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Analyzing the Harm in ‘animal Farm’

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Orwell allegorizes Stalin through the character of a pig named Napoleon. “He is representative of Stalin in his willingness to desecrate and in his corruption” (Bloom, 17). Napoleon is a power hungry pig that began the novel as one of the good guys who was in support of the Animal Revolution. The animals placed their trust in Napoleon and Snowball (Leon Trotsky) to lead them to a better life. Napoleon gains a reputation of getting his way in Animal Farm through use of power and scare tactics. Instead of debating with Snowball over issues he chased him out of the farm by setting the dogs loose on him. Napoleon’s power over the farm increased with Snowball out of the way. This parallels to when Stalin had Leon Trotsky (Snowball) exiled from Russia and killed later on. Other similarities between the two include Napoleon slaughtering a multitude of animals just as Stalin killed numerous people in the Show Trials. The two have many characteristics in common in the way their governments were run. Napoleon used dogs, Moses, and Squealer to control the animals while Stalin employed the KGB, Roman Catholic Church and used propaganda. The dogs, Moses and Squealer are all directly symbolic to the KGB, Roman Catholic Church and Soviet propagandists (Rodden, 5-6). “The vicious, greedy, and nonproductive qualities of pigs make them the ideal personification of the Marxist intellectuals who profess to speak in the name of the workers, but do nothing productive themselves except spout propaganda and engage in murder” (Rodden, 13). Orwell’s use of a pig to satirize Stalin was a direct insult to him because pigs are perceived to be the smelliest and most disgusting animals of the animal kingdom.

Another significant example of symbolism in Animal Farm is Mr. Jones who represents Tsar Nicholas II (Rodden, 5). The similarity between these two is undeniable; both were leaders, Mr. Jones being the leader of Manor Farm and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Neither of them was a great leader and both were easily overruled by their citizens. Tsar Nicholas II was known to be cruel and brutal to those who opposed him. He also could be nice at times, as he cared a lot for his family. Mr. Jones was always drunk, didn’t feed his animals, neglected their needs and was known to beat the animals. However, when Mr. Jones wasn’t drunk he would occasionally let his kindness show by mixing in milk with the animal’s mash. The two of these men both failed as leaders through their own mismanagement and corruption.

The fall of Tsar Nicholas II was an important event that occurred in the Russian Revolution, which was represented in Animal Farm by the Battle of the Cowshed (Rodden, 6). Tsar Nicholas II’s fall was due to his lack of leadership and incapability to negotiate with anyone else’s ideas. He believed that the government didn’t need changing and there was nothing wrong with the government’s current system and harshly suppressed any criticism of it. This is what led to him being overthrown and ultimately his death. The Battle of the Cowshed where Mr. Jones attempted to regain his land is similar to this. Mr. Jones was ambushed by the animals and retreated, never to return to the farm again. Orwell used this allegory to represent the angry citizens of Russia who overthrew Tsar Nicholas II.

The Battle of the Cowshed was not the only main event symbolizing the Russian Revolution in Animal Farm. Another example is when Napoleon and Frederick sign an agreement that Frederick ends up breaching. Napoleon took over the farm and signed an agreement with Frederick who was one of the neighboring farmers to sell him wood in exchange for money. Frederick didn’t follow through on the agreement and ended up giving Napoleon counterfeit bills. “The news of what had happened sped round the farm like wildfire. The bank-notes were forgeries! Frederick had got the timber for nothing” (Orwell, 101)! This is symbolic of when Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Germany in August 1939 (Rodden, 6). Germany didn’t hold up its end of the agreement and invaded Russia. Orwell used allegory with these events through use of the same type of exchange and similar characters being involved.

There are three main underlying themes that Orwell portrays in Animal Farm including “power corrupts, revolutions tend to come full circle and devour their peoples, and even good, decent people are vulnerable to power hunger and leader worship” (Rodden, xxiv). Orwell believed that revolutions rarely benefit those who are supposed to benefit from them (Bloom, 12-13). Dictators gain so much power and are able to force their will upon the people because human beings are too naïve. In addition to being naïve, human beings are naturally greedy therefore causing more complications. Greed causes people to act irrationally which makes revolution hypocritical because the person who initiates the revolution always ends up worse than the person they have overthrown. In Animal Farm Napoleon initiates the rebellion and in the end is even greedier and more immoral than the original leader, Mr. Jones ever was. Revolution is all about starting new but almost always ends worse than it began because of human greed and manipulation.

Animal Farm has changed history and continues to influence millions as they read the novel. It can be interpreted at different levels based on age and understanding. Animal Farm could be interpreted as a nursery rhyme, fable or an allegory novel about the Russian Revolution. Orwell’s use of characters to depict real people from the Russian Revolution utilized astonishingly accurate connections. Napoleon the cunning pig represents Joseph Stalin, while Snowball the intellectual pig depicts Leon Trotsky who was Stalin’s co-leader. There is also underlying symbolism of events in Animal Farm from the Russian Revolution that include ‘The Battle of the Cowshed’ representing the fall of Tsar Nicholas II, while Frederick giving Napoleon counterfeit bank-notes represents the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. Animal Farm was written by Orwell between 1943 and 1944 and still to this day immeasurable amounts of people read and relish his satirical novel depicting the people and events of the Russian Revolution.

Works Cited

"Allegory." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 26 Apr. 2014. .

Bloom, Harold. Bloom's Guides: George Orwell's Animal Farm. New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2006. Print.

Bloom’s Guides is a collection of comprehensive study guides for both students and adults. Emphasizing summary and analysis, these guides are designed to provide the necessary materials with which readers can gain a better understanding


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