Animal Farm, a masterpiece novella by George Orwell was written in 1945. It falls under novella as it is shorter and contains a less complex plot unlike a publication. The crux thing of Animal Farm is all about how Czarist Russia evolved into communist Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917. Orwell used the animal farm because the backdrop representing Russia and the critters that dwelled in the farm because the who’s who in the Russian Revolution. The Animal Farm is an allegory-a narrative that uses literary devices to unveil concealed meanings and messages.
The Oxford Dictionary defines allegory as a story, poem, or picture which could be interpreted to show a hidden meaning, typically a political or ethical one. In addition to that, Animal farm can be a satire. The same Oxford Dictionary defines a satire as using humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to mock, expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of modern politics and other social problems. Animal farm fits into both these categories aptly.
At the time once the book was published, it was not that popular, didn’t control a widespread reading since Russia was an ally of the West in their struggle against German aggression under Hitler in World War II. In a clear indication of belittling the Russians and its communist leaders, the western world viewed it as an act of non-goodwill if they popularized the book in droves.
The writer himself wasn’t an anti-communist. In fact George Orwell is said to be a socialist who supported the belief that industries should be under the control of the working class (employees ) for the good of everyone, not only benefitting the elites, who controlled these industries. But he witnessed the tainted revolution of the communist in Russia, finally causing a change of perception.
Orwell was perplexed on how the communist had diverted, departed from their initial noble goals of seeking a classless society. Orwell’s conviction was that he owes the world a warning of how damaging unchecked authority was.
He was adamant to demonstrate another side of communism when it was taken too far with no check and balance and how the leaders of the cause succumbed to worldly pleasures, the same class bound pleasures they despised on other ideologies; hence the world got to witness the birth of Animal Farm. Orwell had used allegory to the best of effect, to criticize the hypocrisy of communism, especially its overzealous leaders, their actions and their thirst for merciless murders and mass killings to keep their status quo.
The use of pigs, of all creatures, was the acme of the novella. In the thought of a layman, pigs are idle creatures, non-productive and gleefully end as meat in many taste buds. However, Orwell was way ahead of his time. He used pigs because his protagonists and antagonists in Animal Farm for the same reasons of how modern science had revealed quite surprisingly however, about these creatures. Scientists want people to think of pigs as more than just meat. Among other talents, pigs are known to have excellent long-term memories and they are skilled at completing mazes and recognizing symbols, just like our close cousins-chimpanzees. They also have empathy and can learn from each other in classes.
Besides that, Orwell had utilized pigs as an irony, debunking all the myths surrounding these fleshy animals as idle but shrewd, gluttonous but conniving, immobile but strategist who’s vivacious in thoughts, plotting and scheming a plan subtly. Pigs are fleshy, sized creatures known for their slobs. Orwell was fast in equating some world leaders particularly in the Greek ideology states to pigs probably due to the state of hypocrisy that they lived their lives; drifting in the wealth produced by the proletariat who for a significant portion of their miserable lives remained poor and desolate, where else the leaders were fat, ugly and precariously healthy.
The Old Major in Animal Farm was a pig, portrayed as wise and old, experienced and well-respected. This was relayed to the animals, who rejoiced at the prospect of preventing themselves from the clutches of the elites – the people. Orwell used Old Important to signify Karl Marx, the founder of Communism and the Communist Party, which is based on Marxism.
The utterance also highlighted on the idealistic world of communism. Thereby, the Russian Revolution in 1917 was inspired by those who believed big in the doctrines of communism. In Marxist methodology, it initially used economic and sociopolitical inquiry to analyze and review the development of capitalism and the role of class struggle in systemic economic change.
According to Marxist doctrines, class conflict within capitalism arises due to escalating contradictions between highly productive mechanized and socialized production performed by the proletariat (workers), and private ownership and appropriation of the surplus product in the form of surplus value (profit) by a tiny minority of private owners known as the bourgeoisie. In the Animal Farm, the bourgeoisie were represented by Mr. and Mrs. Jones, the humans who owned the animals, often ill-treating them. Mr. and Mrs. Jones can also be equated in direct reference to the last Czar of Russia – Nicholas II and his consort Alexandria who were disliked by the Russians at that time for turning Russia into World War I. Apparently, the animals exhausted their patience, started to rebel, finally booting the humans from the farm and took charge of their own destiny.
Besides Old major, another pig personality was Snowball. Snowball rose among the leaders in Animal Farm. Snowball was depicted as a lively and an ingenious personality. He was given the task of spreading the attained glory of Animal Farm throughout the neighbourhood. Snowball represents Leon Trotsky – Lenin’s second in command in the Russian Revolution and the leader of the’Red Army’ in the subsequent Russian Civil War.
Trotsky also wanted to spread the word about communism to other nations. However, fate had it differently when both Snowball and Trotsky were expunged by ruthless and corrupt people who lacked for power more than anything else.
Napoleon was another pig personality who rose as a pioneer in the novella. As opposed to influencing other creatures and working through consensus, he covertly raised nine puppies into ferocious man-eating creatures. These nine dogs were his personal army of bodyguards which he used and manipulated to achieve his goals, no matter how treacherous and brutal they were.
The KGB carried out all of Stalin’s commands religiously without fear or favour.
The false confessions of disloyalty in Animal Farm, and the subsequent executions were modeled at Stalin’s great purge in the 1930s in which anyone who’s viewed as a counter-revolutionist was killed mercilessly.
Squealer, another character in Animal Farm is a pig who constantly spread persuasive messages encouraging the leader’s goals and objectives. He reinvents the rules and history to be able to confuse the other animals in the farm. He could also represent Pravda- the communist newspaper in Russia which was the official propaganda mouthpiece of the party in the 1930s. With his wizardry like manipulative and words articulation, Squealer maintained the public (the creatures ) calm and under control with his often misleading and crooked messages and announcements.
Animal Farm serves as a reminder of how humans crave for unlimited power to rule the lives of innocent people through’divide and rule’ and’manage by fear’ approaches to accomplish their personal goals. Along that line, some made it into the history books as being exemplary or despised. This novella is excellent to be used as a reading resource for middle and high school students.
Students won’t only learn the English Language, but also the various literary devices – allegory, satire, irony, metaphor and personification that include it. The novella contains plenty of humour where the author mocks the activities of their leader and students will also have the ability to apply their thoughts from the box to identify some people had managed to obtain power, how some maintained this power whatsoever, how some misused the power entrusted on them for their personal gains and agenda, how some abused their power using violence and threats, and how some had lost to the people-power insurgencies.
Aside from that, the historic events representing this novella will offer an insight of Communism and Russian history.