Animal Farm
George Orwell

by contributor

Sharon Fleming

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Themes
Themes are described as ideas that dominate a particular piece of literature. In almost all cases, pieces of literature will be centered a theme or a number of them.
Satire
The term satire is referred to an art that is used to ridicule a particular behavior or action with the aim of making the perpetrators change their behaviors or actions. Ordinarily, satirists believe that the beliefs of other people are folly and they make an attempt to attack these beliefs, albeit indirectly, and make the individuals change their thinking. One of the most robust and universally appreciated satirist pieces of literature is Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726). In this work, Swift makes a case about the levels of corruption that characterized his time. Gulliver, in work, has traveled to many lands and he realizes that almost every element of the society is dominated by corrupt practices. Just like Swift, Orwell has used his book to attack some of the things that he deemed to be the follies of his time.
Tyranny
Animal Farm majorly satirizes the political class with their insatiable lust for power, the use of rhetoric to manipulate the people among other follies. In the book, Napoleon emerges as the epitome of tyranny. At the time of the revolution, he promised a better farm for the other animals. However, he has exercised his authority with brutal force, using his dogs to attack those who disagreed with him. Napoleon uses all sorts of actions to mask his activities. When Napoleon is accused of stealing milk and honey, he says that these foods have nutrients that are only suitable for the pigs due to the nature of their managerial work. Napoleon chases Snowball out of the farm by accusing him of being a traitor and working for Mr. Jones. While all the pigs, like any other animals, are expected to obey the Seven Commandments, Napoleon and his pigs regularly break the commandments, and each time they do this, they modify the language to suit their actions. Additionally, any time the farm experiences turbulence, Napoleon accuses Snowball's treachery, an accusation that the reader knows is untrue. As a result of these and other actions, it is evident that Orwell was desirous to condemn the tyrannical leadership that the society at his time was subjected to and the manner in which the leadership affected the community.
The Role of the Populace
While Napoleon is responsible for the misrule in the farm, he is not solely to blame. There is an animal who has endorsed Napoleon's misrule as a result of some of the personal benefits they obtain from Napoleon. For example, Mollie is concerned only with the material benefits he gets from the rule. Mollie represents that group of people that are not concerned with the political environment in which they live as long as they obtain their material benefits. Mollie is not concerned with the issues of justice and equality that other animals appear to be seeking. Another animal that blindly follows Napoleon is Boxer. According to Boxer, "Napoleon is always right." It is this kind of attitude in the society that prevents a lot of people from deeply examining the actions of the political class and weighs these actions with the effects that they have on the society. It is the ignorance of the likes of animals such as Boxer that allow Napoleon to stay comfortably in his position and exercise his tyranny over the other animals. Additionally, even Benjamin, the donkey, contributes significantly to the strengthening of the position of the pigs by failing to create awareness to the other animals concerning the irregular activities of the pigs. He only says that "Life would go on as it had always gone on — that is, badly." In line with these facts, it is evident that the animals have contributed partially to their predicament in the farm.
Religion and Tyranny
As Karl Max famously wrote, ‘religion is the opium of the people.' In this work, Orwell has satirically denoted the extent to which unsuspecting animal are deceived with religious principles while the leaders enjoy the fruits of their labor. Most have made illustrious efforts to convince the other animals of the existence of a SugarCandy Mountain where the entire animal will go when they die. It is life the does not have the tribulations that they are currently facing in the farm. However, since Moses has a reputation as a ‘teller of tales,' no animal believes him. The rejection of the teachings of Moses, however, ends when the animals realize that their lives are getting worse and that the teachings of Moses may, after all, have immense significance to them. Thus, the primary reason for trusting the religious teachings is because, "Their lives now, they reasoned, were hungry and laborious; Was it not right and just that a better world should exist somewhere else?" Here, Orwell mocks the fact that the people of his time failed to look at the primary problems that they were facing and seek appropriate solutions, only for them to believe that there would be a better life after death. It is an indication that many societies usually look at religion as a solution to their problems while failing to take charge of their present lives by examining the factors that contribute to their conditions and taking appropriate remedies.
Social Stratification
Animal Farm offers an insight into the stratification among societies and the negative effects that it has on the people. Even among societies that advocate for equality among the people, there are social structures that place some individuals above the others. In the Animal Farm, the pigs represent the elites in the society. The elites are in control of the economic resources, and most occasions misuse them to their advantage. Meanwhile, the people who should be enjoying the fruits are left languishing in abject poverty. The pigs are using what they term ad ‘brainworkers' to manipulate the other animals to work for them. It is a situation that is common in many societies. The hardworking low and middle-income classes are responsible for the development of an economy, yet they are the ones that face the brunt of poverty and suffering.
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