Enemy and Us Essay

“Enemy and Us” is a popular theme in literature of the XX century used a prototype of totalitarian and communist societies. Authors use this theme to unveil social differences and discrepancies of political systems dominated during the XX century. In the works “Animal Farm” by Orwell and “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Atwood authors criticize totalitarianism of all types. Thesis The remarkable feature of both works is that Orwell and Atwood depict events, experience, time, memories through different “frames” and symbols to force the reader to think over deeply the message of the novels.

The societies in both works create a symbol of enemy which contradicts with established political social system of their worlds. For instance, in “Animal Farm” such themes as a masters’ house and beds, surveillance equipment and television have ulterior motives unveiled throughout the novel. “Animal Farm” presents the reader with different problems than did Orwell’s earlier novels, in large part because of Orwell’s choice of narrative technique (Hamlen 2000). Similar to this novel, Atwood portrays that life of all women are strictly controlled by the society and an “Eye”.

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Harvard University is transformed to a detention center which controls circulation of ideas and ‘identity enemies’. Critics explain that “Atwood gives us all the hallmarks of a totalitarian society: public spectacle as means of control, the two-minute hate and Hate Week, and the Salvaging and Prayvaganza. The fear of spies and betrayal are constants: Handmaids part with the phrase “Under His Eye,” (Feuer 84). The main similarity of both works is that the police in “The Handmaid’s Tale” and animals in “Animal Farm” need an enemy, both tangible and imaginary, to prove their usefulness and control function.

The societies do not control everything in the sense of their having been able to create a rational and well-functioning political-economic system and to ensure that every citizen displayed the desired pattern of behavior. But in terms of pure power preservation the police do in fact acquire a high degree of control, in so far as it is capable of eliminating all threats to political position and of plunging society into a series of radical and dramatic upheavals without being stopped by efficient opposition.

Orwell describes imaginary enemy: “Comrades,” he said quietly, “do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL! ” he suddenly roared in a voice of thunder” (Orwell). In both societies, in critical situations the control bodies quite consciously chose to create a certain amount of political chaos precisely in order to cement their own position of power and accept some chaos and disorganization as the necessary price of achieving other, more important goals.

For instance, in Atwood describes: “If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off” (Atwood 125). In “The Handmaid’s Tale”, an image of enemy is able to carry through so vast a transformation, affecting women and forcing them to change their traditional way of life and determining from above both their life-style and values, cannot be considered ‘weak’. Seen from this point of view, ‘tangible enemy’ is treated as ordinary phenomena.

This conclusion is in no way contradicted by the abundant evidence of the disorder that surrounded exercise of power. Feuer (1997) admits that “Thus the eye is a continuing image in The Handmaid’s Tale, from the name of the secret police to the symbol tattooed on Offred’s ankle” (84). Chaos and disorder — a direct consequence of the social and economic transformation effected by Gilead leadership — did indeed disturb the regime. But they were considered infinitely less harmful than any form of organized resistance, and had therefore only to be kept within certain limits.

Offred says about Moira: “I don’t want her to be like me. Give in, go along, save her skin… I want gallantry from her, swashbuckling heroism. Something I lack. ” (327). Moira understands that the only way for women is to fight against dominance. Nevertheless, women possess an immense strength, and confidence, which is perhaps among their greatest attraction. The other similarity between both works is that ‘imaginable’ enemy is created in opposition to the majority of the society. To some extent, it embodies ephemeral strength of the ruling party.

They symbolize the present time and, to some extent, symbolize the structure of the society with the party on the top. In both works ‘imaginable’ enemy is depicted as a threat to social order and control (Hamlen 2000). The main difference between the works is the form of separation and isolation of ‘enemies’ from the majority. For instance, in “The Handmaid’s Tale”, undesired persons are sent to “Colonies” in order to separate them from the society. “We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. It gave us more freedom” (Atwood 137).

In contrast, in “Animal Farm” both tangible and imaginable enemies are excluded from the society and production: “the enemy both external and internal has been defeated. In ‘Beasts of England’ we expressed our longing for a better society in days to come. But that society has now been established” (Orwell). Differentiation between men’s experiences and women’s is the essential feature of these events, for it gives to the adventure its specific meaning as a rite of passage. Such a rite always involves an act of exclusion. The dominance of police is encouraged by two factors.

First, given the problems confronted by Commanders, the underdeveloped state of the bureaucratic apparatus, the high expectations from above and the potential penalties for failure, working with people one knew and trusted is a logical response. Personal connections are a way of limiting reliance on the inefficient structure, and thereby potentially of increasing the likelihood of decisions being implemented. Second, if despite this, police performance does not meet expectations, and local failures has therefore to be concealed from the centre, the existence of an unofficial local network of leaders would facilitate this.

If such a network remained solid and could control the upward information flow, images of enemies are created and popularized by police. In “Animal Farm” leaders (Napoleon, Squealer and Snowball) at each level looked to people higher up the structure for support and protection. But such considerations rested less on policy views than on person. The tension between the personal principle and pressures for organizational norms is a major factor structuring the way in which the mechanism of power functioned. “The enemy was in occupation of this very ground that we stand upon.

And now–thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon–we have won every inch of it back again! ” (Orwell). It creates an ambiguity within the structure’s operating regime by complicating the questions of authority and functioning which should be more important in the definition of politico-administrative life, personal principle or organizational norms. Critics (Hamlen 2000) explain that “Napoleon does not have absolute authority and must earn the tolerance of his policies by the other members of the society, in this example Boxer.

He does this in the Machiavellian tradition by implementing uniform, egalitarian principles in those areas that are more observable while reserving his self-enhancing preferential policies for less observable areas” (942). The invention of the enemy might just be a response to the internal requirements of both societies. Hatred and enmity appear as attributes of groups and group interaction. For instance, in “Animal Farm” animals sum up: “There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word–Man.

Man is the only real enemy we have” (Orwell). It is possible to say that social aggression is the result of aggregated individual hatred, but the specific mix of this aggression is determined by a special group dynamic, i. e. , by certain behavioral patterns of individuals belonging to and acting as members of a group. The image if a tangible enemy is depicted as: “man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits” (Orwell).

For instance in “The Handmaid’s Tale”, enemy creates the emotional satisfaction of affiliation, and this induces individuals to accept group values and group stereotypes. Conflict among society and dissidents is considered to strengthen group cohesiveness and reduce tension and deviation within the group (Feuer 1997). In “The Handmaid’s Tale” Atwood depicts that women live in an “iron cage” created by men. Both characters, Moira and Offred, have the same attitude towards oppression. But the way they choose to resist differs greatly.

Moira is a rebellious person who does not want to wait for better days. She knows perfectly well that she could be hanged, nevertheless she decides to escape Red Center. In contrast, Offred prefers not to fight against circumstances, but tries to find the best way for her to survive. She learns how to manipulate men and overcome mental oppression. The case of “Animal Farm” shows that concerning imaginary enemy images, the most important behavioral pattern of groups is in-group/out-group discrimination. Members of a group react with a decided bias toward alien groups.

This bias is sustained by a set of stereotype assumptions about the attributes of the members own group as contrasted to those of others. Orwell shows that there exists within a group a certain pressure for value conformity among its members that helps to sustain the group’s identity. Threat perception will intensify this pressure and produce a clear differentiation between friends and enemies. Those members who do not concur will be threatened with sanctions. Such reactions might explain how group integration is being improved by stigmatizing out-groups as enemies.

The possibility of functionalizing enmity for group cohesion seems to be one of the reasons which make the propagation of enemy images attractive for group leaders, Napoleon and Snowball. The individual’s choice of enemy images depends on personal preferences for ideologies, persons, and the person’s status within society. On the other hand, “Animal Farm” shows that discrimination against out-group members can be blocked by strategies of fairness that individuals develop to attain a positive social identity. The Handmaid’s Tale”, exploiting enemy images might provide short-term integrative advantages with long-term results. In addition, the functional value of imaginable enemy created fro group cohesion, although certainly important, is evident. A successful integrative group strategy relies more on positive group aims than on negative differentiation toward others. Gilead shows that society constructs “social norms” as a supposedly eternal basis for a new collective identity of society through recourse to common history and language. There is more than one kind of freedom… Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it” (Atwood 101). While the perception of an external threat weakens and the feeling of a common identity diminishes, images of the internal enemy have a high priority in all these endeavors of group construction. In sum, “enemies” of all sorts served as scapegoats when the invention of “society” is used to overcome the destabilizing effects of social transformation.

An important aspect of this “imagined community” is inclusion and exclusion, the naming of the in-group and the out-group. The idea of a common language and culture is propagated by the elite in their endeavors to legitimate their demand for political unity. Both works show that tangible and imaginary enemies help to control society and create a feeling of fear and terror. Only a notion and idea of ‘the common enemy’ or “enemy and us” gives control over masses and helps to guide and direct their behavior.


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