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What attitude about totalitarian government do you think Orwell conveys in Animal Farm?

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tooooo | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 30, 2009 at 11:02 AM via web

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What attitude about totalitarian government do you think Orwell conveys in Animal Farm?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 30, 2009 at 11:23 AM (Answer #1)

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Orwell's attitude towards totalitarian government is obviously negative. However, it is important to go beyond the obvious to look at the more important aspects of his attitude.

To me, the main message of his book is about how totalitarian governments come to exist. He identifies a number of factors that allow them to happen. First, he says that these governments can only come about when most of the population either doesn’t care or is too stupid to understand what is happening. (Think sheep and Boxer.) So he’s saying these governments prey on the weak.

He is also saying that they can only survive by lies and by violence. Without the dogs and without Squealer to help him, Napoleon would have trouble staying in power.

So what Orwell is really saying about totalitarian government is not just that it’s bad – that’s really obvious. What he’s saying is that these kinds of government can only exist if their people are complacent and/or stupid. And they can only survive by lies and violence.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted December 30, 2009 at 12:42 PM (Answer #2)

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Orwell is not pleased with a totalitarian government government.  He demonstrates this by creating the environment and the response of the animals to demonstrate this fact.  He seems to be saying that weak stupid people allow such governments to come about.  A totalitarian government seeks to control all aspects of its citizen's lives.  In the beginning the animals were told they would volunteer extra hours on the windmill, but the expectations changed from volunteer to mandatory because no one could eat who did not work.  The control was starting to be set. 

When Orwell wrote and tried to release his book Animal Farm there was a concern that he ahd written it as an insult to the Soviet Union.   However, Orwell had merely the intention of demonstrating the totalitarian government is created and how human nature tends to cause the powere to a bad thing as a human experience.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 31, 2009 at 3:49 AM (Answer #3)

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Orwell's conception of totalitarian government can be best seen in Napoleon and the consolidation of power.  The presence of control and the use of power to ensure a negation of individual freedom outside of the goals and design of the state can be seen in how Napoleon organizes and structures the social setting to ensure his power is unquestioned.  With the Boxers of the world convinced that their work is for the best and without a spirit of questioning, the power structure remains intact and the external body of government reigns supreme.  Orwell creates the vision of totalitarian government where individuals are powerless against its encroaching and fundamental notion of control.

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