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Essay: Literary works Animal Farm and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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A government is a system or organization whose purpose is to govern and authorize a community. The characteristics of a government reflect the collective outlooks of all those part of the society. By understanding and evaluating the different forms of government and their formation one can gain a perspective on the mindsets of the society. Reading the texts, Animal Farm and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, has improved my metacognitive skills by making me aware of how present day governing systems function and came to be. By analyzing the medias, I gained knowledge and developed a relevant perspective on medieval philosophies regarding abstract topics like Utopia. In Animal Farm, a dystopian society is showed through a group of intelligentsia governing naïve animals, uniting them based on their common hatred towards humans while in Fullmetal Alchemist, dystopia is conveyed through the overpowering military and infiltrated fear of authority which gained popularity in the Ishvalan war. The literary works are written through different perspectives themselves and conveyed through different forms of media which can greatly influence the perspective of the reader. It plays a significant role in the formation of personal opinions regarding the themes and genres of the works. Animal Farm is written in third-person omniscient where the narrator is simply overlooking the events to give a very factual and unbiased account. This allows the reader to devise their own judgments, separate from that of the narrator. In Fullmetal Alchemist, which is a work of visual content in anime, the narrator’s perspective is conveyed using filming techniques like color, iconography, shots and angles.
Historical Context
Even though Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is more recent than Animal Farm, both stories are set to implicate events from the same period of time but in different countries.
Animal Farm was written by the infamous author George Orwell whose works focused on political dystopia due to repression that remained when he wrote the novel. Animal farm is a political Satire where the Russian Revolution is criticized for having no effect on the lifestyle of the poor. The animals in the book are an allegory for leaders and key roles in the Russian revolution and formation of the United Soviet Socialist Republic. The story begins with the banishing of Mr. Jones who represents Czar Nicholas the 2nd and the overthrow of monarchy with the rise of Karl Marx’s philosophy of communism like Old Majors words of wisdom. The intelligentsia is led by Napoleon who aligns with Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Russian revolution. Snowball is a representative of Leon Trotsky, who like Snowball was exiled from the community. Napoleon like Stalin reinforced totalitarianism which made the system not any better than that under the rule of Mr. Jones. Stalin’s purge for all those who opposed is similar to Napoleon’s killing of the animals who sided with Snowball. The multiple alliances with foreign nations under Stalin are also showed when Napoleon trades with Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime series written by Hiroshi Onogi and Yuashiro Irie and is adapted form the manga by Hiromi Arakawa. Arakawa is behind the story of the series and to analyze her story will help in understanding the historical context. Arakawa was a feminist who aimed to defy all stereotypes that girls cannot write action manga or shonen manga. Her drawing is influenced by the great manga artist Rumiko Takahashi. Her inspiration for the book came from her life as a farmer, learning about the philosopher’s stone and fascination from Europe during the industrial revolution. She has influenced her characters and backgrounds from different countries like the streets are often like those of London during the Victorian era, and clothes from France but the biggest influence is seen in the plot which is a lot like Germany in the 19th and 20th century. Like Germany during the that time, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood shows dictatorship with an overpowering military where the head of military, Fuhrer King Bradley, is the leader of the nation, Adolf Hitler. It shows the wiping out of an entire race, Ishvalan war, like Hitler’s aim to terminate Jews during the Holocaust. Amestris is constantly at war for expansion much like 19th century Germany. The series also focuses on human experimentation in the form of human transmutation which can be compared to human experimentation in the Nazi Human Experimentation camps.
Big 5
Animal Farm is a novella written in the twentieth century, following the ideas of communism during the Russian Revolution. It starts with a motivational speech by Old Major, a wise boar, inspiring the animals to fight back against the cruelty they face by attacking Mr. Jones, the farmer. The plot begins after Old Major’s death which led to the battle of the cowsheds against Mr. Jones and his men uniting all the animals, giving birth to Animalism and the its seven Commandment. The plot thickens when Napoleon exiles Snowball and steals his ideas about the windmill. Napoleon and Squealer convince everyone that Snowball was against them the entire time and uses Snowball as a tool to gain power and command. The next crucial turn occurs when Napoleon forces animals to “confess” into siding with Snowball and orders their death mercilessly through the dogs (military). Similar instances that prove the rising totalitarianism occur and lead to multiple climaxes like the pigs drinking and Boxer dying. The story begins to wrap up as the animals lose hope and the pigs morph into humans and prove that they are intelligentsia that ended up relying on totalitarianism while trying to move past it into communism.
The first ten episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is crucial in introducing the characters and providing a background story through flashbacks and narrative expositions. Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, and Alphonse Elric are brothers who embark upon a journey at the age of 12 and 11 respectively when Edward became a state alchemist or the dogs of the military. In the first ten episodes they resolve many conflicts, the more interesting and prominent dealing with a man named Scar who is of Ishvalan roots, a race of people who were wiped out in war like Jews during the Holocaust; Cornello, the ruler of a city called Lior where he manipulated the people with alchemy using the philosophers stone and Alexander Tucker, a state alchemist who practiced human experimentation to turn his daughter into a chimera. We are also introduced to the main antagonist the homunculi in specific Envy, Lust and Gluttony in a battle in the fifth laboratory and Hughes assassination
The literary works Animal Farm and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are aimed to communicate complicated ideas and topics in a way that is easy to understand and relate to while being able to entertain the readers. As the author of Animal Farm, George Orwell, said “I though of exposing the Soviet Union myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages”, perfectly summarizing the purpose of the novella. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was adapted from the manga into a TV series to provide an opaquer perspective and bring life to the characters Arakawa wrote about.
Both Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Animal Farm cater to the same age category, expanding from about eleven years. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an action series or more commonly known in Japan as a shonen, action manga written for teenage boys. It first released in magazines and was later made into a TV series. It grew despite having been written by a woman. It was socially frowned upon to have a woman writer so Hiromi Arakawa chose the male pen name of Hiromu Arakawa for the success of the manga. George Orwell wrote Animal Farm for the general public of USSR or the United Soviet Socialist Republic and the younger generations to portray the flaws of the leftist movement of communism despite identifying as a leftist. He was condemned upon by other liberals for his honesty in the book.
Animal Farm is a novella or a short novel to stay direct, concise and helps objectivity. It is composed of simple sentences with multiple succinct for better clarity. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a TV series and the first ten episodes focus mainly on introducing the main characters. Like Animal Farm, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood also utilizes simple language and vocabulary to trickier topics easier to apprehend. In both the texts, the narrator is not a character and only a bystander of the events occurring.
Animal Farm is a Political Satire which influences the tone of the writer to be mocking. For example, Orwell mocks the hammer and sickle in the USSR flag by showing that the pigs drew a quick map similar to the Soviet flag, criticizing the lack of empathy for the workers. Orwell has successfully managed to maintain an objective tone throughout the novella and provides no personal opinions. In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the tone of each character varies. Edward Elric, the lead protagonist has a serious and confident most of the time. The mood of the series is depicted through the use of color, music, iconography, shots and angles. The moods depend upon the scene displayed. For example, in the eight episode where we see the fights in the fifth laboratory, the use of close-ups helps in creating a tense mood while the use of cool shades creates a dull environment. Often iconography, like enlarged eyes or fountain of tears, is used in comic reliefs which defuse the tense mood. The episodes often end with cliff-hangers which adds on to the suspense. Meanwhile, in Animal Farm the mood, steadily, changes from optimistic to pessimistic as the plot unravels. The animals are first hopeful of change that could occur from the revolution but towards the end, when they see the oppression conducted by the pigs, the give up all hope and the mood to changes to more cynical.
Unexpectedly, Animal Farm and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood have many common themes that have been explored throughout. One of the main themes that they share is that of Totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is a concept of centralized power where a group of people or a person controls the actions of a large mass of people or a society with low tolerance for opposition. In Animal Farm, we see a form of totalitarianism when the Napoleon is ‘worshipped’ by the animals. Napoleon controls the actions of the farm animals, for example, when he took the hens eggs and sold them, enforced a heavy work schedule while reaping the pleasures of their hard work and also ordered the death of all those who sided with Snowball. In Animal Farm the aim was to terminate fascism, a form of totalitarianism, under Mr. Jones but it ended up going back to the same under the rule of Napoleon. In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, we see totalitarianism in the form of dictatorship. The foundation on which the country is built is based on the commands and control of the head of the military, Fuhrer King Bradley. King Bradley uses the power of military and the state alchemists to carry out his operations and the people blindly follow the system bringing us to the next theme, the ignorance of the working class.
The local citizens of Amestris never oppose the oppression and carry on with their lives while ignoring the ongoing issues in the society. They are naïve and consumed by personal motives. We see a clear depiction of this when the entire city of Lior blindly follow Cornello when he says that he can resurrect their loved ones without actually questioning “Why?”. In Animal Farm, the animals like Boxer and Clover never step back to question their leader, Napolean. The situation is better summarized by the sheep chanting the words “four legs good, two legs bad” when faced with conflict of trust.
A recurring theme we see in Animal Farm is class division. The pigs are treated as royalty while the real workers have to work tediously even during a bad harvest to make sure that the pigs meals don’t get affected while theirs is given to the health of the pigs despite the physical strain is carried by the working class who require the food more. This unequal way of dividing is due to the misconception of brain over brawn where the working class is manipulated into creating a sense of dependency on the pigs for their wits where in reality the pigs rely on the rest for survival. Apart from that, the prominent hidden theme is the connections with the events of the Russian Revolution.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has connections to the genocide during the Holocaust bringing us to the theme of human experimentation. One of the main concepts discussed in the series is human experimentation. We see an example of this when Mr. Tucker conducts experiments on his daughter, wife and dog to make them talking chimeras. There are lifelong effects of human experimentation and in the show is considered a taboo. One of the other philosophies tied to the essence of alchemy is that of equivalent exchange. The concept of receiving what you give is emphasized upon throughout the entire series in great detail. The entire concept of alchemy is based on the very principle and the side effects of not following the same is also focused upon.
Both works utilize symbolism to make the content more realistic. A connection between the two texts can be drawn when looking at their take on religion. In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the church of Leto promises its followers the resurrection of loved ones and in Animal Farm, moses is a symbol of religion and tries to sell the idea of Sugar Candy Mountain to bribe the animals. Additionally, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood uses symbolism with Flemmel’s cross. Nicholas Flemmel was an icon who devoted his life to studying alchemy and the cross on Edwards cape and Alphonse’s armor was a cross seen in his grave. From a Christian’s point of view, it can be considered as a symbol of overcoming Satan. Animal Farm, uses the literary device of allegory to characterize. Napoleon is the books version of Joseph Stalin; Squealer is the propaganda; Old major represents Karl Marx; Snowball aligns with Leon Trotsky; Boxer is the working class; Moses is the church; Mr. Jones is Czar Nicholas 2nd and Mr. Frederick is Germany. The plot of Animal Farm is based on irony where a group of intelligentsia end up falling into the same practices as what they were looking to avoid.

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