#24 A Man For All Seasons

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This is the story of a man who was constantly tempted by society. The story is set in sixteenth-century England, where King Henry VIII is trying to get a divorce form his wife. This book was written by Robert Bolt.

While this book encompasses many characters, I feel that there is only one main character,  Sir Thomas More. He was a man who had a firm belief in his religion and the principles which came with it. He was born with the idea that you must be faithful to God and unboxing to anything that would go against those morals and principles. When he was challenged, though, he used cool logic and sound judgment to persuade his adversary of his point of view. He is the ideal lawyer and, interestingly he actually was a lawyer.

At the beginning of the story, Sir Thomas’ world is surrounded by enforced peace. Everyone is a little apprehensive after the War of the Roses, but not King Henry. He goes to Sir Thomas to ask him for his approval of a divorce, but of course due to Sir Thomas’ principles he tries to dissuade the King. Then Sir Thomas’ daughter brings back a suitor, but the problem is that this man is ungrounded in his beliefs and in anything else. He has what Sir Thomas would call a “Convenient Conscience.” Then the King decides to go against the Catholic Church and gets a divorce, throwing England into upheaval. Everyone is trying to pick sides, but the consequence of disagreeing with the king is death. Directly after the King decides to leave the Church, he goes to More, and asks for his opinion. More disagrees and is sent to prison for a year, before he is called to court. While in court, he puts up a good fight, but is in the end sent to an untimely end.

I believe that while this book may not be a hard read, it takes a hard reader to  learn the lessons which it teaches about strong consciences and morals. I believe that this book is for all ages, but it teaches all of them a different lesson.


#23 Animal Farm

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Animal Farm is the story and revelation of a deficient Russian Communism. The story features animals with a sense of politics, and a complete farm of creatures who struggle to decide what they want. It chronicles how just laws were changed into corrupt laws, how equality was turned into a dictatorship, how a man’s and a boar’s dream for a perfect society turned into an inhuman form of slavery, masked by the freedom the animals/citizens thought they had. They so believed that anything was better than Jones/Czar Nicholas II that they did notn’t realize that by the time they realized they were suffering from the worst oppression it was too late. Animal Farm is the story of how historically and theologically people/animals see their society, whether they know it’s bad – and don’t think it can get better – or are too stupid to even comprehend how bad it is for them.

IOn Animal Farm, there are many connections to the Soviet Union, to America, and to Europe. While many of these are important, there are two connections which really stand out to me. Napoleon-Ruler of Animal Farm is a representation of Stalin- the Ruler of Communist Russia- and Old Major, the creator of Animalism, stands in for Karl Marx, the creator of Communism- are the ones which shaped the book and history. Napoleon/Stalin, who started Communism/Animalism and ruined it for everyone else, used his power to teach the young, but they neglected the old animal’s/people’s intelligence. Old Major/Karl Marx shaped the world, but Napoleon/Stalin ruined it.

Old Major/Karl Marx had the best intent, but not the lifespan to bring it to fruition. TheyHe  even had the same message, to some extent. They believed that if the “workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains” (Karl Marx). Old Major knew that “man was the only creature that consumes without producing” (pg 7). He saw that, through animalism, they could reach a utopia of sorts, but he did notjust didn’t last long enough to help enforce it. Karl Marx knew that there was a way to make a perfect society. He created a perfect society where everyone was equal, but he had no people to put in it, and no one to enforce it once he was gone. Karl Marx and Old Major had hopes for a more equal society,  but sadly their most devout follower/followers were the ones who ruined their creation.

Napoleon and Stalin were radical Communists and Animalists. They appeared to have an accurate understanding  of Communism/Animalism at the beginning. They knew though that the voters weren’t the ones that decided, but “the people who count the votes decide everything” (Stalin). Everyone conformed to their ways at the beginning because they believed in them, but then they summoned the dogs/KGB to protect them. By using this “Big Stick” tactic they forced the animals/humans to accept their “explanations without any further questions” (pg 59). When they had completely dominated the population they started turning it towards fascism, in which  only they benefited from the fruits of other’s labors. Napoleon and Stalin followed Old Major and Karl Marx’s theory, until they got power hungry, and desperately wanted more and more, until they were only thinking of themselves.

In Animal Farm, the animals seem to have a strict theological code, which is changed bit by bit so that they don’t even notice. A great man once said, “if you boil a frog slowly, it will just sit there and die” (Kevin Peloquin). The animals on Animal Farm are slowly being turned towards a darker perspective of the original good/moral Commandments. Most of the animals were good, but the pigs got power hungry. Everyone remembered Jones’ time as the worst time possible, but they were too blind to see that what they had in that moment was worse than it had ever been. All the animals had an ideal perspective. The other reason they thought that everything was better was that they couldn’t even remember anything about Jones’ time. They felt as though they should be proud that they were being run by pigs, but they were hungrier than they had ever been. The animals could have overthrown the pigs, and governed themselves better than they were being governed. All the animals, the book wants you to believe, deserved to be treated fairly, but what the pigs did was so abusive that the animals were blind to how abused they were. So, once more, at the start of Animal Farm we see the way life ought to be, but with the changing of the rules and the fact that they thought everything was better since Jones’ time they turned away from the ideal society.

At the beginning of the revolution on Animal Farm all animals knew that “all animals are created equal” (pg 25), but this was slowly perverted until “Some are more equal than others” (pg 134). The pigs were once good and fair, but once they changed one rule, they felt some compulsion to change all the rules. With the breaking of “no animal shall sleep in a bed” (pg 25), to “no animal shall wear clothes” (pg 25) the pigs slowly become more and more human. When they break the last commandment, they become fully human. The animals know good from bad, but then the lines became blurred, and they became hungry, and scared, and looking for the pigs to save them, but the pigs weren’t really pigs anymore.

All the animals felt as though Jones was the worst it could possibly be, but because the pigs were animals too, they thought that they would be good, but in the end they were worse than every other farmer in England. Part of the reason that they thought everything was getting better and better is because of Squealer, or the propaganda he set up. He made them think that everything was “getting better and better” (pg 130). Another example is that they feared the dogs, but they also understood that the dogs were a technology  of power, which made the pigs think they were stronger than they actually were. The most important thing that made the animals think everything was better was that they couldn’t remember.

Animal Farm is the story of animals with a dream. “There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, so that they could fight the battles that the animals never could.” Those heroes were the pigs, but they failed. They turned corrupt in their thirst for power, and control over the Animal Farm. The pigs had strong views about what they thought of their history, and of the historical bounds of their story, , but no man or animal can hold out against the pull of power. They were changed for the worse, and no one could do anything to stop them because they were to helpless. At first, then, Animal Farm was communist, then it was fascist, but one thing it will always be is this: Animal farm will always be the first farm to be owned and run by just animals.