George Orwell's Satirical Masterpiece: Animal Farm

Categories: Rudyard Kipling

Lord Byron once expressed his focus on fools by stating, "Fools are my theme, let satire be my song." Satire is a literary form that reveals human folly and vice through mockery or ridicule. George Orwell's Animal Farm serves as a significant example of satire, created during an era when the Soviet Union was esteemed in Britain and Stalin was revered. Orwell utilized this allegorical novella to merge political and artistic objectives, showcasing the collapse of the Russian Revolution due to corrupt leaders and uninformed citizens.

George Orwell, born as Eric Arthur Blair in Bengal, India on June 25th 1903 to a British colonial civil servant, moved to England with his mother and sister during his youth. He began by having his poems published in local newspapers before attending St. Cyprian's on a scholarship in Eastbourne where he was exposed to England's class system and the works of Rudyard Kipling and H. G. Wells. His intelligence earned him a scholarship to Eton college before joining the India Imperial Police Force in 1922.

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After resigning from this position five years later, Orwell returned to England to pursue his writing passion.

He divided his time between England and Paris, eventually writing his first significant piece Down and Out in Paris and London. To avoid causing embarrassment to his family, he published it under the alias George Orwell. Failing to achieve success, he took on different jobs to support himself. He later published Burmese Days, which portrayed British colonialism in Burma while under India's authority. His political involvement grew after this work was released, prompting him to participate in the battle against General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War on his trip to Spain in 1937.

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Despite playing as a left back for England despite being injured, Orwell faced years of sickness before being diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1938. Despite his health struggles, he landed a job as a producer at the BBC and later became the literary editor for a socialist newspaper in 1943. Famous for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), published towards the end of his life, Orwell sadly could not fully relish his success due to his ongoing battle with tuberculosis. He died on January 21, 1950, in a London hospital.

England, part of the United Kingdom, is surrounded by Scotland to the north and Wales to the west. The Irish Sea is located to the northwest, while the Celtic Sea lies southwest. In the east, England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea, and in the south is the English Channel. With a population of 53,013,000 inhabitants, British English serves as its official language. Christianity, especially Anglicanism, is widely practiced in England. English folklore holds a significant place in English culture, with characters and stories closely associated with specific regions.

Among the common folkloric beings are pixies, giants, elves, bogeymen, trolls, goblins, and dwarves. In the Early Modern Period, English cuisine was characterized by its straightforward preparation and focus on using top-notch natural ingredients. Traditional English meals like the Sunday roast - featuring a roasted joint with vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, and gravy - were well-liked. Also popular were dishes like fish and chips and the full English breakfast.

In England, traditional dishes like meat pies and sausages are commonly enjoyed, along with Lancashire hotpot stew. Alcoholic beverages such as wines, ciders, and English beers like bitter, mild, stout, and brown ale are also popular. The country has a strong sporting heritage with sports that were codified in the 19th century now played worldwide. Notable sports originating in England include association football, cricket, and rugby. The political system is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system with direct governance by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II serves as monarch while David Cameron MP holds the position of prime minister.

Published by Orwell on August 17th, 1945, Animal Farm depicts the perils of ignorance and indifference in a revolution if a seamless transition to a people's government is not accomplished. Old Major, an award-winning boar, imparts his vision of animals living without human oppression to the creatures of Manor Farm. Motivated by his dream, they strive to establish a utopia founded on the beliefs of Animalism, devised by younger pigs Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer following Major's passing.

After a successful late-night battle, the animals overthrow Mr. Jones and rename the land as Animal Farm to fulfill Major’s vision. Initially thriving with Snowball teaching reading skills and Napoleon educating young puppies about Animalism principles, disagreements between them lead to power struggles. Eventually, Napoleon drives Snowball away and takes control of Animal Farm by abolishing all future meetings.

From that moment on, he proclaims, the pigs will be the sole decision-makers, all for the benefit of the entire animal community. Napoleon instructs the animals to construct a windmill, and they focus all their efforts on its completion. Following a storm, the animals discover the windmill destroyed. Napoleon accuses Snowball of returning to the farm to wreck the windmill. Using this as a pretext, he eliminates various animals who are accused of being part of Snowball's supposed conspiracy by having them killed by his attack dogs. With his authority unchallenged, Napoleon begins to expand his control, distorting history to portray Snowball as a villain. He also starts to adopt more human-like behaviors such as sleeping in a bed, drinking alcohol, and engaging in trade with neighboring farmers.

Despite the original Animalist principles that prohibited certain activities, Squealer justifies every action to the other animals, convincing them that Napoleon is a great leader who is improving their circumstances. Despite facing cold, hunger, and overwork, the animals believe in Napoleon. However, Mr. Frederick cheats Napoleon in a timber purchase and later attacks the farm, destroying the newly rebuilt windmill. This leads to a battle where Napoleon sells Boxer, his most loyal worker, to a glue maker in exchange for money for whisky. As time passes on Animal Farm, the pigs begin to resemble humans more and more by walking upright, carrying whips, and wearing clothes.

Ultimately, the seven principles of Animalism, identified as the Seven Commandments and engraved on the side of the barn, are condensed into one principle stating that "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Napoleon hosts a dinner for a human farmer named Mr. Pilkington and announces his plan to collaborate with the human farmers against the working classes of both the human and animal societies. Additionally, he reverts the name of Animal Farm to Manor Farm, asserting that this title is the "right" one.

Observing the elite party from inside the farmhouse, the ordinary animals are unable to distinguish between the pigs and the humans. This symbolism mirrors the decline of the Russian Revolution and the corruption of Stalin. Old Major symbolizes Karl Marx, who introduced Communism and Animalism. Napoleon embodies Joseph Stalin, with Snowball embodying Leon Trotsky. The attack dogs symbolize the Red Army, while Boxer represents the Soviet workers.

During the Russian Revolution, the ascension of Stalin inspired Orwell to create Animal Farm, a satirical portrayal of equality among barnyard animals free from human tyranny. Under the leadership of the pig Napoleon, the animals rebel against their human oppressors to establish a society based on Animalism. However, the revolution ultimately leads to a totalitarian regime where "All Animals Are Equal / But Some Are More Equal Than Others." Orwell, an English author, uses fictional characters to represent real-life individuals in his exceptional work of satire, shedding light on the truth about the Soviet Union and the pivotal moments of the Russian Revolution.

Updated: Feb 21, 2024
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George Orwell's Satirical Masterpiece: Animal Farm. (2016, Nov 12). Retrieved from

George Orwell's Satirical Masterpiece: Animal Farm essay
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