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Symbolism and the underlying political message. A comparison of two 20th century novels: "Animal Farm" by George Orwell and "Lord of The flies" By William Golding.

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Introduction

Emma Theaker Symbolism and the underlying political message. A comparison of two 20th century novels: "Animal Farm" by George Orwell and "Lord of The flies" By William Golding. The two books that I have chosen to study are in many ways similar. Both explore the dangerous effect of man's attempts to control others and dominate society. They both use symbolism strongly to underline the message behind the story. Authors use symbolism, as a way of illustrating a message by comparing a real situation with another similar but more easily understood message. In "Lord of the flies", Golding tells the story of a group of boys who are ship wrecked on an island. Almost at once, they establish a hierarchy with the leaders dominating the weaker boys. Ralph and Jack become the two main leaders. They take charge because they feel that to survive they will have to work as a team, gathering food, building shelters, and keeping the fire going until rescuers appear. Initially all seems fine until people start to become more interested in keeping themselves alive than in helping others. The group divides in to factions and fights start to break out. In the end, Simon and Piggy are killed and although the boys are rescued, they all pay a terrible price for their sins. By comparison, the story of "animal farm" is more political. ...read more.

Middle

Similarly the officer who interrupts a manhunt to rescue the boys in a cruiser is no true hero, he is part of the war and there are parallels drawn between Jack's weapon of authority, his sharpened stick and the revolver and the uniform of the officer. So grown up law and order does not in Golding's eyes stop evil from happening, and the final words of the officer to Ralph "what have you been doing having a War or something" is very ironic. Symbolism in "Animal Farm" is also used to discuss the causes of War, in this case the Russian revolution. Orwell associates real characters with the characters of the book. Mr. Jones is one of Orwell's chief villains on "Animal Farm". Mr. Jones symbolises (in addition to the evils of capitalism) Czar Nicholas II, the leader before Stalin (Napoleon). Jones represents the old government, the last of the Czars. Orwell suggests that Jones (Czar Nicholas II) was losing his "edge". So Old Major reveals his feelings about his administration when he says, "Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet, he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving and the rest he keeps for himself." ...read more.

Conclusion

Mollie is one of the animals who is most opposed to the new government under Napoleon. She characterises the typical middle-class skilled worker who suffers from this new communism concept. Moses is perhaps Orwell's most intriguing character, a raven that would spy and be a talebearer for Napoleon. Muriel is the knowledgeable goat who reads the commandments for Clover. The rats and the rabbits are regarded as wild animals, somehow represent the socialist movement, the so-called "Menscheviki". The pigeons symbolise Soviet propaganda, not to Russia but to other countries. It is not only the animals that symbolise things in this book, the buildings also do. For instance the farm building stands for the Kremlin. The windmill stands for the Russian industry, that has been build up by the working-classes. All this tells us that Orwell had a very definite reason for his story. The use of animals to symbolise men act not only to interest the readers but adds humour to a serious political comment. They are rather like cartoon characters with very visible faults. Both books take a very strong message and illustrate it with great originality. Had the authors only written factual accounts of the political events very few people would have wanted to read them. Instead two fascinating stories which any reader would enjoy have been created. They can be read by younger children as simple stories but the older reader can understand the deeper message that is conveyed and hopefully learn from the mistakes of the pasts. ...read more.

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