Animal Farm and Ignorance
- Animal Farm , Farm , Ignorance
How it works
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a classic cautionary tale that exposes Soviet Russia for being a totalitarian nightmare through the use of satire. In Animal Farm, the animals of Manor Farm rise against their oppressive master Mr. Jones only to have another even more oppressive master, Napoleon the pig. Throughout the book, the animals become miserable and lose more and more rights as the pigs become corrupt. The animals on Animal Farm allow this to happen as they are constantly fed lies by the pigs. Aside from its message about Soviet Russia, the Animal Farm essay also sends a powerful message about how ignorance and apathy is dangerous to everyone in a society.
One of the most tragic examples of where this message is clear is with the death of Boxer the horse. In the second to last chapter of the book Boxer injured his hoof and was no longer able to work. He was looking forward to retiring and learning the rest of the alphabet but sadly that is not what happened. A car came to take Boxer to the slaughterhouse. On the side it was labeled, “”Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughter and Glue Boiler, Willingdon” (Orwell 122). The animals saw Boxer leaving, and they simply waved goodbye to him as they could not read the side of the car. In fact, “The animals crowded round the van. ‘Good-bye Boxer!’ they chorused, ‘goodbye'(Orwell 122). Ignorant of the truly dire nature of the circumstance they were in, the animals only cheered for Boxer instead of helping him escape. Benjamin had to tell the other animals what was written on the side of the car for them to understand what was happening. The citizens of Animal Farm had to be told everything by another smarter individual rather than figuring the truth out for themselves, making them unable to prevent Boxer’s untimely death. In the end, Boxer’s tragic death could have been prevented if the animals of Animal Farm were not so unaware.
How it works
Another more subtle example of ignorance and apathy in Animal Farm is in the characters of the sheep. The sheep are very-simple minded characters that echo any propaganda thrown at them. At the end of Animal Farm the sheep see Squealer walking on two legs. Despite the first commandment stating that anything that walks on two legs is an enemy, the sheep bleat, “Four legs good, two legs better! (Orwell 134) when they see the pigs walking down the road on two legs. The first commandment of Animal Farm was clearly violated but the sheep blindly follow whatever the pigs tell them to think or say. The sheep never think for themselves and never express any feelings of joy or anger with any policies the pigs put out. They did not even notice that their original maxim, “Four legs good, two legs bad”(Orwell 34) was changed. This was a maxim that was constantly bleated by the sheep aimlessly whenever Snowball tried to speak. It was a maxim the sheep lived by but they had forsaken it the minute they were told that two legs were better by the pigs. In Animal Farm, the sheep were blind followers of the pigs and they suffered because of that.
The last example of Orwell’s warning about ignorance and apathy in society is in the work ethic of the pigs. The pigs decided to take up a leadership position in Animal Farm while all the animals worked. This was thought of to be natural as the pigs were smarter than the rest of the animals. Furthermore, “The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others. With their superior knowledge it was natural that they should assume the leadership (Orwell 27). The pigs took advantage of their leadership position by slowly stripping the other animals of their liberties. They used their power and influence to manipulate the other animals into doing their bidding and sacrificing more than they should have. The animals, in their ignorance, allowed themselves to be manipulated by the pigs and as a result they are forced to live miserable lives doing strenuous labor. The pigs used their intellect as a way to mistreat their fellow farm animals who could do nothing as they were blissfully unaware of the dark truth that was lying in front of them.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm has many subtle and powerful examples analyzing the dangers of ignorance and apathy in a society. This in-depth analysis of compassion and ignorance present in Orwell’s novel allows the story to stand on its own without any historical context. The pigs in Animal Farm were able to lie to and manipulate the other animals for the other animals believed whatever they were told by the pigs. Animal Farm is a bleak fable that explores many ideas in its attempts to paint the Soviet Union and other similar countries in a dark light, but none are as important and timeless as the idea that ignorance and apathy can lead to danger in a society.