Animal Farm Essay, Research Paper
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm compared to the Russian Revolution
All of the characters in Animal farm have counterparts in real life. This book was based on the Russian Revolution, and all the important populace of the revolution are symbolized. Some of the animals represent individuals in the Russian Revolution, and some types of animals represent different types of Russian citizens. The book carries out much like the actual revolution. It starts out with hopes of an empire where all are equal and the unfair unjust leader is thrown out. Then it moves on to where some individuals begin to take more power than is rightfully theirs. At the end the rulers have completely taken over and the kingdom is as it was under the original rulers. I will compare the animals from top of the social class to the bottom. At the top were the pigs. Each pig represented someone different in the revolution. Old Major is compared to Lenin. He was an ideologist who dreamed up a wonderful government where all the animals were equal and the humans, or the czars, were pushed out. Unfortunately his dream would never materialize. Then we are left with his predecessors. The first is Snowball. Snowball believed one hundred percent in Old Majors ideals. He wanted all the things Old Major wanted, such as the welfare of the animals. In the Russian Revolution his counterpart would be Trotsky. Trotsky believed and wanted the same things as Lenin, and wanted to continue what Lenin had started. Then comes Napoleon. Napoleon was selfish and greedy. He did not want to share the power or the decision making with any other individual. This was the same for Stalin. At first Napoleon and Snowball shared the decision making and had debates about what course of action they would take. This worked for awhile. Then Napoleon grew weary of long debates, and he thought he could make the decision by himself. He then forced Snowball out of the farm and started to spread lies about Snowball to get the entire farm against him. Stalin did the same thing against Trotsky and forced Trotsky into hiding into Mexico, where he was eventually assassinated. Both Stalin and Napoleon ruined any hopes of equal and fare government and instead set up dictatorships. Then comes the final important pig, Squealer. Squealer did not make the decisions in the government but acted more like the controlled media as in the Russian government. His job was to influence the people by exaggerating and re-writing history and sometimes telling plain lies all together. The people would listen to him, and he would always listen to Napoleon. Other animals were the worker class type citizens. The types of citizens range from hard working to selfish and lazy. Molly, for instance, only cared about her ribbons, and wasn’t much of a thinker. All she wanted to do was eat sugar, and look pretty. Benjamin was a critic who always said “I’ve seen that before” and “It’ll never work.” The cat was just plain lazy, and was always disappearing whenever work had to be done. The ducks were weak and did not get much done. Then there were other donkey’s which worked much harder and never thought of their own needs. The pigeons acted as message carriers spreading propaganda between farms, spreading Napoleon’s words from farm to farm, or in the actual Russian Revolution, country to country. Although all these animals are very different, they all shared one common trait. They were all weak. They all let Napoleon take over without much resistance. Just like Stalin took over Russia. These animals were too weak, too scared, or just lacked the intelligence required to do something about it. This is where it is the fault of the people. They should have stood up to Napoleon for what they fought for in the first place. The people must stand up to those who would destroy the system or else all is lost. I think that this story was a good representation of the actual Russian Revolution. But it is even more than that. It shows how people can let certain individuals get away with anything just because they do not feel like standing up to them. If you tried, this story could also be compared to other times in history when the people let dictatorships form in their own country. I enjoyed this book a lot but I do not think that it should be just compared to the Russian Revolution.
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.
rwell, George. Animal Farm. Signet 50th Anniversary Edition, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996.
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.