Essay, Research Paper: Animal Farm

Literature: George Orwell

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Many great works have been inspired by events in history. George Orwell’s
Animal Farm provides an unusual outlook on the Russian Revolution and its
leaders by using animals to represent their human counterparts. Orwell attacks
communist society and points out weaknesses in its government officials. He
calls for a close examination of the treatment of Russian citizens and questions
whether they have any rights at all. Orwell was careful in his designation of
animals in Animal Farm, especially in regards to the power reserved for the
pigs. Animal Farm uses the perfect combination of animal symbolism to relate the
occurrences on Manor Farm to actual historical events of the Russian Revolution
through the use of such characters as Napoleon, Snowball, Squealer, and Boxer.
Napoleon is undoubtedly the most devout and corrupt character in the novel. His
domineering and brutal methods of ruling the farm draw strange but clear
comparison to his human counterpart Joseph Stalin. Napoleon is described as “a
large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not
much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way” (Orwell 25).
He Ingram 2 dominates the political scene on Manor Farm, controls the education
of the youth, and is a brilliant strategist when it comes to rallying support
for his cause. Napoleon, throughout the novel, fails to present an idea that is
original, but tends to take credit for the ideas of others (Meyers 108). Like
Stalin, Napoleon is not a good speaker and is certainly not as clever as his
political opponent. However, he makes good use of his resident
“smooth-talker,” Squealer, to insure that his subjects see the purpose of
his twisted commands, while those who oppose him are merely torn apart by dogs
that Napoleon reared to protect him and distribute justice as he sees fit in
much the same way that Stalin used the KGB. Napoleon relies on flashy displays
of power like the firing of the shotgun and fancy titles such as “Terror of
Mankind,” “Protector of the Sheepfold,” and “Fountain of Happiness” to
feed his hunger for power and invoke the other animal’s support at the deepest
emotional level (Smyer 86). Yet throughout his brutal reign as sole leader of
the farm, Napoleon maintains a harsh regiment of work that tax the bodies of
every animal under his command. Only Napoleon and the other pigs enjoy the
fruits of their labor while the others are left to exist with minimal food
Ingram 3 and only their pride to sustain them through their slave-like lives.
Communism is not as corrosive to Napoleon as much as the ambitious accumulation
of power (Hammond 162). Nonetheless, this leader’s Stalin-like qualities make
for a harsh life for those around him and provide the farm with poverty and
inequality. Unlike Napoleon, Snowball exhibits a desire to help his fellow
animals, making him Napoleon’s greatest opponent and only obstacle. Snowball
is also modeled after a Russian leader. His description of being “a more
vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive” (Orwell 25)
makes him the perfect representation of Leon Trotsky. “Snowball embodies an
expanding, dynamic view of reality; his social fabric will be permeable to the
dynamic energies of an ever-changing technology” (Smyer 85). His good
intentions are evident to all of the animals, and his means of assuring a better
life consists of a more humane work schedule and even a retirement plan for
elderly animals. Laws are also established which are conducive to the overall
ideas and fundamentals of Animalism—summed up by “Four legs Good, Two legs
Bad” (Orwell 40). Orwell’s view of Snowball’s role in this society is
Ingram 4 best summed up by the following: Snowball also busied himself with
organizing the other animals into what he called Animal Committees…. He formed
the Egg production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails Committee for the
cows, the Wild Comrades Re-education Committee…and various others, besides
instituting classes in reading and writing. (Orwell 39) Snowball is a scholar of
many areas and even studies military strategy which helps him lead the animals
to victory at the Battle of Cowshed where Farmer Jones attempts to regain his
farm (Meyers 109). Snowball’s dynamic speeches and innovative ideas give
insight to his superior intelligence, which allows him to maintain control of
Animal Farm until he is chased away by Napoleon’s dogs. Trotsky also possessed
this same intellect and speaking ability and fell victim to Lenin’s KGB agents
who forced him to flee of hid life. After Snowball’s exile, Napoleon
diminishes the population’s faith in their former leader by accusing him of
treason and blaming all of the problems encountered on the farm as Snowball’s
revenge. This reduces all of Snowball, along with his good intentions, to a mere
scapegoat. Squealer plays a major role in the dictatorship of Napoleon. His role
as the propagandist for the pigs Ingram 5 bestows on him the task of persuading
the animals’ opinions of Napoleon and justifying the leader’s commands by
rationalizing them to the less intelligent animals. Squealer’s character
corresponds to the propagandists that Lenin and Stalin used to manipulate the
Russian public. The smooth-talking Squealer delights in his task of providing
the ideologically correct (Smyer 124). Squealer makes up for Napoleon’s
inability to give dynamic speeches and alters the Seven Commandments to
accommodate the desires of Napoleon and the rest of the pigs. Squealer himself
is weak in character but assumes a sense of responsibility and power by
performing his tasks for Napoleon. Through fast-talking and the swift whisking
of his tail, he convinces the animals of Manor Farm to believe and follow
Napoleon. Without Squealer, there is a chance that the animals would realize
that Animalism no longer exists under Napoleon and would rebel against their
leader. Among the other animals in the fable, Boxer is the best representation
of the mistreated working class. Boxer is the strongest animal on the farm and
is “an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two
ordinary horses put together” (Orwell 16). Boxer is used Ingram 6 as the
farm’s premiere soldier and most productive laborer. He exhibits loyalty to
the growth and production of Animal Farm by undertaking the toughest labor and
vowing to work harder when times are tough. Boxer serves as an inspiration to
the other animals and his approval of Napoleon’s rule help maintain confidence
in their leader. Boxer unfortunately is the least intelligent of the animals,
which leads him to support ideas that he does not fully understand. He adopts
the motto, “Napoleon is always right” (Orwell 60) which shows his ignorance
whether it be by choice or by stupidity. Boxer wakes up earlier than the other
animals to get a head start on the daily chores. Yet, despite his tireless
effort, even Boxer is expendable in the mind of Napoleon and the other pigs.
After Boxer’s usefulness has left him, the pigs sell his body to the local
glue-maker leaving Boxer with no reward for such a productive life. Animal
Farm’s strange depiction of the Russian Revolution provides great insight to
the weaknesses of communism and dictatorships. Orwell’s decision to establish
the pig as the most intelligent and governing animal on the farm seems quite
fitting since they are Ingram 7 regarded as dirty creatures by nature. His
depiction of the downtrodden working class is masterful and invokes the
reader’s deepest sympathy. By using simple farm animals to draw a comparison
to real life historical figures George Orwell successfully provokes thought and
criticism to human nature as well as corrupt government.

Hammond, J. R. A George Orwell Companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press,
1983. Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc,
1946. Meyers, Jeffery. “Animal Farm Is a Strong Political Allegory.”
Readings on Animal Farm. Ed. Terry O’Neill. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998.
Smyer, Richard I. Animal Farm: A Student’s Companion to the Novel. Boston:
Twayne Publishers, 1988.
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