This paper would compare and contrast two books: Looking Backwards and Animal Farm. It will expand on the main topics of both of them and explain how certain problems and other fundamental concepts are linked or dissimilar. As a result, it will begin with a brief introduction to the two texts, then compare the concepts and concepts in them, explain the comparison, and conclude with a conclusion based on the main ideas learned.
Looking Backwards: 2000–1887 is a work of dystopian science fiction masterpiece. It is a novel written by the well-known Edward Bellamy that was first published in 1887. Bellamy, who is both a journalist and professional writer, hails from Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. This book is the third-largest bestseller globally and ranks immediately after; Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It has managed to influence a vast number of intellectual novelists and was quoted in several of the principal Marxist writings. It is a book that bases itself on the idea of political mass movements of both the old ages and its contemporary times. Due to its influence, it managed to inspire the mushrooming of several public debate places in the US and became a major reference to revolutionary ideas. It was revered due to its nationalization ideologies that were substantially seen to make rational sense during the African American racial revolutions and was used more as a political book than informative and consequently lead to the formation of several utopian communities.
Animal Farm is a charming fictional yet still allegorical novella written by George Orwell. It was first formally published in England (17 August 1945). It reflects on the progressive ideas and events that led up to the renown Russian Revolution of 1917 and consequently the rise of the Stalinist era of the then Soviet Union. Orwell, who is a well versed democratic socialist, was known to rigorously criticize the communist ideas of Joseph Stalin and the propagated ideology of Stalinism, (this was a mental attitude that was critically led by his personal experiences in the Spanish Civil War. Moreover, the then Soviet Union, under the leadership of Stalin was a ruthless and absolute dictatorship. He believed that it was built upon an underground cult of personality and publicly enforced by a brutal reign of terror. However, Orwell uses this book to publicize his satirical ideas about the then Stalin rules and uses the entire story to develop theories of how a society can be ruined when selfish people usurp power. He in some sense managed to put his political ideas in an artistic way.
To begin with, both books have several political ideas. In the animal farm, the major political ideas are developed in a sequential manner; one idea leads to the development of the other. The sequence begins with the social revolution. Revolutions are the social engines that drive change in any given society, they start with a single grapple and end up with the overthrowing of governments. The animals in the animal farm gang up against their master Mr. Jones. He is depicted as that ruthless leader who treats them unfairly and the death of Mr. Old major that sparks a revolution to realize his freedom ideologies. This leads to the removal of Mr. Jones from the farm. This idea runs in comparison with the one in the Looking Back book. This book as mentioned previously is based on a Julian West who falls asleep only to wake up and find that the USA he knew had changed considerably. Be discovered how by the use of super reasoning the human race had rebelled against the social and economic problems prevalent then of realizing their freedom and civilization. It depicts a unique revolution (application of reason) quite different from the vigilante revolution described in the animal farm. Therefore just as there is the social revolution in the animal farm book, there is an intellectual revolution in the looking back book.
Another major theme present in both books is the abuse of power and tyrannies. In the animal farm, after the liberation from the human domination, the new order is instituted, but quickly it leads to the formation of strata in the society. These pigs become the elite rulers, and the other animals are depicted to be the subjects. With the rise to power of Napoleon, tyranny is evidenced; he circumvents all the seven rules laid down and introduces an absolute rule. He is seen to bring down the society by corruption and abuse of his power to gain mileage (by killing Snowball). This theme is also evidenced in the looking back book. Bellamy depicts how the industrial development of the society leads towards the formation of the classes in the community. He illustrates how men are considered to be the only gender capable of using rationality for the good of the community (MrLette – doctor) and how the feminine gender is not capable of using reason for any societal development (Mrs. Lette). He further depicts how the ruling class uses its substantial power to demean the lower class. They are descriptive of the social classes in America then during the Black liberation movements.
However the animals in the animal farm, they are not able to rise beyond the challenges of this social stratification and tyranny, they are depicted to ruin the very society they struggled to liberate finally. Unlike those animals, humans in the looking back book are described to finally rise against this stratification and secure themselves both social and economic liberation. They are illustrated to have closed up the employment gap by averaging the job verse payment disparity across all classes and introduced measures to curb poverty and average the social, economic standards for all.
On another matter, both these books were written towards some political perspective both at the real level and contextual level. However, at the onset, the main character in the Animal Farm Napoleon, is depicted to be a good leader who champions the voices of the animals but ones in power his character changes to a dictator who usurps power and abuses it to his selfish gain. But there is no indication in the book that he is hypocritical at the beginning, but his aftermath sends signals that he could have been pretending to be a good leader from the beginning only to have his character come alive after usurping power. Moreover, the literal level of interpretation in this book was based on the revolution that was sought to liberate the animals but ends up bringing the rise of Napoleon who becomes a tyrant and introduces lawlessness. At the contextual level, it was meant to depict the Soviet Union that evoked a revolution that was purposed to bring an end to social injustices but ended up putting Stalin into power. Stalin introduced the Stalinism (an ideology that idolized him as the face of the Soviet Union and brought communism to place that created the powerful and elite classes’ versus the poor and voiceless.
Similarly, the Looking back book illustrates how Mr.Lette a classical example is depicted to be a socialist. He seeks the use of his reason towards the good of the community but also depicted as embroiled in the class difference ideology (segregates his wife and considers her ill-equipped to use her reason towards any good in the community). He sees her as an object only capable of the love emotion only and material pleasure but not productive application of reason which was substantial for the development of the human society. This biasedness is contextualized in the USA social inequality prevalent then. It indicated how the various social classes in America had disfranchised one another off the fundamental rights and quality of standard living; no wonder the book advocates for naturalization of all peoples, a move that sought to balance those social and economic disparities. It’s for this reason that the book was quoted in many of the Marxist writings.
Moreover, some incidents provoke the perspectives of the main characters in both these books. In the Animal Farm book, there are two incidents; the death of Mr. Old Major that created the power vacuum that caused the pigs to usurp it and the consequent destruction of the windmill (a status symbol that led Napoleon to kill Snowball). The pigs had cunningly mobilized the animals to painstakingly use the windmill for their own (pigs) gain, but when it was destroyed, Napoleon turned to being a ruthless tyrant. Similarly in the Looking Back book, the incident where Julian West sleeps and wakes up to find a revolutionized America prompts his perspective on how things have changed both positively and negatively in the social, economic platform.
These incidents influence the way the two societies in the two books end up. In the animal farm book; usurping of power, consequent murder of Snowball and introduction of a corrupt, lawless regime leads to the dysfunctionality of the community the animals had fought to attain. The laws they had put to place were disregarded and the collapse of sanity. Similarly, in the other book, the social, economic revolution in America eventually leads to the glorification of materialism and the indignification of work. People ended up being corrupt, and the show of success was based on wealth other than the values of hard work, these are the utopian communities. Money and modernization glorified immorality, and the values of decent ethical living were eroded.
After studying these two books, one gains the insight that though power is a vital part in the governance of a community or country, its entrapping can lead to the vices of tyranny and dictatorship. We learn that Modernization isn’t always the road to a better life because with it comes the very temptations towards materialism and capitalism which erode the dignity of man. Just as the two writers put it in their ways: power can be corrupting if not well managed; many regimes have collapsed because selfish individual sought power for its sake but not for the right of the communities that entrusted them with it. Therefore for a community to grow, all people must be included in the governing process and power should be considered as a means to good governance but not to the development of a few.
Bellamy, Edward, and Robert L. Shartor. Looking Backward: 1887-2000. Modern Library, 1951.a
Orwell, George. Animal farm. Vol. 31. Penguin UK, 2000.