The Totalitarian State of Soviet Union Represented in Animal Farm
Although many Canadian citizens have been instructed about totalitarian regimes, one will still find trouble in imagining living in the hardships and brutality of dictatorships, such as the communist Soviet Union, headed by Joseph Stalin. However, George Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm displays a satirical method of depicting the reality of the fascist Russian regime for the citizens of the United States. In past human history, countless people have faced horrendous tragedies by one sole powerful man directed at a minority party. Specifically, the context of this novel is about how the Soviet Union converted from communism to feudalism. Orwell bases his novel on actual events that led to the formation of the Soviet Union and allowed Stalin to gain utmost power, but uses farm animals to achieve this task. Overall, Animal Farm both satirizes and criticizes the political events of the USSR during the early twentieth century, conveying that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Throughout this essay, the phases that lead to ultimate power for the pigs in this novel, along with how these animals create a corrupt government system, all satirical to the government of the USSR, will be presented.
Primarily, after a nation gained its independence over a totalitarian state, they must alter their form of government in order for a positive change to occur. In the case of Animal Farm, the animals had no rights and were extremely dissatisfied with their farmer Mr. Jones, leading to one of the pigs, Old Major, proclaiming, “Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.” (Orwell 2). Old Major’s speech leads to a common goal of the farm animals: overthrow their farmer to obtain better lives. Just like Vladimir Lenin, the original leader of the USSR, Old Major’s end goal is to gain power for the pigs by exiling Mr. Jones, who represents the Bolsheviks in past Russian history. Furthermore, once controlling the farm, the pigs exhibited the same dictatorship and corruption as Mr. Jones, demonstrated by their behaviors, such as when “out from the door of the farmhouse came a long file of pigs, all walking on their hind legs.” (Orwell 39). Even though these actions may not seem as a major issue or abuse of power, the pigs walking on their hind legs represented the fact that they took complete power over the farm because they were walking just like Mr. Jones and therefore ruled like him over the animals. For the rest of the farm animals, the conditions of life were even worse than when Mr. Jones had rule over the farm, a direct example that total power corrupts. Conclusively, although the revolution of the animals over Mr. Jones created new leaders of the farm, these leaders were even greater corrupted by their newfound power, just like in the case of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and the Soviet Union in the 1920s.
Throughout the story, the greed and corruption of Napoleon is revealed several times when he takes advantage over the other animals as he greatly reduce the farm’s rations and is able to take control over the farm. Although he reduces rations in his claimed support for the animals’ well-being, he does not make any personal sacrifice himself. ‘“Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us”’ (Orwell 11). The pigs believe that because they should receive greater treatment and food than the other animals because they are more intelligent, even though the other animals are the ones doing all the physical labor. The milk and apples the pigs consume symbolize the unfairness and the division of classes which take place in Animal Farm as many of the other animals are left starving. Additionally, the power the greed and ambition of Napoleon becomes apparent betrays Snowball and takes singular control over the farm. He is only able to do this when he convinces Jessie and Bluebell to allow him to educate them in isolation. “As soon as they were weaned, Napoleon took them away from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for their education. He took them up into a loft which could only be reached by a ladder from the harness-room, and there kept them in such seclusion that the rest of the farm so the greed of Napoleon affirms that mono-leader countries.
Due to the rise of corruption, the dictator results in forcing his people to make sacrifices for his own benefit. Because of Napoleon’s method of ruling, which was by forcing false confessions from his people and killing them shortly after, he gained tremendous benefits such as respect, though it was through fear. “The four pigs waited, trembling, with guilt written on every line of their countenances. Napoleon now called upon them to confess their crimes. They were the same four pigs as has protested when Napoleon abolished the Sunday Meetings. Without any further prompting they confessed that they had been secretly in touch with Snowball ever since his expulsion, that they had collaborated with his in destroying the windmill, and they had entered into an agreement with him to hand over Animal Farm to Mr. Frederick. They added that Snowball had privately admitted to them that he had been Jones’s secret agent for years past. When they had finished their confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded whether any other animal had anything to confess” (Orwell 25). Terrified of losing power over his people, he executes innocent animals to keep his subjects respectful of him. Through killing innocent individuals, he violates an important commandment. It is clearly stated that “the Sixth Commandment decreed no animal shall kill any other animal….It ran: No animal shall kill any other animal without cause”(Orwell 27). Thinking only of himself and his own personal gains, he goes against the commandment, which cannot be bent for a single persons’ own benefit. As time passes, the corruption of dictator will never reduce. It will become more and more inhumane, such as executing innocent creature.
Ultimately, Animal Farms draws a parallel to the corruption of Soviet Union totalitarian policy that lead to frustrated ending. The pigs shift from animal to human behavior, shows the exact opposite purpose of original revolution. The equal and utopian society seemed so optimistic and promising, yet the pigs had other thoughts that lead themselves fell in the negative human traits such as endless greed and deceptive mind. The lesson that Orwell wants to give is somewhat reveals our society that people are apathetic of everything but what they want such as reputation and money.
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