Animal Farm Essay, Research Paper
Animal Farm was first published in 1945. Animal Farm is a satire on Stalinism and the Russian revolution. As Russia was an allied of England in 1945, Orwell had a hard time publishing it. The British author George Orwell, pen name for Eric Blair , achieved prominence in the late 1940’s as the author of two brilliant satires attacking totalitarianism. Familiarity with the novels, documentaries, essays, and criticism he wrote during the 1930’s and later established him as one of the most important and influential voices of the century.
The story takes place on a farm somewhere in England. George Orwell did not give an accurate description of the farm and we do not know when the story takes place. When he started writing his book, he did not want people to know that he was writing about the Russian revolution. Many publishers who declined to publish Animal Farm in Britain and America did so because they considered there was no market for "children?s books".
The novel Animal Farm is a satire on the Russian revolution, and therefore full of symbolism. General Orwell associates certain real characters with the characters of the book.
Mr Jones: Mr. Jones is Orwell’s chief (or at least most obvious) villain in Animal Farm. Mr. Jones symbolizes (in addition to the evils of capitalism) Czar Nicholas II, the leader before Stalin (Napoleon). Jones represents the old government, the last of the Czars. Orwell suggests that Jones (Czar Nicholas II) was losing his “edge”. In fact, he and his men had taken up the habit of drinking.
Old Major: Old Major is the first major character described by Orwell in Animal Farm. This “pure-bred” of pigs is the kind, grand fatherly philosopher of change an obvious metaphor for Karl Marx. Old Major proposes a solution to the animals desperate plight under the Jones “administration” when he inspires a rebellion of sorts among the animals.
Napoleon: Napoleon is Orwell’s chief villain in Animal Farm. The name Napoleon is very coincidental since Napoleon, the dictator of France, was thought by many to be the Anti-Christ. Napoleon, the pig, is really the central character on the farm. Obviously a metaphor for Stalin, Comrade Napoleon represents the human frailties of any revolution. He is a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, not much of a talker but with a reputation for getting his own way.
Squealer: Squealer is an intriguing character in Orwell’s Animal Farm. He’s first described as a manipulator and persuader. He is a small fat pig, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements and he has a shrill voice.
Snowball: Orwell describes Snowball as a pig very similar to Napoleon at least in the early stages. He is a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive, but was not considered to have the same depth of character. But as time goes on, both eventually realize that one of them will have to step down. Orwell says that the two were always arguing. “Snowball and Napoleon were by far the most active in the debates. But it was noticed that these two were never in agreement: whatever suggestion either of them made, the other could be counted to oppose it.” Snowball represents Leo Dawidowitsch Trotsky, the arch-rival of Stalin in Russia.
Boxer: An enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhat stupid appearance, and he was not of first-rate intelligence. He was, however, universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous power of work.
Clover: A stout motherly mare approaching middle life, who had never quite got her figure back after fourth goal.
The name Boxer is cleverly used by Orwell as a metaphor for the Boxer Rebellion in China in the early twentieth century. It was this rebellion which signaled the beginning of communism in red China. Boxer and Clover are used by Orwell to represent the proletariat, or unskilled labor class in Russian society. This lower class is naturally drawn to Stalin (Napoleon) because it seems as though they will benefit most from his new system. Since Boxer and the other low animals are not accustomed to the “good life,” they can’t really compare Napoleon’s government to the life they had before under the czars (Jones).
Muriel: Muriel, a white goat, is a knowledgeable goat who reads the commandments for Clover. Muriel represents the minority of working class people who are educated enough to decide things for themselves and find critical and hypocritical problems with their leaders. Unfortunately for the other animals, Muriel is not charismatic or inspired enough to take action and oppose Napoleon and his pigs.
Old Benjamin Old Benjamin, an elderly donkey, is one of Orwell’s most elusive and intriguing characters on Animal Farm. He is described as rather unchanged since the rebellion. He still does his work the same way, never becoming too exited or too disappointed about anything that has passed. "He seldom talked, and when he did it was usually to make cynical remark, for instance he would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off but that he would sooner have had no tails and no flies."
Mollie: She is one of the animal who is most opposed to the new government under Napoleon. She doesn’t care much about the politics of the whole situation; she just wants to tie her hair with ribbons and eat sugar, things her social status won’t allow. She is described as a foolish, pretty white mare.
The story is told by an all-knowing narrator in the third person. The action of this novel starts when the oldest pig on the farm, Old Major, calls all animals to a secret meeting. He tells them about his dream of a revolution against the cruel Mr. Jones. Three days later Major dies, but the speech gives the more intelligent animals a new outlook on life. The pigs, who are considered the most intelligent animals, instruct the other ones. During the period of preparation two pigs can distinguish themselves, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon is big, and although he isn’t a good speaker, he can assert himself. Snowball is a better speaker, he has a lot of ideas and he is very vivid. Together with another pig called Squealer, who is a very good speaker, they work out the theory of “Animalism”. The rebellion starts some months later, when Mr. Jones comes home drunken one night , and forgets to feed the animals. They break out of the barns and run to the house, where the food is stored. When Mr. Jones recognizes this he takes out his shotgun, but it is to late for him, all the animals fall over him and drive him off the farm. The animals destroy all whips nose rings, reins, and all other instruments that have been used to suppress them. The same day the animals celebrate their victory with an extra ration of food. The pigs made up the seven commandments, and they write them above the door of the big barn. 1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. 2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings is a friend. 3. No animal shall wear clothes. 4. No animal shall sleep in a bed. 5. No animal shall drink alcohol. 6. No animal shall kill another animal. 7. All animals are equal.
The animals also agree that no animal shall ever enter the farmhouse, and that no animal shall have contact with humans. This commandments are summarized in the simple phrase: “Four legs good, two legs bad”. After some time Jones comes back with some other men from the village to recapture the farm. The animals fight brave, and they manage to defend the farm. Snowball and Boxer receive medals of honor for defending the farm so bravely. Also Napoleon who had not fought at all takes a medal. This is the reason why the two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, often argue. When Snowball presents his idea to build a windmill, to produce electricity to the other animals, Napoleon calls nine strong dogs. The dogs drive Snowball from the farm, and Napoleon explains that Snowball was in fact co-operating with Mr. Jones. He also explains that Snowball in reality never had a medal of honor, that Snowball was always trying to cover up that he was fighting at the side of Mr. Jones. Although the “common” animals have not enough food, the pigs grow fatter and fatter. They tell the other animals that they need more food, for they are managing the whole farm. Then the pigs move to the farm house. The other animals remember that there has been a commandment that forbids sleeping in beds, and so they go to the big barn to look at the commandments. When they arrive there they can’t believe their eyes, the 4th commandment has been changed to: “No animal shall sleep in bed with sheets”. And the other commandments were also changed: “No animal shall kill another animal without reason”, or “No animal shall drink alcohol in excess”. Some day Boxer, who worked very hard in the construction of the windmill, breaks down. He is sold to a butcher, whereas Napoleon tells the pigs that Boxer has been brought to a hospital where he has died. During this time Napoleon deepens the relations with the neighbor farm, and one day Napoleon even invites the owners of this farm for an inspection. They sit inside the farmhouse and celebrate the efficiency of his farm, where the animals work very hard with the minimum of food. During this celebration all the other animals meet at the window of the farm, and when they look inside they can’t distinguish between man and animal. The turning point of the story is when the pigs keep the milk and apples for themselves, "We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples."