrupt reign, just like the proles represent those who blindly followed sometimes and were forced to follow at other times. The Ministry of Truth with its manipulation of the past bears a resemblance to the Nazis who told the people that the German Knights believed in the principles of National Socialism. Perhaps the most distinct symbol is the Party’s Newspeak, and its attempt at refined language, already put in use in totalitarian governments with such words as Nazi, Gestapo, and Comintern. Although Orwell’s totalitarian 1984 deals with the future, he symbolizes many of its elements based on aspects of the present and past.
Animal Farm, also by George Orwell, is a carefully written beast fable using animals to represent humans and their faulty behavior/judgments. It is a story of an attempt to refine society’s filthy ways, only to adopt them later on hypocratically. Animal Farm takes place on a farm probably in England, with many miniature world-like characteristics. Orwell is trying to get across the corruption of seeking total power. This fable was written as a sort of warning that if it happened with the Russians, it most surely can happen with us. Animal Farm basically deals with how seeking totalitarian power can and will destroy any attempt at revolution and how power can corrupt even the most probable utopias.
One night when Farmer Jones has gone to bed drunk, Old Major, the pig in charge of all, assembles all of the animals of Manor Farm to tell them of a dream he had concerning man’s and animal’s place in life. He points out how animals are literally worked to death by man, who consumes but does not produce, and thus must remove man by means of rebellion. Shortly thereafter, he dies and the animals begin preparation for this Revolution, whenever it may come. When the hungry animals attack and drive off Jones one day for not feeding them, they realize their uprising has been a success. They then, in celebration, change the title of the farm from Manor Farm to Animal Farm, and write the Seven Commandments of Animalism on the barn:
1)Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy
2)Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend
3)No animal shall wear clothes
4)No animal shall sleep in a bed
5)No animal shall drink alcohol
6)No animal shall kill any other animal
7)All animals are equal
With the pigs’ smarts, everyone’s enthusiasm and hard work, especially Boxer, the big cart horse, all jobs are now performed easier and quicker than were by Farmer Jones. On Sundays, meetings and celebrations for the Rebellion are held, with all animals being taught to read, write, and memorize the commandments. Some could not memorize the seven, so Snowball reduced them to one maxim-”Four legs good, two legs bad”-much to the satisfaction of the sheep, who yell it for hours at a time. Slowly, conflicts arise, as the pigs start taking food for themselves, Farmer Jones’ attack is held off by Boxer and Snowball, and Snowball and Napoleon increasingly disagree on everything. After Snowball excellently proposes committees and building a windmill, Napoleon ushers in nine huge dogs, whom he has raised since they were puppies, to drive off Snowball, never to be seen again. After a storm destroys their newly-made windmill, Napoleon claims Snowball did it, forcing a few animals soon-to-be-dead to confess to conspiring with Snowball. Throughout this time, Napoleon is always protected by his dogs, and the animals of the farm barely reclaim it from an attack by neighbor Farmer Frederick, who blows up the windmill it took them two years to build. Napoleon claims to arrange having the loyal, collapsed Boxer treated at a hospital, only to take him away to be slaughtered, wherefrom they receive liquor money. After years of rule by pigs and dogs, one day all animals see them walking on two legs, to which the sheep, who have recently been taught by Squealer (Napoleon’s assistant), reply “Four legs good, two legs better.” By this point, all of the commandments the animals thought they remembered are now different, qualified specifically by Squealer and the pigs. One night, when the animals hear noises coming from the house, they go and see the pigs dining with humans, only to see that they are the same-pigs are humans, humans are pigs.
The central theme Orwell is trying to get across is the failure of attempted revolution. Too many times it is tried, and too many times it fails. Furthermore, he thoroughly depicts power and its tributaries of corruption. As long as there as has been humans, there has always been power, with one person having more than another and one person wanting more than another. This is definitely the case as Snowball begins to accept more power in his campaign for the animals and Napoleon begins to grow jealous, forcing him to resort to violence. In contrast to Orwell’s depiction of an anti-utopia in 1984, he gives us the impression of a possibility of utopia in Animal Farm with the animals taking over, only to shatter it with the introduction of a totalitarian dictatorship by the hands of Napoleon, proving it is possibly anywhere. The concept of power rots the pigs’ minds, as their longing for power grows; the more they get, the more they want. Another point to be made is that as long as human condition exists on this earth, power will always corrupt. These are made clear by the behavior of the pigs throughout the ordeal. As they got more food, they started denying the other animals it, instead saving it for themselves. Animal Farm is a story of a revolution gone bad, especially because of lust for power and rule.
Since Animal Farm is a satire over the Russian Revolution, it is full of meaningful symbolism. Old Major, the prize pig, represented Karl Marx and his motion for revolution, since it was he who actually started the idea of overthrowing corruptive man. One cannot help but notice the name choice for the villain. Napoleon’s namesake was the dictator of France, who turned it into his own personal empire, much like Napoleon the pig. Napoleon, however, was undoubtedly, exclusively based on Joseph Stalin and his movement during the Russian Revolution, with his totalitarian and dictator beliefs. This is highly obvious with Napoleon’s lust for power and destruction of political opposition (Snowball). Squealer, who could “turn black into white,” served the same role as 1984’s Ministry of Truth, representing the propaganda-making Pravda, the Russian newspaper of the 1930’s, masking all the bad by the leaders, serving as the link between the top and the bottom. Snowball, without a doubt, symbolizes the scapegoat of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky. Both Trotsky and Stalin (Snowball and Napoleon) were in charge, until Stalin feared for his own power, exiling Trotsky to Mexico and being ruthless against any presumed to follow Trotsky. This bears an uncanny resemblance with Snowball’s situation. Although he did appear corrupt at times (taking the apples and milk), Snowball characterized bravery, goodwill, and consideration. Boxer symbolizes the often confused -but overall loyal- blind followers of Stalin (Napoleon) during his tyrannic reign, much like the dogs were Stalin’s most loyal followers, the KGB. Boxer’s statement “Napoleon is always right” is modeled after the famous statement “Mussolini is always right.” In many ways, I feel Old Benjamin, the old donkey, symbolizes Orwell himself, in the sense that he remained unchanged to the rebellion, warning of its consequences and claiming it would not be as momentous as they were making it out to be. He is one of the few animals on the farm who is generally aware of what is going on at all times. Finally, Orwell’s seven commandments are a parody of the perverted ten commandments Tolstoy used in his writing. Animal Farm is a beast fable using animals to symbolize our faults and display our lack of efficiency, strategically sculpted so as to be understood and read by all.
1)FOWLER, ROGER. THE LANGUAGE OF GEORGE ORWELL
(LANGUAGE OF LITERATURE). BOSTON: ST. MARTIN’S, 1996.
2) “GEORGE ORWELL.” MICROSOFT ENCARTA ENCYCLOPEDIA
DELUXE, 1999 ED.
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