Animal Farm tells the story of Farmer Jones’s
animals who rise up in rebellion and take over the
farm. Tired of being exploited solely for human
gain, the animals—who have human characteristics such as the power of speech—vow to create a new and more just society.
Though the novel reads like a fairy story, and
Orwell subtitles it as just that, it is also a satire
containing a message about world politics and
especially the former Soviet Union in particular.
Since the Bolshevik revolutions of the early
1900s, the former Soviet Union had captured the
attention of the world with its socialist experiment. Stalin’s form of government had some supporters in Britain and the United States, but Orwell was against this system.
In a satire, the writer attacks a serious issue by
presenting it in a ridiculous light or otherwise poking fun at it. Orwell uses satire to expose what he saw as the myth of Soviet socialism. Thus, the
novel tells a story that people of all ages can
understand, but it also tells us a second story—
that of the real-life Revolution. Many critics have
matched in great detail the story’s characters to
historical persons––for example, linking the power
struggle between Napoleon and Snowball to the
historical feuding between Joseph Stalin and Leon
Trostky for control of the Soviet Union. Critics
also believe that Old Major represents Karl Marx,
who dies before realizing his dream. Other comparisons include Moses as the Russian Orthodox church, Boxer and Clover as workers, the sheep as
the general public, Squealer as Stalin’s government news agency, the dogs as Stalin’s military police, and Farmer Jones as Czar Nicholas II. The
farm’s neighbors, Pilkington and Frederick, are
said to represent Great Britain and Germany,
while Mollie suggests the old Russian aristocracy,
which resists change.
A tremendous success when published, Animal
Farm has since become part of school curriculums
and popular literary culture. Readers and...
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