‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ both explore the ways propaganda, totalitarianism and excessive power impact on a tyrannized society. Both works demonstrate and emphasize the ease with which certain factors and tools are used to gain power, and how corruption will inevitably follow on. Situated within an authoritative government, leadership is gained and enforced in both Orwell’s allegorical novel and McTeigue’s dystopian film by forms of power such as fear and terror. This leads to a fundamental question when viewing the works together: How is fear used as a form of power in ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’? This essay will take the form of a Marxian comparative analysis in order to gain a full understanding of the class struggle that is found within these societies.
To begin with, in both ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ a base and superstructure are created due to a social contradiction of an unequal distribution mode of rights, wealth and freedom. The superstructure created within these two works demonstrates how in ‘V for Vendetta’ the High Chancellor and how in ‘Animal Farm’ the pig Napoleon have control over the people working for them and over the rest of the population. The factors that spread fear are determined by the leader, transferred to their sycophants and passed on to the base. For instance, in ‘Animal Farm’ Napoleon uses Squealer, his mouthpiece and Minister of Propaganda, as well as other tools of fear such as his dogs. It is he himself who controls the fear and how it is received by the base. In addition, in ‘V for Vendetta’ the High Chancellor gives orders to his Fingermen such as the police or the surveillance, who form RSA and ISA which acts on the population. The presence of this superstructure allows the leaders to gain power and forces the base to lose more and more freedom and rights. This superstructure creates a sense of fear for the base, which is transferred into obedience towards the people of power, thus empowering their position in the superstructure. This way of gaining power defies the very purpose of Marxism as the base is oppressed and loses all freedom, possibility of expression and rights.
Most inevitably the fear of the base will at some point convert to a need of revolution as a result of the appearance of consciousness, which is the case for both ‘Animal Farm’ and for ‘V for Vendetta’. In the former that consciousness is brought to the base, due to Old Major’s speech, by the realization of their lack of power compared to Mr.Jones, while in the latter it is brought to them by the murder of a girl in a street by the police. The consciousness arises when the girl is shot, and it is mainly due to that moment that the realization of the need for revolution becomes apparent. Therefore, these martyrs awaken consciousness to real conditions of existence. In addition, the revolution at the beginning of George Orwell’s novel was also started by the emergence of consciousness from Old Major who encourages and persuades the base that a revolution is necessary. The consciousness awakened by the martyrs and by a speech is shaped by their social background. As Karl Marx said: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. In Marx’s opinion, that consciousness cannot be individualized, as consciousness depends on the socio-economic reality of their class, thus explaining why every individual of the base participated in the revolutions.
In conclusion, both Orwell and McTeigue make a clear appearance of a superstructure in their works, a society organization enforced by the fear of the base. Force, the suppression of rights and new laws are the reason for this appearance of fear, which is the source of the rise in power of the superstructure. This fear is translated in both ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ into a revolution, due to the emergence of a certain level of consciousness.