Freda McGlade 2018/19
The Hunter Creative Response
M wakes early the next morning and rises from his tent, shivering as the cold morning wind fiercely greets him. For breakfast he eats an apple and two slices of stale bread, time has not been kind to him, he thinks as his teeth merely bite into the hardened slices. He packs up his belongings, carrying everything he owns on his back as he makes his way down the plateau to lower country. With the help of his map, he identifies the whereabouts of the snare he previously constructed and with all his effort; forces himself to travel towards it.
By midday, he reaches his destination. Not that it was hard, the natural man think to himself, all he had to do was follow the bird’s screeches. And then he sees it.
No more than three metres away, a creature’s hind leg is entangled in fine wire attached to a sapling. Its leg has been yanked skyward, and as a result sticks out from behind a small bush, creating the illusion that there is no body attached. The leg is brown and grubby with a fine ring of blood surrounding the wire. The leg could’ve belonged to a wallaby or a small kangaroo, but no, thinks M, this leg belongs to a survivor.
As M creeps closer to the strange leg he reaches into his pack for the rifle. His fingers brush the trigger before wrapping around the cold object, and slowly he retrieves it. This is a frightening weapon, thinks M, all those war games he use play as a child glorified the thing, portraying it as some worthy and admirable object. But no, this is a dark and ugly thing, something so powerful it has the ability to destroy someone. There is nothing glorious about it.
His hand now gripping the rifle, he reaches the snare, and there staring up at him is the last Tasmanian tiger. The survivor.
It’s alive, says M to no one but himself, only just.
Her brown fur coat is stained with mud, not dissimilar to the distinct row of stripes that begin at the neck and make their way down to the tail. Her face is not how M imagined, her cheek bones are sharp and pronounced, and the skin around them droops. And her eyes, oh if only they could speak. What have you seen through those eyes of yours, Tiger? What stories could they tell?
Her body is so weak it looks as though it could collapse at the slightest touch. Her fur coat is missing patches of hair and the inside of her ear is pink and crusty. Yet her eyes are strong. They are the eyes that once terrified villagers, the eyes that belonged to Tasmania’s most wanted creature, the eyes that have lived on in secrecy, and the eyes that scream liberty, even when the tiger’s body is trapped.
M stares into those eyes of hers, for how long he does not know, for time is now irrelevant. He should’ve pulled the trigger by now. Why is she still alive? Why hasn’t he shot her?
The birds are no longer crying out to each other, the trees stand tall and still as if they two are watching M and the tiger, and his heart beats so fiercely that he is certain it will burst. And then time stops, the gun leaves his hand and slowly, slowly M falls to the ground as the world caves in around him.
He is sitting in the back seat of Jack Mindy’s car, tiredly responding to Jack’s attempts at conversation.
‘You sure look pretty beaten up, tough environment up there isn’t it?
M nods, agreeing. His hands are covered in blisters and scratches, his thick hair is overgrown and reaches his shoulders, and on his left cheek is a deep cut that stretches from his mouth to his ear.
Neither of them mention Lucy and the kids, though they can’t resist thinking about them as the car slowly drives away from the town.
He remembers how Lucy was when he’d first met her. How she had lived with relentless grief every minute of the day, but how things had slowly changed as she welcomed him, a strange man into her family. She began to walk with a sense of purpose in her stride and she no longer sought refuge in her bedroom, but instead confided in M almost as if he was Jarrah.
He remembers Bike, the boy who counts and how he had forced his little legs to follow M’s car down to the end of the driveway, begging him to stay as the car slowly drove off into the horizon.
And Sass, how she had refused to give up on her father, and instead clung onto any remaining bit of hope that Jarrah was out there.
He wonders how they spend their days now, living with a dark cloud hanging low over the family. What do they think about as they lie in separate beds each night? What are their final thoughts before their body drifts into a desperate sleep; the only relief they experience from the dark, numb pain of their reality.
Jack’s voice interrupts M’s thoughts. ‘People reckon you were after the tiger’ he says, ‘bloody ridiculous of course, the thing hasn’t be seen in years’. He turns to M, as if daring him to contradict. M stays silent. Instead he stares out the window and into the bush. The trees stand tall and proud, the tops of their leaves creating a green blanket that covers all of the escarpment. And deep amongst the trees he thinks he sees (for he is unsure if it’s simply his imagination fooling him) the tiger, and her two survivor eyes stare back at him. He blinks once and then twice, and when he returns his eyes to the spot, she is gone. Or perhaps she was never there in the first place. The car drives on and M turns his back on the plateau for the last time.
Comparative Text Response: Animal Farm and V for Vendetta
George Orwell’s 1945 allegorical novella Animal Farm details the life of animals after a rebellion, and explores various themes including propaganda, power and fear, and how they ultimately result in corruption. Similarly to Animal Farm, James McTeigue’s 2005 movie V for Vendetta reveals how the concepts of propaganda and fear play a key role in developing a government’s corrupt regime. The film is set in a futuristic society and traces the life of vigilante V and his role in an eventual uprising against the fascist government. Both texts aim to demonstrate the role different factors play in the gradual gain of power, and the inevitable corruption that follows.
Through the use of characters, Orwell illustrates how propaganda and manipulation can be used to disguise a regime’s corrupt nature. This is exemplified through the character of Squealer and his ability to “turn black into white”. Throughout the text, Squealer, who speaks “so persuasively” utilises propaganda to hide the gradual corruption occurring amongst the pigs. This can be seen through his explanation for the pigs consuming such “luxuries” as milk and apples. He tactfully claims that the superior pigs need these items to assist them in managing the farm, and that it is for the animal’s “sake” that they “drink this milk” and “eat these apples”. Through Squealer’s consistent use of propaganda and manipulation, Orwell implores his audience to consider how these tools can be used to benefit those that possess excessive power. Similarly to Animal Farm, V for Vendetta uses characters to demonstrate the theme of propaganda, and the role it plays in disguising the “crimes of the government”. Through the characters of Squealer and Dascombe, Orwell and McTeigue’s text highlight how propaganda and manipulation can be used to hide corruption within a powerful organisation.
Orwell and McTeigue both use symbols to demonstrate how powerful figures prey on the masses fear by portraying non-conformists and minority groups as threats to society. This can be seen in Animal Farm through the public slaughtering of any disobedient animals that promote defiance against “Comrade Napoleon”. As the animals hear of the “shocking” crimes committed on the farm, they develop a fear of those that rebelled against their “leader”, and view their brutal fate as necessary. This links back to Orwell’s idea that powerful figures can capitalise on one’s susceptibility to fear by discouraging non-conformity. Similarly to Animal Farm, a fear of minority groups is apparent in V for Vendetta. This is exemplified through the character of Prothero, and his negative portrayal of Muslims, atheists and homosexuals. Through his television show, Prothero reveals that America, a country that once “had everything” has since amounted to nothing due to “godlessness”, the primary creator of “judgement”. He then continues to tactfully prey on his audiences fear by further blaming America’s failures on Muslims and homosexuals. Through symbols and characters, Orwell and McTeigue both demonstrate how powerful figures can become corrupt by instilling a misconception of minority groups and non-conformists into fearful civilians.
While both texts share many similarities, there remains one significant difference between the two, V for Vendetta explores an element of hope that is non-existent in Animal Farm. After the corruption of the “improved” society, Orwell uses symbols to reveal the lack of hope for overcoming the farm’s oppressive regime. This is demonstrated through the animal’s inability to remember the “old days” before the revolution, and the powerful pigs’ adoption of Mr Jones’ old habits. As the pigs’ behaviour gradually begins to mimic that of human’s, the animals can no longer distinguish between man and pig, hence highlighting the removal of hope for an equal society. Through several symbols including the pig’s adopting human habits, Orwell reveals that failure to intervene and instead succumb to mistreatment and oppression erases any hope of overcoming corruption. In contrast to this, V for Vendetta explores the theme of hope that was not apparent in Animal Farm. This is demonstrated through Valerie’s letter which symbolises her desire for the “world to turn”, and her belief that things will eventually “get better”. The civilians are also guided by vigilante V and his aspirations for a systematic change, as well as the destruction of parliament, a symbol of rebellion against tyranny. While the masses in V for Vendetta are guided by several tools representing hope for a better system, the animals in Animal Farm, don’t experience any element of hope, and instead display no signs of resisting corruption.
Animal Farm and V for Vendetta both utilise characters and symbols to illustrate how propaganda and fear causes power to ultimately corrupt. This is apparent in Animal Farm through Squealer’s consistent use of propaganda that assists in disguising the farm’s gradual corruption. Similar events take place in V for Vendetta as McTeigue illustrates through the character of Dascombe, how bias news reports assist in hiding corruption amongst those that possess power. The two texts also explore the theme of corruption through the dictator’s ability to prey on the masses fear of non-conformity. While Orwell and McTeigue’s texts share many similarities, there is an element of hope in V for Vendetta that Animal Farm lacks. By exploring this theme, McTeigue reveals the integral role hope plays in overcoming corruption and power, while Orwell reveals how a lack of hope erases any chance of a systematic change.