Essay: George Orwell Animal Farm and 1984

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George Orwell's Dystopic Visions And Examination Of Citizens And Government In 1984 And Animal Farm

The period leading up to World War II was immensely fragile in terms of world affairs, and especially the state of Europe and the various colonies held by its constituent countries in Asia and Africa. Following the war, the modern era of nation building entered full swing with major changes in policy and government for many countries. What some saw as progress, others saw as the systematic destruction of individual ways of life and rights to freedom, with the oppression not only of people's bodies but also their minds, and their basic ability to think for themselves. The relationship between a government and its citizens became a common focus of literature during this period, and the very natures of society and humanity became topics for deep reflection and examination through a multitude of styles and perspectives.

One of the most compelling authors writing in such a vein was George Orwell, whose novels 1984 and Animal Farm both present unflattering and pessimistic views about man's chances at freedom and equality. Orwell was heavily disillusioned by the war, and by warfare and political rhetoric in general, regardless of the specific context or set of circumstances in which it was used. This is clearly illustrated in these two novels, which present very different political and governmental situations, and from highly different perspectives in hugely divergent styles, but have certain commonalities in their themes, conclusions, and their overall lessons to the reader that cannot be ignored. At the heart of each book is an impotent struggle for freedom and self-determination in a world that simply will not permit either; Orwell is suggesting that regardless of even the best intentions on the part of a few individuals, society is necessarily corruptive.

Despite this large similarity in the ultimate conclusions drawn in each book, Orwell's ways of arriving at them bear little similarity at first glance. This in and of itself is a product of the historical context in which Orwell was writing, as there were two major and oppositional political forces at work in Orwell's world -- and up until quite recently, arguably even continuing today -- hat he saw as the primary dangers to society and the citizenry of the world at large. These two forces were Communism or Socialism on one side, and Fascism on the other. None of these terms is actually well understood or defined (something which Orwell was very aware of, and a fact which is central to his basic beliefs and conclusions), but essentially Communism entailed the forced redistribution of wealth and ultimately all resources and services by the government, and Fascism required utter allegiance to a specific consumer ideology.

Fascism is the more complex of the concepts, and 1984 is arguably the more complex of Orwell's two novels. It is certainly the more serious of the two works, at least in that it is less satirical than Animal Farm and provides a more direct and pessimistic view of the future of human society. In the dystopian society that Orwell presents in 1984, Big Brother -- the leader of the ruling Party whose name has become synonymous with an over-watchful government -- sees everything that goes on in the lives of the citizens. This control was so complete that even sex was controlled by the government, as Winston Smith reflects after an illegal instance of copulation: "Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act." (Part 2, Chapter 2, par. 62). In a society that doesn't allow political freedom, any freedom is seen as inherently political, and even sex… [END OF PREVIEW]

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George Orwell Animal Farm and 1984.  (2009, September 30).  Retrieved May 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/george-orwell-animal-farm-1984/5334516

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