by George Orwell
“The Danger of an Uneducated Working Class and the Use
of Language as Instrumental to the Abuse of Power”
De Giacomi, Ana Carolina.
Resoalbe, Cecilia Analí.
English History and Literature of the
ANIMAL FARM: “The Danger of an Uneducated Working Class and The Use of Language as Instrumental to the Abuse of Power”
Born in 1903, Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell, was an English political novelist and journalist, who became a recognized writer due to his sharp criticism of political oppression around the world. Having experienced hard times during the Spanish Civil War and the Russian Revolution, Orwell turned into a biting critic of both capitalist and communist political systems. He was a devoted socialist, who believed in the consolidation of a government which aimed to support and ensure dignity, freedom and social equality above any kind of selfish individual benefit. As a result, “a profound awareness of social injustice”1 outstands in the majority of his works. Orwell’s fable story Animal Farm, first published in 1945, cleverly portrays the author’s strong opposition to totalitarian regimes. Through common farm creatures, he illustrates how scarce or lack of education, dooms the working class to suffer the tyranny of a power-hungry dominant group. A cause that at first unified members of a society rebelling for a common reason, as the animals fighting against the human-ruling, is later divided, letting some of them prevail and rule over others. Thus, despotism and manipulation arise not only from the astute and educated ruling class, which instruments language to the abuse of power, but also from the ignorance and naivety of the uneducated oppressed class.
When the animals from Manor farm, encouraged by a dream deceased Old Major had, get rid of Mr. Jones, the pigs assume the position of governors, since they are “generally recognized as being the cleverest of the animals”2. Power quickly consolidates in their hands and, even though at first they are loyal to their fellow animals and to the revolutionary cause, they soon start to distort what 1
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3706.George_Orwell, August 2012. Orwell, George. Animal Farm a Fairy Story, Penguin Books, UK, 1945 (p.15)
initially was agreed. The Seven Commandments that “(...) would form an unalterable law by which the animals must live by for ever after”3, had been translated from Old Major’s vision for the good of the entire farm, but the pigs are the first to abandon them. Making use of their cunningness and superior intelligence, they progressively twist each and one by one of the rules to their own advantage. Being helped by their educated language, the pigs convince the rest of the animals of the importance of those, supposedly, little changes.
In the story, the horses Clover and Boxer are the ones who best portray the qualities of the working class. They do not only have great resistance and capacity for labor, but also are loyal to each other, to the rest of the animals and to the pigs; they are dedicated and the most hard-working of the animals. However George Orwell portrays Boxer physically strong, he also makes use of some hints, like Boxer’s personal motto: “Napoleon is always right”4, to reveal one of the chief weaknesses of the working class: “a naïve trust in the good intentions of the intelligentsia and an inability to recognize even the most blatant forms of political corruption”5. At the beginning, the pigs have the intention to teach the other animals the basics of reading and writing, but regrettably, most of them give up quickly. Even those who make their best to become literate cannot learn more than a few letters from the alphabet. An example of this is Boxer, who “could not go past the letter D”6 and Clover who is unable to put words together. The sheep, instead, will continue to repeat, again and again, the...