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George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ is an allegorical fairy tale which is profound in its condemnations of totalitarian regimes. The novel explores the concepts of propaganda, totalitarianism and tyranny impacting on the oppressed society with the use of animal characters to expose the evils of exploitation. Similar to ‘Animal Farm’, ‘V for Vendetta’ directed by James McTeigue, explores the same concepts through characterisation of the main character, V, who juxtaposes the idea of individuality and the rebellion against forced conformity. The film demonstrates the rebellion of citizens against injustice of an oppressive government of England who have immense control over the community. It also reveals the difference in the phases of tyranny – ‘V for Vendetta’ is about rebellion and freedom from tyranny, whereas, ‘Animal Farm’ begins with the chaos of driving out the government (Jones). McTeigue and Orwell both resonate with audiences today by warning to the future society that a government body can potentially become corrupt due to the inability to govern excessive power.
McTeigue and Orwell similarly demonstrate the concept of propaganda and corruption in a anthropomorphic way to explore the values of their times through the stories of ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ with the intentions of relating to future audiences. The governing characters from both texts have manipulative control over their people and are abusing their power in order to satisfy their own wants. In ‘V for Vendetta’, Gordon’s satirical TV commercial shows the comparison between Chancellor and V and reflects the illusion of propaganda that Sutler sold to the public. Gordon emphasises the vague terms ‘freedom fighter’ and ‘terrorist’ to show how they are used subjectively and interchangeably by people wanting to assume power. Utilising twin images of Sutler and V as the Chancellor implies that Sutler’s elevation to leader and his judgment of V as a terrorist is hypocritical, relating back to Evey’s father who, “…used to say that artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up”. This reinforces the idea that the government is using lies to cover up the truth to stay loyal to the society.
Similarly, this can be seen through ‘Animal Farm’, when Napoleon uses Snowball as a scapegoat to every problem, “The windmill was, in fact, Napoleon’s own creation”. This directly relates to the aspects of propaganda and visualises the crafty and manipulative characteristics the pigs possess. By revealing false information to his fellow animals, Napoleon is making himself superior by taking all the credit in the making of the windmill and veiling Snowball as a fraud. Snowball being manipulated as a scapegoat, reveals that the other pigs are using lies to cover up the truth for the pig’s benefit, hence exploring the aspects and themes of corruption through the promotion of Squealer’s propaganda. Animal Farm and V for Vendetta both shows the comparison between of how leaders use propaganda to be seen as a loyal and upstanding.
‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ both reinforce the theme tyranny and explore the values of the government exploiting its power to satisfy their own wants. The eras of the two texts are diverse showing the distinctions between the era of Orwell’s, ‘Animal Farm’ and McTeigue’s, ‘V for Vendetta’. This can be seen through the phase of tyranny the two texts encompasses. In ‘Animal Farm’, the development of tyranny can be seen during the process of the rebellion and throughout the rest of the novel. Upon chaos of driving out Jones, voluntary leaders such as Napoleon took the advantage to take control of the farm, putting him in a more superior position over the other animals. With the pigs’ advanced knowledge, they are able to use their power to exploit ‘fellow animals’ into labour and adversity while the pigs provided comfort. The anthropomorphic pigs have grown in power to an extent where the other animals cannot express their point of view in effective functioning of the farm, “They had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere…”, demonstrating the lack of unity between the pigs and the other animals. Orwell satirises Stalin as Napoleon and Trotsky as Snowball to show how laughable the leaders were in the face of revolution. In ‘V for Vendetta’, tyranny is already present at the start of the film. However V gathers support of the citizens who are growing more and more dissatisfied with the amount of control the government has over them, taking the advantage of the growing hostility to create a mass rebellion in order to bring down the tyrannical government. The use of masks to cover identity, it allowed people to voice their attitudes with supremacy and to stand up to rebel against the injustice. The rebellion shows the unity among the community members and demonstrates clarity of power and that people beats tyranny, directly linking to V’s famous liturgy, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people”. The ending of the film shows a sense of hope and freedom in despair of its corrupting government, whereas Animal Farm shows the beginning of tyranny and the exploitation of power, showing the contrast between the two texts.
‘V for Vendetta’ and ‘Animal Farm’ are used as a message to future audiences that the government can potentially become corrupt due to the inability to govern excessive power. Both Orwell and McTeigue explore the concepts of propaganda and exploitation by symbolising characters in satirical way to taunt the government and their failure to indulge and conform to their people. Propaganda can be seen in our modern society where a government is using power for their own benefits and deceiving its community into labour. North Korea is a perfect example. Kim-Jong-Un, the leader of North Korea, claims that his country is a paradise that hasn’t experienced poverty and is living a happy life, when in reality people are forced into hard labour. This is a form of propaganda and Kim is exploiting his power to develop deadly weaponry instead of creating harmony with his people. Orwell and McTeigue’s motif behind ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ explores the ways in which a nation can become corrupt through excessive power and that it is the basic fundamentals of humans to exploit power for their beneficial compensation.
Conclusively, both Orwell and McTeigue explore the concepts of propaganda, tyranny and rebellion to critique the values of their times through the stories of ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’. Through the use of satirical characterisation both authors are able to resonate with modern audiences of the corruption and exploitations of various tyrannical governments in the modern era.
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