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How does Orwell's Animal Farm contribute to the absurdism literary movement?

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gabbyy | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 16, 2013 at 11:46 AM via web

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How does Orwell's Animal Farm contribute to the absurdism literary movement?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 16, 2013 at 12:31 PM (Answer #1)

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I would suggest that Animal Farmmakes some contribution to Absurdism as a literary movement.  It is not a purely absurdist work, but does demonstrate some absurdist tendencies.  One way in which Animal Farmcan be seen to embrace the absurd is in its repudiation of political orders being synonymous with totality and transcendence.  Animalism is depicted as a universal good, something transcendent which unifies all that is disparate.  This is where Orwell's work offers some level of the absurd.  Animalism becomes a tool by which Napoleon, Squealer, and the other pigs gain more power and increase their control over the other animals. There is little in terms of unifying transcendence that Orwell offers. Clover and Boxer recognize the absurd elements of this when nothing makes sense to them in terms of how Animalism is progressing.  

Another aspect of absurdism Orwell's work illuminates is cruelty through violence.  When Napoleon commands the dogs to rip the throats of those who publicly confess and the way in which Napoleon orchestrates Boxer's death, the absurdist notion of cruelty through violence becomes evident.  Finally, Orwell's demonstration of language being unable to convey meaning can be seen in how the animals fail to understand the power of language.  Language is not a universal means of communication, as only the pigs are able to read and understand language.  It is for this reason that the meaning of language becomes absurd by the end of the narrative in which the final commandment causes confusion and thus submission amongst the other animals.  Some being "more equal than others" demonstrates the absurdist notion of the futility of language.

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