The Influence of Education on Power


Humanity occasionally overlooks how powerful we are with a tool as simple as education. We forget that education is one of the foundations for individuals to have to make an influence in society. In the novels Animal Farm by George Orwell and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, we could see that education helps you to identify manipulation which can be found through propaganda, education helps you to express yourself and your ideas, and education allows you to have the foresight for the future. George Orwell from Animal Farm and Ray Bradburry from Fahrenheit 451 both imply that education is a necessity for citizens to have because it enables them to maintain a form of power that comes through knowledge.  

To start, education helps you to identify manipulation which can be found through propaganda. Benjamin is one of the few characters in the novel Animal Farm who has an education and is not easily influenced by the propaganda the pigs show. Benjamin was the only animal that was part of the 'citizens' that knew Boxer wasn’t going to be sent to the hospital to recover from his accident. When the truck shows up and he realizes what’s happening, he says, “’Fools! Do you not see what is written on the side of the van?... Do you not understand what this means? They are taking Boxer to the knackers!’” (Orwell 123).  Moreover, the pigs were part of the few that had an education. The pigs, more specifically Squealer, can control the minds of the animals through his charisma and active attitude. An example of Squealer manipulating the others was when he was explaining that the milk and apples that were missing were given to the pigs because it was essential for their health. Squealer says, “’You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us dislike milk and apples… Milk and apples contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. The whole management and organization of this farm depends on us… It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples’” (Orwell 52). In the novel Fahrenheit 451, we could see that Captain Beatty, who is a fireman that leads firefighters to burn books, uses his knowledge to manipulate Montag into thinking that books are dangerous. He does this by quoting many famous poets and philosophers. After Montag hands the stolen book to Beatty, he says, “’Or this? ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.’ Pope. Same essay. Where does that put you?’” (Bradbury 102). Benjamin, Squealer, and Captain Beatty show us that through education, they were able to identify manipulation and even use it for their benefit.

Additionally, education helps to express yourself and your ideas. In Animal Farm, Snowball (who was one of the highly educated pigs) was able to express his excitement and ideas of the windmill. The novel states that, “…Snowball declared that this was the place for a windmill, which could be made to operate a dynamo and supply the farm with electrical power. This would light the stalls and warm them in winter, and would also run a circular saw, a chaff-cutter, a mangle slicer, and an electric milking machine.” (Orwell 65). Snowball’s knowledge allowed him to create ideas that were ‘beneficial’ to the farm. Likewise, Beatty was able to express his opinion of why books were unreliable, “’Oh, you were scared silly,’ said Beatty, ‘for I was doing a terrible thing in using the very books you clung to, to rebut you on every hand, on every point! What traitors books can be! You think they’re backing you up, and they turn on you.’” (Bradbury 104). He was able to express himself by twisting the truth to make his arguments undeniable. Similarly, Faber, who was old enough to be around when books were used for their original intent, was able to express his thoughts of why books were intimidating to the government. Faber said, “’So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless. We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam.’” (Bradbury 79). The commonality of these characters was the privilege they had of retaining knowledge, which allowed them to grasp ideas that can help them to express themselves.

Furthermore, education allows you to have foresight into the future. In Animal Farm, Benjamin was able to tell that the future on their farm wouldn’t be too different even if there was a new system of ruling. He knew that even if the pigs did try to make a change, life will always go on badly. In Animal Farm, it says, “Benjamin was the only animal who did not side with either faction. He refused to believe either that food would become more plentiful or that the windmill would save work. Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on- that is badly.” (Orwell 65). Correspondingly, Napoleon was able to have foresight about overthrowing Snowball and claiming the leadership role for himself. He knew that to overthrow Snowball he had to introduce fear to drive Snowball away from the farm. He also knew that he had to instill fear in the animals because fear would force the animals to be susceptible to his authority. By this, he keeps the puppies and educates them using his values, and later on, uses them to instill fear in their society. The novel states, “… giving birth between them to nine sturdy puppies. As soon as they were weaned, Napoleon took them away from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for their education.” (Orwell 51). In Fahrenheit 451, Faber knows that the war will eventually get rid of their society, or at least reduce their population. He tells Montag that he shouldn’t be wasting his time trying to make a plan to frame the other firemen because he will soon die. He says, “’Patience, Montag. Let the war turn off the ‘families’. Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces… Why waste your final hours racing about your cage denying you’re a squirrel?’” (Bradbury 90). In contrast, the uneducated women that were present in Montag’s living room believe that the war will only “come and go” and will be a “quick war” that will only last for “forty-eight hours” (Bradbury 90). The uneducated women are blind to see that the war will cause harm to their society. Education gave Benjamin, Napoleon, and Faber the ability to know what will happen in the future.

Given all these points, we could see that having an education influences how society is lead and how powerful a person could be if they possess it. In the novels Animal Farm and Fahrenheit 451, we can identify that education helps you to understand the deception that can be found by propaganda, education allows you to express yourself and your beliefs, and education helps you predict what will happen in the future. Education is a requirement people ought to possess because it helps them to maintain power which comes through knowledge. 

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