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What statement of human nature is Animal Farm making?Explain using examples.

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osita150 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 21, 2010 at 6:14 AM via web

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What statement of human nature is Animal Farm making?

Explain using examples.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 21, 2010 at 8:07 AM (Answer #1)

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One basic ideology that runs through George Orwell's Animal Farm is the belief that all people (and in the novel's case, animals as well) deserve humane treatment and personal freedoms. Orwell's satire, based upon the Russian Eevolution and its aftermath, shows us that all creatures have an innate sense of independence. However, the story also details how even the best of intentions can run amok when power goes to one's head, and how a seemingly positive change in authority can result in creating a world that becomes worse for its inhabitants than the previous one. Following the death of Old Major, a natural leader, Napoleon and Snowball appear to be a strong pairing to maintain power on the farm. They have the full support of the other animals. But Napoleon's coup eliminates any opposition, and the new republic slowly separates its classes, making the common animals little better off than their lives were under human control. In the end, those not part of Napoleon's inner circle were left to work longer hours for less food, creating a hopeless situation for the animals who had learned for only a short time what it was like to be truly free.

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chicagorilke23 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted February 21, 2010 at 8:23 AM (Answer #2)

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The statement of human nature that Orwell's Animal Farm is making is that human nature is corrupted by power and greed. Think of the idea of "four legs good, two legs bad" which the animals seem to use as one of their credos. Two legs are bad considering that the animals run off Mr. Jones in favor for Old Major's utopia of animals rule, people do not. This dream state has everyone cheering at first, especially Boxer the cart-horse.

The animals work together and learn to read but then that all changes once Snowball and Napoleon come into conflict. Being the selfish one, Napoleon allows for the puppies he took aside for educational purposes, to run off Snowball. Napoleon felt threatened by Snowball and used the puppies to secure his hold over the other animals. For the good of the other animals, the pigs will make the decisions from now on, announces Napoleon.

After the windmill idea goes forward (originally brought up by Snowball) and then fails when it collapses, Napoleon further secures his power by having the dogs kill any animal involved in the plot to destroy the windmill. It is suggested that Snowball is to blame. Basically Napoleon takes on the view of "you're either with me or against me." This is a common view many dictators and other conquerors have assumed in order to scare the people into following them.

Napoleon then begins to become less like one with four legs and more like one with two legs. He becomes greedy and power hungry. He takes to sleeping in bed like those on two legs and even begins trade with the farmers of the area. These ideas originally went against the animal rules adopted by the farm shortly after Old Major's death.

Further corruption of the pigs by power is how Squealer- Napoleon's cohort, always tells the other animals that they are better off now by having Napoleon as their leader and by being free from Mr. Jones. This is counter to the reality of the animal's situation. The animals are cold, with little food, and all are tired from working harder to satisfy the needs and greed of Napoleon and Squealer.

Sadly this lust for power and greed knows no bounds when after a battle from the destruction of the windmill by a farmer named Mr. Frederick, Boxer is injured and then taken to the glue factory. Though Squealer tells the other animals that the brave Boxer is going to the hospital, the biggest advocate for the farm and Old Major's dream is killed in favor for money for more whisky. Boxer's memory is further tarnished by Squealer insisting that Boxer's last words praised the Rebellion.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” is the only rule that seems to survive the Rebellion, though altered to meet the needs of Napoleon and Squealer. These words ring true once the other animals crowd around a window to see how the pigs, once on four legs, have now become creatures of two legs. Now it would seem that "two legs good four legs bad," is the better credo for the farm now that the other animals can not tell human from pig anymore, both are sadly the same.

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

Posted February 21, 2010 at 9:00 AM (Answer #3)

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Ralph Nader once said, "If you don't get turned on to politics, politics will get turned on you."  I think that there is much in Orwell's work that might speak to such a sentiment.  The notion of the consolidation of power without people being able to exercise voice, control, or some level of resistance to it is a very scary state of affairs.  It becomes even scarier when the reader sees Boxer, continually working for the good of the state and pushing himself to do more and to work harder.  In the end, he is disposed off to the glue factory without any regard, airbrushed out of the picture of history.  If individuals surrender their voice, their freedom, and their sense of activism which can mobilize power from the bottom up, they run the risk of becoming like a nation of Boxers.

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