Animal Farm has many of the necessary elements of a satirical work. These elements all combine to form a masterful piece of satirical literature.
One element often found in satire is the fantastic or unrealistic. This component is present throughout Animal Farm. The animals in the story are able to talk, which is an unrealistic aspect that drives the entire novel. In addition, the way that the pigs turn into humans by starting to walk upright, carrying whips, and wearing clothes is very unreal. This presence of the fantastic makes the book satirical and distinguishes it from a regular novel with realistic and factual events.
Another recurring element in satirical works is a strong moral lesson. Orwell presents issues of morality in many forms through Animal Farm. One such issue is whether power itself corrupts. Orwell asserts that power does indeed corrupt, and even those who were not corrupt before they had power will quickly become corrupted by power. This is seen in the two main pigs in the story, Napoleon and Snowball, who both become corrupt after gaining power in Animal Farm. In addition, the idea of the pigs turning into humans contributes to this idea. Once the pigs gain power, they change to match the humans who have similar power, in both principles and appearance. Another topic of morality presented is the existence of an ignorant and naïve working class. Orwell argues that an ignorant lower or middle class can make a society very vulnerable. The working class in Animal Farm is very ignorant, making their exploitation not only possible, but positively simple.
In all satire, there is a specific target of the satire. This satiric target is a symbol of the problem with society, as the author sees it. In Animal Farm, the satiric victim is Napoleon and the other pigs. Orwell targets the idea of totalitarian governments who use power to abuse the common person, while attempting to convince him that they stand for justice and equality for all people. Orwell wanted to point out that even though communism in principle promotes equality, it instead results in a totalitarian-type of government that oppresses its citizens. He portrays this through Napoleon and the pigs who rule over the other animals on the farm. Despite constant insistence from Squealer, the pigs quickly and decisively gain power and ascend above the other animals. This represents the rise to power of Joseph Stalin and the Bolsheviks. Stalin oppressed the Russian people even while claiming that they ran a communism in which all individuals were equal.
In Animal Farm, Orwell mostly uses the characters and plot events to create satire. Animal Farm is directed against the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the reign of Joseph Stalin that followed. Many of the characters offer direct allegories to people or groups of people of the Russian Revolution. Mr. Jones, the owner of the farm, bears resemblance to Czar Nicholas II of the Russian Revolution. Jones, in the same way as the Czar, is the original leader of the farm but is overthrown in the name of the new principals that the animals adopt. However, the real satire of the book comes from five major characters that all stand as direct allegories of certain figures of the Russian Revolution.
Old Major is the driving force behind the animals’ rebellion and provides them with the necessary system of thought, “Animalism.” In this way, he is comparable to two major figures of the Russian Revolution: Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Marx was one of the original creators of communism and said that workers should unite and rebel against the capitalist leaders of the world. Lenin organized this rebellion in the form of the October Revolution against the Czar.
Snowball and Napoleon emerge from the rebellion as the two main leaders and struggle for power. They represent Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin, respectively. Trotsky was very...