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Animal Farm

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Animal Farm An Allegory of the French Revolution

By

Travis Booker

English 1302

Mrs. Simpson

April 18, 2012

What is an allegory? Allegory is a device used to present an idea, principle, or meaning, which can be presented in literary form, such as a poem or novel, in musical form, such as composition or lyric, or in visual form, such as in painting or drawing. It is also seen in scriptural passage. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions, or symbolic representation. Allegory is generally treated as a figure of rhetoric; a rhetorical allegory is a demonstrative form of representation conveying meaning other than the words that are spoken. As a literary device, an allegory in its most general sense is an extended metaphor. As an artistic device, an allegory is a visual symbolic representation. An example of a simple visual allegory is the image of the grim reaper. Viewers understand that the image of the grim reaper is a symbolic representation of death (Kennedy 142).
During a time when there was much change and the spirit of rebellion was all around, Animal Farm was written by George Orwell. George Orwell used allegory in his novel Animal Farm to parallel the Russian Revolution and resulting totalitarian regime to the revolutions of the animals and the pigs' corruption of absolute power. The novel's characters, events, and corruption of ideas paralleled the pattern that took place among the Russians during and following the Russian Revolution (Bloom 32-33). In the process, Orwell warns us of how quickly our freedoms can be taken away, as was the case with the Russian people. There is a direct comparison of the characters in Animal Farm and their real life counterpart. First, will be shown the animal and their traits then the counterpart that they are an allegory of and the traits they too possessed.
Mr. Jones is the owner of Manor Farm. He is an irresponsible drunk and neglects his animals. He forgets to feed them and lets them starve. Sometimes he is cruel to them and beats them with a whip. He also has a kind side and sometimes mixes milk in with the animal mash. He is an allegory of Czar Nicholas II. Nicholas was a poor leader compared to the western kings. He was cruel and brutal with his opponents. He also had a kind side and hired young students as spies so that they could make money (Massie 94).
Old Major is an aged prize Middle White boar provides the inspiration that fuels the Rebellion in the book (Orwell 1). He is an allegory of Karl Marx and Lenin, the founders of communism, in that he draws up the principles of the revolution. Marx thought the workers of the world should unite and take over the government. He died before the Russian Revolution. Old Major teaches principles that the pigs name animalism (Orwell 6). He points out that workers do the work and the rich keep the money so the animals need to revolt. He dies before the revolution. His skull being put on revered public display also recalls Lenin, whose embalmed body was put on display (Rodden 5f; Hitchens 186).
Animalism is the foundation for the animals to base their self-government. They believe that there should be no owners. They also believe that there should be no social classes, neither rich nor poor. The principals preach that the workers should get a better life and that all animals are created equal (Orwell 9). This was a direct allegory to Communism where everyone was the same and all people are equal. The government owned everything and the people owned the government.
Snowball is Napoleon's rival and original head of the farm after Jones' overthrow. He is mainly an allegory based on Leon Trotsky with combined elements from Vladimir Lenin (Rodden 5f; Hitchens 186). He was a young, smart, idealistic, good speaker that really wanted to make a better life for all. Snowball was one of the leaders of the revolution. He wins over most animals and gains their trust by leading a very successful first harvest. Snowball genuinely worked for the good of the farm and the animals, and devised plans to help the animals achieve their vision of an egalitarian society, but Napoleon and his dogs eventually chased him into exile from the farm (Orwell 21). Thereafter, Napoleon spreads rumors to make him seem evil and corrupt. He even made claims that Snowball was secretly sabotaging the animals' efforts to improve the farm (Orwell 22). Trotsky was the other leader of the revolution. He was a pure communist that followed Marx. He wanted to improve life for all in Russia until he was chased away by Lenin’s KGB (Service 53-54).
Napoleon is "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 6) is an allegory of Joseph Stalin (Rodden 5f). Napoleon is the main villain of Animal Farm. He is not a good speaker nor as clever as Snowball. He is cruel, brutal, selfish, devious and corrupt. His ambition is for power and he kills all opponents that stand in his way. He uses the dogs, Moses, and Squealer, to control the animals. He begins gradually to build up his power by taking Jessie and Bluebell's newborn puppies and training them to be vicious attack dogs, which he uses as his secret police similar to the KGB. After driving Snowball off the farm, Napoleon usurps full power, using false propaganda from Squealer and threats and intimidation from the dogs to keep the other animals in line. Among other things, he gradually changes the Commandments for his benefit. Stalin also was not a good speaker nor educated like Trotsky his chief rival. Comparable to Napoleon did not follow Old Major’s ideas he did not follow Marx’s ideas. He cared for power and killed all that opposed him. He used the KGB, allowed church and propagandized (Roberts 53; Yakovlev 165)
Squealer is a small white fat porker who serves as Napoleon's right hand pig and minister of propaganda, holding a position similar to that of Molotov (Orwell 6; Rodden, p.5f). Squealer manipulates the language to excuse, justify, and extol all of Napoleon's actions. Often attempting to confuse and disorient the animals, Squealer will make erroneous explaining that the pigs need extra luxury in order to function properly. However, when questions persist, he usually uses the threat of the return of Mr. Jones to justify the pigs' privileges (Orwell 22). Squealer uses statistics to convince the animals that their life is exponentially improving. Most of the animals, having only dim memories of life before the revolution, are easy to convince. He is the first pig illustrating the ability to walk on his hind legs. He has a big mouth and talks a lot often he manipulating the seven commandments. He is an allegory of the propaganda department of Lenin’s government. They worked for Stalin to support his image and used any lie to convince people to follow Stalin. They convinced the public that they benefitted from the fact that education was controlled by the government (Figes 20-31).
The Puppies are the offspring of Jessie and Bluebell. Napoleon takes them away shortly after birth giving them an education to be his security force (Orwell 14). These puppies begin training to be vicious, going so far as to rip many of the animals to shreds, including the four young pigs, a sheep, and various hens. They attempt to do the same to Boxer, who halts one of the puppies under his hoof. The puppy begs for mercy and through Napoleon's orders, Boxer sets the puppy free (Orwell 32). They were a private army that is used fear to force animals to work and killed or intimidated any opponent of Napoleon. They were just another tool in Napoleon’s strategy to control the animals. They were an allegory of the KGB-Secret Police. The KGB was not really police, but forced support for Stalin. They used force and often killed entire families for disobedience. They were totally loyal and part of Lenin’s power even over the army (Trahair & Miller).
Moses the Raven is an old crow who occasionally visits the farm, regaling its denizens with tales of a wondrous place beyond the clouds called Sugarcandy Mountain, where he avers that all animals go when they die—but only if they work hard (Orwell 7). He is symbolizing the Russian Orthodox Church, with Sugarcandy Mountain an allusion to Heaven for the animals. He spends his time turning the animals' minds to thoughts of Sugarcandy Mountain (rather than their work) and yet does no work himself. He feels unequal in comparison to the other animals, so he leaves after the rebellion, for all animals were to be equal (Orwell 9). However, much later in the novel he returns to the farm and continues to proclaim the existence of Sugarcandy Mountain. The other animals are confused by the pigs' attitude towards Moses; they denounce his claims as nonsense, but allow him to remain on the farm. The pigs do this to keep any doubting animals in line with the hope of a happy afterlife, keeping their minds on Sugarcandy Mountain and not on possible uprisings (Orwell 45). In the end, Moses is one of the few animals to remember The Rebellion, along with Clover, Benjamin, and the pigs. Moses is an allegory for religion. Marx said that the opiate of the people was a lie. Religion and suffering was used to make people not complain and do their work. Religion was tolerated because people would work because religion said so. Stalin knew that religion would stop violent revolutions against him (Pospielovsky 89).
Mollie is a self-centered, self-indulgent, and vain young white mare whose sole enjoyments are wearing ribbons in her mane, eating sugar cubes, and being pampered and groomed by humans. She did not think about the farm and the animals on it. Her ideas went with anyone who would give her what she wanted. She soon left the farm to go to another farm (Orwell 18). She was an allegory for the vain, selfish people in Russia and the world. The vain did not care about the revolution going on but only cared about themselves. They soon fled to other countries that offered more for them (Robinson 63, 131).
Boxer is a loyal, kind, dedicated, and respectable horse. He is physically the strongest animal on the farm, but impressionable (Orwell 1). This was a major theme in the book, which leaves him stating; "I will work harder" (Orwell 12) and "Napoleon is always right" (Orwell 22) despite the corruption. He was strong, hardworking and believed whole-heartedly in the Animal Farm. He gives his all until Napoleon betrays him by selling him to his death (Orwell 47). He is an allegory for the dedicated but tricked communist supporters. The people believed Stalin because he was Communist. Many of them remained loyal even after it was obvious that Stalin was a tyrant. They were betrayed by Stalin who ignored them and also killed many (McLoughlin & McDermott 6).
The Sheep show limited understanding of the situations but nonetheless blindly support Napoleon's ideals. They are regularly shown repeating the phrase "four legs good, two legs bad” (Orwell 13) At the end of the novel, one of the Seven Commandments is changed after the pigs learn to walk on two legs and their shout changes to "four legs good, two legs better" (Orwell 51). They can be relied on by the pigs to shout down any dissent from the others. They are a direct allegory for the blind masses. These were the people who followed the government without free thought and never believed that the government had not acted in the best interests of the people. They were none as the “cult of personality” (Tuominen 162). They took anything fed to them by the government and ran with it shouting down any doubters.
There were a few overall details about how life was supposed to be after the animal revolution. It was supposed to make life better for all. However, it made life worse in the end. The leaders became the same as, or worse than the humans they had rebelled against. This was a direct allegory of the few details of the Russian Revolution. The revolution was supposed to fix the problems they occurred with the Czar. Soon life was even worse than before and lasted long after the revolution. The new leader Stalin made the Czar look like a nice guy.
The novel Animal Farm had a good use of allegory in describing the characters of the novel and their Russian Revolution counterparts. Orwell made it easy to see these characters in a realistic light even though this was a fictional tale. It is apparent how people today are just like these characters in many ways and Animal Farm is too an allegory for many of today’s people. Today’s people go along as sheep being controlled by the governmental pigs. They must strive to overcome this.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Bloom’s Animal Farm. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.
Figes, Orland. The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia. London, UK: Macmillan Company, 2007.
Greenblatt, Stephen J. Three Modern Satirists: Waugh, Orwell and Huxley. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 1965.
Kennedy, George A. Classical Rhetoric and Its Christian and Secular Tradition from Ancient to Modern Times. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: UNC Press, 1999.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm.pdf. London, UK: Secker and Warburg, 1945
Massie, Robert K. Nicholas and Alexandra. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1967.
McLoughlin, Barry and Kevin McDermott, eds. Stalin's Terror: High Politics and Mass Repression in the Soviet Union. Bassington, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Pospielovsky Dimitry V. A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory and Practice, and the Believer, vol 2: Soviet Anti-Religious Campaigns and Persecutions. New York, NY: St Martin's Press, 1988).
Roberts, Geoffrey. Stalin's wars: from World War to Cold War, 1939–1953. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.
Robinson, Geroid. Rural Russia Under the Old Regime. London, UK: Macmillan Company, 1932.
Service, Robert. Trotsky: A Biography. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.
Trahair, Richard C.S. and Robert Miller, Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations. New York, NY: Enigma Books, 2009.
Tuominen, Arvo. The Bells of the Kremlin: An Experience in Communism. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 1983.
Yakovlev, Alexander N. et.al. A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.
Yemenici, Alev. “Animal Satire in Animal Farm.” Theorwellreader.com. 30 Jan. 2008. <http://www.dbu.edu/mitchell/satire1.html>.…...

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Animal Farm

...A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO THE SIGNET CLASSIC EDITION OF GEORGE ORWELL’S ANIMAL FARM By HAZEL K. DAVIS, Federal Hocking High School, Stewart, OH S E R I E S W. GEIGER ELLIS, ED.D., E D I T O R S : UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA, EMERITUS and ARTHEA J. S. REED, PH.D., UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA, RETIRED A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classic Edition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm 2 INTRODUCTION Animal Farm is an excellent selection for junior and senior high students to study. Although on one level the novel is an allegory of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the story is just as applicable to the latest rebellion against dictators around the world. Young people should be able to recognize similarities between the animal leaders and politicians today. The novel also demonstrates how language can be used to control minds. Since teenagers are the target not only of the educational system itself but also of advertising, the music industry, etc., they should be interested in exploring how language can control thought and behavior. Animal Farm is short and contains few words that will hamper the reader’s understanding. The incidents in the novel allow for much interactive learning, providing opportunities for students to dramatize certain portions, to expand on speeches, and to work out alternative endings. The novel can be taught collaboratively with the history department as an allegory of the Russian Revolution, allowing students to draw parallels...

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