Symbolism and Allegory in “Animal Farm”
The book Animal Farm is a simple plainly written novel by George Orwell of animal rising up to take control of their own destiny and faith. The novel is an allegory for not just the Soviet Union and its slight insidious transformation from communism high ideas of equality into totalitarian rule by a single dictator and his chief propagandist but also for the challenges of self-governance and the perils of government, people face all around the world. The author was born in June 25th, 1903, to British Parents in India.
He was a World War II correspondence for BBC, he first hand experiences of class struggles and inequalities of every day life in England, inspired the writing of Animal Farm. The structure of the novel parallels the Russian Revolution it’s satire using animals and their names and actions as embellished heightened versions of reality.
A number of themes have been reflected in this novel, and they all have some form of political connections; first there is corruption we see how Napoleon and his inner circle take when it comes to control and power end up becoming miles leading the animals far astray from their original ideas of communist then there is exploitation, throughout Animal Farm we see how the working class is exploited by the rich and wealthy ruling elites to provide for their needs. The hard- working lower classes serve the depictive upper ones, in fact deception is its own theme and we see how Napoleon and Squealer shaped history to better suit their needs, suppressing education while fear- mongering creates a culture of deception that allows for the rise of a dictator. On the other hand, the theme of idealism is an important one too, especially at the beginning; dreams of equality and legends of animal bravery set stage for a revolution by go intensions. Lastly, there is apathy an important theme for understanding how dictatorships take place without action to support it, education is essentially useless we especially see this in Benjamin the donkey whose cynical attitude and insistence, that nothing ever changes becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy of doom, a complacent population is ripe for the picking by controlling dictators bent on power and control.
Many times, in history in different parts of the world we have seen that people have revolted to protect their rights and liberty from the hands of the aristocrat, as with any other theme that we have seen in your course you study this is no different. From humans to farm animals there are many characters that has been shown in this book, but there are seven main characters here. Napoleon is the main character he is a pig and he rules the farm with brutality and an iron fist he’s portrays an image of Joseph Stalin, keeping most of the wealth and the prosperity happening in the farm to himself and his few followers while oppressing others. Next up there is snowball, who was really intelligent and had great planning ability which turned out to be a great asset to the farm, he’s an excellent strategist and he’s popular known for his charismatic speeches and idealistic beliefs in animalism, he represents Leon Trotsky. Then comes Mr. Jones, he is a human farm owner and he is also an alcoholic who mistreats the animals and leads the rebellion in the first place to happen against him, he represents tsar Nicholas II who was forced out of the Soviet Union. Next comes Squealer who is a Pig, he is a great public speaker and a mouthpiece for Napoleon and the fascist regime he is the representation of Nazi propagandist Joseph Gables.
Next there is Boxer, he is a strong hardworking horse he is dedicated and powerful; his lack of intelligence causes him to follow the pigs blindly they send him to a slaughterer when his health fails, he represents the working class who were always exploited by the rich to fulfil their aristocratic needs. The Old Major comes up next, he is a bore, he is the founding father of animal disorder, he is a strong believer in revolution and he shares his vision shortly before he dies. He is the representation of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin who were the main brains behind the ideas. Lastly, we talk about Benjamin the Donkey, he is the smartest animal on the farm as he could read and write but he considers the rebellion to be useless and doesn’t participate in it. He is cynical and thinks nothing really changes; he is representative of the will of the educated people to get involved or stay back.
The Animal Farm is more than just a book that talks about the animals controlling their own farm, it’s an allegory to the Russian Revolution and its aftermath as well the systems of political power that people deal with notions of freedom. The Russian society in the early twentieth century was bipolar, a small number of aristocratic and powerful people ruled over the peasants and the poor working class to fulfill their needs and desires, while exploiting them. This period created a sense of betrayal and anger among the common people and they decided to use for to revolt against the powerful and wealthy for protecting their rights and liberty, this was the first step in restoring Russia to prosperity that it had known before World War I and in modernizing the country’s primitive infrastructure. In the introduction old Major introduces ideas about animal rebellion sowing the seeds for the revolution to come.
Snowball and Napoleon take the lead in formalizing old majors teachings callings it an immortal. This is also where we meet the characters and see the hierarchy of animals forming there’s there is a lot of rising action mostly starting with Mr. Jones gets so drunk that he forgets to feed the animals, they take over the farm and inscribe the seven commandments of animalism on the wall of the barn to provide guidance as they forge ahead learning self-governance. Mr. Jones eventually tries to take control over the farms leading to the Battle of cowshed a watershed moment if there is any in the history of the farm. After Napoleons trade with Frederick we see an attack being launched which leaves boxer injured badly, boxer is sent away to slaughter as the animals protested, we finally see a point where even some of the most dogmatic followers of animalism an hardest workers which they don’t want what Napoleon wants exactly. We have seen a similar picture in the Russians Revolution that the poor working class was always exploited by the aristocratic class, and if the workers decided to go against them then they would be punished for their actions. By the story animal farm, the author has managed to draw a picture of the social class and it’s during the Russian Revolution.
More than half- a century later the novel continues to have contemporary relevance, it serves as a broader cautionary tale showing how a corrupt and selfish leader uses fear and ignorance to gain control over the masses, it also warns against complacency in a population. Even in today’s date and time we see people around us who are hungry for power and fame but what’s funny is the fact that they don’t want to work hard for it! They would rather sit down relax and expect other people around them to do all the work and the at the end of the day they would take all the credit. As we have seen in the book Animal Farm and during the Russian revolution that humans or animals, they would all always try to overthrow each other for the race of supremacy of power, everyone wants to be a leader and have a mark for themselves in the society. Another point that jumps out to be is the fact that during the Russian Revolution there was a strong class distinction, even in today’s so called ‘modern world’ we are struggling to escape caste system from some parts of the world, it is that the rich keeps getting better and the poor working class keeps getting exploited and keeps getting overshowed by aristocratic and powerful people.
Various thinking categories can be used to better understand the text, the first historical thinking category that I am going to talk about is ‘Diffusion’. Diffusion is the spread of an invention or discovery from one place to another. The spread of ideas such as capitalism, democracy and even religious beliefs has bought about changes in human relations around the world. So, diffusion often involves the expansion of ideas across the globe and it can occur many different ways, in this particular text we have seen the spread of the ideas of revolution we have seen the ideas of revolution first popped up in UK and then it around Europe and eventually it reached Russian which resulted in the Russian Revolution in the year 1917, the book Animal Farm is a satire on the Russian Revolution. Next up we can talk about the different ‘Social Class’ structures that has been shown in the book animal kingdom, we have seen that animals fight among themselves for ultimate power and supremacy in the farm, in the story Napoleon was a representative of the wealthy class who never did any of the work but was power hungry to rule over the working class and made them work the hardest, the horse Boxer represented the poor working class who were controlled by the people in power. The last historical thinking category that I can talk about would be ‘Common Phenomena’ generally refers to similar events that occur in different places without originating from a focal point. In the book, Animal Farm, George Orwell has given us clues about the Russian Revolution, while talking about the same we can say that revolution had occurred in different parts of the world during different periods but they all had a similar motive to bring about equality and liberty among the people and to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, although they all had different ways of doing it, but the end goal was same.
As mentioned earlier the novel Animal farm is a satire against the Russian Revolution which took place in the year 1917, this was the time which dismantled Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of the Soviet Union. A lot of social issues cropped up during this time, at this time we had seen the peasants migrating from industrial to urban environments. The farmers were exploited by the wealthy there were forced to work for longer hours with higher pay, and they had no benefits what so ever, this constant suppression was a major reason for the uprising of the Russian Revolution during this time. The Russian society during the early twentieth century was bipolar, with power lying in the hands of the selected few, while the vasy majority of the people were under the rule. Tsar Nicholas II, who was the monarch of Russian, was overthrown from the throne, and then seized power in the name of the Communist Party, the new system of governance took the control over land and industry from private owners and put them under the government’s eyes, this step insured that Russia moved towards being modern.
Orwell has managed to throw light upon the social injustice and the fight for supremacy that was on during the Russian Revolution, the book Animal Farm is a satire against the ideas of revolution and revolt that took place during the Russian Revolution. The author has managed to smartly give distinct features to his animals that would represent the ideas and the people during the revolution. The pig Napoleon was a representation of the rich and wealthy class who never worked hard to gain anything on their own, they rather gained power and fulfilled their aristocratic needs from the poor working class. The horse Boxer was a representation of the poor working class who would be exploited by the powerful for their comfort, and ones their needs were satisfied no one would care to pat an eye upon the condition of the poor. In a nutshell, I would say that George Orwell through his book Animal Farm has done a really great job of giving us a picture of the social and political concerns and problems during the Russian Revolution, initially his book was listed under children’s book genre but was later transferred to adult genre the reason for this was that he had not directly talked about the revolution but he had portrayed it as a satire, which made it really interesting as a novel in my opinion.
Orwell, George, Animal Farm. London, England: Secker and Warburg (1945)
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