If you’re looking for the symbolism of a character or object,press CTRL F and enter the name in the search bar.(or if anything is missing,just ask me!) -I believe I’ve included virtually everything one needs to know about the book here,hence the length of the essay!
‘Animal Farm’ is flawless.It is accessible to even a 10-year-old child,yet delivers a profound message that touches all of us.It is not solely an allegorical story vilifying communist leaders; more than that,it breaks the romanticism around revolution,the change in power that many believe to be the solution to their woes.But if Orwell has managed to deliver so powerful a message through so simple a story,he has a lot to thank his perfect allegories for.
The beginning of the book is simple to understand.Old Major represents some kind of authority that is concerned with the well-being of the animals and whose words are filled with wisdom.There are only two persons who best resemble such an authority: Karl Marx,the father of communism,and Vladimir Lenin,the father of Russia.But we will go for Lenin for three reasons: Major’s successors(Napoleon and Snowball)are the exact replicas of Lenin’s,(Stalin and Trotsky);Major’s speech voices the same ideas found in Lenin’s book ”What Is To Be Done”;the exposition of Major’s skull reminds us of Lenin’s embalmed body being put on display.
What I liked best in Orwell’s allegories are the numerous hints he gives at the beginning to help us understand ‘which is what’.During Major’s speech,it is clear that humans are the allegory for the Tsarist aristocrats who did nothing but exploit the mass to fill their pockets.Orwell dispels any doubt on such comparison when some animals call Jones their ‘master’:the mass was conned into thinking that since Russia belonged to the Tsars,it had to work selflessly for its leaders’ sovereignty.Likewise,it is certain that animalism is nothing but the representation of communism,equality among their respective members being the essence of both.Their respective anthem too share a striking similarity; just as Napoleon replaced ‘Beasts of England’ with ‘Animal Farm’,so did Stalin when he replaced the anthem of communism ‘The Internationale’ with another one he deemed more patriotic.
My favourite allegorical connection must be the one between Moses the raven and religion.To begin with,the name is aptly chosen: Moses was a predominant figure in virtually every main religion.We first see that he is closer to Jones than to the rest of the animals.Even so,this ‘clever talker’ often appears in the farm to talk about ”a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain,to which all animals went when they died.”Naturally,Moses flees after the successful rebellion on Manor Farm.Here Orwell shows how religion walks hand in hand with capitalism.It soothes any discontentment that the mass may feel.When the masses sense that all their hard work is leading to nothing as a result of the capitalists’ never ending,stinking and ceaseless corruption,they are quickly given assurance by religion that they will be rewarded with the access to heaven where God will bestow upon them eternal joy;consequently,they deem their woes a just sacrifice for their optimistic future.In this regard,Orwell echoes the words of the father of communism himself: ”Religion is the opium of the masses”.
Orwell,however,recognises religion’s power when Moses reappears several years later after the farm turned from a communistic system to a dictatorship.The very same pigs ,which told other animals not to believe the raven’s lies,are now paying him with ‘a gill of beer a day’ to tell his tales.In any society in which inequality is present,religion is an important doctrine that helps those in power to keep the mass under control;so long as there was equality between the animals,Moses was not needed,but once the pigs took power and endlessly had to account for their corrupt acts,Moses was called for.Besides,this happened in Russia when Stalin needed to rally his people for the war against Germany in 1941,years after he executed priests and destroyed numerous religious institutions.
Other allegories are pretty simple to understand.Mollie the mare,for instance,stands for the wealthy who deserted Russia after the revolution.She left for the other farm for sugar and ribbons,although Snowball said they weren’t worth her freedom.Likewise,the Bourgeois fled from Russia because they weren’t ready to forsake their wealth for liberty.Since Mollie’s flee to another farm is similar to the Bourgeoisie’s immigration to other countries,it can be rightly inferred that a farm is the allegory for a country.In the book we hear mainly of two farms:’Foxwood’ owned by Mr Pilkington and ‘Pinchfield’ owned by Mr Frederick.There is no gainsay that Frederick is none other than Adolf Hitler who-like his alter-ego betrayed Napoleon-formed an alliance with Stalin only to break it in 1941 when he invaded the Soviet Union.As if it couldn’t be any clearer,Orwell named this shady character after Hitler’s invasion ‘Operation Barbarossa’,which in turn got its name from Frederick Barbarossa!As for Foxwood,it is easy to guess which country it represents,especially after we’ve learnt that Germany is Pinchfield.If Pilkington is Frederick’s worst enemy,then we are left with only France, England or the United States.But given that Pilkington and Napoleon fight at the end,it can be concluded that Foxwood stands for the Western forces,the very same ones that fought the Soviet Union in the Cold War.So,Pilkington can be either Francis D.Roosevelt or Winston Churchill,for both agreed on an anti-Soviet consensus.
It is easy to guess that Boxer the horse stands for the proletariat.He is a great hard worker,yet is equally stupid.He has a poor memory of things and can be easily manipulated.Like the proletariat,he never poses the right question.But in my opinion,the most memorable scene with Boxer is the one in which he easily fights off Napoleon’s dogs: Orwell implies that real power rests in the hands of the proletariat but the latter is too stupid and passive to think of overthrowing those who exploit it.As for the birds,they are Russian peasants.It is no coincidence if they share a similarity with humans in that they both have two legs;like the capitalists,which humans represent,Russian peasants owned multiple lands,yet they were accepted into communism for they did not use those lands to enrich themselves,but rather to make their own living by farming them-as Snowball pointed out,the peasants’ land ‘is an organ of propulsion and not of manipulation’.Among the birds,the chicken can be thought to be Ukrainian peasants.They were among the few animals that dared to oppose Napoleon’s regime by smashing their eggs instead of giving them to him.Later 9 were executed and no hen was allowed to the same.This scene recalls to mind what happened when Ukrainian farmers slaughtered their own livestocks before joining a collective form of protest.As a result,between 4 and 10 million of them were executed.
Finally,the most important portrayals of all must be those of Trotsky and Stalin through their respective allegories,Snowball and Napoleon.Although Snowball is depicted as ambitious and has the welfare of all animals at heart,we should nonetheless bear in mind that even he failed to respect the most fundamental rule of Animalism: the one proclaiming that every animal is equal.He stays dumb when the windfalls and the milk go to the pigs,instead of being shared equally among all animals.According to the pigs,they are entitled to such a privilege,as they are the ones doing the most strenuous task(deciding which work should be done on the farm).Here Orwell conveys a bitter truth:communism is but an ideology,for the election of a leader instantly violates the rule that every one should be treated equally.All the same,Snowball should be credited with conceiving different projects that would have made the farm prosperous,had they been actualized.These projects along with the numerous factions he created reflect in fact Trotsky’s managerial qualities.Besides,the fact that Snowball was attributed the second prize for risking his life during the rebellion is itself a reflection of the saintly status Trotsky gained after the Bolchevik revolution.Various other historical events engaging Trotsky are also recreated in the book.Both Trotsky and Snowball are called traitors by Stalin and Napoleon respectively.Likewise,both are falsely accused of several treacheries and are thus exiled from their native lands.Just as Snowball was vitiated and effaced in the minds of the animals,so was Trotsky when Stalin had Trotsky’s face cut from the many photographs displaying the latter and other political figures as leaders of the revolution.At the end of the day,Trotsky would have been the better heir of Lenin,just like Snowball would have been the one for Old Major.
Orwell’s depiction of Stalin’s antics through Napoleon’s actions invites a certain awe.The Russian dictator’s ruthless use of the NKVD forces to suppress anyone who was perceived as a threat is similar to Napoleon’s use of his dogs.As a matter of fact,the day which saw various animals on the farm being murdered by the dogs is an allusion to the mass executions committed by the NKVD between 1936 and 1938: all across Belarus,Ukraine and Poland,thousands of people were held prisoners,tortured and murdered.In a like manner,Napoleon’s promise that life will be better after the construction of the windmill is nothing but Stalin’s 5-year-plan,which was supposed to improve the life of the proletariat.Thus,the destruction of the windmill can be compared to Stalin’s first failure in reaping any fruit from his famous plan,and the five other windmills built afterwards to the numerous five-year-plans put into effect during Stalin’s reign.Additionally,Orwell conveys how some of Stalin’s decisions held no sense at all,and especially how stupid the masses were to believe everything he told them.At one point in the story,Napoleon declares that Snowball is hiding in Pinchfield,but some days after,he will declare that the ‘traitor’ is in Foxwood and has been conspiring with Pilkington since day one: Stalin falsely accused Trotsky of being connected with the German Intelligence Service since 1921, and with British intelligence since 1926!Orwell also makes sure to allude to one of the most notorious practices of Stalin: the distortion of information.Under his reign,many photographs were retouched so as to camouflage the truth.If Trotsky would naturally be the first to fall victim to this photo manipulation,Stalin however felt no remorse when he had his own men deleted from photos showing him next to them in order to preserve his reputation:after Nikolai Yezhov-one of Stalin’s most faithful men-was charged with mass murders and admitted his homosexual debauchery,he was deleted in any photo showing him with Stalin.
There are further little details regarding Stalin’s reign that have been included in the book.As I said earlier,Stalin changed communism’s song ‘The internationale’ to a more patriotic one.Also,the reappearance of Moses the raven on Animal Farm spotlights Stalin’s hypocrisy towards religion.Being himself an atheist,Stalin believed that religion was an opiate that needed to be removed in order to create the ideal communist society.Consequently,his rise to power resulted in the persecutions of tens of thousands nuns,monks and priests;however,when he needed to rally his troops for World World 2,the Church was reinstituted to call for patriotism.
It seems fitting to end this incredibly long essay with three symbolisms often overlooked in the story: the gun,the beer and Benjamin the donkey.The gun serves as a powerful reminder that the rebellion was successful only through violence;however this same violence will later become an omnipresent threat to those who will try to oppose themselves to Napoleon.The Russian Revolution too was achieved only through violence (Tsar Nicholas II and his family,including Princess Anastasia were executed),yet violence seemed to them the only solution to all their problems thereafter.Here is a quote from Stalin himself:”Death solves all problems:no man,no problem”. The irony lies in the fact that the very same tool that helped the communists achieve their goal would later turn their ideal communist system into a dictatorship;in other words,violence brought them back to square one.The same can be said about the beer which symbolizes corruption.At the beginning,we see that Mr Jones indulged himself into drinking and as result,the animals on the farm were often mistreated.This scene is replicated by the end of the story when it is now Napoleon and the other pigs who enjoy whiskeys and beer.In real life,the Tsar Nicholas II and his government were corrupt,so more so that the communists eventually overthrew them.Ironically,those at the head of the new communist system in turn became soaked in corruption,hence bringing Russia back to square one once again.The idea that a the aftermath of a communistic revolution often sees a resurgence of inequality-whose annihilation was the purpose of the revolution-is echoed in Benjamin the donkey’s cryptic phrases:”He refused to believe either that food would become more plentiful or that the windmill would save work. Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on– that is, badly.” And Benjamin was right! The pigs turned into humans,and ‘Animal Farm’ became ‘Manor Farm’ once again.Russia,too,shared a similar fate: after the revolution,its name went from ‘Russia’ to ‘Soviet Union’,but eventually went back to ‘Russia’.
‘Animal Farm’ speaks volume about communism and its most powerful weapon,revolution.Orwell shows us that communism is an ideal that can never be achieved,for the leaders will never be on the same pedestal as the populace.All the more so because their luxurious lifestyles are barely affected by any economic crisis,their lives are the last to be put at risk during wartime,and their work will never be as strenuous as the mass’s; the very essence of communism was supposed to be equality among all!
In the end,just like the pigs could not be differentiated from the humans,there is little that separates communist leaders from capitalist ones.
Thanks to anyone who read it,even thought I expect no one to do so! 😉