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First place: What is the central purpose of the story? Is that purpose important or meaningful? by Taran Balakrishnan
Animal Farm is a fictional projection of human leadership models portrayed satirically by animals. The book describes a menagerie of pigs, sheep, horses, poultry and other livestock, which takes over the farm, rebelling against their cruel human owner.
While the majority of the animals are doltish and subservient, the pigs, being the smartest,emerge as the leaders of the farm. The remaining animals, being physically stronger and more adept to brute work than the pigs, become the working class; tilling the farms and reaping their harvest.
The pigs pursue superior intellect, upskilling in writing, reading, poetry, singing and public speaking. They rename the “Manor Farm” to “Animal Farm”, emancipating themselves from humanity and adapting an ‘all animal’ aesthetic. They formulate a set of commandments by which all creatures on the farm must abide. Amongst the commandments are strict taboos against adopting any human practices, like smoking, wearing clothes or sleeping in beds.
It quickly becomes evident to the readers that Animal Farm develops into an oligarchy, in which the pigs, due to their shrewdness, are the sole decision makers.
The book shows, the eventual, inevitable decline from a supposed democracy into a totalitarian and oligarchical political model. It deftly portrays how the rich, or the powerful, exploit the working classes. The book deposits upon our minds, the stark contrast between the astute pigs and the other servile farm creatures. It also stirs comparisons of the rich and powerful in real life, that are no more intelligent than the working classes: how they exercise control and influence over the bourgeois, their education, and their liberty.
George Orwell purposefully wrote this book, symbolizing, in a fictional and allegorical way, the ascent of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, in 1917.
During the Bolshevik Revolution, the people overthrew a monarchical rule and replaced it with a government that slowly devolved into one even worse than the original. To relate the characters in the book to their counterparts in the real-world event of history, the farm’s human owner, Mr. Jones, was the cruel, barbaric, and incompetent ruler, Tsar Nicholas II, who was the last Russian Emperor, unanimously hated by the people due to several genocidal incidents.
The old pig, Major, the driving force for the enslaved animals to seize their freedom, was comparable to V.I. Lenin. Major identified the principles of Animalism, the concept of equality amongst all animals, and united the animals with his unswerving distrust towards humans, similar to Lenin, who distrusted the monarchy and believed in equality of all humans. However, neither of them lived long enough to see the future fruit of their labour.
Snowball and Napoleon were Trotsky and Stalin respectively. Trotsky was one of Lenin’s associates, who implemented several ideas to make the new nation more independent and self-sufficient by building new plants for energy and industry and by introducing new ways to earn income.
Stalin was a less benevolent leader, who opposed Trotsky. Napoleon, like Stalin, believed that it would be more important to create a strong, well defended farm, using human methods like the operation of guns in case of a hostile human takeover.
Snowball, was industrious and far-sighted, but was pugnacious with Napoleon. Subsequently, Napoleon snapped, evicting Snowball using his dogs, similar to how Stalin used the KGB to assassinate adversaries. Snowball, like Trotsky, was exiled and never heard from again.
Napoleon adopted new methods that he felt were important to the welfare and development of the farm, and also convenient for him. But frequently these overlapped with and ignored the boundaries dictated by the laws of Animalism, the very laws that he had sworn to uphold.
He adopted humanlike practices, such as wearing clothes, walking on two legs, and smoking and eventually started implementing human-devised strategies to ensure cooperation and maximum efficiency from his workers.
The propaganda that Stalin used to make the public think he was working towards their good is the part played by Squealer, the pig.
Napoleon had modified the commandments more and more to suit himself, finally, completely abolishing all the original maxims, replacing them with a single line: ‘All Animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’
This is incredibly powerful, and at the end, when Napoleon and the humans negotiate peace, the humans commend him for executing complete disciplinary control over his workers, extricating maximum value from everyone.
Napoleon, whilst originally intending to uphold their sovereignty and non-cooperation with the humans, despite good ideas and benevolence in the beginning, eventually descended into the very thing he swore to destroy. He and his comrades banished humans from the farm, but, instead of working idealistically as Snowball suggested, returned to human practices of work, retrogressing the situation for his fellow animals.
However, the animals, much like the public in the Soviet Union were convinced that they were better off compared to earlier, due to the propaganda.
The book teaches us a valuable lesson in a simple and thought-provoking manner. It shows that, quite often, a group of people, with the persistence of the masses, overthrow tyrannical rule, postulating that their leadership would be better and more humanitarian. These leaders eventually end up resorting to the old methods of administration, until a point is reached when the current rule is more tyrannical than the previous rule.
People are never content with the existing power. Upon usurping power, they wield it rashly and thirst for more, disregarding the consequences.
The book holds vital commentary that cannot be dismissed as a caricature of events that unfolded in history. Such things happen even now- in our classrooms, our sports teams, current politics and even in our own homes. Those in power strive to rise even higher, stamping the commoners even lower, until their original excuse of disciplining commonfolk is merely a farse for the betterment of their benefits.
A full comprehension of Animal farm lends the reader an understanding of the saying “Power does not corrupt people, people corrupt power”.
Second place: What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful? by Shreya Reji
“The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time.”
This quote by Ayn Rand is a succinct outline of Animal Farm. Animal Farm, written by George Orwell, is arguably one of his most famous books. Although it could be easily misinterpreted, the impact it had on society was colossal. At first glance, it seems to be a children’s book about a group of animals. A deeper insight shows that it expertly critiques tyranny, social classes and the flaws of self governance. The message in Animal Farm is even more important right now, than it was before as we live in a world plagued by turmoil and political interest.
To better understand the actual purpose of the story, it would be best to know more about the author and his life during when this was written. George Orwell began writing Animal Farm in 1943, after fighting in the Spanish Civil War. His experiences of class struggles and inequality while he worked in Britain gave Animal Farm a personal touch.
The story expounds on how power always corrupts people. While he was caught up with increasing his own power, Napoleon distorted the beliefs of Animalism. Although Animal Farm doesn’t point out the faults in tyranny, it elucidates how the hypocritical rules are based off of their initial ideals of egalitarianism. The putrefaction of the Seven Commandments is one of the first steps that leads to a disastrous government. The pigs gaslighting the other animals about their memories of the Commandments just adds gasoline to the fire.
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
This line, especially, which frames the final image of the book, talks about how power corrupts and changes anybody, regardless of who wields it.
One of the recurring themes in Animal Farm is the impact of stratification. Even after Mr. Jones is gone, the social hierarchy and the tasks still remain. This also shows that classes that are initially unified in the face of a common enemy, as the animals are against the humans, may become internally divided when that enemy is eliminated. This happens because now there is a power vacuum and it doesn’t take long for Napoleon and Squealer to assume control.
“Somehow, though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer- except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.”
Just like the old case, only the leader or tyrant has any gain from this system - in this case, the pigs.
Another valid theme is the manipulative use of rhetoric. The pigs twist their socialist ideals to justify their unfair actions and keep the other animals in the dark. A very interesting example is how the Seven Commandments are all ignored to give way for just one:
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
While this prejudiced law implies the existence of a hierarchy, it still contains the word ‘equal.’ This kept the other animals content and let them believe they all lead the same lives.
A very concerning idea is the importance of intelligence. The main reason the pigs claimed power could be attributed to the naivete and gullibleness of the other animals. The pigs are supposed to be the most intelligent animals, but their ‘intelligence’ has always been used to manipulate and abuse the other animals. Benjamin is literate, but he refused to read, which proves that intellect is useless if you don’t have the courage to act or speak up. The dogs are nearly as smart as the pigs, but they weren’t interested in reading anything except the Commandments - which proved to be dangerous because their nature is to obey, regardless of the order. If any of the animals had the slightest bit of backbone, the story would have had an extremely different ending.
While George Orwell wrote it to parallel the Russian Revolution, this story can be the story of any country today. It’s a chilling example of self rule and how governments are structured on top of it. All in all, it’s a tale about the perils of power.
Third place: What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful? by F. Alia Sabreen
George Orwell's ‘Animal Farm’ starts off as a story about animals and humans, first the animals living under the control of humans,and now they’re free. I’ve only just finished reading Animal Farm recently and it’s given me lot of food for thought.
In both cases,(Jones and the pigs) I would say the rule was unfair. Both of them turned out to be bad, even though they started off championing different schools of thought.
The story begins when the major says that animals produce for humans and humans don't produce anything, just use the animals’ produce. The conflict is - the animals just want freedom but are corrupted by the pigs ruling over them.With that being said:-
So what exactly did Orwell mean and what was the purpose of this story? Let me clear up some doubts….
I would like to start by saying this sentence, which also shortly summarizes my essay. The impression you get from this book is - it's warning people about how unsympathetic and unscrupulous governors / leaders can take advantage of an entire population. Now this is really important because we just can't fall for dirty tricks like these and always need to be cautious. Also, power and control is one of the central themes in animal farm.
I would say this book was about communism, instead, it talks about a totalitarian animal community. The voices of the animals were snubbed out by the pigs’ unjust views, favouring themselves. Why? Because they were not educated enough.
Education was also important in this story. The fact that they were tricked is because they were uneducated in the first place. I remembered that Snowball's policy was mainly centered on education so that each animal can decide for itself. But that didn't happen because they followed Napoleon blindly without asking a single question about it, being manipulated by the slogans and songs that Napoleon made to implant patriotism among the animals, which in turn made them loyal towards him. And in the end, the animals were too easily influenced by the propaganda and became slaves to the pigs.
Power shouldn't be in the hands of someone who misuses it, because it could lead to autocracy or dictatorship. The public officials abuse their power, for their own benefits - like how Napoleon’s selfish, rash self did - He altered the animalism rules (that he and Snowball made)so that it fits his needs. An example is when the fourth rule of animalism was changed for the pigs to use the bed leisurely, just because the pigs were the brains of the farm. They took almost all the food for themselves, and never lifted a finger to do all the dirty work that the other animals did, just because they did the brainwork. The animals, excluding the pigs, didn’t think much about this because of the way that this information was portrayed by Squealer in a biased manner and the animals also were not well informed. Napoleon is basically a selfish leader who puts himself and his supporters and power before the struggles of the people that he's supposed to be taking care of. He took advantage of the animals.
Then Napoleon started erasing memories of the hero of the rebellion - Snowball and relegated snowball in the shadows. Then they used the fact that Snowball was going to join with Mr Jones and destroy the animal farm, as a threat to keep the animals in check. The dogs growling around also added fuel to this fact. All this manipulation was done by the pigs- a metaphor for the government we could say(specifically the soviet union back in Orwell’s days) and also the totalitarian community.- for their own needs.
Napoleon then abused his power by using Boxer's loyalty, used Squealer to maintain his dictatorship through fear and propaganda and he brainwashed the other animals by taking advantage of their lack of intelligence.
The animals’ personal opinions were maneuvered by the pigs. And in the end Napoleon seizes power by force and manipulation and exploits the animals.
Orwell is referring to a corrupted government, who have power and people. An in real life example would be the government taking all our taxes and using it for their own needs and not building/providing the basic essentials that we need to survive.
Now I would like to move on to some of the animals.
Boxer - didn't ask any questions about the rule of Napoleon, set his motivations (to work hard before his retirement) and he always was saying “Napoleon is always right” “I will work harder”. By saying ‘Napoleon is always right’ he followed anything Napoleon said. Being gullible. Now, this character was hugely taken advantage of and disposed of right before his twelfth birthday(retirement age), sent to a butcher. A typical citizen who is liable to tricks by a corrupt government.
Benjamin had the brains, he knew what was going on but didn't share it to others. If he did the horses could have easily overthrown the pigs.
And the sheep. The sheep were made to repeat “four legs good, two legs bad”. Later on the pigs changed it into “four legs good, two legs better”. The sheep implanted these phrases in the animals brain and were used to manipulate the animals without actually making it seem manipulative.
Animal Farm is a narration on how humans act in society. The leaders - corrupted, the citizens- some aware, some innocent. Its deeper meaning is to alert ordinary people to how hard-hearted and corrupted leaders can take advantage of people who are gullible. The purpose of this story was important because it talks about the corrupted government, the current day situation even by using the animals as a metaphor. yAnd in the ending of the story, the pigs had become humans, humans became pigs. They played cards with the humans in suits, while toasting to their success.There was no difference
Napoleon was telling the farm one thing when in truth it was never actually like that.
So the pigs, they had became the things they sought to destroy
No, They were always the thing they sought to destroy.