When major factors or themes in a literary work are considered to be common in all other nations or countries, we can say that universality has been reflected in that work. There are such themes and traits that are regarded to be universal. Take for instance love, revenge, hate…
I am of the opinion that now is the time to think of a famous widely read book, Animal Farm. Please grab it from your shelf; blow the dust off and take time to read it once again. This book was authored 74 years back by Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950) under pseudonym George Orwell (derived from a river named Orwell). As an opinion writer puts it, Animal Farm is an allegorical literature to understand today’s politics.
Though the book is a satirical fable that hinges on Russian revolution with sarcasm lashing the then political figures or revolutionists, it can also apply to other nations. George Orwell recounts in his book about the revolution of animals that take power from their master being led by pigs who later turn to be oppressors and dictators. After chasing the owner of the farm, all the animals become very happy and feel free to lead peaceful and decent life based on equality without any despots or oppressors intimidating them. The farm, which is named Manor, has now become the common property of the broad mass of animals. … Now I humbly ask my readers to think of the current political situation in their country while reading this timeless book…
George Orwell tells us in his book that the next day when the animals wake up at dawn, they realize that everything turns to be their property. “Yes, it was theirs-everything that they could see was theirs!” But not long after, the cows start lowing because of their heavy udders, which are almost bursting as they have not been milked for twenty-four hours… After the cows are milked, a question is raised up among the animals. “What is going to happen to all the milk?” The response given by the new leaders is, “no problem, comrades… that will be attended to”. But when the animals come back from work, they notice that there is no milk. It has been gulped down by the pigs who are in power.
The animals reach consensus that they should live being governed by rules and regulations. Therefore, they establish unalterable law and agree to write seven commandments which are posted on walls so that all animals can notice and abide by them. The intention is that no one is to violate the commandments. Of course, some take to their heart that no single word of the commandments should be canceled or disregarded. But with the passage of time, the pigs who lead the population of animals start acting in opposition to the commandments. These pigs are the ones who whined earlier that no single word of the commandments should be touched. But later on, what they are doing completely negates the commandments. The seventh commandment states that “all animals are equal”. But what is on the ground clearly depicts that there are the ones who get more benefits than the others. In this way the commandments are not respected by those who wrote or voted for it.
A long time after they assumed power, the pigs, under the leadership of Snowball and Napoleon, make a decision that the commandments should be revised or adjusted. One day when the animals wake up, they see that the seventh commandment or a verse of the charter is altered. It read like this, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. It is unprecedented. The original verse was solely read thus: “all animals are equal”. This was changed by the decision of the new leadership. By the way, the two young leaders, Snowballs and Napoleon, look progressive and very active. Napoleon is “not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way.” Snowball is quick in speech, inventive and visionary.
Then days after, the two friends start to oppose one another regarding their respective views; be it political, economic or social. For instance, Snowball proposes a plan to build a windmill which is said to generate electric power. This is believed to lessen drudgery of menial labor of the animals. However, Napoleon does not accept the proposal. The disagreement between the two young leaders aggravated and at last Napoleon, being supported by the dogs, purges Snowball of the leadership position. Fearing for his life Snowball disappears. Now the political arena seems to be wider and comfortable for Napoleon. He, along with his fierce-looking dogs, starts acting against the agreed upon commandments.
Under the sagacious leadership of the new leaders, the animals are told that their future life will be much better. They are told that they will get electric services and improve their income in the future. They are told that no one is above the law. It means the commandments apply to all. But when the animals feel that the said things are not practical and intangible like mirage, they raise up questions to the ruling body. In such occasion the leaders feel angry and denounce those who come up with such demands.
Years after, the farm becomes richer and richer. But the poor animals do not get their due shares of the wealth. The few (pigs in particular) are the sole beneficiaries of the resources. This group seems to enjoy the fruit of the change or reform. It looks that the down-trodden or the majority are not able to change their life. “They were hungry, they slept on straw, they drank from pool. They labored in the fields.”
While all these tangible facts happen, Squealer (the other official from the pigs’ group) comes out to reiterate about the growth and better livelihood of the animals. He is like some high-level officials (squealers) who speak of lies and propaganda. It is simple to guess that in the future they (squealers) will pop up on television screen or communicate through social media to convince or justify why this is done… They tell the animals that justice is being done. They tire themselves to expound their people with their rhetoric of ‘Rome was not built overnight’… They come repeatedly with their mantra that the backlog of problems will not evaporate in a single day… We can clearly see when the decisive power monopolized by pigs…
The first commandment states that “whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy”. The second law stipulates that, “whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend”. What we can read in the book is that all these and other commandments are violated day after day by those pigs who happened to seize power. The dogs are also among those who join force to disrespect the commandments. Earlier they used to chant slogans urging all to respect the commandments or on the other way around to observe the charter or constitution.
Napoleon cleverly approaches (probably uses bribes) the gullible section of the animals, the sheep and dogs, for his destructive causes. The dogs and sheep do willingly whatever their new master commands. They have no any ideas, or they don’t care whether what they are doing is to the contrary of the commandments or to the disadvantages of the general animals. Napoleon “uses fear, force and disinformation to take control of” power and become the next despot. In this way he uses the dogs to deter resistance of the broad mass.
One day the pigs (they belong to the governing group) are seen walking on two hind legs. Earlier this was not common. They, being escorted by the brutal dogs, stroll across the yard. Napoleon is among them. All other animals do not believe what they are watching. Then, the sheep burst out all of a sudden in to bleating of, “four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!”
…Whips, nose strings, dog-chains, knives that were used by human masters to castrate the pigs and lambs were thrown away. But now the pigs, strolling on their hind legs, are seen carrying the forbidden whips. Yes, carrying clubs, cudgels, guns and machetes in public areas should strictly be forbidden.
By Haile-Gebriel Endeshaw
The writer can be reached at email@example.com