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H-orizontes

H-orizontes

01
Jun22

"Animal Farm" - George Orwell

Helena

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There once was a farm called Manor Farm, which was owned by Mr. Jones, a drunk rustic man. One night, after he went to sleep, the animals gathered in the big barn. They had been called by Major, an old pig who had a message to deliver before his death: as all the animals should know, none of them was free, and all of them were exploited for the man’s profit only. Therefore, he would like them to rebel against the human dominion. In his words, “All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.”. After old Major died, the animals started preparing for a rebellion. The pigs, generally known as the most intelligent of farm animals, were responsible for its organization. They struck the rebellion after Mr. Jones came home drunk one night and forgot to feed them. The animals attacked the house and the humans inside it, expelling them from the farm and taking control of it. From then on, all the traces of Jones’ presence must be eradicated, and the rules of Animalism were established and published:

            "Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.

            Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.

            No animal shall wear clothes.

            No animal shall sleep in a bed.

            No animal shall drink alcohol.

            No animal shall kill any other animal.

            All animals are equal."

It all seemed perfect in the beginning. The productivity increased, they had plenty of food and the animals were happy. However, as time went by, the dream of equality started to crumble. Napoleon, the most radical and cruel of the government structure, had Snowball expelled for alleged attempts of sabotage. After that, the situation on the farm grew harder and harder, except for the pigs, who unexpectedly seemed to be getting fatter and fatter. After all, Animalism’s seven commandments soon started to change. “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets”, “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause”. Can the dreams of an equal society ever really come true?

This book is a genius work from Orwell, once he managed to perfectly represent the evolution of the communist revolution within the limits of a British farm. “Animal Farm” is a huge allegory of the Russian Revolution and all its flaws. That was what I found more intellectually appealing about it. The thing that worked better for me was the way Orwell depicts each animal species as a specific group of society: the sheep represent the easily-carried and light-minded people that follow everything they are told to do; the donkey stands for the ancient people who no longer let themselves be carried by the enthusiasm of a promising revolution; the pigs are the symbol of the emerging upper class corrupted by power, and so on.

Considering the impeccable way it portrays one of the most remarkable periods of History without letting down the readers that are just looking for a good story to enjoy themselves, I honestly wouldn’t change anything about it.

That being said, I would certainly recommend this book to everyone (and I actually do recommend it often), young or old, being aware or unaware of the Russian History, because even if you don’t understand the range of this book’s criticism, you can certainly understand the way it targets totalitarian regimes and abuses of power.

28
Nov20

The importance of preserving local languages

Helena

Preserving local languages is extremely important. Now more than ever before, the languages which are spoken by smaller groups of people are in great danger of becoming extinct. In fact, from the 7000 languages which are spoken worldwide, 2500 are endangered. It is estimated that a language dies every fourteen minutes and that, by the end of this century, ninety per cent of world’s languages will be extinct. This is definitively an issue we should all care about, once the cultural loss which is associated to the death of a language is huge. Languages define people and their way of living. Therefore, taking them from their speakers is equivalent to removing the heart from a body.

Why is this massive phenomenon happening? It is due to some peoples’ disappearance, because of wars, genocides or natural disasters, to the discrimination that affects native speakers and makes them forbid their children to speak their mother tongue, and to the lack of written documents, which makes its preservation even harder, for example.

Globalization seems to be accelerating this process’ pace. Nonetheless, there is still something we can do to avoid language death. We can try to bring a language back to life (which happened with Cornish, a former extinct language from Britain) and develop new technologies that allow real time translation, so people from different countries can understand each other without being obliged to put their native language aside.

It is essential that people stop discriminating others for their mother tongue, that children become aware of the importance of language diversity from an early age and that minority languages start being perpetuated through written documents and a new generation of speakers.

11
Set20

Can teenagers make a difference in the world?

Helena

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi.

In my opinion, teenagers can make a difference in the world, once they are the base of the future which is being built and they have some tools that allow them to spread their word worldwide. Besides, teenagers are not usually expected to take global issues seriously and they can use it in their favour.

As we all know, teenagers are the adults of the future. Therefore, most of their actions will define the path of our world in the next decades, or even in the next centuries. For instance, the industrial revolution took place in the 1700s and we are still dealing with its consequences. Not so long ago, the use of CFCs led to the accumulation of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere that increased climate change’s pace. Teenagers now hold the responsibility of having an impact on their future lives by doing the opposite: by taking action in order to fight resource depletion, climate change, poverty and hunger, so as to make this world a better place.

Secondly, teenagers can take advantage of their skills and make a change through the means they master the best: social media. Digital platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook give young people the opportunity to raise their voice and to be heard by everyone, once Internet users are connected to people in every corner of the planet. Influencers play a major role in today’s society, as they are seen as role models by the ones who follow them. There are lots of teenager influencers, so if they make a change in their habits to protect our planet, probably their followers will do the same. This works not only for environmental questions, but also for ethical ones. During the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, many influencers expressed themselves through social media and urged people to adopt peaceful and tolerant behaviours.

Finally, it is well known that teenagers are not expected to be informed nor to make an impactful move in relation to global issues. Therefore, when they prove to know what is happening and start expressing themselves, society takes it as shocking. In my opinion, the shocking effect that revolted teenagers have on people is favourable for a change of habits and points of view. It makes one question his or her actions and realize the seriousness of some issues that he or she underestimated. For example, Greta Thunberg started a wave of school strikes to draw people’s attention to environmental issues, which has spread all over the world. Young people’s demonstrations caught everyone’s eye and Greta’s movement urged governments and important organizations to take action in relation to the fight against climate change.

To conclude, I think that Gandhi’s quote is wise and that it can be followed by everyone, even by teenagers. As Emma Watson said, “If not we, who? If not now, when?”.

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(Exame de Inglês, 11º ano, 2020, 1ª fase)

 

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