AP Literature and Composition
12 November 2012
Symbolism and Allegory in Animal Farm
When George Orwell wrote his literary masterpiece that has been acclaimed for many years by critics everywhere, Animal Farm, there were many world events shaping the future of all of Europe and the world that impacted his views, which therefore influenced his writing and opinions. His background and values help to shape the glasses through which he views these events. George Orwell is put into positions of warfare and diplomacy and handles both eloquently as he allows them to mold him into the person that writes the masterpieces that he goes on to produce. Animals are implemented to retell the story of Marxism, the Russian Revolution, and the downfall of utopian views and societies. George Orwell uses symbolism and allegory in his novel Animal Farm to show the social issues of the Soviet Union in the time period of 1917 through 1943. The background of George Orwell must be understood before one can go deeper into his literary works. George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair who was born on June 25, 1903 in Motihari, Bihar, India. He was born into an upper middle class family and went to Catholic school. He moved to Burma where his grandmother lived, and this is where he later wrote Burmese Days, “A Hanging”, and “Shooting an Elephant”. “In Burmese Days, he resigned to ‘escape not merely from imperialism but from every form of man’s dominion over man’” (“Orwell” 748). When George Orwell moved to London, he began to explore the slums and the poorer parts of the city so that he could learn to understand them and the context of the many books that were written about them. Orwell became interested in the Spanish Civil War and decided to take part in it; because of this, he was asked to be a part of the Spanish Embassy in Paris and he wanted to eliminate fascism throughout the world. George Orwell was married to and adopted a son with Eileen O’Shaughnessy. She died in 1945 during a surgical procedure. Right before he died, he married Sonia Brownell in 1949. Orwell died at 46 years old from tuberculosis. He was in and out of many hospitals for the last three years that he was alive. The author was buried according to Anglican Rite in the All Saints’ Churchyard. At the outbreak of World War II, George Orwell was deemed unfit for service so he began to write for newspapers. Orwell wrote a column of the Tribune and he was a major contributor/writer of The Observer. “By this stage, Orwell saw himself primarily as a political writer, a democratic socialist who hated party labels, hated totalitarianism, and was to become more and more disillusioned with the methods of Communism” (“Orwell” 748). Orwell wanted to expose Communism and eliminate it from Europe. Through his writing for various newspapers, he saw himself as making a difference, but not quite as much as he would have liked so he began a novel to show the ugly truth of Communism once and for all. Before the end of 1944, Animal Farm was ready for publication, but a publisher could not be found as it was considered an attack on the Soviets. No one wanted to accept that kind of responsibility and punishment if something where to reach the Soviet Union regarding his use of allegory and symbolism using animals against them and their ideas. Eventually Jonathon Cape agreed to tackle the controversies that Orwell discussed and he published it. Jonathon Cape founded Jonathon Cape Ltd. with Wren Howard in 1921. It was one of the leading literary publishers in London during the time period. Jonathon Cape also published works such as T.E. Lawrence’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, and the first of the James Bond books. Another historical issue that must be dealt with before a further understanding of Animal Farm can be reached is what exactly happened in the Soviet Union with the Russian Revolution and Marxism. Two German...