Original Research

George Orwell's Animal Farm: A metonym for a dictatorship

H. Sewlall
Literator | Vol 23, No 3 | a344 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v23i3.344 | © 2002 H. Sewlall | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2002 | Published: 06 August 2002

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H. Sewlall, Vista University Distance Education Campus, Pretoria, South Africa

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Abstract

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is traditionally read as a satire on dictatorships in general, and the Bolshevik Revolution in particular. This article postulates the notion that the schema of the book has attained the force of metonymy to such an extent that whenever one alludes to the title of the book or some lines from it, one conjures up images associated with a dictatorship. The title of the book has become a part of the conceptual political lexicon of the English language to refer to the corruption of a utopian ideology. As an ideological state, Animal Farm has its vision, which is embedded in its constitution; it has the vote, a national anthem and a flag. It even has its patriots, double-dealers, social engineers and lechers. In this way the title Animal Farm, like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, or Thomas More’s Utopia, functions metonymically to map a conceptual framework which matches the coordinates of the book. The article concludes with a look at contemporary society to show how Orwell’s satire endorses the words of Lord Acton, namely, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Keywords

Animal Farm; George Orwell; Cognitive Framework; Metonym For A Dictatorship; Political Discourse

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