Throughouthistory books have been used to express emotion and to spread information,especially throughout times of strife and fear. Animal Farm and 1984 are bothcentered on major time periods in Soviet history, however they create acompelling fiction with minor historical aspects. While Animal Farm and 1984both relate to Soviet Russia, they do not hold up in the modern era and fail toprovide a sense of suspense, leaving readers feeling disappointed with overallminor use of relevant information. 1984 follows a man named Wilson and his lifein society if a Soviet like society took over. With Animal Farm followinganimals on a farm that overthrow their owner and create a semi-communistsociety. Animal Farm begins with the eldest pig, Old Major calling a meeting toshare a dream in which animals live without animal oppressors. The animals thenoverthrow their owner and at first the farm prospers and the animals learn toread and learn Animalism.
The head pigs, Snowball (Trotsky) and Napoleon(Stalin) begin to oppose each other and Snowball is later kicked out byNapoleon. Animalist principles now begin to blur from the original and propagandabegins to spread, promoting Napoleon. As the pigs become more powerfulpropaganda is spread for Napoleon. Years pass and the pigs are more and morelike the humans that they once resented. Animalism is reformed and holds onlyone principle, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal thanothers.” While 1984 follows Winston, a low ranking member of the ruling partyin London. The party watches everyone at all times through the use oftelescreens and if one is suspected of even thinking rebellious thoughts theyare arrested.
Winston is frustrated by the oppression and rigidity of theParty. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth, altering documents to benefitthe Party. One day Winston receives a note from a woman, Julia, saying that sheloves him. Eventually they rent a room above an antique shop in the poor partof town. As time progresses he begins to hate the party more and more and iscalled to meet O’Brien, a high ranking party member. Winston and Julia meetO’Brien at his apartment and after talking soldiers along with the antiqueowner rush in and capture them. Winston is sent to the Ministry of Love and istortured and brainwashed by O’Brien.
After months Winston confronts hisgreatest fear, he then snaps and is then released, brainwashed, and fullyaccepts the Party. Next, both stories battle with theidea of identity, specifically the characters own identities and what identityis trying to be forced upon them. Characters in 1984 are constantly having theideas of the party pushed upon them, this causes the main struggle of the storyin which Wilson has his own unique identity that conflicts with the party’s. Theseconflicts cause Wilson to form a rebellious identity which is the main causefor progression and plot development in the story. Animal Farm follows asimilar pattern in which the animals break the norm by forming their ownidentities and creating their own society.
Unknowingly this identity begins toemulate that of a communist society, specifically a failed communist societywhere the higher ranks are better off than the rest of society, which is themain driving force in the story. Along with these ideas of identity are theability to inform the reader of the unique history found throughout which thesetexts were written. Both 1984 and Animal Farm, while setas stories, intend to inform the reader of certain aspects of Soviet Russianhistory. Totalitarianism one specific term found throughout these texts,specifically through the emulation of key Soviet events in Animal Farm andthrough the presence of one overarching party or government in 1984.Totalitarianism while present, is much more subtle in Animal Farm.
Thecharacters are not implicitly known and a mild amount of background knowledgeis required of the reader thus causing some vital information to be missedthroughout the reading. While 1984 is much clearer in showing the presence of atotalitarian society, especially when certain aspects of this society aredescribed. This is found through the use of the telescreens and the idea thatthe characters have no free will or ability to express unique ideas due to thefear of the party. Although this is a good method to inspire fear, the overallgoal of the text is lost due to the way in which society has changed over time,with the idea of an immense soviet power being lost over time. Revolution isanother key term that is found throughout both 1984 and Animal Farm. 1984introduces revolution through the development on the main characters ideas andthe hope that one day a revolution will overthrow the party. This hope forrevolution creates one of the main driving forces in the text, in which Winstonbelieves deep down that a single high ranking party member is willing to assistin the revolution against the party.
Animal Farm takes a more direct approach,starting off with the animals inspired to revolt against their human owners.This revolution against the humans is a major plot piece that sets up the restof the events in the text. Along with these ideas of revolution come theidentification of Bolshevik, which is commonly found in Animal Farm due to therepresentation of the “lesser” farm animals as Bolsheviks. Due to the text’sdirect relation to Soviet history five year plans are common.
1984 introducesfive year plans as something that is often changed to make the party seem morelegitimate. Legitimacy is derived from this due to the fact that the plans arechanged to make them always correct similar to how they were during Soviettimes. Animal Farm shows these five year plans in the early stages of the storyas the society becomes more developed and needs more sophisticated requirementsfor food, materials, etc.
These, like any other communist society, fail andeventually become altered to provide more legitimacy for the higher ups in society. Though thesetexts do have the ability to inform the reader of important historical eventsin their own unique way, certain aspects are present that fail to providerelevant information. A major flaw found in both texts is the length, with 1984being far too extensive and Animal Farm being quite short. Animal Farm feels asif more information could be included if it was extended slightly to make theending feel less abrupt and have the possibility to include more details nearthe conclusion. 1984 is the inverse of this, leaving the reader with a feelingof exhaustion when drawing near the end of the text due to the multitude ofdetails that were added. Also due to the way in which communism has progressesthe dystopian future depicted in 1984 is incredibly unconvincing.
1984 failedto create a sense that this future was actually possible, due to the dullwriting and the redundant information that goes on and on. Another failure in1984 is the creation of an unbelievable totalitarian society, with certainaspects of a totalitarian society being completely ignored; totalitariansocieties generally tend to eventually lead to a collapse of power structuresand 1984 shows almost no flaws in society other than the miniscule possibility ofrebellion. While it is understandable that this is intended as a story, therecould have been a more considerable effort put into the research to allow thestory to have a greater similarity to Soviet history. Animal Farm shows thishistory in a much more realistic way, through the use of certain charactersrepresenting key figures and showing the main reason why a communist societywould fail. Although, Animal Farm does do a better job a depicting Soviethistory, it still has some flaws. Mainly being the fact that without prior knowledgethe main point of the text is lost; due to the fact the story is centered onthe Soviet Revolution and the people and events found throughout that timeperiod are not always known to certain readers.
While this is the main flaw,along with the length of the text, there is also the fact thatOverall these factors, while they may have been a goodchoice at the time, fail to hold up in modern society and generally lower thereader’s opinion on the texts. Although, the texts are not a total failurethere are some major points that could’ve been improved on which would havemade the overall experience of reading these texts much greater. Animal Farmfollows a group of animals that overthrow their owner and form their ownsociety eventually resembling a communist society. This text exemplifies the majordownfalls of a communist society, however not without having its own. 1984follows this relation to Soviet history, showing the terror of a communistsociety if it eventually gains too much power. However this terror is notconsistent with modern culture due the previous downfall of the Soviet Union.
Although these texts do have major flaws, as do all, they do serve someimportance to informing the reader of the unique history of the Soviet era.Even though these texts can be interpreted in multiple different ways, thereare some clear themes and ideals that the author wants to be expressed to thereader, especially the idea of a fear of strong communism and the reasons thata communist society would fail. Overall, while these texts are not completely terriblethere are some major flaws that draw away from the general ideas backing them.