Why does Benjamin represent Orwell's perspective?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Benjamin is the name of the donkey in Animal Farm. Due perhaps to his age (and therefore perceived wisdom) he seems to command more respect than the other characters. He  does seem to be similar to George Orwell in the sense that he shares his objective detached view of the world around him (the farm in this novel) and he also shares Orwell's intelligence and cynicism. For example he is the only character to be sceptical about Squealer’s lies. Benjamin doesn't seem to have developed his intellect through education but seems to typify the sort of homespun wisdom often seen in old-timers or wannabe bar politicians. He is observant, like Orwell, and also clear-sighted, but he wastes these talents, often seeming to discern when injustice occurs but doing nothing about it, other than to cry out (such as the time Boxer was threatened with the glue factory.) In his inaction he differs from Orwell, who at least wrote about what he saw and in this way could be seen to influence world opinion, albeit in a subtle and satirical way.

It is worth considering Benjamin's defeatist and miserable view that the pain and suffering of the poor will always be inevitable (an 'unalterable law') in the light of our recent causes and campaigns. Yes, there will always to be poor populations and the rich seem to get ever-richer but what about huge triumphs such as the abolition of slavery or the prosecution of Nazi war criminals? In some ways, Benjamin seems to represent many of us, for example the types who sit in tea shops or bars ruminating on the ways of the world right up to this day. It would be nice to think that we hold a little more hope for a brighter future than he did.

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