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The Concept of Freedom in Animal Farm

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Topics: Animal Farm
George Orwell through the novel Animal Farm explores how political systems can suppress individual freedoms. Though it is an allegory based on the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalin, it is really an exploration of all political uprisings and rebellions. In the novella, the animals fantasise about a better life, a life of freedom, but their leader Napoleon abandons all ethics and principles of the rebellion and they have less freedom than before. Napoleon abuses this idealistic equilibrium to take advantage of the animals for his own wellbeing. He continues to disadvantage the other animals to enhance his own freedom through a reign of fear and terror.
All societies seek an unreachable perfect society, a paradise in which they can live balanced and in union together with equal freedom. In Majors’ speech we are presented with a utopia, a harmonious society epitomising equality for all, but throughout the book it is shown to be the complete opposite. Major’s speech is a wakeup call to all the farm animals. He tells them about how: they aren’t free, but are mistreated, constantly abused and violated and that they should oppose the political leadership and protest about their unfair treatment. The speech uses rhetoric to persuasively convince the animals to take action for their own wellbeing. Repetition of the emotive word “comrades” is used effectively throughout the speech to reinforce the idea of brotherhood between the animals. This unites the animals and opens their eyes to a possible future of the societal values of freedom and equality.
Society’s hope to achieve freedom against a greater power may be strengthened through an image, text, flag, song or declaration under which citizens find unity. The “Beast of England” has a strong and uniting influence over animals. It paints a vivid picture of a utopia where everyone is equal and free. This motivates the animals to overthrow Farmer Jones and his tyrannical rule. The song gives a sense that life will be better once the animals have achieved freedom. Later the song is banned by Napoleon to extinguish hope and emphasis the fact that true and equal freedom can never be attained.
Leaders who care more for their wealth than the society they serve limit the freedom of their associates due to greater attention to their own wellbeing. Farmer Jones represents Tsar Nicholas II who was the leader of Russia before the Revolution. Orwell portrays Jones as being a drunkard, lazy, abusive farmer who neglects his animals caring only for his own wellbeing. His laziness is reflected by the state of the farm: “the fields were full of weeds, the buildings wanted roofing, the hedges were neglected, and the animals were underfed.” Orwell paints the picture for us that the Tsar was a bad ruler who only ruled for personal benefits and wealth. The animals were poorly treated and their conditions were far from their basic rights. It was only natural for them to want change for the better and freedom for themselves.
A tyrannical ruler may use fear to manipulate society and diminish the possibility of equality therefore limiting the freedom of all within society. Napoleon’s guard dogs represent the elite and how fear is an effective way of controlling society. He uses his trained dogs to suppress the animal’s freedom. Through the dog’s dominating force of terror and “executions”, Napoleon could rule with no presumption of opposition or disobedience from the society of animals. Orwell identifies the way in which Stalin came to power in the Soviet Union but also shows the way a dictator gains and maintains power of society through military control. He shows that these leaders use their power for personal benefit and wealth. Any opponents are ruthlessly dealt with and in public to set an example for the rest of society. Napoleon manipulates society through eliminating any possible ways in which freedom and power could be taken away from him.
Towards the start of the novella the animals all pledge to obey The Seven Commandments, but Napoleon and the other pigs disobey and alter the Commandments through the progression of the Rebellion. Further through the book Napoleon and his gang find ways to exploit the other animals and it becomes harder for them to resist the temptations of living an easier life. Power is what turns Napoleon from a great duo leader with Snowball to a solo tyrannical leader. Boxer, the horse (symbolising the proletariat) collapses after working himself to utter exhaustion. The pigs then send him off to the abattoir to be melted down, but lie to the animals telling them that Boxer is going to be sent to the highest trained vets available. Orwell uses this opportunity in his story to build up more hatred towards Napoleon who promises to give Boxer retirement but instead takes his life. The commandments are eventually summarized to: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” The pigs’ greed and pride results in them becoming almost indistinguishable from their human oppressors, not even lifting a finger for others because of their own self-interest and jealousy.
Dictators in society stay in power through the use of sharing their privileges with a small group of corrupt government who for the Dictator’s sake suffocate society’s freedom. Orwell represents Squealer, the pig as part of the elite in the Russian Revolution. Squealer is a persuasive pig that also represents the less obvious methods used by corrupt governments to keep their people under control. Through him, Orwell shows that dictators stay in power by sharing some of their privileges with a small group, in this case the “elite” which was the pigs and dogs. In return these will control or wipe out other people for the dictator. They act out of self-interest and fear of losing what they have and accept Napoleon’s own greater privileges for the same reasons. The pigs are seen through the eyes of the animals so we cannot work out what happens inside the farm house. This makes the elite more frightening because they all appear to have the same collective power. Squealer’s job throughout the story is to explain and brainwash the animals of the farm that Napoleon’s decisions are only for the good. He twists the truth about Napoleon to make them blind to the truth and the true Napoleon. Squealer uses statistics to make his points more convincing about life on the farm getting better despite their own hunger and exhaustion. Through Squealer, Orwell explores the limited freedom that is available to many people in society but they are blinded by these ‘pigs’ that mould their thinking for them.
Orwell uses animal farm as an allegory to explain the processes and stages of all rebellions and revolutions but specifically bases his characters to parallel key characters in the Russian revolution. Through the symbolism of the dogs as military enforcement, pigs as the elite part of society and other animals such as Boxer to represent other minorities within society, Orwell shows how dictatorship can significantly reduce the freedom of the masses while enhancing the freedom or the elite.

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