2PreAP English, Period 7
19 December 2012
The Meaning of Equality
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, he examines the impact of communism and the post-war anxiety of World War II. Orwell uses allegories to thoroughly explain the pain and worry following the clash between countries. He uses farm animals and a farm to represent the major events and figures in the time of Stalinism and the Soviet Union. The animals want to “get rid of man” (Orwell 30), and man stands for capitalist society. Communism, or “Animalism” as the animals call it, starts out as a society of equals, but gradually mutates into a dictatorship. The leaders created a dystopian world where everything they had planned took a turn for the worse instead of the originally planned utopia. All of the animals (except for the pigs/leaders) ultimately lose all of the power they believed they had gained. Post-war anxiety plays a large role in the novel, Soviet Russia, and around the world. In the years following WWII, America was constantly in fear of Russia bombing them and Russia was afraid that America was going to invade. In Animal Farm, the animals wake up every day with the anxiety of the humans coming back to retake the farm. The humans (both Mr. Jones and the owners of other farms), on the other hand, are afraid that their animals will follow suit and revolt against them. Russell Baker explains how Orwell experienced the war first hand and how he believed that the decent people of Western Europe were being tricked into thinking that Soviet reality was remarkable in his “Preface” of Animal Farm. Orwell called the book a fable, but it is also a “satire on human folly” (Russell vi) and has numerous lessons for human morality. Post-war anxiety was tremendous in both the ‘50s and the 60’s and George Orwell found this out when he went searching for a publisher. Stalinism and the Soviet Union were so popular that neither British nor English publishers wanted to hear any criticism of his ideas. It seemed like the West had readily put on blinders because of the defeat of Hitler’s army. Everyone had a great deal of praise for the Soviet Union and its forces. Stalin and his political system significantly benefited from all of this. Orwell marched to the beat of his own drum and has an “insistence on being his own man” (Russell ix). The preface to Animal Farm helps the reader understand why Orwell developed such a candid critique of Stalinism. Although he was a socialist, Orwell believed that Stalin and his comrades perversely transformed the meaning of socialism and equality. Without reading the “Preface”, one would assume that this novel is simple and childish. George Orwell hid his disgust in the political terror and totalitarianism going on in Russia at the time behind the many farm animals in his novel. In addition to the “Preface” by Russell Baker, C.M. Woodhouse tells the reader that the novel was offered to the general population in the same month as the atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the “Introduction.” Woodhouse goes on to explain that this “fairy-story” (Woodhouse xix) has a moral, and teaches us lessons about life. It does not take place in our world, but in a world beyond. The fairy stories are set in a place without good and evil. Woodhouse believes that Orwell has brought back the words equality, democracy, and peace. All of these words have been deceitfully changed into “shibboleths of political warfare” (Woodhouse xxii). Woodhouse also explains that it is impossible for those that have read Animal Farm to not regularly think about the fact that some people are more equal than others. He goes on to say that George Orwell’s novel may not alter the course of history in a short amount of time. It could take decades more for his novel to contribute to the world. What we do know is that Orwell successfully predicted the future of Stalin, the Soviet Union, and his ideas. George Orwell’s legacy as a...
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