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Animalism vs marxism as discussed in animal farm

Animalism Vs. Marxism

Characters, items, and events found in George Orwells book, Animal Farm, can be

compared to similar characters, items, and events found in Marxism and the 1917 Russian

Revolution. This comparison will be shown by using the symbolism that is in the book

with similarities found in the Russian Revolution.

Old Major was a prized-boar that belonged to Farmer Jones. The fact that Old

Major is himself a boar was to signify that radical change and revolution are, themselves,

boring in the eyes of the proletariat (represented by the other barnyard animals), who are

more prone to worrying about work and survival in their everyday life. Old Major gave

many speeches to the farm animals about hope and the future. He is the main animal who

got the rebellion started even though he died before it actually began. Old Major's role

compares to Lenin and Marx whose ideas were to lead to the communist revolution.

Animal Farm is a criticism of Karl Marx, as well as a novel perpetuating his convictions of

democratic Socialism. (Zwerdling, 20). Lenin became leader and teacher of the working

class in Russia, and their determination to struggle against capitalism. Like Old Major,

Lenin and Marx wrote essays and gave speeches to the working class poor. The working

class in Russia, as compared with the barnyard animals in Animal Farm, were a laboring

class of people that received low wages for their work. Like the animals in the farm yard,

the people is Russia thought there would be no oppression in a new society because the

working class people (or animals) would own all the riches and hold all the power.

(Golubeva and Gellerstein 168).

Another character represented in the book is Farmer Jones. He represents the symbol of

the Czar Nicholas in Russia who treated his people like Farmer Jones treated his animals. The

animal rebellion on the farm was started because Farmer Jones was a drunk who never took care

of the animals and who came home one night, left the gate open and the animals rebelled. Czar

Nicholas was a very weak man who treated his people similar to how Farmer Jones treated his

animals. The Czar made his working class people very mad with the way he wielded his authority

and preached all the time, and the people suffered and finally demanded reform by rebelling. The

Czar said "The law will henceforward be respected and obeyed not only by the nation but also the

authority that rules it - and that the law would stand above the changing views of the individual

instruments of the supreme power." (Pares 420).

The animal Napoleon can be compared as a character representing Stalin in Russia. Both

were very mean looking, didn't talk very much but always got what they wanted through force.

In one part of the book Napoleon charged the dogs on Snowball, another animal. Stalin became

the Soviet Leader after the death of Lenin. He was underestimated by his opponents who always

became his victims, and he had one of the most ruthless, regimes in history. In was not till very

many years later that the world found out about the many deaths that Stalin created in Russia

during the Revolution. For almost 50 years the world thought that the Nazis had done the killing

in Russia, when in fact it was Stalin. (Imse 2).

The last characters that are symbolic of each other are the animal Snowball with the

Russian leader Trotsky. Snowball was very enthusiastic and was a leader who organized the

defense of the farm. He gave speeches and instructions but was not very beneficial. All the other

animals liked him, but he was outsmarted by Napoleon. Trotsky and Stalin's relationship was

very much like Snowball's and Napoleons. Trotsky organized the Red Army and gave speeches

and everyone in Russia thought he would win power over Stalin. After Lenin's death Trotsky lost

all his power to Stalin and was expelled from the communist party. He was at one time

considered the second most powerful man in Russia. (Trotsky" Comptons 290).

Besides characters there are many items that can be compared as symbols in the book and

in Russia. The whip that Napoleon used in the farmyard to wield power can be compared to the

power that Stalin used on the Russians. Napoleon carried a whip in his trotter. Stalin used his

power to starve the Russian people and to have Lenin arrested. Stalin's main goal was to

maximize his personal power. ("Stalin," Britannia 576). Stalin "whipped" his people into shape

by collectivizing agriculture, by police terror, and by destroying remnants of individual prosperity.

He also led the Soviet Union into the nuclear age (Clarkson 442).

Propaganda is another item that was used in the Russian revolution. It can be compared

to Squealer in Animal Farm. Squealer brainwashed (a form of propaganda) the barnyard animals

into believing that they did not like apples and milk, while he and Napoleon were stealing the food

for themselves. In Russia, the Bolsheviks carried out propaganda on the people by passing out

leaflets and putting stories in the newspapers that were not true. They told workers, soldiers, and

peasants to not trust their own hands and to take away land from the landowners. (Golubeva and

Gellerstein 80).

Another item that is similar in both Animal Farm and Russia are the dogs and the secret

police. Napoleon trained his dogs when they were puppies to guard him and to obey his every

command. They chased Snowball away. Stalin trained his secret police to do his bidding

whenever he issued an order. Stalin had his secret police kill between 60,000 to 70,000 people.

These police were called the Checka and the graves filled with bodies stacked upon each other

with bullets in each skull were found many years later. (Imse, C2).

Another symbolism that exists in the book and in Russia is a similarity to events that took

place. The windmill that is present in Animal Farm can be compared with the growth of industry

in Russia or the Industrial Revolution. Snowball first introduced the windmill concept to the farm

but Napoleon disagreed with him and had the dogs chase him away. Napoleon then presented the

windmill as a good idea and the animals were presented with hope that things would get better on

the farm. When it blew down, Napoleon blamed it on Snowball. Napoleon thought that if he

could keep the barnyard animals busy all the time replacing the windmill that they would not

realize how bad their living conditions were, and he could blame the destruction all the time on

Snowball. The windmill is the only thing that was holding the animals together as a unit. In

Russia the growth of factory and industry was very depressing but depended on the obligatory

labor of serfs. Russia hoped that by keeping the serfs working all the time and promising them a

better world that they would not realize how bad their living conditions were. The Industrialists

were pressing their own constitutional demands. (Clarkson 352). None of the social classes were

fighting each other because there were no classes left. What Russia got working was to make the

people think that the prospect of loss of potential improvements in conditions of life of the here

and now, could only be attained by stimulating labor to unprecedented efforts.

The last event that was similar in the book and in Russia was the animal rebellion on the

farm and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Farmer Jones was drunk a lot and would forget to feed

the animals on the farm. The withholding of this food is what finally forced the animals on the

farm to rebel against Farmer Jones. In Russia, there were many food shortages which caused the

people to demonstrate and then the Russian soldiers refused to suppress them and the leaders

demanded that Nicholas transfer his power to parliamentary government because everything was

getting out of control. Soviet workers and soldiers formed a special committee and established a

government. The same day the emperor abdicated. ("Russian Revolution," Grolier npa). This

actually backfired in Russia and the war continued and the people still starved.

Many lessons can be learned by reading Animal Farm that can help countries and

governments around the world from making mistakes in wielding their power against their people.

If a population is suppressed and not allowed to accumulate things for themselves then an

overthrow of the government that is suppressing them will be the result.


Clarkson, Jesse. A History of Russia. New York: Random House, 1969.

Golubeva, T. and L. Gellerstein. Early Russia - The Russie. Moscos, Press Agency Publishing

House, 1976.

Imse, Ann. Mass Grave Seen as Evidence of Massecure by Stalins Police. "Hunstsville Times,

13, August. 1990.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Signet 50th Anniversary Edition, Harcourt Brace & Company,


Pares, Sir Bernard. The Fall of the Russian Monarchy. New York: A division of Random

House, 1939.

"Russian Revolution of 1917." Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc. 1992 ed.

"Stalin, Joseph." Encyclopedia Britannica. 1917 ed.

Zwerdling, Alex. Orwell and The Left. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1974.



Thesis: Characters, items, and events found in George Orwells book, Animal Farm, can be

compared to similar characters, items, and events found in Marxism and the 1917 Russian


I. Leader Comparisons

A. Old Major compared with Lenin and Marx

B. Farmer Jones compared with Czar Nicholas II

C. Napoleon compared with Stalin

D. Snowball compared with Trotsky

II. Item Comparisons

B. Whip compared with power

C. Squealer compared with propaganda

D. Dogs compared with the secret police

I. Event Comparisons

C. Windmill compared with industry growth

D. Rebellion compared with revolution



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