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A Marxist Perspective: The Animal Farm

The literary world has long given birth to works that give their own commentaries on the way society is built. They break down the superstructures of society and give it characters to play along with, unconsciously teaching us of the ways of the world. George Orwell (Eric Arthur laire! is one genius to have crafted "The Animal farm#. Generously lending itself to $ar%ist &riticism, it was created on the heels of 'orld 'ar ((, England )*+,. (t was written to warn the people of -talinism and e%pose the dangers of Totalitarianism. Even its characters reflect several important personalities at the time, an e%ample being "Old $a.or#, a $iddle 'hite oar that the /oneses e%hibited under the name 0'illingdon eauty1. 2e is )3 years of age, making him a senior among the animals, with an appearance of being 0stout4 but still a ma.estic5looking pig1. 2e claims to 0understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living1. Old $a.or actually represents 6arl $ar%, the 7ather of &ommunism. (n the first part of the story, Old $a.or calls the farm animals to a meeting and starts a long speech about rebellion and revolution against humans, imparting his ideals about what he calls 0Animalism15 which all humans are enemies and all animals are e8ual. This is similar to $ar%#s ideals and hypotheses about collective effort and re.ection of the class and capitalist systems. Another character is $r. /ones, the farm caretaker. 2e is described as ruthless, always drunken and does not care much for the animals. 2e treats the animals harshly, rationing their food. This treatment leads to a revolt by the animals later on in the novel, as encouraged by Old $a.or#s successors9 -nowball and :apoleon5 two pigs who make the ideals of Animalism concrete in "The -even &ommandments of Animalism# and later on vie for the top ruling position on the farm. $r. /ones represents the higher ruling classes of society, mainly the owners of big companies and industries (as well as the government! that employ the lower working classes, practice e%ploitation and give low wages to their workers. $r. /ones is often pictured as 0drunken and lousy at his .ob1 and shows how the higher ruling classes s8uander their earnings with lu%ury and barely do anything to compensate for their worker#s hard labor. This is evident in most societies, especially in heavy industriali;ed countries. The employers do what they can to keep their profit to themselves and releasing only a little to give wages to their employees, thus making it hard for the workers to fend for themselves with the increasing prices of commodities. 'ith the death of Old $a.or days after the first meeting at the barn, two pigs5 :apoleon and -nowball5 take it upon themselves to take over the governing of the animals. They concreti;e Animalism under seven commandments9 ). 'hatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. 3. 'hatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. <. :o animal shall wear clothes. +. :o animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets. ,. :o animal shall drink alcohol in e%cess. =. :o animal shall kill any other animal without cause. >. All animals are e8ual.

Eventually, the pigs encourage the other animals to continue Old $a.or#s legacy and overthrow $r. /ones# rule. This happens on 0The attle of &owshed1. This is where they drive out $r. /ones, in.uring him and running him out of the farm. Their only loss is a sheep that dies in battle. They give it a hero#s burial. o%er and -nowball each receive medallions engraved9 0Animal 2ero9 first class1. The animals eventually discover $r. /ones# gun of which he has dropped in the mud. They place the gun by the flagpole and agree to fire it on the anniversary of the battle and of the rebellion. The gun represents a successful, but violent way of overthrowing $r. /ones. This is again, contradictory to $ar%#s (Old $a.or! teachings that the revolution is to be accomplished with integrity, virtue and refle%ive resolve. -oon after this, :apoleon and -nowball rise to power in a premature way, with the animals entrusting them with the power to ratify laws proposed during the meetings on the barn. :apoleon, according to several studies on this novel, represents /oseph -talin. 2e is presented as a corrupt character, never contributing anything to the revolution. 2e attends the meetings, but keeps 8uiet. Although he is most directly modeled on the -oviet dictator, :apoleon represents, in a more general sense, the political tyrants that have emerged throughout human history and with particular fre8uency during the twentieth century. 2is image may also be due to George Orwell#s political preference at the time. Though after his death Orwell was fought over by the side of Trotsky#s followers and -talin#s advocates, he makes it obvious through his works that he was a Trotskyist by heart. Orwell#s stint in a Trotskyist battalion in the -panish &ivil 'ar?at the time he first started to create plans for making a criti8ue on totalitarianism?had a great impact on his creating -nowball as a character in the novel. 2e creates -nowball as a symbol for @eon Trotsky, putting him under an ideal light as a character dedicated to Animalism. This, though, leads to his downfall because he is no match for :apoleon#s use of brute force. 2e may have used his intelligence and logic to gain loyalty from the animals, but this is changed when he is driven out of the farm as -8uealer (another pig! starts to create all sorts of black propaganda against him. A general theme of "Apathy and Acceptance# actually surrounds the story, evident with the way the animals simply accept their tasks and do what they are told. :apoleon uses methods of propaganda with the help of -8uealer to blind the other animals to the truth of what he is doing9 hoarding apples (symbolic for resources in an economy, i.e. money!, living inside the /oneses empty house (symbolic of engagement into lu%ury!, and even changing the seven commandments of Animalism, degrading to only five commandments. This is to suit the pig#s comfort and desires and to .ustify their actions. The most striking change was for the seventh commandment. 7rom9 0All animals are e8ual1, to9 0All animals are e8ual but some animals are more e8ual than others1. 0(t is for your sake that we pigs drink that milk and eat those apples. Ao you know what would happen if we pigs failed our dutyB /ones would come backC -urely comrades4 surely there is no one among you who wants to see /ones come backB1 There is no scientific basis, that milk and apples enhance the pigs# intelligence, or that they need these to be able to think clearly for the greater good, but because the other animals lack knowledge of these things, they accept it and do what they are told, scared that $r. /ones might come back to the farm and harm them. There are also a good number of false ideals and consciousness present in the story. According to $ar%, these ideals and consciousness are one of the reasons why most lower classes do not fight

back against repressive and oppressive governments and establishments. One ma.or false ideal e%emplified in the story is "Dugged (ndividualism#, shown very concretely by the character of " o%er#. o%er is the most hardworking of the animals, even adopting the ma%im "( will work harder# which is an alteration of -8uealer#s suggested ma%im9 "( will work hard#. $any of the animals praise o%er for his hard work, but what he does not reali;e is that because he has created that ma%im for himself, he now does not pay attention to what is happening outside of his work. 2e concentrates on his load, even taking on some other animals# work and is absorbed in it. Another false ideal in the story is "&lassism#. (t happens as the morals that used to maintain the farm turn into controls, which then make the animals effectively split themselves into classes. This happens through 2egemony, resulting in the acceptance of these classes with ease by the animals. 2egemony, according to Daymond 'illiams, is 0a form of social control that becomes accepted as "normal# after becoming the predominant influence1. Take for e%ample the pigs9 they took it upon themselves to rule and follow the teachings of Old $a.or. This becomes socially acceptable to the animals after some time and is even perceived as normal, even if there are no scientific basis to the pigs# claims that they are mentally superior compared to the other animals. The work is actually very interesting and has a good number of points to ponder on. Aespite the positive start of the novel, we see how corruption seeps into the Animal 7arm#s society. 'ith this, one has to ask9 why did Animalism failB Auring the first reading, one would think that totalitarianism is inevitable and that social classes are something too deeply rooted into society to eradicate, but if one were to look deeper, one would reali;e that the animals actually do get what they want. Old $a.or, at the start of the story, gathers the animals to speak of a revolution to free themselves from the humans, and this is achieved with the ousting of $r. /ones, along with his family from the farm. The animals are freed from the humans, but because they are incompetent in ushering in a real sense of e8uality among themselves, they are unable to prevent a new regime of oppression. This is reflective of how there is no genuine classless society today, and that all attempts at communism has failed. Eventually, :apoleon opens the farm to trade with the humans, with -8uealer again making e%cuses for :apoleon#s actions. Trade with the humans and the use of money was something that Old $a.or had always contradicted and had emphasi;ed in his speech. This is a clear deviation to the ideals of Animalism that had originally brought the animals together. Again, the animals respond lightly to the event, believing everything :apoleon, -8uealer and the rest of the pigs say, because they believe that they are too dumb to understand and that they should only work for the benefit of the farm and the pigs. The book ends with :apoleon and a human fighting over a poker game. The animals stare at :apoleon in disbelief as the light reveals that his face has changed, and that he looks much like a human and that there is no difference between :apoleon and the humans at all.