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Animal farm communism through the eyes of george orwell

Animal Farm: Communism Through The Eyes of George Orwell

Throughout history, writers have written about many different subjects

based on their personal experiences. George Orwell was the pen name of Eric

Blair. He is one of the most famous political satirists of the twentieth

century. He was born in Bengal, India in 1903 to an English Civil Servant and

died in 1950. He attended Eton from 1917 to 1921, and served with the Indian

Imperial Police in Burma from 1922 to 1927 before moving to Europe.Two of his

most famous books, Animal Farm, written in 1946, and Nineteen Eighty-Four,

written in 1949, were written about the political and social environment

surrounding his life. "The driving force behind his two satires is an intense

revulsion against totalitarianism, combined with an even stronger revulsion

against its defenders among left-wing intellectuals."1 In most of George

Orwell¹s books and essays, there is a strong autobiographical element due to the

fact that he spent many years living with Communists in northern Great Britain

(a small number of people started to follow Communism in northern Great Britain

when it started in Russia). George Orwell¹s writing was affected greatly by his

personal beliefs about Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism, and

by the revolts, wars, and revolutions going on in Europe and Russia at the time

of his writings.

George Orwell was a Socialist2 himself, and he despised Russian

Communism3, and what it stood for. Orwell shows this hatred towards Communist

Russia in a letter he wrote to Victor Gollancz saying, "For quite fifteen years

I have regarded that regime with plain horror."4 Orwell wrote this letter in

1947, ten years after announcing his dislike of Communism. However, he had

thought a great deal about Communism and what he disliked about if for a long

time before he announced it to the public. Orwell "did not expect anything good

from the Communist"5 and therefore Communism personally did not affect him, but

"He was concerned with it (Communism) only because it was a problem for

others."6

In Animal Farm, "an animal fable satirizing Communism,"7 Orwell uses

farm animals in England to satirize Russian Communism and its leaders. One

animal he uses is a pig named Napoleon, whose counterpart in the Russian

Revolution is Joseph Stalin. After Napoleon takes charge of the farm, he

assumes the role of a dictator that benefits himself much like Stalin did.

During Stalin¹s reign, 1929-1953, he used terror to enforce his laws, and

allowed no one to oppose his decisions. If someone did oppose him, he would

punish him or her harshly. In Animal Farm, Napoleon also uses violent force to

enforce his laws. Napoleon showed this force when he "called upon them to

confess their crimes....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."8 This violent force that

Joseph Stalin used to enforce his laws is one of the main reasons that Orwell

disagreed with the main principles behind Communism and its leaders.

Another comparison that Orwell makes between Napoleon and Stalin is the

changing of history to benefit themselves. In Animal Farm, Napoleon often

changes history to make himself look better. Even though Snowball, the other

pig that was in charge with Napoleon, was the true hero in the "Battle of the

Cowshed,"9 Napoleon makes himself out to be the hero. Squealer, one of Napoleon¹

s top pigs in command, says,"Do you not remember how, just at the moment when

Jones and his men had got inside the yard, Snowball suddenly turned and

fled...that it was just at that moment when panic was spreading and all seemed

lost, that Comrade Napoleon sprang forward with a cry of ŒDeath to Humanity!¹"10

Just as Squealer retold the event to Napoleon¹s benefit,the same thing can be

said about Stalin. After he "became dictator of the Soviet Union, he had

history books rewritten to say that he had led the revolution with Lenin."11

This however is not the truth. In reality, it was Leon Trotsky who led the

revolution with Lenin. This is just one of the many comparisons that Orwell

makes between Stalin and Napoleon. Stalin was what Orwell and people who were

against Communism feared the most; a ruler who rules only for his own power.

Orwell uses another pig named Snowball to symbolize the part that Lenin

played in the Russian Revolution. Lenin was the founder of the Communist Party

in Russia and set up the first Communist dictatorship in the world. "Lenin¹s

goals were the destruction of free enterprise (privately owned and controlled

business) and the creation of a classless society ( a society without groups of

rich or poor people)."12 These were the general goals of Snowball also. Lenin

and Snowball shared one major goal in common and that was to industrialize the

societies that they controlled and lived in. Right before Lenin died, he

"introduced a new economic policy and aimed to improve industrial skills and

education".13 In comparison, Snowball was the mastermind behind the windmill in

Animal Farm. The purpose of the windmill that Snowball was designing was to "do

their work for them while they grazed at their ease in the fields or improved

their minds with reading and conversation."14 As one might see these plans are

almost identical. Both call for a more productive working environment in which

the people of the working class will also gain knowledge.

In Animal Farm, Karl Marx, the father of Communism is represented by a

Middle White boar named Old Major. On the first page of Animal Farm it is

announced that Old Major "had a strange dream on the previous night and wished

to communicate it to the other animals."15 His dream foresees their future in

the farm once "Man" is thrown out. He says, "Man is the only real enemy we have.

Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is

abolished for ever."16 Marx predicted in his Manifesto of the Communist Party

which he wrote with his friend Friedrich Engels, "that the ruling middle class

will be overthrown by the working class."17 Marx and Old Major are almost

identical. They both felt that the working class was being exploited and that

sooner or later, they would rise against middle ruling class. "The result of

this revolution , according to Marx and Engles, will be a classless society in

which the chief means of production are publicly owned."18 Marx and Old Major

were both right in their predictions. However, they could not foresee the

problems that Communism would create. Orwell saw this problem happen and "From

about 1935 he was convinced that Russia had taken the wrong path and had become

a tyranny."19

The environment surrounding Orwell led him to write another book about

the effects that Communism has on a society, this book is Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In this famous political satire Orwell presents to the reader a character named

Winston Smith. This character that Orwell created "is meant to be very much

like us20". Orwell uses the name Winston Smith to create one to the biggest

ironies in the novel. Winston was the first names of one of the greatest and

most powerful statesman of this century, Winston Churchill. On the other hand,

Smith is one of the most common last names in the English language. Orwell did

this to show that even though Winston is in The Party21 he has no power or

authority which makes him an ordinary man, just like the reader. This is also a

reference to Winston Churchill who was very much against Russian Communism.

Winston, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, is conspiring against the party which stands

for a dictatorship similar to Russian Communism. He becomes a martyr, and in

the end, sacrifices his life for something in which he believes in. Orwell did

not write Nineteen Eighty-Four as a prediction as many people think. He wrote

it as an alert about what can happen if Communism takes over. Orwell portrayed

Winston as a puppet in trying to get across his point that Communism must be

stopped.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the character Big Brother is a symbol of The

Party¹s dominance over Oceania, post war England in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Big

Brother in actuality did not exist. He is just a distortion of reality created

by The Party to strike fear into the minds of the citizens. Big Brother was

supposed to make everyone feel like they were always being watched and could

never escape no matter how hard they tried. Orwell made no distinct reference

to whom Big Brother was supposed to symbolize in Russian Communism, but his

physical description is one "of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black

mustache and ruggedly handsome features."22 This could be a reference to Stalin

or to a combination of dictators, but no matter how one looks at it this is an

example of typical propaganda used by dictatorships to help their cause,

themselves. Everyone has most likely heard the saying "Big Brother is watching

you", and in today¹s society this is slowly becoming a reality. In San

Francisco police helicopters are hovering low over the city and creating "an

impression that Big Brother is hovering over you".23 In another California city

police cameras have been installed on every street corner to watch for crime,

but some people see it as an invasion of privacy. Orwell also saw this as an

invasion of privacy and that is why he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four if someone is to defy The Party he will simply

be erased. This was a reality in Russia even before the Communists came into

control of the government.

Under the czars, the Russian secret police had often arrested

revolutionists and sent them into exile without trial. Stalin

set

up a police system that was far more terrible.24

Stalin was a dictator to the fullest extent. "In 1935, Stalin started a purge

(elimination) of most of the old Bolsheviks associated with Lenin. During the

next few years, he killed anyone who might have threatened his power."25 By the

end of his purge there was no one left to go against what he said, and he had

accomplished his main objective, total control of the U.S.S.R. This is the same

goal as Big Brother, actually what he symbolized since he doesn¹t exist. The

Party¹s Thought Police in Orwell¹s novel, which represent the Czar¹s Secret

Police and Stalin¹s Police combined, will simply erase or get rid of people if

they pose a threat to them or to their cause.

It is easy to see how the political and social climate of the time

influenced George Orwell¹s writings. This is evident in Animal Farm and

Nineteen Eighty-Four, where he shows his dislike of Communism. As the Russian

Communists grew stronger Orwell¹s dislike for them grew equally as strong. His

writings contained warnings to the people of England and the world not to be

misguided by Communism. These two novels were among the first to show the true

brutality of the Communist party and helped to open the eyes of the American

people to the dangers of Communism, that "all-pervasive and controlling state,

and to rulers who wish to maintain power as much for its sake as for their own

advantage."26

END NOTES

1-Miriam Gross, The World of George Orwell (New York, NY:Simon and Schuster,

1971) pg.136

2-socialism-a theory or system of Social organization by which the major means

of production and distribution are owned, managed, or controlled by the

government, associations of workers, or by the community as a whole

3-communism-a system in which most or all property is owned by the state and is

supposed to be shared by all. Communism comes from a philosophy based on the

writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles, who together wrote the Manifesto of

the Communist Party

4-Miriam Gross, The World of George Orwell (New York, NY:Simon and Schuster,

1971) pg.120

5-Richard J. Voorhees, The Paradox of George Orwell (New York, NY:Purdue

Research Foundation, 1961) pg.22

6-Miriam Gross, The World of George Orwell (New York, NY:Simon and Schuster,

1971) pg.119

7-Frank W. Wadsworth, "Orwell, George," World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed.,

pg.866

8-George Orwell, Animal Farm (New York, NY:Harcourt Brace Jovanavich, Inc.,1946)

pg.82-83

9-The Battle of the Cowshed was a battle that took place between the Animals of

Animal Farm and the humans who were attacking. This battle represents the

invasion of German forces into the western part of the newly formed U.S.S.R.

10-George Orwell, Animal Farm (New York, NY:Harcourt Brace Jovanavich,

Inc.,1946) pg.80

11-"Stalin, Joseph," World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed., pg.826

12-"Lenin, V.I.," World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed., pg.191

13-Ibid

14-George Orwell, Animal Farm (New York, NY:Harcourt Brace Jovanavich,

Inc.,1946) pg.54

15-Ibid, pg.15

16-Ibid, pg.19

17-Alfred G. Meyer, "Marx, Karl," World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed., pg.237

18-Ibid

19-Miriam Gross, The World of George Orwell (New York, NY:Simon and Schuster,

1971) pg.136

20-The Party represents the Communist party in Russia. It has a total

dictatorship over Oceania, post war England in the novel. They use the same

violent force that the Communist used to enforce their laws, and almost

everything else is the same as the Communist party.

21-Gilbert Borman, Cliffs Notes of Orwell¹s Nineteen Eighty-Four (Lincoln,

Nebraska: Cliffs Notes Inc.,1984) pg.23

22-George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanaich,

Inc., 1949) pg.5

23-Edward W. Lempinen, "S.F. Police Copters¹ Turbulent Return," San Francisco

Chronicle 22 March 1996, sec A:1 & A:15

24-"Stalin, Joseph," World Book Encyclopedia, 1988 ed., pg.827

25-Ibid

26-Peter Stansky, On Nineteen Eighty-Four (San Francisco, California: W.H.

Freeman and Company, 1983) pg.25

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Allen, David L. and Thompson, Frank H. Cliffs Notes on Orwell¹s Animal Farm.

Lincoln Nebraska:Cliffs Notes Inc., 1981

Borman, Gilbert. Cliffs Notes on Orwell¹s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Lincoln,

Nebraska: Cliffs Notes Inc., 1984

Crick, Bernard. George Orwell The First Complete Biography. Boston,

Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company, 1980

Gross, Miriam. The World of George Orwell. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster,

1971

Lempinen, Edward W. "S.F. Police Copters¹ Turbulent Return" San Francisco

Chronicle 22 March 1996, sec A:1 & A:15

Lewis, C.S. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit, Michigan: Gale

Research Company,1979

Meyer, Alfred G. "Marx, Karl." World Book Encyclopedia.1988 ed.

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,

Inc., 1949

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1946

Stansky, Peter and Abraham, William. Orwell: The Transformation. New York, NY:

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1979

Stansky,Peter. On Nineteen Eighty-Four. San Francisco, California: W.H. Freeman

and Company, 1983

Wadsworth, Frank W. "Orwell, George" World Book Encyclopedia. 1988 ed.

Woodcock, George. The Crystal Spirit a study of George Orwell. Boston,

Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company,1966

Voorhees, Richard J. The Paradox of George Orwell. New York, NY: Purdue Research

Foundation,1961

"Stalin, Joseph." World Book Encyclopedia. 1988 ed.

"Lenin, V.I." World Book Encyclopedia. 1988 ed.



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