Animal Farm by George Orwell has been banned in countless countries and is seen as a very controversial novel.
Animal farm is a allegory of the Russian Revolution and the Stalin era. It uses animals as a way to show how a totalitarian state operates and distributes its power. Orwell was a sharp critic of both capitalism and communism, and is remembered chiefly as an advocate of freedom and a committed opponent of communist oppression (Sparknotes). For this essay I will be examining How and Why is the Russian Revolution, specifically the major players and their actions, represented in the book Animal Farm by George Orwell.
When Orwell first began writing Animal Farm, in his head he knew he wanted to portray the Russian Revolution as a government that took a drastic violent change turning totalitarian. Many of the characters and events of Orwell’s novel are loosely based on people who had major roles in the Russian Revolution. For example the Farm where all the animals live is meant to be Russia, and characters such as Old major, Mr. Jones, Napoleon, and Snowball each represent major players in the Russian Revolution. One of the First characters we meet in the book is Mr.
Jones who is based on Tsar Nicholas II, the last Russian emperor. The other Character Old Major portrays Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party that took over after Tsar Nicholas II during the Revolution. Old Major is also aligned with Karl Marx as he constantly mentions the principles of animalism, a theory where all animals are equal and must defeat their oppressors while Karl Marx’s theory of communism urges the people to unite against their economic oppressors. As Animalism imagines a world where all animals share in the prosperity of the farm, Communism argues that a “communal” way of life will allow all people to live lives of economic equality (Sparknotes).
The Character Napoleon Represents Joseph Stalin Napoleon and Stalin are almost identical. Both were cunning, and had an extreme thirst of power and bloodshed. Napoleon got rid of any opposition to his regime, just as Stalin did.
He also had 9 guard dogs that were used to dispose of his enemies, much like Stalin and his NKVD. Both Stalin and Napoleon also liked to bend the truth, manipulating the media and information in their societies. An example of this is how Napoleon tries to hide the farm’s lack of food to the other farmers, in the same way how Stalin tried to hide the fact that his country was in a massive famine. Snowball is an emulation of Leon Trotsky. Stalin and Trotsky were enemies and constantly disagreed just like Snowball and Napoleon who both disagreed constantly, and both had vital roles on the farm. Like Trotsky, Snowball was exiled by secret police in order to get rid of the only threat to Napoleon’s reign in the area.
Vyacheslav Molotov was one of Stalin’s most loyal supporters. He was Stalin’s Prime Minister in the 1930’s, and signed many of the documents that sent Russians away to exile or death. His loyalty can no doubt be related to Squealer, both of them were supportive of their leaders, even during tough times. They were also both involved with dealing with people outside their jurisdiction, Molotov was eventually made Commissioner of Foreign Affairs, and Squealer frequently dealt with other farms.
Orwell uses a single Character to represent the different classes of society in Russia during this time. The Character Boxer is affiliated to the working class and Mollie to the Upper class. Like the working class in Russia, Boxer is strong, and persevering. He is hardworking, and unquestionably loyal to Napoleon’s regime.
Without Boxer, the Battle of the Cowshed could possibly not have been won, nor would the windmill have been built without his relentless work ethic. In the same way, the Russian Revolution could not have happened without the huge push from the working class. However, just like with the working class in Russia, once Boxer outlived his usefulness, he was sent to die. Mollie on the other hand was the exact opposite of Boxer. Whereas the working class was fully devoted to the revolutionary cause, the same cannot be said for the upper class in Russia. They contributed very little to the actual revolution; and as long as their lifestyle didn’t change, they would be happy.
Eventually though, some sacrifices had to be made, so some the bourgeois and upper class fled Russia in hopes of maintaining their comfortable lifestyle. This is a direct parallel to Mollie, as she was more concerned with lumps of sugar and ribbons, rather than the equality of animals. She eventually fled the farm, as did the bourgeois in Russia. The connections between Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution are clear, but why did George Orwell choose to write such a prominent novel.
Orwell was extremely against communism and totalitarian governments and simply just wanted to write a book displaying the flaws of this way of life. It took awhile for the book to be published due to it being anti stalin as the west still supported the Soviet Union. Orwell’s Animal Farm was banned in the soviet union for obvious reasons and is banned in several countries today. By containing the social functions of an entire country into a small area, and using animals to show human foible, George Orwell is able to show the inevitable collapse of a utopian Marxist society.