Animal Farm Many great works have been inspired by events in history. George Orwells 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 animals 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 leaders 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 Napoleons 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 Animalismsummed up by “Four legs Good, Two legs Bad” (Orwell 40). Orwells view of Snowballs 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). Snowballs 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 Napoleons dogs.
Trotsky also possessed this same intellect and speaking ability and fell victim to Lenins KGB agents who forced him to flee of hid life. After Snowballs exile, Napoleon diminishes the populations faith in their former leader by accusing him of treason and blaming all of the problems encountered on the farm as Snowballs 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 leaders commands by rationalizing them to the less intelligent animals.
Squealers 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 Napoleons 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 farms 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 Napoleons 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 Boxers 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 Farms strange depiction of the Russian Revolution provides great insight to the weaknesses of communism and dictatorships. Orwells 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 readers 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. Bibliography Hammond, J. R. A George Orwell Companion. New York: St. Martins 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 ONeill. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. Smyer, Richard I.
Animal Farm: A Students Companion to the Novel. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988.