Animal Farm: Political Issues
Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his psuedonym George Orwell, is an English author commonly known to write about political issues. Orwell has been highly acclaimed and criticized for his novels, including one of his most famous, Animal Farm. In a satirical form, George Orwell uses personified farm animals to express his views on stalinism in the novel Animal Farm.
Throughout Orwell's early novels, democratic socialism kept the author from total despair of all humans(Greenblatt 104). After his better experience in the Spanish Civil War and the shock of the Nazi-Soviet pact, Orwell developed Animal Farm. The socialism Orwell believed in was not a hardheaded "realistic" approach to society and polotics but a rather sentimental, utopian vision of the world as a "raft sailing through space, with, potentially, plenty of provisions for everybody"(Grennblatt 106).
Animal Farm is a satirical beast fable which has been heralded as Orwell's lightest, gayest work(Brander 126). It is a novel based on the first thirty years of the Soviet Union, a real society pursuing the ideal of equality. His book argues that this kind of society has not worked and could not (Meyers 102). Animal Farm has also been known as a an enter-taining, witty tale of a farm whose oppressed animals, capable of speech and reason, overcome a cruel master and set up a revolutionary government(Meyers 103). On another, more serious level, it is a political allegory, a symbolic tale where all the events and characters represent events and characters in Russian history since 1917(Meyers 103).
Orwell uses actual historical events to construct Animal Farm, but rearranges them to fit his plot. Manor Farm is Russia, Mr. Jones the Tsar, the pigs the Bolsheviks who led the revolution. The humans represent the ruling class, the animals the workers and the peasants. Old Major, the inspiration of the rebellion, is a combination of Marx, the chief theorist and Lenin, the actual leader(Meyers 105). Old Major dies before the rebellion just as Lenin did in the Russian revolution. In actuality Stalin and Trotsky argue over power after Lenin's death, which Orwell satirizes in Napolean and Snowball.
In Animal Farm, Orwell immediately establishes the Soviet political allegory as Old Major (Marx/Lenin) describes the exploitation of animals by humans and the statement "all animals are comrades." The animals continuous singing of "Beasts of England" can be seen not only as a symbol of the decay of communist notions of a perfect state, but also as Orwell's more general comment on the decline of true liberty and equality in the west (Gardner 99).
The progress of the revolution from a common idealism to a state system of leader, police, and workers happens rather rapidly. The animals take over the farm and the pigs ( Bolsheviks ) emerge as natural organizers. The pigs rduce the principles of animalism in seven simple commandments and develop a green and white version of the Russian hammer and sickle flag. Instead, theirs has "a hoof and horn which signifies the future Republic of the animals which would arise when the human race had been finally overthrown"(Orwell 89). Orwell demonstrates both the greed and the hypocrisy
involved in the urge to power when the clever
pigs contribute to none of the work and keep for themselves all the milk and apples.
During the novel, the pigs continue to gain more and more power. In the pigs uprise of power, the Seven Commandments are an effective structural device. Their different alterations resemble the pigs' progressive rise to power. The pigs' gradual acquisition of privileges
- apples, milk, house, whisky, beer,
clothes- leads to the final identification of pig and human, Communist and capitalist(Gardner 101).
The blurring of the past and the hardening shape of the present, grim, greedy, or just pragmatic, are accompanied by betrayal of the spirit of the revolution exemplified in the...
Cited: DISCovering Authors, Gale Research Inc., 1993 .[computer]
Meyers, Valerie. Modern Novelists George Orwell. St. Martin 's Press: New York,
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., 1946.
Schorer, Mark. "An Indigent and Prophetic Novel." The New York Times Book Review,
Woodcock, George. The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell. Little, Brownn,
and Company, 1966.
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