Animal Farm Or How The Pigs Overtook The World

If you haven’t read George Orwell‘s¬†Animal Farm,¬†I highly recommend that you do so! This is one of the best allegories I’ve read so far, which was written in the light of a very different political atmosphere and yet, it remains worryingly true to this day. Animal Farm is a big eye-opener. I believe George Orwell attempted to wake up his readers by letting them see themselves from another perspective. As a futurist, he knew his novel would live to see the same events repeat over and over again.

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Animal Farm; source: emaze.com

The story begins with Old Major, a well-respected boar and the oldest animal in Manor Farm. Feeling that his end is near, Old Major gathers all other animals to a meeting to share his revolutionary ideas. In a passionate speech, he teaches them that all humans are bad and refers to them as enemies. The animals are convinced they¬†need to revolt and build a new and better, human-free world for themselves where they live by the principles of Animalism. Upon Old Major’s death, the Revolution begins with two young pigs- Napoleon and Snowball leading the uprising. The old boar’s dreams come to life and the animals win the farm for themselves, getting rid of Mr Jones and his family. The name Manor Farm is replaced with Animal Farm and a few simple rules in accordance with the ideology of Animalism are set for all animals to follow. These are called the Seven Commandments and include:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, 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. (Chapter 2)

As leaders of the uprising, Napolean and Snowball remain in charge of the farm. Snowball even leads the defence of Animal Farm when Mr Jones and his neighbouring farmers try to take it back. United by these events, the animals live harmoniously in the beginning, free of the slavery set upon them by the humans. However, as the time passes, the pigs start to violate the Seven Commandments and the principles of Animalism.

The rivalry between Napoleon and Snowball is growing bigger by the day. It culminates in the brutal expulsion of Snowball from the farm. As the time passes, Napoleon becomes more and more authoritarian, oppressing the other animals with the help of his elite dog squad. He moves into the house, sleeps in a bed, eats fine food, drinks alcohol, privately educates his children, commands the killing of other animals, starts business relationships with humans and this way violates all Seven Commandments.

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Animal Farm – source: BreadPig

Now what’s most interesting about Animal Farm is what each character personates. Most of them represent key players in the Russian Revolution and the totalitarian regime that followed after. Mr Jones, for instance, embodies Tzar Nicholas II, who was ignorant of his people’s suffering and paid a high price for it. Old Major, the so-called founder of ‘Animalism’ is inspired by Karl Marx, whose theories led to the creation of Communism and the abuse of its power. He dreamed of all people being equal but never lived to see that dream come true, just like Old Major. Napoleon, one of the leaders of the Uprising, is the personification of Joseph Stalin. He removed from power his main rival Leon Trotzky (Snowball), thus becoming the sole leader of the Empire (Animal Farm).

Just like Stalin, Napoleon made his people obedient through fear and terror and violated all principles of Animalism. His Dog Squad (inspired by KGB) made sure no one stepped out of the line and if someone did, they would lose their life to Napoleon’s dogs. A pivotal moment in the novel is Boxer’s death, who served Animal Farm all his life, going by two mottos – ‘I must work harder‘ and ‘Napoleon is always right‘. He never stepped out of the line and yet was sent to the Slaughter House, instead of being allowed to retire and live the rest of his life in dignity, as promised.

George Orwell is a genius of his time. He foresaw political regimes changing in name but not in nature and always the same one paying the high price- the people. This is why he chose pigs to personify the politicians and leaders of his time; because power corrupts men and turn them into pigs or in the case of Animal Farm, turns pigs into men.

L.V.K.

 

Devil’s Advocate or How to Lose Your Soul

“Vanity, definitely my favourite sin!”

This is one of my all time favourite movie quotes. It’s so full of truth, wisdom and¬†cynicism at the same time that I want to cry and then laugh and then cry again. The movie this quote comes from, as most of you know, is Devil’s Advocate (1997), starring the titans Al Paccino and Keanu Reeves accompanied by the gorgeous Charlize Theron.

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The film tells the story of Kevin Lomax, a young and ambitious attorney from Gainsville, Florida, who’s never lost a case. One day, he receives a job offer from the world’s most powerful law firm, based in New York and owned by the mysterious and charming John Milton. Kevin grabs the opportunity and together with his wife Mary Ann, leaves for the Big Apple to pursue his dream. However, success has its high price and in Kevin’s case, this is his soul, which he sells piece by piece for money and power. The movie is so powerful not just¬†because of the great story it tells but also because of the magnificent performances Al Paccino, Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron and the rest of the cast give. They’ve put their souls in the project which makes it so real and influential.

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For me, Devil’s Advocate is an allegory of the biblical story of Adam and Eve and how they’ve been tempted by the serpent to taste the forbidden fruit. In the movie, the serpent (John Milton) persuades¬†Eve (Mary Ann) to tempt Adam (Kevin) to taste the fruit of success, no matter the price. Mary Ann does that, she is a big influence over her husband in the beginning of the story because she stimulates his ego. She erases all moral boundaries he has and throws him in a world, where she believes they both should belong. Kevin himself has issues with his vanity, never accepting he ever might lose a case, which makes him an easy target for the devilish tricks of John Milton. However, as everything should be free will, John gives Kevin the opportunity to take all decisions himself. He always shows him two paths- the right and the wrong, manipulating him to take the wrong way but never closing the door to the right way.

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Devil’s Advocate is an incredible movie, which shows us how we’re losing our souls every day. It teaches us to let go of vanity, which is the core of all sins and makes us think over the matter of success. What is it? How do we define it? What price have we paid for it? The world we live in is our own doing and what happens to us is too. Devil’s Advocate makes us take a deep, real look inside¬†ourselves and ask, “Can I bear to look at myself in the mirror, and if I do, will I see a monster?

L. V. K.