Animal Farm 1.15: It Wouldn't Be an English Course Without...
Wait - Animal Farm doesn't have a happy ending? We were really looking forward to Mr. Jones having a heaping plate of bacon for breakfast.
|Dsytopian Literature||Animal Farm|
Aww. Sweet, right? [All the animals with a rainbow behind them]
Well, that didn’t happen. But the question is, was it even a possibility?
Like ,could it have even happened, seriously?
If you’re George Orwell, the answer is no. And he’s not the only one who holds that opinion. Why? [George Orwell appears]
Well, because human nature messes with the plan. Let’s go through a list of characteristics
that probably make utopia an impossibility.
One - Greed and hunger for power. Once Napoleon got a taste of the sweet milk that comes with [Napoleon gets caught drinking the milk]
special status, he was hooked.
The Seven Commandments went into the thrashing machine and self-interest was his sole motivation. [The commandments being chewed up by a harvester]
You were witness to this in Animal Farm; history was witness to this in the Russian Revolution. [Video footage of the revolution]
Two - Social stratification is inevitable. As long as there are different personalities [Dog winning best in show award]
and levels of intelligence, different classes will naturally develop.
The bright, charismatic, and self-confident will rise to higher ranks than the less intelligent,
retiring self-doubters. By nature of their character, they’ll separate themselves into
leaders and followers. [Animals (and Stalin) sort themselves]
This point was made clear in Animal Farm when the animals suspected things weren’t right.
Boxer, was definitely strong enough to hurt or kill all the dogs and pigs. [Boxer kicks the dogs and pigs away]
But Benjamin didn’t explain the reality of things to him, and none of the animals
rose up against their new oppressors.
While Orwell paints the animals – that is, the working class – as honorable, hard-working, [Boxer pushing a big boulder]
honest creatures, he’s also pretty blunt in showing that they’re part of the reason
the revolution failed.
They didn’t rise up. In spite of their superior numbers, they didn’t have the intelligence [Lots of goats following each other]
or the leadership to organize and overthrow.
Once Napoleon figures out that he doesn’t need to fear the working class, his power
grab becomes complete and absolute. [A crown is placed on Napoleon's head]
Three - Propaganda will manipulate. In Animal Farm…and in the real world of the Russian
Revolution…abuse of language is pervasive and persistent. The working class just can’t [Napoleon is always right posters]
match wits with the ruling class. They accept the propaganda as truth.
Four - Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Okay, so you’ve probably heard
that a bunch of times before, but what does it mean? [Guy looking confused]
Well, you can be a corrupt politician or CEO and pocket cash for favors. [Guy in a suit sliding money into his pocket]
That’s “power corrupts”. [Power corrupts stamp]
But if you’re a dictator with absolute power, you can kill, imprison and starve millions [Stalin walking in front of pictures of the oppressed people]
of people at your own behest. That’s “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
It’s a matter of scale and consequence. [Scale shows power rising and justice lowering]
It’s no secret that Orwell didn’t see a glowing future for society. Utopia is only
theoretical and means different things to different people. [Two horses dreaming of different things]
In the end, Shmoopsters, we wonder: If all your teachers and parents were suddenly to
disappear, how would you run your very own “Animal Farm”? [The teacher of the class disappears and the students look shocked]
…That's a hypothetical. Don't actually try that at home, kids.