Political Allegory in 'Animal Farm'

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Political Allegory in 'Animal Farm'

By | August 2013
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Political Allegory in Orwell’s Animal Farm: A Note
Arpan Adhikary

In Animal Farm (1945) George Orwell adapts and subverts the conventional form of ‘Fairy Story’ while satirizing the ethico-political irony in between the theory and practice of revolution with implicit reference to the Stalinist regime in the USSR from the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 onwards. Though it can be read as a critique of any kind of totalitarian doctrine and political hypocrisy, Animal Farm abounds with numerous judiciously moulded allegorical references to certain historical personalities and incidents – which resist its being generalized as an abstract fable of political morality. Orwell here employs the fantastic form of bestiary and an elaborate Aesopian symbolic pattern – both of which aptly serve the satiric purpose of the work. Orwell was thoroughly disillusioned at the unfair manipulation of the rhetoric of the doctrine of Socialism and the reinforcement of a dictatorial system during the regime of Joseph Stalin in Russia. However, himself being an admirer of the political ideology propounded by Marx and Engels, Orwell does not satirize the socialist doctrine as such, but he does obliquely point at the utopianism inherent in this theory through the presentation of its corrupt implementation. All the same, Orwell does not in any way support or prioritize the ideology of capitalism. Rather, he exploits the ethical dialectics of the form of fable to critique any kind of political absolutism and ideological duality. Animal Farm begins by giving an allegorical account of the tyranny meted out by the capitalist and feudal Tsarist system, and ends on a cynical and pessimistic note with symbolic of the socialist revolution’s final dissipation into hypocrisy and tyranny. In a letter to Dwight Macdonald dated 5th December, 1946, Orwell writes, “Of course I intended it [Animal Farm] primarily as a satire on the Russian revolution. But I did mean it to have a wider application in so much...