Sunday, March 8, 2009

Concerning Animals and Allegories...

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

These are the Seven Commandments of Animal Farm; the laws that govern its functioning. It is a farm entirely controlled and looked after by the animals themselves in absence of ‘Human Tyranny’. The animals work in the fields all day long, working for themselves, taking pleasures in their toil and its yield and no one to rule over them. Sounds like a utopia, eh? It is how it all began, but that was the highest point of its utopia…

Animal Farm is a book by George Orwell, which tells the story of this ‘Animal Paradise’.
The idea of a farm For-and-By the animals is conceived by Old Major, a pig and the wisest animal on the farm. After his death, the animals, filled with revolutionary sentiments, rebel against the human controlling the, then, Manor Farm and secure their motive, of liberty and happiness. Manor Farm becomes Animal Farm. The pigs, being the most intelligent animals in the place, learn to read and write, and educate the other animals – though except for the dogs and the donkeys, no one else goes beyond learning the alphabet. Their sole objective is to achieve prosperity, enjoying this newly-found independence.

This, however, is just the beginning. Ideologically, Animal Farm’s development may be represented as being a place where ‘All animals are equal’ to a place where ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’. From its liberal and humble beginnings, Animal Farm turns into a total dystopia, full of scared, mentally tortured and manipulated animals, with the pigs slowly and gradually assuming absolute control over the place. What is initiated to curb tyranny becomes tyrannical itself. However, while all this gamboling between slavery and liberty goes on, the development and progress of the Farm is never compromised with. FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD', a chant that summed up the values that were the supposed to be the foundation of the Farm, gets modified into ‘FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BETTER'…..


Animal Farm is not just another work of fiction. It is, in its essence, an allegory full of satirical intent, with its primary target being Joseph Stalin, under whose leadership Communist Russia gained much of its prosperity (They have a law in France that you can’t name a pig as Napoleon. I suspect, it is because of this book).

The whole account is presented in an unbiased fashion. Orwell never firmly states anywhere in the whole of the book that the pigs are cruel; or that the animals are leading miserable lives of slaves under a tyrannical and manipulative leader. Instead he leaves it to the readers, inducing them to think and to decide what’s really going on around the place.

On the whole, I think Animal Farm is really about political ideas – their efficacy and inefficiency. I feel it allegorizes the fact that no political idea can be defect-free, no matter how irresistible or irreproachable it may seem in the beginning. Nothing’s perfect, as it is.

P.S: Oh, and the communists hate the book!