How does ignorance add or lead to the social and political oppression in George Orwell's book Animal Farm?

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misslacey eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ignorance is a major theme in Orwell's Animal Farm. The pigs are the only animals who are able to read and write, which puts them in a position of power, which they use throughout the book to manipulate the rest of the animals on the farm.

A great example of this is the Seven Commandments, which are created right after Jones is overthrown, but are systematically changed as the pigs gain more control and become more like humans.

The original commandments read:

"1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.

2. Whatever goes upon four legs is a friend.

3. No animal shall wear clothes.

4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.

5. No animal shall drink alcohol.

6. No animal shall kill any other animal.

7. All animals are equal."

All of these commandments are broken, chapter by chapter, by the pigs. They are able to get away with changing and eliminating the orginal commandments because they are the only animals who can read and write. Some animals, especially Clover, seem to have vague instances where they remember the original commandments, but their lack of literacy allows them no evidence to stake their claims in.

In Chapter VI, for example, it reads:

"It was about this time that the pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse and took up their residence there. Again the animals seemed to remember that a resolution against this had been passed in the early days, and again Squealer was able to convince them that this was not the case."

There are numorous other examples of moments like this throughout the text, especially in the final few chapters.

Orwell's message is a warning that a society needs to arm itself with knowlegde in order to protect itself from its own government. People who are ignorant are very likely to become oppressed because they have no way of protecting or fighting for their own rights.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Animal Farm, ignorance is directly responsible for the social and political oppression experienced by the animals. Remember that the pigs are widely accepted and regarded as the most intelligent animals on the farm. They are literate, for example, and use their knowledge to oversee the planning of the Revolution.

After Mr. Jones is removed, the pigs, particularly Napoleon, use their knowledge to begin a program of oppression. Consider, for example, when the pigs begin mixing the milk and apples into their mash, instead of sharing it with the others. Squealer justifies this action by claiming that the pigs need this food because they are the "brainworkers" and the whole "management and organization" of the farm depends on their intellectual capabilities. He then claims that if the pigs were unable to carry out this "duty," Mr. Jones would return to the farm and take control.

Because of their ignorance, the other animals do not know how to counter these allegations. They are so absorbed by the fear of Mr. Jones's return that they cannot see the illogical nature of Squealer's claims. As such, their ignorance enables this unfair distribution to continue.

marwa14 | Student

Ignorance is an important element in Orwel s Animal Farm.Reading and writing are two things gave them ability to realize their rights   and seek to obtain it they make them self confident enough to control other animals .They have the awarness to transfere the prinsipals of the old Magor into concrete system.

Other hand, the ignorance and illitracy make the animals of the farm fellowers they fellow the pigs, trust them to live a better life.Illitracy make an animal such as boxer forgets his rights in equality and freedom and think only on working hard in the time the pigs work less and earn more. The pigs could misuse their ignoranse and gave up the seven commandments one after another.

Finally the community of animals lost their freedom, equality and justice