Book: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Publication: Penguin India
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George Orwell alias Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950) is an illustrious name in the history of English literature. Generally speaking, his creations are unique and oblique with a deep-rooted tone of satire as well as a protest against totalitarianism and the tyrannical hypocrisy of social hegemony.
“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
Animal Farm, published in 1945, by George Orwell, celebrates a more in-depth theme than a mere story of some farm animals uprooting human rule over them and setting up the animal kingdom. In every way, it is an allegorical journey on the part of the author to dig out the bitter history of human psychology and civilization.
On a farm, naming Manor Farm, intoxicated by the vigorous speech and idealism of Old Major, a boar, the animals gathered and kicked down the whip of Mr Jones, a drunkard and irresponsible farmer. Consequently, they aimed to stop the exploitation and atrocities of human society as well as to build a utopian society through their combined labour and equality. They renamed their homestead ‘Animal Farm’. But gradually corruption and powermongers encroached in their dreamland. Under the tyranny of Napolean, a pig, all their previous attributes collapsed in utter futility and ludicrous atrocities.
” …what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again…”
They gathered and fought against the human and banned all human practices like trade, alcohol, etc. but later through the agency of humans, Napolean was engaged in complicated negotiations with other farms.
Every incident that happened in ‘Animal Farm’ is a reflection of Russian History.
Animal Farm is the retelling of the Russian Revolution in 1917 where every character and incident are drawn from history.
Driving out of Mr Jones by the animals is a direct hint at the Abdiction of Nicholas-II after the Russian Revolution.
The notion of Seven Commandments of Animalism is copied from the April Theses of Lenin.
Trotsky’s banishment from the Soviet Union is caricatured in Snowball’s expulsion from the Animal Farm.
When Napolean claimed Snowball’s windmill idea as his own we are reminded of Stalin’s adoption of Trotsky’s Five year Plan.
Stalin’s NKVD to carry out his orders is here exhibited by Napolean’s Dogs.
Moskow Trial is represented by Napolesan’s execution of Four Pigs, who rebelled against him.
Napolean’s alliance with Mr Frederick is an allusion to Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Russia and Germany.
The German invasion of Russia is portrayed through the destruction of the windmill made by the animals by Mr Frederick and his men.
Treaty with Pilkington by Napolean in Animal Farm is the inkling to the Potsdam Conference leads to the division of Germany.
Stalin replaces “ The Internationale” with the “ National Anthem of the Soviet Union” as Napolean replaces the farm anthem, “ Beast of England” with “ Comrade Napolean”.
George Orwell with painstaking excellence draws all the characters and their behavioural transformation in a wonderful satirical tone that demands wide applause. How the pigs like Snowball, Napoleon engaged in power politics and try to gain the throne is just a mirror image of the human world. Their vows to abduct all the human profligacy and dissipation fall flat as they indulge in debauchery, drinking alcohol, trading etc. The characters like Squealer whose only object is to keep others under the dictatorship of Napolean by proclaiming the Seven Commandments, the military forces of Napolean all are moulded upon the Russian political scene. The equality they targeted in their promise at the dawn of new society shattered pathetically. This sheer fall of social idealism hints at the common delusion of communist ideologies. Every animal seems equal at the beginning but soon after the utopian sky changes in dystopian darkness under the oligarchy of pigs. ” Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer- except, of course for the pigs and the dogs.”
There is clear inkling at the historical pages celebrating the power struggle of Lenin, Marx, Trotsky, Stalin
Old Major– He is the boar whose vision of a utopian society where animals will not be maltreated by humans and all will be equal inspires him to sow the seed of rebellion among farm animals.
Napoleon– The pig leader who is moulded upon Joseph Stalin. He expelled Snowball, another pig leader by his military force and practised tyrannical rule.
Snowball– The pig who was the opponent of Napoleon. He is the proponent of a windmill in the animal farm for which he was chased and banished.
Squealer– He is the pig who convey Napolean’s ideas and orders among other animals.
Boxer– A dedicated cart-horse with incredible strength and willpower always guide him. ” I will work harder.”
Clover– A female cart-horse and a close friend of Boxer. But she is intelligent and wise.
…it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race “
Other characters are Moses (a tame raven), Mollie (the superfluous mare who leaves the farm for humans) Benjamin (the donkey who firmly believes that no rebellion or anything can change the life of farm animals), Muriel (the white goat who reads the Seven Commandments to Clover), Mr. Jones (the drunkard owner of Manor Farm alias Animal Farm), Mr. Frederick (the owner of Pinchfield farm), Mr. Pilkington (a good-natured farmer who is the owner of Foxwood farm), Mr. Whymper (the human solicitor hired by Napolean to represent Animal Farm in human society), Jessie and Bluebell are two dogs, Minimus (the poet pig who writes verse on Napoleon
“Animal Farm, Animal Farm,
Never through me shalt thou come to harm!”)
Characters and Symbols of Historical Figures:
Animal Farm is a political allegory as well as an amalgamation of symbols.
First, the ‘Animal Farm’ itself is a symbol, symbol of Russia more broadly of any human society. The farm represents the idealistic beginning of a novice society that vows equality and good intentions. But all the utopian dreams fall apart when power is hacked and abused by autocracy.
Old Major stands for ‘The father of communism, Karl Marx, or in some ways, Vladimir Lenin. Napolean is the representative of Joseph Stalin,
Squealer is the Russian Media, whereas Snowball is Trotsky.
Horses are the representative of the working class who toils without questioning the authority as well as their condition.
Dogs are the military police.
Birds are left out of the animal society as many several classes remain segregated in our society from the general citizens.
Raven Moses symbolizes the Russian Orthodox Church.
Sheep represents the masses of common people who just follow the communist part without question.
The vulnerable yet unavoidable hand of corruption.
The utter hollowness and loopholes of the Marxist dream.
The demons of power-mongers, greed, jealousy, laziness, exploitation seep into the human heart and nothing can erase it.
Totalitarianism is always proven powerful in the way to the dream of communism.
Such high-flown ideas combined within the short periphery of book pages cover all the themes like communalism, political bureaucracy, it is not an easy task to veil such over the head concepts under the cloak of a fable. Even a child without any knowledge of Marxism and the history of the Russian revolution can enjoy the story.
But the most significant point for me is the relevance of the theme for all ages and all the nations as the atrocities of power politics never end and corruption of the human heart is never banned. Even in today’s political and social scenario ‘Animal Farm’ is bitterly and nakedly true.