Why does Orwell describe the prisoners' cells as "animal cages" and their handling as "manhandling a fish" in 1984?

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When Orwell describes the prisoners and handling men, he chooses to employ words that convey cruelty and a cold, callous nature. The theme of the novel is that the government has stripped the citizens of their humanity and orchestrates daily life with a calculated cruelty, scripting everything that occurs and erasing everything subversive to their cause. The prisoners have had their humanity stripped from them, and they are caged like animals in a shelter. This description shows how far they have fallen and how despicably they are treated by the government and thought police.

The men who are handling them, on the other hand, typically are acting in a state of quasi-ignorance, not truly knowing or believing what the government's real purpose is with the prisoners—so they are, on the one hand, treating them cruelly like animals (fish) that are being tossed about only to be sliced up later, but they are also treating them efficiently and coldly, like a fishmonger performing a job. Their actions are naive, not necessarily intentionally cruel.

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In George Orwell's novel 1984, the condemned prisoners are treated like animals, which is reminiscent of Orwell's novella Animal Farm. This scene illustrates the state's cold, mechanical treatment of people, thus providing a stark contrast between the revolutionaries and the government.

Orwell, who was an officer in British-controlled Burma, witnessed firsthand the interactions between a powerful state and the people it oppresses. Thus, this scene is also a criticism of such imperialism, as well as of authoritarian governments during Orwell's day, such as the Soviet Union.

In both quotes, the prisoners are likened to animals, whether a farm animal in a cage or a fish caught after a hunt. Orwell uses this type of vivid language to show that the prisoners, as well as the overall citizenry, are vulnerable in the hands of the dictatorial state.

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