How does ignorance contribute to social and political oppression in Animal Farm?

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Ignorance contributes to the social and political oppression in George Orwell's Animal Farm by enabling the pigs to take advantage of the other animals, which creates a social hierarchy on the farm that only benefits the pigs. The pigs use their intelligence to manipulate the ignorant animals into accepting their oppressive, one-sided policies. The animals are too ignorant and vacuous to recognize that they are being exploited for their labor and are continually deceived by Squealer's effective propaganda.

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Ignorance allows the ruling pigs on the farm to manipulate and exploit the other animals and reap the benefits of their labor. In the novella, the pigs are naturally more intelligent than the other animals and are the first to learn how to read and write. The pigs take advantage of their knowledge by assuming positions of authority and organizing the policies of the farm. They label themselves "brainworkers" and refrain from arduous labor. In addition to drafting policies, managing the animals, and developing the principles of Animalism, the pigs steadily take advantage of their authoritative roles by mixing apples and milk into their mash without consulting the other animals. Once the animals learn the truth about the apples and milk, the pigs present a seemingly rational argument to support their actions and easily mislead the ignorant animals.

Once Napoleon usurps power, the pigs ruthlessly wield their authority by eliminating democratic institutions, ending Snowball's committees, and subtly altering the Seven Commandments to agree with Napoleon's policies. The animals' ignorance prevents them from challenging the oppressive policies and noticing the changes to the Seven Commandments. They are unable to question Squealer's persuasive arguments or recognize that they are being exploited for their labor. The animals are too ignorant to understand Squealer's logical fallacies and continually fall victim to his various propaganda techniques.

Eventually, the pigs segregate themselves and establish their own school inside the farmhouse while the other animals work all day. The pigs understand that knowledge is power and protect their authority by prohibiting the other animals from receiving an education. Only Benjamin is intelligent enough to understand the pigs' manipulative tactics but lacks the desire and motivation to enlighten the ignorant animals.

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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.

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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.

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