Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell the book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, and then on into the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism.
George Orwell’s (1946) Animal Farm was a symbolic tale in which the an- imals overthrew the cruel owner of a farm and began to run it them- selves according to very positive, egalitarian principles. So that the new governing rules could be viewed daily, the animals wrote the seven commandments on the side of the barn. The last and most important of these commandments read, “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL.” At the end of this yarn of good gone bad, the pigs have taken over and given them- selves more rights and privileges than the other animals. Accordingly, the other animals awaken one morning only to find that their normally comforting commandments now have been abridged to read, “ALL AN - IMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.” Using this Animal Farm analogy, I see Nansook Park, Christopher Peterson, and Martin E. P. Seligman (this issue) as conclud - ing, on the basis of their data, that “ALL STRENGTHS ARE EQUAL.” My view of their data, taken together with the previous results on hope, is that “ALL STRENGTHS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME STRENGTHS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”
Through ‘Animal Farm’, Orwell uses characters representative of the players in the Russian Revolution to retell the revolution in a sugar coated metaphor. Early on in the novel, Major(Karl Marx), introduces to the animals the ideas of communism, later to be called Animalism by the dictating pigs, as well as a Revolution, which he labelled ‘Rebellion’. Using simplistic language, Orwell simplifies and clarifies human behaviour. This simplistic approach allows people to stand back and mostly ignore the characters, to focus more on the issues that are involved. ‘Animal Farm’ is presented to readers as a world so unlike our own, to show that it is exactly like our own.
In the story, Napoleon gains power saying he will do what best for the animals but he soon begins to do what is beneficial for himself. An example of his better life would be, It was also more suited to the dignity of the Leader (for of late he had taken to speaking of Napoleon under the title of "Leader") to live in a house than in a mere sty.(page 79) Also the quote, "And the news soon leaked out that every pig was now receiving a ration of a pint of beer daily, with half a gallon for Napoleon himself, which was always served to him in the Crown Derby soup tureen. (page 117) Power can be a good thing at times but people cant handle power and do things or the good of every one.
In his self-proclaimed "fairy-story," Orwell uses his allegorical farm to symbolize the communist system. Though the original intention of overthrowing Mr. Jones (who represents the Czars), is not inherently evil in itself, Napoleon's subsequent adoption of nearly all of Mr. Jones' principles and harsh mistreatment of the animals proves to the reader that indeed communism is not equality, but just another form of inequality. The pigs and dogs take most of the power for themselves, thinking that they are the best administrators of government. Eventually the power corrupts them, and they turn on their fellow animals, eliminating competitors through propaganda and bloodshed. This is of course a reference to Stalin, who murdered many of his own people in order to maintain his dictatorship of Russia.
Thanks in part to Animal Farm, much of the Western world finally realized the danger of communism. Soon a Cold War began between the world's greatest superpowers- the Soviet Union and the United States. In the end, America would prove that capitalism and democracy could outlive a system of government-mandated equality.
The novel can also be taken as a more general attack on the search of power and the way in which corrupt figures gain and manipulate power for their own purposes. Animal farm is a satire on political power. Lord Acton observed that: ‘power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ As the pigs gain power, it accordingly becomes harder and harder for them to resist the temptations of enjoying an easier life for themselves, especially as the other animals are presented as being too naive to prevent themselves from being manipulated. Napoleon is driven by power and slowly descends into tyranny. He is driven by power and throughout the novel all he does is plan how to take it.
Animal Farm shows how the minority in power uses vague language, propaganda, and misinformation to control the thoughts and beliefs of the majority in the lower classes. The pigs, especially Squealer, become extremely sophisticated and effective in their attempts to rewrite the rules of Animal Farm and Animalism. They even revise the farm’s entire history in order to mislead the other animals into believing exactly what they say. By the end of the novel, the animals on the farm believe Snowball fought against them at the Battle of the Cowshed even though they saw him fight with them. They believe life on the farm has improved even though they have less food than ever, and that Napoleon has their best interests at heart even though he kills those who disagree with him. As the only literate animals on the farm, the pigs maintain a monopoly on information that they use to build and hold their power.
A theme that is evident in this book is that language is extremely powerful. The use of propoganda has the power to persuade entire countries and even regions of the world of one idea. This idea can cause major hostility, war, and conflict. This book makes it very apparent that being very intellectually spoken can get you almost anything you want.
Animal Farm depicts a revolution in progress. Old Major gives the animals a new perspective on their situation under Mr. Jones, which leads them to envision a better future free of human exploitation. The revolution in Animal Farm, like all popular revolutions, arises out of a hope for a better future. At the time of the revolution, even the pigs are excited by and committed to the idea of universal animal equality.
Exploitation is the issue around which the animals unite. Initially, the animals do not realize Jones is exploiting them. For this reason, Old Major’s speech is a revelation of momentous proportions. Major explains to the animals that they are enslaved and exploited and that Man is to blame. He teaches them not only what exploitation means, but also the fact that it is not inevitable. Orwell suggests that exploitation is, in fact, bound to happen when one class of society has an advantage over another. The opposite of exploitation, according to Major, is the state of being “rich and free.” Major’s ideas about animal rights symbolize the importance—and scarcity—of human rights in an oppressive regime. Gaining freedom does not necessarily lead people also to become rich, but it is better to be poor and free than poor and exploited.
Animal Farm is a satire of totalitarian governments in their many guises. But Orwell composed the book for a more specific purpose: to serve as a cautionary tale about Stalinism. It was for this reason that he faced such difficulty in getting the book published; by the time Animal Farm was ready to meet its readers, the Allies were cooperating with the Soviet Union. The allegorical characters of the novel represent specific historical figures and different factions of Imperial Russian and Soviet society. These include Karl Marx (Major), Vladimir Lenin (Major), Leon Trotsky (Snowball), Joseph Stalin (Napoleon), Adolf Hitler (Frederick), the Allies (Pilkington), the peasants (Boxer), the elite (Mollie), and the church (Moses).
The resemblance of some of the novel’s events to events in Soviet history is indubitable. For example, Snowball’s and Napoleon’s power struggle is a direct allegory of Trotsky’s and Stalin’s. Frederick’s trade agreement with Napoleon, and his subsequent breaking of the agreement, represents the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact that preceded World War II. The following Battle of the Windmill represents World War II itself.
Animal Farm begins with a very drunk Mr. Jones (owner of Manor Farm) doing a really crumby job of, you know, his job. The neglected animals listen to a wise old pig, old Major, who encourages them all to rebel and run the farm themselves. Above all, he says, everyone should be equal. Then he dies. Everyone is excited except for Benjamin, a cynical donkey whose main job in life is to be, well, cynical.The animals do rebel, and the pigs, being the smartest animals, naturally take the leadership role (so much for that equality business). There is some immediate conflict between two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon wants to sit around and be in charge of everything, while Snowball wants to teach the other animals (Imagine!) and build a windmill. Napoleon uses nine ferocious and enormous dogs (which he stole when they were young) to become the All Powerful Dominant Boss Leader Chief Pig. He doesn’t call it that, but it’s in the back of his mind somewhere. So Snowball is out of the picture, which is convenient for blaming everything on him.The pigs exploit the other animals shamelessly, breaking all the rules that they had established after the Rebellion. Things fall apart: life on the farm gets worse and worse, the animals forget old Major’s original dream, and the pigs make some poor management decisions when dealing with the neighboring farms. The culminating miserable moment comes when the pigs send Boxer, a hardworking and loyal horse who is ready for retirement, to his death.