Major Themes of Animal Farm
Satire is loosely defined as art that ridicules a specific topic in order to provoke readers into changing their opinion of it. By attacking what they see as human folly, satirists usually imply their own opinions on how the thing being attacked can be remedied. Perhaps the most famous work of British satire is Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), where the inhabitants of the different lands Gulliver visits embody what Swift saw as the prominent vices and corruptions of his time. As a child, Orwell discovered and devoured Swift’s novel, which became one of his favorite books. Like Gulliver’s Travels, Animal Farm is a satirical novel in which Orwell, like Swift, attacks what he saw as some of the prominent follies of his time. These various satirical targets comprise the major themes of Orwell’s novel. Tyrants
Orwell, however, does not imply that Napoleon is the only cause for Animal Farm’s decline. He also satirizes the different kinds of people whose attitudes allow rulers like Napoleon to succeed. Mollie, whose only concerns are materialistic, is like people who are so self-centered that they lack any political sense or understanding of what is happening around them. Apolitical people like Mollie — who care nothing for justice or equality — offer no resistance to tyrants like Napoleon. Boxer is likened to the kind of blindly devoted citizen whose reliance on slogans (“Napoleon is always right”) prevents him from examining in more detail his own situation: Although Boxer is a sympathetic character, his ignorance is almost infuriating, and Orwell suggests that this unquestioning ignorance allows rulers like Napoleon to grow stronger. Even Benjamin, the donkey, contributes to Napoleon’s rise, because his only stand on what is occurring is a cynical dismissal of the facts: Although he is correct in stating that “Life would go on as it had always gone on — that is, badly,” he, too, does nothing to...