What devices can a government use to manipulate its citizens? Why would a government choose to be unscrupulous to their fellow subjects in the first place? Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, and Animal Farm, by George Orwell, provide examples of abused power and how it is in the hands of the citizens to demonstrate resistance in these situations.
The novel Fahrenheit 451 is written in a futuristic setting that is governed through suffering and misery, or a dystopia. This book is viewed through a social lens which explores what will occur if technology takes over our everyday life and also if censorship was enforced. On the other side of the spectrum, Animal Farm’s backdrop includes a discarded farm on a countryside in which the animals form a much wanted utopia. This book can be interpreted in two different ways; a story about the rebellion of farm animals or a satire and allegory that resemble the Russian Revolution. Even though each novel is different in a sense, one universal theme is shared; when a government abuses the power it upholds, social reform is needed before individuality becomes antiquated, and society starts to dissolve into an oppressive condition. “War against a foreign country only happens when moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it” (Orwell). George Orwell’s quote definitely ties into his novel as well as its themes. In Animal Farm, when Napoleon starts to trade with neighboring farms, it symbolizes that Napoleon, the moneyed class, believes he will profit from the agreement which also shows the fitting characterization of a pig and his greediness. Although the pig’s beliefs were true about making money, it affected the other animals because of the way Napolean spent the profits; buying whiskey.
Animal Farm does seem like a simple story about a group of animals, however, there are various political and social implications throughout the whole book. George Orwell published this book one year after the Russian Revolution and revolved the novel around the war. As a matter of fact, all of the characters in his work resembled someone who had a role in the Revolution. For instance, Napoleon symbolizes Joseph Stalin who, in fact, had a wanting for power and killed all those who contradicted him which is exactly like the seemingly powerful pig. Also, Napoleon has his nine guard dogs around him which can resemble the loyalty between Nazis and Adolf Hitler; they will enforce his orders. The book also shows how realism is an important part of idealism; when the windmill was destroyed, alternate plans had to be executed. “A terrible sight met their eyes. Thewindmill was in ruins” (Orwell 57). “‘No more delays, Comrades?’ said Napoleon when the footprints had been examined. ‘There is work to be done. This very morning we begin the rebuilding the windmill, and we will build all through the winter, rain or sunshine’” (Orwell 59).
Fahrenheit 451 has some distinctive themes throughout the book. One of these themes is how the increasing exposure to technology has no end and can be overpowering to the one who has no self-control. Mildred, the protagonist’s wife, is the epitome of what technology can do to a person. (‘How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and a fourth wall-TV put in? Its only two thousand dollars,’” states Mildred. “‘That’s one third of my yearly pay,’” Guy, the husband, responds. “‘It’s only two thousand dollars’ she replied. ‘And I should think you’d consider me sometimes.’) This discussion between Mildred and Guy Montag shows that once technology takes over your life, there is no escaping the character changes. It also shows that Mildred prioritizes her own wants and cares nothing about Guy. The political representation in this novel is censorship; or the prohibition of books. Censorship, in this dystopian novel, depicts that books retain knowledge that could possibly put the government in jeopardy. The government thinks that an enlightened society would be more difficult to govern.
Both authors of Animal Farm and Fahrenheit 451 demonstrate similar themes and legislative aspects. The overall message that each author was trying to convey is that there is innocence found in each dystopia. For example, in Animal Farm, Napoleon executes animals because he suspects they are either working with Snowball or disobeying the seven commandments. However, each of these animals are innocent meaning that they should not be punished by death for anything they were accused of.
“How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how many people did you know that refracted your own light to you?” (Bradbury 8). In Fahrenheit 451, this quote resembles innocence because Clarisse ignited the flame that changed Montag’s life forever. Montag now understood that he was burning books every day for no common purpose; this caused him to reassess his own choices. Although there are similar themes presented in these two novels, there is also a universal political issue. In both Animal Farm and Fahrenheit 451 the government manipulates each and every person to stay in the “norm” and basically brainwashes all common sense out of them.
In George Orwell’s novella, the animals are influenced so much to the point where they cannot think for themselves; they only listen to the inaccurate “information” that Squealer provides them. That facet ties in with today’s society because humans have the tendency to believe whatever they hear especially in politics and social media; just like the sheep did in Animal Farm. Ray Bradbury also emanates this in Fahrenheit 451, however, the manipulation was present at the beginning of the novel and did not progress as the story continued like in Animal Farm. The manipulation in Fahrenheit 451 consisted of mainly the censorship portion of the novel. Nobody in Guy Montag’s society knew the reason for which books were banned; the society’s information on this subject was simply that he or she was prohibited for an unknown cause.
These examples show how the government can direct you towards something without you knowing or your consent. Both George Orwell and Ray Bradbury’s novels contain similar social and political issues as well as themes. Orwell’s main focus is on the issue of the citizens’ inability to understand what the government is bestowing on them while Bradbury exposes problems of technology on society and what it could void in the future. Some good questions to ponder are what devices can the government use to control us in our everyday lives and how will technology affect us in the near future?