Analyzing the Harm in ‘animal Farm’
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Dylan HoseMr. McCarterEnglish 214-I01April 22, 2014Research PaperAnalyzing the Harm in ‘Animal Farm’ The novel Animal Farm as indicated by Biography.com was written by cynical author Eric Arthur Blair who went by the pseudonym George Orwell. It was written “between November 1943 and February 1944” (Rodden, 3) and later published in 1945 to express his views on the Russian Revolution (Grimm, French, Pak, 1). Through the use of animals and farm life, Orwell is able to depict key people and events from the Russian Revolution in symbolic form. In order to recognize the message George Orwell is portraying through Animal Farm, you must first know of his beliefs and life leading up to this piece of writing. If not, Animal Farm could easily be interpreted incorrectly as something as simple as a tale about farm animals or just as an angry citizen showing his resentment towards Stalin’s communist ways. After his days of service in the Indian Imperial Police force Orwell dedicated his efforts to speaking out against one man dominating another (Bloom, 9). In “Why I Write” he states “every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism” (Bloom, 11). This is shown in Orwell’s Animal Farm through a variety of symbolic messages. Animal Farm is a book about the Russian Revolution that uses a great deal of satire. “Orwell subtitled Animal Farm “a fairy story,” but the subtitle was an ironic joke. He meant that his beast fable was no mere “fairy story,” but that it was happening, right then, in Stalin’s Russia—and that it could happen anywhere” (Rodden, xix). The book begins with what is known as Manor Farm which is run by an old drunken farmer by the name of Mr. Jones. The animals on the farm worked tirelessly up until the wise old pig, Old Major, gathers the animals together and tells them of his dream. His dream was of a world where animals reign and work in harmony united as one. Old Major gave the animals the idea of revolting and living in a better world. He tells the animals “whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. And remember also that in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him. Even when you have conquered him, do not adopt his vices” (Orwell, 11). Sadly, after giving the animals the idea of a revolution, he died three days later. “Is that not the same difficulty that began the communist movement? The poor, war torn, countries of the world desired a quick fix and the government took advantage of that desire. They made promises to abolish classes and to share the wealth with each person equally. That was the cry of communism: EQUALITY. But as in “Animal Farm” that did not occur” (Cook, 2). Because the pigs are the smartest animals they take control and plan a revolution. The animals overthrow Mr. Jones and rid him of Manor Farm. As a result the pigs are now in charge and the farm is renamed Animal Farm. The two smartest pigs, Snowball and Napoleon are in a constant battle for power. Eventually Napoleon betrays Snowball and ultimately wins control of the farm as Snowball becomes exiled. Upon Napoleon taking control of the farm things take a turn for the worse. All of the commandments were altered from what they originally stated to what benefitted the pigs. In chapter eight the Sixth Commandment was changed from “no animal shall kill any other animal” (Orwell, 25) to “no animal shall kill any other animal without cause” (Orwell, 91). There is slave labor, animals are being slaughtered, the belief that all animals are equal is demolished, Napoleon made deals with the humans and essentially becomes human himself. The book ends with “the creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which” (Orwell, 141). In the end, the animals were no better off than they were to start with. They had become the one thing they wished to rid themselves of and ultimately turned into their own worst enemy.
When reading Animal Farm there are two possible interpretations: a fable about farm animals or a satirical novel that depicts the Russian Revolution. A fable is “a story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral” (Fable, def. 1). A satire is “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize peoples stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues” (Satire, def. 1). “Animal Farm is not a fable of “Peter Rabbit” homilies. Rather, Orwell`s tale is a bleak and too-true vision of man as a social animal” (Christiansen, 1). Animal Farm is a beast fable, “the beast fable is typically a story or poem in which the misadventures of animals expose human follies” (Rodden, xix). Orwell uses a great deal of satire in Animal Farm with every character or event being symbolic to a real person or event that took place. For example, “Beasts of England is a parody of the “Internationale,” the Communist Party Song. The rebellion in Chapter 2 represents the Russian Revolution of October 1917. The Battle of the Cowshed in Chapter 4 depicts the subsequent civil war” (Rodden, xix). Along with fable and satire, Orwell has a heavy usage of allegory in Animal Farm. Allegory is “a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one” (Allegory, def. 1). It is used to show a deeper moral or spiritual meaning through the use of symbolism. Orwell used allegory extensively in Animal Farm by relating all of the animals and events to the people of Russia and the Russian Revolution. “Mr. Jones and the farmers are the loyalist Russians and foreign forces who tried but failed to dislodge the Bolsheviks, the revolutionaries led by Lenin. The animals’ false confessions in Chapter 7 represent the purge trials of the late 1930s. The false banknotes given for the corn by Frederick recall Hitler’s betrayal of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. The first demolition of the windmill, which Napoleon blames on his pig rival, Snowball, is the failure of the First Five-Year Plan, an industrial plan to coordinate the Soviet economy in the 1920s that did not bring prosperity” (Rodden, xix-xx). The events in Animal Farm “have close parallels in Soviet history up to 1943: the widespread starvation that occurs during the first winter after the rebellion corresponds to millions of deaths by starvation in the Ukraine in 1933” (Rodden, 9). This is a great example of political satire, the characters, settings and overall plot of Animal Farm are direct correlations to the Russian Revolution, the people involved and the events that took place.