Oppression could be defined as “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment of authority”, thus is present in both George Orwell’s dystopian books “Animal Farm” and “1984” as such aspects of tyranny are integrated into the texts in order to create a perfect dystopian novel, introducing the reader into a world of repression and chaos. Orwell enhances the dystopias by presenting a tyrannical government who exploits and mistreats their people, highlighting the victimisation which occurs throughout the novel and novella. However, in the allegorical novella “Animal Farm” we are presented with the birth of a dystopia, where animals are subjected to humans, so they begin to revolt. They are later betrayed by their leaders, the pigs, who eventually end up acting worse than the humans ever did. Whereas, the dystopian novel “1984” presents a world trapped in a state of eternal war, citizens have no right to a personal life or personal thought, love is forbidden, and leisure activities are controlled through strict rules. Orwell is also known to be heavily influenced by historical events. Perhaps, “1984” and “Animal Farm” are books which express Orwell’s thoughts and feelings towards totalitarianism during the time the texts were written.
Orwell wrote “1984” and “Animal Farm” as a general warning to the readers. He expresses his feelings towards others being involved or following a dictatorial government as he uses powerful leaders, manipulated victims and a dystopian setting to create a chaotic world and show how overall absolute power corrupts. Both books use authoritarian leaders to show an oppressed society, “Animal Farm” uses Napoleon, the leader of an animal rebellion on Manor Farm and “1984” uses Big Brother to publicise the party’s intentions to control society. In “1984” we are immediately introduced to the face of the party as Winston, the protagonist describes the posters as “the enormous face gazed from the wall”, “the eyes follow you about when you move” and “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”.
It shows how he is unable to escape the gaze of Big Brother; his life is restricted and oppressed. Orwell uses verbs such as “gazed”, “follow” and “watching” to create a semantic field of monitorisation suggesting that individuals are stripped of their identity and are repressed into acting and behaving in ways the dictatorial government wants them to in order to stay in power. Orwell uses an unseen governmental force in order to strike fear upon society which perhaps could suggest a parallel ideological perspective of our own society, it is used to resemble the power and control of the party as the citizens are intimidated by something which is unknown and kept unidentified.
Possibly, Orwell was influenced by Soviet propaganda at the time as posters were used to control and brainwash the public. It may be a critic of the types of governments he saw emerging and gaining power and he wrote the dystopian novel in order to warn future readers and the audience at the time it was published. Norman Podhoretz states “Orwell’s ruling passion was the fear and hatred of totalitarianism” this highlights Orwell’s desire to write about problems of an oppressed society due to a totalitarian dictatorship as he is influenced by political problems at the time and he may have wanted to discuss his thoughts by writing a dystopian novel.
Further into the novel, chilling words are spoken by O'Brien “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face- forever' to show the merciless act the party is committing in order to gain domination and power over its citizens. Similarly, “Animal Farm” uses dogs to show power and create intimidation, unlike Big Brother, the dogs are a physical force used to strike fear upon the other animals. The “nine enormous dogs” are described to be “wearing brass-studded collars” and having “snapping jaws”, outlining Napoleon’s violent expulsion of Snowball from the farm which could perhaps parallel the tension between Stalin and Trotsky. The dogs are used to enforce his supremacy and manipulation, deception is used in order to build power and control, perhaps they are symbolic of the KGB, Stalin’s bodyguards as they constantly protect their leader and superior.
The premodifiers “enormous” and “brass-studded” create intimidation, power and overt violence, showing Napoleon's tactics as authoritarian and creating a dystopian setting. Highlighting the deterioration of the farm from being a place of equality to a place of betrayal and oppression. This is further shown by the sheep as they “burst out into a tremendous bleating of- 'Four legs good, two legs better!””. The juxtaposition creates irony as the pigs have formed a dictatorial authority and they now repress the animals instead of the humans repressing them; creating a dystopian novella.