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Animal farm political issues

Animal Farm: Political Issues

Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his psuedonym George Orwell, is an

English author commonly known to write about political issues. Orwell has been

highly acclaimed and criticized for his novels, including one of his most

famous, Animal Farm. In a satirical form, George Orwell uses personified farm

animals to express his views on stalinism in the novel Animal Farm.

Throughout Orwell's early novels, democratic socialism kept the author

from total despair of all humans(Greenblatt 104). After his better experience

in the Spanish Civil War and the shock of the Nazi-Soviet pact, Orwell

developed Animal Farm. The socialism Orwell believed in was not a hardheaded

"realistic" approach to society and polotics but a rather sentimental, utopian

vision of the world as a "raft sailing through space, with, potentially, plenty

of provisions for everybody"(Grennblatt 106).

Animal Farm is a satirical beast fable which has been heralded as

Orwell's lightest, gayest work(Brander 126). It is a novel based on the first

thirty years of the Soviet Union, a real society pursuing the ideal of equality.

His book argues that this kind of society has not worked and could not (Meyers

102). Animal Farm has also been known as a an enter-taining, witty tale of a

farm whose oppressed animals, capable of speech and reason, overcome a cruel

master and set up a revolutionary government(Meyers 103). On another, more

serious level, it is a political allegory, a symbolic tale where all the events

and characters represent events and characters in Russian history since

1917(Meyers 103).

Orwell uses actual historical events to construct Animal Farm, but

rearranges them to fit his plot. Manor Farm is Russia, Mr. Jones the Tsar, the

pigs the Bolsheviks who led the revolution. The humans represent the ruling

class, the animals the workers and the peasants. Old Major, the inspiration of

the rebellion, is a combination of Marx, the chief theorist and Lenin, the

actual leader(Meyers 105). Old Major dies before the rebellion just as Lenin did

in the Russian revolution. In actuality Stalin and Trotsky argue over power

after Lenin's death, which Orwell satirizes in Napolean and Snowball.

In Animal Farm, Orwell immediately establishes the Soviet political

allegory as Old Major (Marx/Lenin) describes the exploitation of animals by

humans and the statement "all animals are comrades." The animals continuous

singing of "Beasts of England" can be seen not only as a symbol of the decay of

communist notions of a perfect state, but also as Orwell's more general comment

on the decline of true liberty and equality in the west (Gardner 99).

The progress of the revolution from a common idealism to a state system

of leader, police, and workers happens rather rapidly. The animals take over the

farm and the pigs ( Bolsheviks ) emerge as natural organizers. The pigs rduce

the principles of animalism in seven simple commandments and develop a green and

white version of the Russian hammer and sickle flag. Instead, theirs has "a hoof

and horn which signifies the future Republic of the animals which would arise

when the human race had been finally overthrown"(Orwell 89). Orwell demonstrates

both the greed and the hypocracy involved in the urge to power when the clever

pigs contribute to none of the work and keep for themselves all the milk and


During the novel, the pigs continue to gain more and more power. In the

pigs uprise of power, the Seven Commandments are an effective structural device.

Their different alterations resemble the pigs' progressive rise to power. The

pigs' gradual acquisition of priveleges- apples, milk, house, whisky, beer,

clothes- leads to the final identification of pig and human, Communist and

capitalist(Gardner 101).

The blurring of the past and the hardening shape of the present, grim,

greedy, or just pragmatic, are accompanied by betrayal of the spirit of the

revolution exemplified in the ammendments made into the "Seven Commandments" of

"Animalism"(Gardner 102). Costantly these are changed by one of the deceiving

pigs, Squealer. The puzzled animals can not figure out with trying to keep pace

with the pigs increasing authority. So the commandments such as, "No animal

shall sleep in a bed" becomes, when the pigs move into the farmhouse, "No

animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." Also, after the savage killings "No

animal shall kill another" is modified by the addition of "without a cause."

Each event that occurs in Animal Farm has a historical parallel(Meyers

106). The Rebellion is the October 1917 Revolution, the Battle of the Cowshed is

the subsequent Civil War, Mr. Jones and the farmers represent the loyalist

Russians, the hen's revolt stands for the brutally suppressed 1921 mutiny of the

sailors, Napolean's deal with Whymper represents Russia's 1922 Treaty of

Rapallo with Germany(Meyers 106). The most significant of all the events is the

building of the windmill, which in Soviet terms represents

industrialization(Meyers 107). Orwell ends the novel with a satiric portrait of

the Teheran Conference of 1943, the meeting of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin

who are now allies (Raymond).

Throughout the entire book, the pigs gradually gravitate towards the

human world. First, through trade and alliances with Mr.Frederick. The selling

of timber to Mr. Frederick of Pinchfield is the animal equivalent of the short-

lived Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact of 1939(Gardner 105). Then as the pigs

celebrate the Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of the Windmill, they drink alcohol.

More and more has Napolean, now "elected" president, become the remote object of

a personality cult in a system marked by "readjustment" of rations for workers

and the empty "dignity of" more songs, more speeches, and more

processions(Gardner 105). Despite this, all the animals, except the pigs, still

hope for days before the Rebellion. They figured if they worked hard, at least,

they worked for themselves. "No creature among them went upon two legs"(Orwell

36). "No creature called another creature 'Master'"(Orwell 38). "All animals

were equal"(Orwell 62).

Orwell finishes Animal Farm with a surprise ending. He demonstrates the

pigs' complete corruptness as they walk on their hind legs. The pigs train all

the young sheep to walk on their hind legs and chant "Four legs good, two legs

better." Orwell throws in irony throughout the novel to show that not all the

animals are fair and equal.

On the whole, Orwell's intentions to discredit the Soviet system by

showing its inhumanity and its back-sliding from ideals is achieved. It is

Orwell's sharpness of visualization and emotional resonance that have ensured

Animal Farm what seems to be a permanent place in literature(Gardner 107).

Graham Greene rightly noted in his review that we "become involved in the fate

of the animals. We care about them too much merely to translate events into

their historical equivalent." There is no such possibility in Animal Farm, nor,

by the end , can we escape the weight of the book's sadness by thinking that

these things have only happened to animals(Gardner 107). We look from the

oppressed animals in the book to the oppressed human beings outside and back

again, and can see no difference (Gardner 107).

Work Cited

DISCovering Authors, Gale Research Inc., 1993 .[computer]

Gardner, Averil. George Orwell. Boston, G.K. Hall and Co.: 1987.

Meyers, Valerie. Modern Novelists George Orwell. St. Martin's Press: New York,


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

Schorer, Mark. "An Indigent and Prophetic Novel." The New York Times Book Review,


Williams, Raymond. George Orwell; A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey,

Prentice- Hall, Inc.: 1974.

Woodcock, George. The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell. Little, Brownn,

and Company, 1966.

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