The cyclical nature of oppression in Animal Farm is a central theme that highlights the novella’s deeper commentary on power, corruption, and the potential for revolutions to devolve into tyrannies. Here’s an analysis of the cyclical nature of oppression in Animal Farm:
1. Initial Oppression under Mr. Jones:
- Description: The story begins with the animals living under the oppressive rule of Mr. Jones, the human owner of Manor Farm. They are subjected to mistreatment, overwork, and hunger.
- Significance: This initial state of oppression serves as the catalyst for the animals’ rebellion and the establishment of Animal Farm. It sets the stage for the cyclical pattern of oppression to unfold.
2. Revolution and Utopian Aspirations:
- Description: The animals, led by the pigs, successfully overthrow Mr. Jones and take control of the farm. They establish a set of principles and commandments that promise equality, freedom, and a utopian society.
- Significance: The revolution represents the hopeful phase where the animals believe they can break free from oppression and create a society based on justice and fairness.
3. Gradual Corruption of Ideals:
- Description: Over time, the pigs, who take on leadership roles, begin to betray the original principles of Animalism. They indulge in human vices, alter the commandments, and exploit the other animals for their own gain.
- Significance: The gradual corruption illustrates how power can transform even the most well-intentioned revolutions into oppressive regimes. The pigs become indistinguishable from the humans they initially rebelled against.
4. Repression of Dissent:
- Description: As the pigs consolidate their power, they suppress any form of dissent or opposition. Napoleon uses force, intimidation, and propaganda to control the narrative and eliminate perceived threats.
- Significance: The repression of dissent mirrors the tactics employed by oppressive regimes to maintain control and silence opposition, highlighting the erosion of the animals’ freedom and equality.
5. Betrayal of the Working Class:
- Description: The working-class animals, symbolized by Boxer and others, are exploited for their labour and loyalty. Despite their hard work, they are ultimately betrayed and sent to the glue factory when they become a burden.
- Significance: The betrayal of the working class illustrates how those in power can manipulate and discard their loyal supporters when it serves their interests.
6. Return to Human-Like Behavior:
- Description: The pigs, who once rejected human behaviours, gradually adopt human-like habits, such as walking on two legs and wearing clothes. The farm becomes indistinguishable from its original oppressive state under Mr. Jones.
- Significance: The return to human-like behaviour emphasizes the cyclical nature of oppression. The animals find themselves back under the rule of beings who resemble their original oppressors.
7. Irony of the Final Scene:
- Description: The novel concludes with the pigs and humans enjoying a friendly dinner, signifying the complete betrayal of the animals’ revolutionary ideals. The final commandment, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” encapsulates the irony.
- Significance: The final scene is ironic and tragic, highlighting how the cycle of oppression has come full circle. The pigs have become the very oppressors the animals initially rebelled against.
8. Universal Warning:
- Description: The cyclical nature of oppression in Animal Farm serves as a universal warning about the potential for any revolution to devolve into tyranny if vigilance against corruption is not maintained.
- Significance: Orwell suggests that the lessons of the novella apply not only to the specific historical context of the Russian Revolution but also to any society that undergoes revolutionary change.
In summary, the cyclical nature of oppression in Animal Farm underscores the cautionary tale about the corrupting influence of power. Through the repeated patterns of betrayal, repression, and the erosion of ideals, Orwell highlights the universal challenges faced by societies striving for freedom and equality. The novella serves as a timeless warning about the importance of vigilance in safeguarding the principles of justice and liberty.