matthejna, April 1, 2014 (view all comments by matthejna)
George Orwell’s Animal Farm remains a prominent and powerful allegory about Soviet Communism. In Orwell’s Animal Farm the story opens on a farm run by the farmer Mr. Jones. One night an older pig(pigs are the wisest of the animals) tells the group about a dream he had about a utopia run by animals and centered upon equality. However, Old Major dies soon after he speaks about his dream and his vision is never realized in his lifetime. After his death, all the animals rejoice at the prospect of Old Major’s dream and eventually drive Mr. Jones from the Farm. Led by pigs such as Napolean, Snowball, and Squealer, the animals form a government based on equality and form the principles in the Seven Commandments of Animal Farm. As time goes on, Napolean grows more and more power hungry and eventually drives out Snowball from the farm. With the help of Squealer, Napolean is able to convince the rest of the farm of Snowball’s “evil” nature and maintain rigorous work hours for the rest of the animals. In the end, Napolean and the rest of the pigs begin walking on two feet like the humans they once loathed. In the final scene play cards with the humans they once fought so valiantly against. The true cleverness of the novel comes from the correlation with true historical events in Russia.
In the late 1910s, Russia overthrew the final Tsar Nicholas II and became a communist nation. The revolution was led by Vladimir Lenin who truly believed in the original principles of Karl Marx communism. Soon after the revolution concluded however, Lenin died and Joseph Stalin and Trotsky fought for political control over the nation. Stalin’s brutal and ruthless principles eventually resulted in becoming the leader of the Soviet Union. Stalin betrayed communist doctrine ruled with an iron fist. Stalin’s totalitarian rule continued for decades as he drove millions of his own people to starvation because of the outrageous work requirements and low rations. After researching the historical background of the Soviet communism, the allegory of Animal Farm becomes much clearer.
Animal Farm is known for it’s incredibly clever allegory of the Russian Revolution. Animal Farm ultimately explains the true dystopian nature of the nation. The first symbolic character is Old Major as Karl Marx. Old Major is described by Orwell (...so highly regarded on the farm that everyone was quite ready to lose an hour’s sleep in order to hear what he had to say”(25). His principles were noble, his character was strong, and he was respected by all of the animals on the farm. Old Major had the benefit of not placing this policies into existence however. While his dream is grand and perfect, it’s a highly romanticized ideal. Creating equality is a difficult task since the animals cannot contribute to the farm equally. Even with difficult problems inevitably arising, life for the animals is at first happy, largely because of another pig named Snowball. Snowball is representative of the Russian politician Leon Trotsky. Like Trotsky, Snowball tried to stay true to the original views of the philosophy of his predecessor. Snowball is described by Orwell as “...vivacious pig...quicker in speech and more inventive”(35). He is the leader of the revolution and creates a moral and pleasant society, despite the pigs taking more than their share of their food. However, Trotsky’s rival, Joseph Stalin was eventually able to retain control of the Soviet Union, and is represented by Napolean. Napolean according to Orwell is “a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar”. He is a far more rugged and ruthless pig who eventually takes complete control over the farm. However, without knowing who the character symbolizes at the start, the reader does not experience the story with pre-conceived notions.
The allegory point of view allows for the novel to be a reflection of an entire culture rather than a single individual. The perspective is from 3rd person subjective. From this point of view the trials and struggles are seen in the horses, donkeys and, goats. The pigs deceit is shown in a manner emphasizing the slow accumulation of power before turning on the original Seven Commandments all together. The pigs also constantly utilize fear to gain legitimacy from the rest of the animals. By allowing fear to influence their lives, the common animals gave up their equality to ensure their safety, instead of having faith in themselves. By keeping too much faith in the pigs to keep them safe, the pigs ultimately abuse this power for their benefit. Much like McCarthyism swept the nation during the 1950s, a deep fear of Mr Jones or Snowball returning kept the animals obliging to the will of the pigs. However when the responsibility of reporting the news becomes an opportunity for propaganda, the pigs quickly take advantage. In this regard the major theme could be considered the importance of empowerment and freedom of expression. Even Boxer who is rather gullible begins to deny facts spouted by Squealer. If some of the animals were confident rather than panic-stricken, the pigs would have to be more dignified in their principles. Instead the culture declines into starvation and misery while the pigs show no consideration for anyone else.
The overall value of the story is rested upon strength of the allegory. The story on it’s own is a strong representation of the easy corruption of power. Without knowledge of Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky, the cautionary tale remains powerful and effective. The struggle between Snowball and Napolean is a legitimate dispute and can be applied to politics outside of Soviet Russia. While the story on it’s own is far more bizarre and abstract, it still captures the theme of the power corrupting a strong ethical society. The allegory allows the reader to truly grasp the perspective of the Russian people during this time as their society deteriorates.
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Tmackyt, March 9, 2011 (view all comments by Tmackyt)
This is Why I Read
Animal farm is Georges Orwell’s interpretation of the Soviet Union pre and during Stalin. Instead of wring a history book with his thoughts of communism he tells the same story with animals and ties it all up with a message. The best part is he is simplifying the whole story not to dumb it down but to make it more understandable. The premise is that animals rebel against their farmer and make the first farm run and operated by animals.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is pure genius. I have never experienced a better way of communicating a complex idea and translating it better than George Orwell did in Animal Farm. This book is a joy to read I can honestly say that I have never been so hooked on a book more than Animal Farm. The only problems I had with the book came from me.
The biggest problem I had with this book was that there are so many loose ends. Through many situations I didn’t know if someone was actually a bad guy or as an example if Napoleon was just lying. I still feel like I got the gist of it but I’m still unsure. Most of that comes from me not knowing the history. I don’t know the context of the book, but that was minimal compared to how much I loved the book. Plus through all that I still got the message.
As much as the book confused me (which was minimal) I still understood more than 90% of it. The way he described it I feel pretty informed about what happened. I can’t get over the way George decided to write the book. It’s just so smart the way he used animals to represent certain characteristics. It just blows me away how smart the whole thing is. I really want to give him credit for the story but it’s not really his. The way he interpreted it and made it relevant to a farm is just great. The best part to me is I can see all this playing out in the real world. This is the first book I feel I’m going to re-read.
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NTN, March 5, 2011 (view all comments by NTN)
I read this book last year in my english 2 class. This is a great book if you guys like to watch any movie that goes with the book because this is one of them. In this book the animals are a little bit crazy. This book is not too long for those of you like to read short books. The way that he wrote the book was very easy to read. I would suggest people to read this book and watch the movie. The animals in this book each of them has a different personality and they act like humans
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Signet Book -
Revisit Orwell’s classic satire Animal Farm
As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As readers witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, they begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization—and in the most charismatic leaders, the souls of the cruelest oppressors.
Orwell's brilliant 1946 satire, chronicling a revolution staged by the animals on Mr. Jones's farm.
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