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It is the history of a revolution that went wrong — and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine’, wrote Orwell in the original blurb for the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945. His simple and tragic fable has become a world-famous classic of English prose.
George Orwell is the pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair. The change of the name corresponded to a profound shift in Orwell’s life-style, in which he changed from a pillar of the British imperial establishment into a literary and political rebel.
Orwell is famous for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four. In 1944 Orwell finished Animal Farm, a political fable based on the story of the Russian Revolution and its betrayal by Joseph Stalin. In this book the group of barnyard animals overthrow and chase off their exploitative human masters and set up an egalitarian society of their own. Eventually the animals intelligent and power-loving leaders, the pigs, subvert the revolution and form a dictatorship whose bondage is even more oppressive a heartless than that of their former masters.
Orwell derived his inspiration from the mood of Britain in the ‘40s. Animal Farm confronted the unpalatable truth that the victory over Fascism would in some respects unwittingly aid the advance of totalitarianism , while in Nineteen Eighty-four warns the dangers to the individual of enroaching collectivism. In these last, bleak fables Orwell attempted to make the art of political writing in the traditions of Swift and Defoe. The most world-known Gulliver’s Travels. This satire? First published in 1726, relates to the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon on a merchant ship, and it shows the vices and defects of man and human institutions. So far as satire has become the subject of our research-work, it is necessary we look at the nature and sources of comic.
What is comic? Similar considerations apply to the historically earlier forms and theories of the comic. In Aristotle’s view ‘laughter was intimately related to ugliness and debasement’. Cicero held that the province of the ridiculous lay in the certain baseness and deformity. In 19th century Alexander Bain, an early experimental psychologist, thought alone these lines ‘not in physical effects alone, but in everything where a man can achieve a stroke of superiority, in surpassing or discomforting a rival is the disposition of laughter apparent.’ Sidney notes that ‘while laughter comes from delight not all objects of delight cause laugh. We are ravished in delight to see a fair woman and yet are far from being moved to laughter. We laugh at deformed creatures, wherein certainly we can delight’. Immanuel Kant realized that what causes laughter is ‘the sudden transformation of a tense expectation into nothing’. This can be achieved by incongruity between form and content, it is when two contradictory statements have been telescoped into a line whose homely, admonitory sound conveys the impression of a popular adage. In a similar way nonsense verse achieves its effect by pretending to make sense. It is interesting to note that the most memorable feature of Animal Farm — the final revision of the animals revolutionary commandments: ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’, is based on that device.
Other sources of innocent laughter are situations in which the part and the home change roles and attention becomes focused on a detail torn out of the functional defect on which its meaning depends. ‘A bird’s wing, comrades, is an organ of propulsion not of manipulation’. Orwell displaces attention from meaning to spelling. One of the most popular comic devices is impersonation. The most aggressive form of impersonation is parody, designed to deflate hollow pretense, to destroy illusion and to undermine pathos by harping on the weaknesses of the victim. Orwell resorts to that device describing Squealer:’ The best known among them was a small fat pig named Squealer with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker:’
A succession of writers from the ancient Greek dramatist Aristophanes through Swift to George Orwell, have used this technique to focus attention on deformities of society that, blunted by habit , are taken for granted. Satire assumes standards against which professions and practices vicious, the ironic perception darkens and deepens. The element of the incongruous point in the direction of the grotesque which implies an admixture of elements that do not march. The ironic gaze eventually penetrates to a vision of the grotesque quality of experience, marked by the discontinuity of word and deed and the total lack of coherence between the appearance and reality. This suggests one of the extreme limits of comedy, the satiric extreme in which the sense of the discrepancy between things as they are and things they might be or ought to be has reached to the borders of the tragedy.
Early theories of humor, including even those of Bergson and Freud, treated it as an isolated phenomenon, without attempting to throw light on the intimate connections between the comic and tragic, between laughter and crying. Yet these two domains of creative activity form a continuum with no sharp boundaries between wit and ingenuity. The confrontation between diverse codes of behavior may yield comedy, tragedy or new psychological insights. Humor arouses malice and provides a harmless outlet for it. Comedy and tragedy, laughter and weeping yields further clues of this challenging problem. The detached malice of the comic impersonator that turns pathos into bathos, tragedy into travesty. Comedy is an imitation of common errors of our life, which representeth in the most ridiculous and scornful sorts that may be.
Surely satire reflects changes in political and cultural climate and it had it’s ups and downs. George Orwell’s satire of the 20th century is much more savage than that of Jonathan Swift in 18th century. It is only in the mid 20th century that the savage and the irrational have come to be viewed as part of the normative condition of the humanity rather than as tragic aberration from it. The savage and irrational amount to grotesque parodies of human possibility, ideally conceived. Thus it is the 20th century novelists have recognized the tragicomic nature of the contemporary human image and predicament, and the principal mode of representing both is the grotesque. This may take various forms. In Animal Farm it takes a form of apocalyptic nightmare of tyranny and terror.
The satire in Animal Farm has two important aims — both based on the related norms of limitation and moderation. First, Animal Farm exposes and criticizes extremist political attitudes as dangerous. On the one hand, it satirizes the mentality of the utopian revolutionary — the belief at through the conscious effort of a ruling elite a society can be suddenly severed from its past and fashioned into a new, rational system. Implicit in Snowball’s vision of high technology modernization is the extirpation of the animals’ resent agricultural identity as domesticated creatures and — if Boxer’s goal of improving his mind is any indication , their eventual transformation into Houyhnhnms. Instead, Snowball’s futuristic incantations conjure up the power-hungry and pleasure-loving Napoleon.
An allegorical view of reality – the thing said or displayed really meaning something else—suited the Marxist-oriented social criticism of the 1930s,which was indefatigable in pointing out an economically self-serving motives underlying the surface features of modern bourgeois society. One form of allegory is the masque, a spectacle with masked participants.
Analyzing the novel we can hardly determine comedy from tragedy. We can’t find those sharp boundaries which divide these two. Orwell can be called the true expert of man’s psychology. Cause only a man who studied psychology of the crowd could create such a vivid image of characters, which we see in Animal Farm. Describing the characters Orwell attaches great significance to the direct remarks which help the reader to determine who is the victim and who is hunter in the novel. The features of the animals are : ‘A white stripe down his nose gave him somewhat stupid appearance’, ‘Mollie , foolish, pretty white mare’. Stupidity becomes a kind of leitmotif in the description of the animals. Pigs on the contrary are represented as very clever animals: ‘the pigs were so clever that they could think of the way round every difficulty’, ‘with their superior knowledge...’
The author creates the image of the crowd which plays a very important role in the novel. What is a crowd? This is not only mass of individuals if to look deeper from the psychological point of view we shall find out that crowd is a gathering of people under the definite conditions which has its traits, which differ from that of single individual. The conscious person disappears , besides feelings and ideas of everyone who forms that gathering which is called crowd, receive united , indivisible direction. Orwell ridiculed that vice of the society. In this respect it takes the form of innocent laughter. Old Major found an answer to all problems of the animals and opened the thing on which ‘the support and pleasure’ of their days depend on. ‘It is summed up in a single word— Man. Man is the only real enemy we have’. That episode makes the reader laugh but at the same time this very moment can be considered the tragic one, as the victim of the crowd has been chosen and pointed out and now nothing can stop the proces. 'It is not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the ivels of the life of ours spring ffrom the tyrany of human beings? Only get rid of
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