The novel, ‘Animal Farm’, by George Orwell is an allegory of the Russian Revolution, told in the setting of a farm were the characters are animals. Uncontent with the dictatorial leadership of their human farmer, Mr Jones, the animals force him out in order to establish a new society of their own based on the ideal that all animals are equal and everyone who walks on two feet( humans) are the enemy. At the beginning of the novel, the farm is run smoothly and fairly and equality for all animals are upheld. However, as the intellectuality of the pigs causes them to take on the role of leadership, we start to see how the pigs progressively start to manipulate the other animals and eventually, a clear social hierarchy had been created. In the end, the pigs begin to walk on two feet, and have become just like the humans.
I think the main theme that Orwell wanted to convey was the idea of the inevitability of humans to establish a social hierarchy. One character that was used to convey this was the old donkey, named Benjamin. Benjamin was a very intelligent character and he was very old and had experienced a lot in his time. At first, I strongly disliked this character, as I believed he was extremely cynical and downright lazy. For example, at the beginning of the novel, a set of seven commandments were agreed upon by all of the animals that would ensure equality would be withheld and things would not go back to the way they were when Mr Jones ran the farm. One of these commandments was, “No animal shall kill any other animal.” Alas, after a rebellion among the hens Napoleon orders the execution of several of them. Following this, there is an unscrupulous addition written next to the commandment – “No animal shall kill any other animal – without cause.” By the end of the novel, all of the original commandments that were agreed upon had been changed by the pigs. However, all of the changes that were made were solely so the pigs could get away with the injustices that they committed and so that they could enjoy special privileges that the other animals could not. Benjamin, being one of the few animals who could read, knew all along how these commandments were being changed, however what shocked me was that when the others asked him to read them out to them – he refused. Contrary to the other animals – who were blinded by their ignorance – throughout the whole novel he knew exactly what was going on and how the pigs were abusing their power…
However, later on in the novel, there was one quote that made me understand Benjamins point-of-view a little bit more. When asked about the rebellion, Benjamin replied with, “Donkeys live a long time. None of you have ever seen a dead donkey.” This allowed me to understand the reason why Benjamin was so indifferent to trying to do something against the pigs; he realised that life before the rebellion was exactly how it had been before and he was convinced that nothing would ever change. Since he had “lived a long time,” he knew from experience that it was inevitable that humans (or animals) would organise themselves into social hierarchies. He had seen wax and wane of societes who at the beginning had stood for total equality, would eventually be overcome by greedy, power hungry leaders.
In my opinion, I agree with Benjamins viewpoint that it is inevitable for humans to divide themselves into social classes. Looking around, I cannot think of one group or society without some sort of social hierarchy. For example, in order for a factory to work, there is going to have to be labourers and those in managerial roles who organise these labourers. This is simply necessary in the furtherment of society as it allows people to specialise and be innovative in their respective fields. We know this because the only time in human history were there wasn’t a social hierarchy was back in the times of the hunter-gatherers. However, it wasn’t until humans started to band together into villages with established roles in society and established leadership and rules, where humans began to advance technologically. If we do not have people who have more power than other people, the system would turn to anarchy as an extremely high number of peer disputes would evolve with no way of resolution.