An allegory is a story with two meanings. One meaning is simple and is just about the characters and what happens to them. The second meaning is deeper and symbolic. The characters represent real people and the things that happen; refer to important events in the world. Animal Farm is a simple story about a group of animals who take over control of the farm. Their leaders, the pigs, promise them a wonderful life, but they end up starving and miserable. Orwell uses this plot to satirize the communistic system and the events following the Russian Revolution
In the beginning of the novel, the animals live in a capitalistic environment. Old Major plants the seed of the rebellion by sharing his revolutionary dream with the other animals. This brings up the thought of Marxism and the ideals of Lenin. After the animals have taken over the farm, they set up seven commandments, which are to be the principles of Animalism. Animalism is exactly like the communism in Russia. The reason for the animals’ rebellion is so that everyone could have a better life, but they ended up worse off.
The reason for the Russian Revolution was to fix the problems created by the Tsar, but Russia was also worse off and it turned out the Tsar was nothing compared to Stalin. The events in Animal Farm contribute to the development and flow of the plot, but they also represent real historical events. The rebellion of the animals refers the Russian Revolution. The battle of the cowshed can be linked to the Civil War between the Tsarist Forces and The Bolsheviks. It was a war of communist against anti-communist and it is also known as Red October.
When the animals go into the farmhouse for the first time, they are amazed and disgusted. The common people have the same attitude towards the ostentatious wealth of the Russian Royal Family. Stalin and Trotsky were constantly arguing and couldn’t agree on anything, if one said something the other would side with the opposite. Snowball and Napoleon, both representing these leaders, have the same relationship. The windmill is a symbol of Stalin’s five year plan, both were failures. Napoleon set up new plans after the first failed as did Stalin.
The Battle of the Windmill is a parallel to the Battle at Stalingrad when Germany invaded Russia during the World War 2. Neighbouring farmer, Frederick, wanted to buy a pile of timbre from Napoleon, while Hitler wanted oil stores in Russia. By selling the timbre to Frederick, it refers to the Nazi-Soviet Pact. In the novel, Napoleon uses fear and violence to attain power, Stalin uses the same tactic in the Purges of 1936. It is not only the events in Animal Farm that carry such significance, but also the characters.
In Animal Farm, Orwell lets the animals speak and interact with each other. Judging by their actions and development during the story, we can see what kind of people they represent. Old Major, the prize-winning boar, represents the ideals of Marx and Lenin. Napoleon, the fierce dictator, symbolizes Stalin, whereas Snowball is his enemy, Trotsky. Their non-stop bickering is a reflection of the real life power struggle between these two leaders. Squealer does not represent a person, but an idea. Squealer uses propaganda to motivate the masses.
The ‘Pravda’ also used numerous propaganda techniques to brainwash the people during the Russian Revolution. The Pigeons have a similar role. They spread the news of the Revolution/Rebellion, as did the ‘COMINTERN’ or ‘Communist International’. Mister Jones represents Tsar Nicholas. Tsar Nicholas made a lot of mistakes and the Revolution was supposed to make up for them, but didn’t. Mister Pilkington, the neighbouring farmer, represents Winston Churchill, while his farm, England. On the other side, there was Mister Frederick. He is similar to Adolf Hitler and his farm, Pinchfield, represents Germany.
Boxer, the loyal horse, represents the oppressed workers class. Napoleon raises a litter of puppies and trains them as his own guard dogs; they have the same function as the Secret Police. Moses represents the religious side of the rebellion; he is in comparison with the Russian Orthodox Church. Mollie, who is not in favour of the rebellion and longs for her luxurious life of ribbons and sugar (fine food and clothing), represents the Russian upper class. All these animals and their human counterparts play a very big role in the allegorical character of Animal Farm.
George Orwell sometimes referred to Animal Farm as a fairytale, but it is actually much more than just a pleasurable read. He saw what was happening in Russia, under the rule of Stalin and created this story to warn us about the dangers of leaders with too much power. The novel is a perfect example of an allegory. Every event and character can be linked to real events in Russian history. Although talking animals are not your typical adult entertainment, the message that Animal Farm conveys is timeless and universal.
Courtney from Study Moose
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