“Animal Farm” by George Orwell is a symbolical political satire in which animals take the place of humans. Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution have many similarities and ideas. The characters, settings, and the plots are the same. Animal Farm is a political satire, which was written to criticize totalitarian regimes and particularly, Stalin’s practices in Russia. The events and characters in the book are comparative to important figures and affairs in the Russian Revolution. My essay will cover the characters in Animal Farm and compare them to the Russian Revolution, and explain why this novel is a satire and a symbol to the Revolution.
Old Major was a prized-boar that belonged to Farmer Jones. This character is cast as a boar to convey that radical change and revolution are, themselves, boring in the eyes of the proletariat. The proletariat are represented in the other barnyard animals and are more prone to worrying about work and survival in their everyday life. Old Major gave many speeches to the farm animals about hope and the future. He is the main animal who started the rebellion, even though he died before it actually began. Old Major’s role compares to Lenin and Karl Marx, whose ideas were to lead to the communist revolution. Animal Farm is a criticism of Marx, as well as a novel perpetuating his confidence of democratic Socialism. Lenin became the leader and the teacher of the working class in Russias, determination to struggle against capitalism. Like Old Major, Lenin and Marx wrote essays and gave speeches to the poor working class. The working class in Russia, as compared with the barnyard animals in Animal Farm, were a laboring class of people that received low wages for their work. Like the animals in the farm yard, the people in Russia thought there would be no oppression in their new society because the working
class people, or animals, would own all the riches and hold all the power.
(Golubeva and Gellerstein, 1976, p. 168).
Another character in the book is Farmer Jones. He represents the Czar Nicholas of Russia who treated his people like Farmer Jones treated his animals. The animal rebellion on the farm started because Farmer Jones was a drunk who never took care of the animals. He came home one night, left the gate open, and the animals rebelled. Czar Nicholas was a very weak man who treated his people similar to how Farmer Jones treated his animals. The Czar made his working class people very mad by the way he dealt with his authority and preached all the time. The people suffered and finally demanded reform by rebelling. The Czar said, “The law will henceforward be respected and obeyed not only by the nation but also the authority that rules it and that the law would stand above the changing views of the individual instruments of the supreme power. (Clarkson, 1969, p.263).
The boar Napoleon can be compared to Joseph Stalin in Russia. Both were very mean looking and did not talk very much but always got what they wanted through force. In one part of the book Napoleon charged the dogs on Snowball, another animal. Stalin became the Soviet Leader after the death of Lenin. He was underestimated by his opponents and they always became his victims. He was responsible for one of the most ruthless periods in history. In was until many years passed that the world found out about the many deaths that Stalin had caused in Russia during the Revolution. For almost fifty years the world thought that the Nazis had done the killing in Russia, when, in actuality, it was Stalin. (Clarkson, 1969, p.242).
The last characters that are symbolic of each other are the boar Snowball and the Russian leader Leon Trotsky. Snowball was a very enthusiastic leader who organized the defense of the farm. He gave speeches and instructions, but was not very helpful. All the other animals liked him but in the end he was outsmarted by Napoleon. Trotsky and Stalin’s relationship was very much like Snowball’s and Napoleons. Trotsky organized the Red Army and gave speeches. Everyone in Russia thought he would win power over Stalin. After Lenin’s death Trotsky lost all his power to Stalin and was expelled from the Communist party. He was, at one time, considered the second most powerful man in Russia. (Clarkson, 1969, p.290).
Besides characters there are many other items in the book that can be compared with what was going on in Russia. The whip that Napoleon used in the farmyard to dispense power can be compared to the power that Stalin used on the Russians. Napoleon carried a whip in his trotter. Stalin used his power to starve the Russian people and to have Lenin arrested. Stalin’s main goal was to maximize his personal power. (“Stalin,” Britannia p.576). Stalin whipped his people into shape by overproduction of agriculture, by police terror, and by destroying balance of individual wealth. (Clarkson, 1969, p.440) He also led the Soviet Union into the nuclear age (Clarkson, 1969, p.442).
Propaganda is another item that was used in the Russian revolution. It can be compared to Squealer in Animal Farm. Squealer brainwashed, which is a form of propaganda, the barnyard animals into believing that they did not like apples and milk while he and Napoleon were stealing the food for themselves. In Russia, the Bolsheviks carried out propaganda on the people by passing out leaflets and putting stories in the newspapers that were not true. They told workers, soldiers, and peasants to not trust their own hands and to take away land from the landowners.
(Golubeva and Gellerstein, 1976. p.80).
Another item that is similar in both Animal Farm and Russia are the dogs and the secret police. Napoleon trained his dogs when they were puppies to guard him and to obey his every command. They were the ones who chased Snowball away. Stalin trained his secret police, or checka, to do his bidding whenever he issued an order. Stalin had his secret police kill between sixty thousand to seventy thousand people (“Stalin,” Britannia p.576). The graves filled with bodies stacked upon each other with bullets in each skull were found many years later
(“Stalin,” Britannia p.576).
Another example symbolism that exists in the book is the similarity of events that took place. The windmill that is present in Animal Farm can be compared with the growth of industry in Russia, or the Industrial Revolution. Snowball first introduced the windmill concept to the farm, but Napoleon disagreed with him and had the dogs chase him away. Napoleon then presented the windmill as a good idea and the animals were given hope that things would get better on the farm. When it blew down, Napoleon blamed it on Snowball. Napoleon thought that if he could keep the barnyard animals busy all the time replacing the windmill that they would not realize how bad their living conditions were, and he could constantly blame the destruction on Snowball. The windmill was the only thing that was holding the animals together as a group. In Russia the growth of factory and industry was very depressing but depended on the mandatory labor of serfs. Russia hoped that by keeping the serfs working all the time and promising them a better world, they would not realize how bad their living conditions were. The Industrialists were pressing their own constitutional wants (Clarkson, 1969, p.352). None of the social classes were fighting against each other because there were no classes left. Russia made the people think that the outlook of loss of probable improvements in conditions of life, could only be attained by motivating labor to new efforts.
The last event that was similar in the book and to the events in Russia was the animal rebellion on the farm and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Farmer Jones was a drunk and he would forget to feed the animals on the farm. The lack of food is what finally forced the animals on the farm to rebel against Farmer Jones. In Russia, there were many food shortages, which caused the people to protest. The Russian soldiers refused to suppress them and the leaders demanded that Nicholas transfer his power to parliamentary government because everything was getting out of control. Soviet workers and soldiers formed a special committee and established a government. This actually backfired in Russia. The war continued and the people still starved. The characters of the farm have a special connection to the Russian Revolution. The farm itself represents Russia, with its poor conditions and irresponsible leaders. Napoleon is the mad dictator pig who plays Joseph Stalin in real life. Snowball; the leader who gets betrayed by Napoleon, plays Lenin. Old Major is cast as Karl Marx. And who could forget the others like Boxer, who plays the working class, and the horse Molly who plays white Russia, and of course
The evil dogs of Napoleon inspire the role of secret police of Joseph Stalin. Both the novel and Russian Revolution cover the same ideas because of these reasons. In the Russian Revolution an irresponsible leader named “Nicholas the Second,” was overthrown by a new leader with better ideas and ways to keep Russia alive. He was Lenin! However he ends up being betrayed by one of his Communist comrades, Stalin. Stalin ruled for a long period of time, but everyone knows there is no such thing as immortality. Eventually, he too got kicked out, this time by his own people. In Animal Farm a boar named Old Major has a dream about a world where animals rule and where there are no differences, only equality; a dream about communism. So when Snowball hears this, he and his comrades get ready to attack the government, Mr. Jones, also known as “the Czar. This same thought applies with the idea of Stalin and his plan in ruling Russia. This event relates to when Stalin kicks out Lenin. When he is overthrown, Snowball becomes the leader and is betrayed by Napoleon.
Animal Farm is a great example of a political satire. Satire is a way to reveal one’s perception of life and its reflection by a person. The main purpose of using satire is to attack and criticize the subject. In Chapter one it tells how the author, George Orwell, feels about the novel. It gives reference to the farm and how it relates to Russia. You can see all of the satire in Chapter two. It tells how inefficient the idea communism is and how it does not work; human nature can’t handle communism. We are too devious, too demanding, and bossy. Chapter two to the last chapter shows how the novel is a satire and in the end has a conclusion that was shown in chapter two.
The setting of the farm is equal to Russia with their bad conditions and a poor good government. The plot shows the same thing, dictatorship never works. George Orwell has made good points throughout his novel. I think he is a very smart writer because his novel was disguised as a children’s novel during a Revolution where if you spoke what you thought about it, you would be executed. In conclusion, I think Animal Farm is a great novel. Not only did I learn about a group of animals taking over a farm, but I learned more about the history of World War one and Russia. Many lessons can be learned by reading Animal Farm that can help prevent countries and governments around the world from making mistakes in giving up their power against their people.