Animal Farm: The Russian Revolution
Animal Farm by George Orwell was written in the year 1945. The novel is a play on the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the decline of communist Russia. Orwell combined major political points with his satire writing style in this novel considered part of what some call “Cold War literature”. Instead of the typical characters, Orwell uses animals as characters in his novel. These animals used in the novel represent important people whom had key roles in the Russian Revolution as well as the decline of communism.
George Orwell was born on June 25, 1903 in Bengal, India with the given name, Eric Arthur Blair. Orwell described his families status growing up as being in “the lower-upper-middle class” which exemplifies his obsession with class distinctions in which we see very prominently in his literary works, one major example being Animal Farm. (Heje, “George Orwell”) Orwell attended St. Cyprian’s, a private boarding school in the United Kingdom, on a scholarship. He later described his time at the school as constantly being reminded of his lesser importance than the other, wealthier students being that he attended St. Cyprian’s on a scholarship which had an influence on several of his literary works. (Heje, “George Orwell”) George Orwell’s upbringing and education did have a large impact on his writing and, we can see this especially in his 1945 novel, Animal Farm.
Animal Farm is one of George Orwell’s most famous novels. The novel was written as a political joke and to portray the Russian Revolution. To distract from the heaviness of the political topic, Orwell makes the novel so it is “cast as a beast fable, thus giving the reader some distance from the specific political events.” (Robb, “Animal Farm: Overview”) Orwell sets Animal Farm up mirroring well known events that were going on at that time. He connects the real current events to those on a far, through animals to help readers see past the details of the Revolution but help them understand how human nature allows Stalin to gain power and rise in rink in the real world. (Robb, “Animal Farm: Overview”)
The Russian Revolution and the events that occur at Manor Farm, turned Animal Farm, are similar in that the characters imitate real life political leaders and powers. The high political leaders in this situation are the pigs, two of which are representing Joseph Stalin, through Napoleon, and Leon Trotsky, through Snowball. (Fitzpatrick, “An Overview of Animal Farm”) The initial owner of the farm, Mr. Jones, “represents the last Czar in Russia, whose dissolution and cruelty laid the groundwork for the workers’ rebellion.” (Fitzpatrick, “An Overview of Animal Farm”) The pigs are trying to better the farm by starting a rebellion where “all animals are equal” (Orwell, Animal Farm) Though in fact, the pigs ended up turning their administration into the very thing they were trying so hard to stay away from, the humans.
Another parallel between Russia and Animal Farm is the conflict that occured with Snowball and Napoleon. The plan, derived by Napoleon, was to drive Snowball off of the farm for good. The tyrannic pig brought up the plan to leave himself in complete control of Animal Farm. (Robb, “Animal Farm: Overview”) Snowball wanted to better the farm, while Napoleon was only looking out for the pigs who were at the top of the chain. Napoleon ended up succeeding in his mission to banish Snowball from Animal Farm using any means necessary. This is similar to the situation “between Trotsky and Stalin with Stalin the winner.” (Robb, “Animal Farm: Overview”)
Napoleon attempts to keep adding to his success and popularity on Animal Farm thus far by using his personal press, Squealer, to spread positive messages about his upcoming ideas. Playing very much the same role as squealer, you can compare him to the Soviet propaganda publisher, Pravda. One of Napoleons ideas was to switch their deal to sell timber to Pilkington now to Frederick. (Fitzpatrick, “An Overview of Animal Farm”) This deal reminds us of the Nazi-Soviet anti-aggression pact with Pilkington being England and Frederick being Germany. Most decisions on the farm were made to aid Napoleon and better himself off, so he had to have someone to endorse his actions. Therefore, Squealer twisted the truth to benefit his leader to make it seem to the other animals as if he was doing them good and it was said he was able to “turn black into white” (Orwell, Animal Farm)
Germany, much like Frederick, had broken the peace between the Soviets, and Animal Farm. Adolf Hitler invaded and attempted to take over Russia abruptly breaking the anti-aggression pact between Germany and Russia. Likewise, Frederick decided to give up on the peace between themselves and Animal Farm. (Fitzpatrick, “An Overview of Animal Farm”) Russia then joins the allies to help fight against a Germany which the Soviets considered a victory. Squealer also claims a victory after the Frederick attack even though they have not necessarily won anything, but “the only victory was in gaining back what they had before.” (Fitzpatrick, “An Overview of Animal Farm”)
The animals of Animal Farm come to terms with reality and realize that they have fallen right into what they wanted to escape so bad. The animals see that the leader that told them all animals we equal and that everything he did was in their best interest has turned into what he had set out to abolish. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” (Orwell, Animal Farm) They could no longer separate Napoleon from the humans because he had turned into the same tyrant as they considered Mr. Jones. “Instead of gaining freedom they have only exchanged one set of masters for another,” realizing they are back exactly where they started. (Robb, “Animal Farm: Overview”)
To conclude, Animal Farm was and still is a very much influential work of literature. It is a work of fiction, yet it still shows all of the relevant connections of a “Cold War” work of literature. We continuously analyze how Orwell connected the animal characters in Animal Farm to real life political figures. Although this novel shows many political themes it still has an element of satire. Overall, George Orwell, through the allegory that is Animal Farm, was able to portray the decline of communism in Russia that is clearly confirmed by what history has shown us.
“”Cold War Literature.”” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, edited by Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau, vol. 186, Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. “”An overview of Animal Farm.”” Literature Resource Center, Gale, 2018. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.
Heje, Johan. “”George Orwell.”” British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers, 1918-1960, edited by Darren Harris-Fain, Gale, 2002. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 255. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.
Orwell, George. “Animal Farm.” Penguin B, 2018.
Robb, Paul H. “”Animal Farm: Overview.”” Reference Guide to English Literature, edited by D. L. Kirkpatrick, 2nd ed., St. James Press, 1991. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.
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