The book Animal Farm by George Orwell is a satirical piece published in 1945 in England.
The book attacks the Soviet communism by use of animal characters in a typical English farm, Manor Farm. The animal characters figuratively represent the leaders of the communist party. The animals stage a successful revolution that topples the farmer but later, corrupt pigs driven by selfish interests fling the binding principles of Animalism. The book has different meaning to different readers depending on their personal experiences. For a person conversant with the history of the Soviet Union, the book illustrates the communist party rule that followed the revolution of 1917 and now perceived as an oppressive and counter revolutionary force. A teenager from a war torn country will get the perception that revolutions do not work and absolute power corrupts as seen by Napoleon’s neglect of the seven commandments. In the Animal Farm, the animals toil all year long not for their benefit but for their masters. This is the perception of an employed person who feels that his or her efforts are for the master’s benefit.
The novel is a fable against socialism in the Soviet Union that uses animals as figurations of the Communist Party leaders. The two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, represent the Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky as leaders. The revolution in 1917 led to establishment of communist new regime headed by Vladimir Lenin. The new communist regime took control of all land and industry from the private sector into government control in order to create a centralized economic system that would put the country on the road to economic success. However, after Lenin died in 1924, Stalin and Trotsky took control of the Soviet Union.
Stalin plots a plan that leads to the exile of Trotsky, a proponent of communism. Just like in the Animal Farm, the struggle for power and influence between Snowball and Napoleon leads to the banishment of Snowball from the farm. After the revolution in the Animal Farm, the animals establish the philosophy of Animalism in order to be different from human beings. Nevertheless, later after Snowball’s banishment, “the pigs start to walk on their hind legs just as the human does” (Orwell, 1996, p. 121). Stalin just like Napoleon in the Animal Kingdom became dictatorial and neglected the philosophy of communism.
He committed acts of brutality towards his perceived political enemies who at the beginning were his confidantes. On the other hand, the Animal farm represents the current political events of revolution in dictatorship countries like Libya. The book illustrates why and how revolutions take place to remove modern dictatorship. The oppressive rule encourages the revolutionary movement to remove the regime. The Major incites the revolution by his statements to the loyal and energetic Boxer.
“And you, Boxer, the very day that you lose those great muscles of yours and lose their power, Jones will sell you the Knackers, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds” (Orwell, 1996, p. 20). Ironically, Boxer is betrayed not by Jones but by the other animals who take over after the revolution. Revolutions also bring the dilemma of what happens after the removal of the dictatorial regime.
A youth living in Libya right now would identify with this book given the recent upspring that seeks to topple Gadaffi’s tyrannical rule. In the Animal Farm, the animals sacrifices were not rewarded only the masters, the pigs, benefited from the Animals’ hard work. A middle class worker will get the idea that his or her efforts benefit the top leadership in the organization, but not the worker. For example, “all year long the animals worked like slaves…not for the benefit of themselves” (Orwell, 1996, p. 63). This implies that the masters benefitted from the animals’ hard work but the animals without realizing it became the slaves of their masters.
The book Animal Farm by George Orwell represents political satire that has different meaning to various people depending on their personal experiences. Historically, the book represents the Communism history in Russia. The Animal farm also concerns the recent revolutionary political events in many countries and their aftermath of such revolutions to the people’s lives.
Hard work by the animals in the Animal Farm is not rewarded instead it is the maters who benefit most; the meaning of the book to a middle class worker.
Orwell, G. (1996). Animal Farm.
New York: New American Library.