It’s the year 1935 in a fairly large but poor village in Belgian-colonized Congo known as Piok. The village is located in the southeastern region of the Kivu province near present-day Fizi. The village was taken over by King Leopold II as part of the Free Congo State which had no affiliation with any political government. King Leopold II of the Belgians had taken control of Congo during the Berlin Conference when 14 European countries met up to discuss how to create peace between European nations in Congo. During his reign, there was lots of abuse and many deaths which attracted criticism from European press. In 1908, both diplomatic and public pressure lead to King Leopold II’s loss of control of Congo. The Belgian Parliament then voted to make Congo a Belgian colony. Treatment of the Congolese was still horrible. In fact, men who couldn’t produce enough rubber would have their wife or children’s hands cut off. While this was going on, there were large waves of Belgians moving into Congo. This enraged the Congolese particularly those in Piok, where a group of Belgians had moved in. Some of the Belgians disapproved of the treatment they witnessed, especially Maxime Maes. The violations became undeniable and somebody had to take action. Without a doubt, the Belgian government was soon to face opposition in Piok.
The two main themes that will be reflected in this iteration of the Animal Farm are that “Ideologies of Liberation Often lead to Tyrannies” and ” Education is Important for a Society”. Both of these themes are extremely prevalent in George Orwell’s novella and they will be used to portray the dangers of destabilization in power and the importance of a literate, intelligent, and mindful society.
Ideologies of Liberation Often Lead to Tyrannies
The first theme that will be explored is how ideologies of liberation often lead to tyrannies. With the Belgians in Piok generating massive energy among Piok natives over liberation and freedom, they become a very powerful force that overthrows official Belgian control in the village. After liberating the village however, conflicts arise between humanitarian activist Maxime Maes and Lukas De Smit over who should now rule the village. Lukas ends up driving out Maxime and seizes absolute control of Piok and all it’s inhabitants. This plays out just like the animals overthrowing Mr. Jones and Napoleon driving out Snowball to establish total control of Animal Farm/Manor Farm.
Education is Important for a Society
The overwhelming majority of Congolese in Piok are uneducated and illiterate. Their lack of education gives them a very basic overview of the world that leads to Lukas being unquestioned no matter what he does. Throughout his regime, Lukas commits numerous violations and makes large alteration’s to Piok’s constitution with practically no rebellion or questioning against his actions. The general Piokians’ (symbolized by the sheep) ignorance leaves Lukas unchallenged and gives him the impression that he can do whatever he wants and say whatever he wants without any risk because it will simply pass by. Had the general populous been more educated, the acts that Lukas committed against Piokians would’ve probably been prevented.
Mankind in this iteration is represented as the Belgian elite. They are seen as responsible for the horrible conditions that they forced Piokans into. The only interests that the elite hold are money and power. They hold no sympathy for the people who are working their fields and rubber stations. Piokans very strongly oppose them and hoped to overthrow them and kill them.
Mr. Jones symbolizes a rich Belgian business tycoon by the name of Ronald Duchetele. Ronald is very powerful and has very close connections with Belgian Prime Minister Count Charles de Broqueville whom he uses to leverage his profits and avoid taxes. A majority of Belgian work sites in Congo are owned by Mr. Duchetele, and he has little to no care about how he gets his money as long as it gets to his pockets.
The Pigs symbolize a group of middle-class Belgians who moved to Piok in 1933 and initially faced lots of attack and hate. After observing living and working conditions in Piok, some of these Belgians began to create a link with the Piokans and were eventually seen by them as allies and comrades. This group initially led and inspired the revolution but as time went on, they were the very reason of it’s corruption.
Old Major symbolizes Elder Mjdore, the oldest and wisest man of the group. Mjdore was the first and only person in the beginning to bring the poor treatment to the attention of the Belgians. Over in Belgium, he was a political philosopher who worked alongside the other major political thinkers of his time to deal with the political calamities of the first World War.
Napoleon symbolizes Lukas de Smit in this iteration. Lukas was Maxime’s main political opposition once the Belgian government was overthrown from Piok. Although Lukas had ideas that would hurt Piok, he took advantage of the village’s lack of education to drive out Maxime and take full control of the people as he violated the rebellions fundamental principles.
Snowball symbolizes a Belgian humanitarian activist by the name of Maxime Maes. Maxime could be called the “fire of the rebellion”. His intentions were good and his ideas were aimed to help and support the people. Maxime would act as the main general in battles and was very politically active against his opposition. He strongly believed in the fundamentals of equality and justice that the rebellion initially stood for and represented those ideas until he was ultimately driven out by Lukas.
Squealer symbolizes the radio station Lukas had set up in the village. The villagers would all gather around radios to hear what would be said. The messages revolved around loyalty to Lukas and his greatness. Also if anything controversial came up against Lukas or his decisions, the radio station was quick to justify the actions and decisions Lukas made. Because of the lack of education among Piokans, the radio station had a serious effect and was a major tool for Lukas’s regime.
The horses symbolize a large, hard-working, uneducated family known as the Ndayes. The Ndayes are responsible for most of the labor production in Piok and are a major asset for Lukas.
Boxer symbolizes the hard-working male young men in Piok. He represent honor, valor, dedication, and obliviousness. This group pumps out so much for the city just to take care of their families. They are also very physically powerful and loyal to authority which makes them the perfect tool for Lukas to take advantage of.
The dogs symbolize the Force Publique aka Lukas’s enforcers. They are a group of locally assembled young villagers that Lukas had trained and kidnapped. The Force Publique helped drive out Maxime from the village and enforce Lukas’s regime into Piok and instill fear into it’s people. Without the support of the Force Publique, it’s likely that Lukas wouldn’t have the totalitarian control he had on Piok.
Animal Farm/Manor Farm
Animal/Manor Farm symbolizes Piok. Just like Animal Farm, Piok is an area with many other similar areas surrounding it. Piok is located on the southeastern side of the Kivu province as stated earlier. Before the village was taken over by foreigners, it was a large, poor, and humble agricultural village that thrived from local waterways. Once foreigners came in, the village experienced abuse and exploitation of it’s natural landscape.
The farmhouse symbolizes a large Belgian official’s manor along the outskirts of the village. It would take too many resources to destroy it so the Piokans and Belgians of the Rebellion vowed to not use it in their constitution. However, Lukas ended up using the manor as his own personal abode for him and the Belgians by altering the initial constitution.