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In 1946, George Orwell would author one of the most notorious and astute books of all time, a book titled Animal Farm. Animal Farm takes place on a farm led by a pig by the name of Old Major. When he describes his dream to the fellow animals on the farm, he encourages them to turn against the humans. Some days later, Old Major passes away and the animals revolt and take over the farm, renaming it Animal Farm. Through his novel, George Orwell tries to convey the significance of being educated and the tragedies that fall upon the uneducated animals of Animal Farm. These include putting their faith in the wrong hands, getting manipulated and controlled, not being able to make decisions for themselves and how it relates to the soviet union during this time. In the beginning, the pigs are seen as faithful to their fellow animals and to the revolution. They interpret Old Major’s vision and end up turning it into the “Seven Commandments of Animalism”. However, it isn’t some time before the pigs’ knowledge and instructions are used in oppression and mistreatment.
Following Old Major’s passing, we see a major struggle between two characters: Snowball and Napoleon. Napoleon believed that an emphasis on the younger animals should be the focus of education. This is first exemplified in Chapter 2/3 when he takes 9 young dogs from their mother in order to train them. They later come back as Napoleon’s “guards” and play a large role in his grab for power against snowball. Snowball, on the other hand, believed everyone is important and equal. Snowball was eventually chased off the farm by the dogs, giving Napoleon full control. Progressively, the pigs began to control education and started to brainwash the animals. For instance, the sheep were taught to say “Four legs good, two legs bad” at different times so that the animals had to listen to the pigs’ ideas, which was believed and remained undisputed. Because the animals were indecisive and uneducated, they were forced to believe something that turned out to be false. This is one of the reasons Orwell attempts to discuss the impact of education through his novel. The instant the pigs are faced with a problem or supplies that they desire (the milk) they desert their morals and use their greater knowledge to deceive the other animals. The pigs also bound the other animals’ chances to gain intelligence and education early on. They educate themselves to write and read from a children’s book but destroy it before the other animals get a chance to read it. Once the pigs strengthen their status as the knowledgeable elite, they use their intellectual advantage to control the other animals.
Another important issue Orwell tries to cover is the issue of dictatorship and manipulation. In this story, the animals make Napoleon responsible for all affairs, a pig that can read and write. Napoleon uses his authority and control to play and control the animals. One way he does this is by altering the rules. When the animals first founded the Animal Farm, they came up with seven rules (commandments) to live by. Every time Napoleon would break a rule, he would slightly modify it. For example, deliberately knowing that the other animals cannot read the Seven Commandments, they modify them whenever they break a commandment or rule. “….But it appears to me that the wall looks different. Are the seven commandments the same as they used to be Benjamin?…. There was nothing there now but a single commandment. It ran: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS. After that, it did not seem strange when next day the pigs… “(Page 123) When we take a look at the Russian Revolution and the major players involved, we tend to find strong connections between them and the characters in Animal Farm.
During the Russian Revolution, Karl Marx explained the injustice that had been taking place in Russia. Furthermore, he describes his vision for the future where classes were no longer part of society. Similarly, Old Major describes the cruelty and mistreatment that the animals suffered and his vision for the animals. Later in the story, the animals rebel against farmer Jones when he forgets to feed them. This can be seen as a reflection of the 1905 and 1917 revolutions where war caused food shortages in Russia, resulting in mass starvation and social problems that ultimately sparked a rebellion. The election between Napoleon and Snowball can also be seen as a parallel to Stalin and Trotsky who had similar views as their animal equivalents. Similarly, Napoleon’s control of education can be easily compared to what Stalin did at the time. Stalin had control over the level of education delivered to the peasants, and therefore, he gained control over them. Through this absence of education, the Russian peasants were unable to notice the steady power Stalin was establishing over the masses. Through the development of his novel, Orwell truly tries to demonstrate the significance and importance of being educated by showing the reader what could happen when groups of people (animals in this case) are not. Orwell also attempts to give us examples of such events. Overall, Animal Farm is a must-read for anyone interested in the Russian Revolution, education, and a well-written book in general.
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