Essay, Research Paper: Animal Farm

Literature: George Orwell

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Social commentary is sometimes found at the heart of good art, whether that art
form is literature or popular music. The novel, Animal Farm by George Orwell,
and the rock album, Animals written and performed by Pink Floyd share the same
characteristic of scathing social commentary. The artworks also share an animal
metaphor that serves to cast a dark light on human social interactions and
stratification functions. Conversely, the artworks individually attack the
diametrically opposed, socio-economic systems of communism (by Orwell) and
capitalism (by Roger Waters). The artworks are individually astounding, but when
viewed in tandem, alludes to the idea that socio-economic systems are still
evolving and in time the terms capitalism and communism will be thought as
ineffective as feudalism. The shared characteristics of social commentary and
animal metaphor literally, are what make these particular artworks the amazing
examples of their respective genres that they are. The animal metaphor tends to
depict humans as being motivated by our animalistic desires, as well as the
tendency among ourselves to be highly competitive and often, ruthless. In Animal
Farm, Orwell puts the pigs as being the leaders, or the exploiters of the
masses, depending on your point of view. Waters does the same in Animals,
depicting the pigs as uncaring, self-involved, and overbearing masters of the
masses. In both works, dogs are an enforcer-type, driven either by a sense of
patriotism, honor, and pride, but also those misanthropes who relish in the
power they have been given and enjoy abusing those weaker than themselves. The
sheep are a shared characteristic of both works, depicting them as easily
manipulated and led to the slaughter. The works diverge from one another in
which philosophy they individually espouse. Orwell’s novel is an obvious
attack against communism. The pig characters of the novel represent the
political figures of the early days of the Soviet Union. Orwell goes on to
depict the system of the so-called “class-less” society as an incredible
failure, while time would ultimately prove his early analysis as being correct.
Any large-scale, highly organized society in all of human history has required
social stratification, and Russia of the early twentieth century would prove to
be no different. As with any society, those with power have been and still are
tempted to abuse that power for their own individual ends, often at the expense
of those that have granted them their power. Capitalism is not immune from this
inherent flaw in social stratification either. Roger Waters, who wrote most of
the music and all of the lyrics of Animals, viciously attacks capitalism and the
illusion of equality. Within our own country, there are numerous occasions on
which those with vast amounts of wealth and/or influence are given special
treatment. Celebrities, athletes, and business magnates are among a few that are
capable of getting a slap on the wrist, or complete immunity for actions that
would land a “nobody” in the nearest federal penitentiary faster than one
could blink an eye. By and large, ours is not a society that practices equality,
all the while saying that it does. Ours system is on level ground with communism
for providing equality, especially when one views the international exploitation
of resources and people by multi-national mega-conglomerates, the very
embodiment of capitalism on a global scale. This is the ugly side of our system,
and this is the full view that comes into focus when one experiences these
artworks side by side, a stereoscopic view of the current, prominent
socio-economic systems of this century. Neither provides for true equality, and
they both exploit their masses, with essentially the same techniques of
propaganda. It seems that capitalism won the twentieth century, but one never
knows which way the masses will change over time. This is the scathing social
commentary that is sometimes found at the foundation of good art, that will stir
in some the consideration of the systems and powers of the day, and of the past.
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