It is a truism for every dramatic text to be situated within a given region or locale with a view to addressing issues that are peculiar to those people. However, globalism has made some of these challenges to assume a universal dimension.
Animal Farm is a novella written by George Orwell that was first published in 1945. Many of the themes and ideas presented in this novella were influenced by politics during the first half of the 20th century.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a satire of Russian independence. For this playwright, independence was but a Trojan horse that has left the people more devastated than ever.
Animal Farm tells the story of a group of animals living on the Manor farm under the rule of a cruel farmer, Mr. Jones until the idea of emancipation crips into them by Old Major.
Old Major, the oldest and wisest of the animal’s sales the idea of self-governance to his folks. The animals in unison subscribe to his ideology leading to the overthrow of Mr. Jones, the once owner of the Manor Farm. The animals begin their own society based upon democratic principles. The animals are expected to follow the seven tenets of Animalism and treat others equally. Life on the farm for the animals is physically demanding, but there is plenty of food and life is good. However, the pigs have complete control over Animal Farm’s government and this peace will be short-lived.
Power struggles ensue and life becomes hard. Over time, the seven tenets of Animalism are eroded. Animals lose their freedoms and are unable to challenge the pigs’ authority, who are backed by a vicious and fiercely loyal army of dogs. Slowly over time, the virtues upon which Animal Farm is founded to lose their meaning and the pigs become indistinguishable from the human dictators that they overthrew. Is life any different now for the animals than it was before the rebellion?
The following are some characters in Animal Farm that represent historical figures:
Snowball- (minority ethnic groups). Snowball represents minority ethnic groups that fought for Nigeria’s independence but are today driven off the farm by Napoleon (Majority ethnic groups) whom together they executed and enforced the animalism agenda.
Napoleon- (Ruling class). Napoleon kills those he finds disloyal and bends the laws to suit his needs.
Boxer- (Proletariat working class).
Boxer’s immense work ethic and willingness to serve his fellow animals on the farm represent the working class of Nigeria and particularly the Niger Delta region. Boxer is manipulated by Napoleon and used for labor. He is lied to and controlled by the pigs, eventually being sold to a glue company who will slaughter him.
Farmer Jones- (Colonial masters). Farmer Jones is an allegory for colonial masters. Jones is overthrown by the farm animals. Jone’s attempts to retake his farm later in the novella represent the subsequent civil war between the various ethnicity in Nigeria.
Squealer- (Government spokespersons). Squealer convinces the other animals to follow Napoleon and justifies the corrupt rule of the pigs. He represents how those in control manipulate the masses through their spokespersons to keep their power.
The Dogs (Security Agents).
Jessie, Bluebell, Pincher, and the nine attack dogs provide the pigs with the brute force necessary to terrorize the other animals. In return, the dogs receive special privileges and often sit close to the pigs
Mr. Pilkington- (Capitalist countries of the west such as the British Empire and the United States of America).
Mr. Pilkington works together with Napoleon to stop his rival, Mr. Frederick. However he does not trust Animal Farm and fears that his animals will revolt as Mr. Jones’ animals did.
The primary message conveyed by Orwell in Animal Farm is invariable social stratification in society. Despite the fact that the revolution begins purely and promises equality for all, these ideals are soon corrupted by the desire for power.
It seems that Orwell’s message is to point out the flaws of the Animal revolution.
In Animal Farm, the pigs bend the rules to fit their own needs and desires, without concern for the loyal workers. When animals become suspicious of these rule changes, the pig propagandist, Squealer, tells them that the rules have always been the same. No animals are smart enough to question the pig’s dominance. The pigs also used education to their advantage by spreading lies and favorable rumors. Young animals are taught to be loyal to the Animal Farm, and Napoleon is able to raise a ruthless army of dogs by teaching them “Four legs good two legs bad.”
In Nigeria as in other third world African countries, corruption has become a common feature of governance with gross incompetences by those at the helm of affairs. How else can the system deteriorate before we limp out of it rumbles? Only time will tell