Animal Farm Essay, Research Paper
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
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 entertaining, 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 apples.
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).