An anti-Stalinist “fairy story” by George Orwell was published on August 17, 1945. The story is a satirical allegory of the Russian Revolution, particularly directed against Stalin’s Russia. The story’s concept of “animalism” is used by Orwell to portray a generic view of socialism, similar to that first expounded by Karl Marx (Old Major), who Orwell believed was naïve in thinking that his philosophy would actually work. Orwell, although agreeing with the overall concept of equality through socialism, was critical of Marx because Orwell believed that Marx didn’t take into account the greed and jealousy which would eventually undermine the entire philosophy. This idea was shown through Napoleon and the other pigs, who, through persuasion and force became the dominant authority on the farm. When Napoleon outlaws the “Beasts of England” anthem, he is demonstrating the ruthlessness of a state in which the initial ideal of socialism as a way to ensure equality among animals has been heavily distorted into a force of oppression. Many of the characters of Animal Farm are representative of real life characters or organizations involved in the Russian Revolution and are listed below.
- Old Major: (Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin) A pig, and the leader of the animals before the revolution. He dies of old age before the revolt begins.
- Boxer: (The proletariat) A very strong horse whose attitude is very simplistic and uncaring, simply determining that, regardless of what leader on the farm say or do, he will make things come out right by working ever harder.
- The sheep: (Another aspect of the proletariat) They unquestioningly accept and parrot the leadership’s propaganda and shout down dissenters.
- Mollie: (The czarist aristocracy) A female horse who is vain and shallow. Her low intelligence is seen in whatever she does, and she is easily led astray by flattery. However, some analysts of the story have expressed admiration for her as being one of the few non-pigs and non-humans in Animal Farm who takes control of her own life.
- Snowball: (Leon Trotsky) A pig who struggled with Napoleon for power. Possibly the most intelligent animal on the farm, he envisioned the windmill and much of the governance structure of the farm. Though he is often seen as a protagonistic “good guy,” it is hinted at throughout the story prior to his exile that his motives, though not necessarily malicious, are less than saint-like.
- Napoleon: (Joseph Stalin) Another pig whose lust for power will stop at nothing. While taking a stand against Snowball’s ideas every time they come up, Napoleon rarely presents any of his own.
- Benjamin: (citizens skeptical of Stalin) An old, intelligent, and very cynical donkey, he is one of the few non-pig animals on the farm who can read well. He is skeptical of the entire revolution, especially since the pigs take over, and remarks that “Life will go on as it has always done. That is, badly.” Boxer the horse is the only animal on the farm whom Benjamin really cares about, and the two are often seen together.
- The dogs: (the KGB) The dogs are loyal to Napoleon, who uses them to maintain power. Many of them were taken in from Jessie and Bluebell shortly after birth.
- Squealer: (Propaganda newspaper Pravda) A porker who manages to convince, using questionable statistics and outright lies, everyone on the farm to accept whatever Napoleon declares.
- Farmer Jones: (Tsar Nicholas II) The owner of Manor Farm before the animals revolt. A drunkard, but not a bad farmer, Jones was often negligent in caring for the animals.
- Farmer Frederick: (German leadership, namely Adolf Hitler) The owner of the neighboring Pinchfield farm.
- Farmer Pilkington: (British leadership, namely Winston Churchill) The owner of the neighboring Foxwood farm.
- Mr. Whymper: (Outsiders involved in the affairs of the USSR) The ‘face’ of Animal Farm to the outside world. The pigs successfully convince him that conditions in Animal Farm are much better than they are.
- Moses: (Religion in general) Farmer Jones’s pet raven, whom the other animals resent because he does no work. He preaches about a wondrous land called Sugarcandy Mountain, where the animals will supposedly go when they die. The pigs try to convince the other animals that Moses is lying, but once they see his usefulness to them, they tolerate him.
The book was made into an animated cartoon, as well as into a 1999 live action film (the latter featuring Animal Farm falling into disrepair due to policies Napoleon instigated as well as it falling under new ownership with the implication that things might turn out better). See the Cartoon below:
The book’s idea of a false utopia was bitingly portrayed in “Toy Story 3“, with a day care center substituting for the farm setting. “This isn’t a family,” one toy shouts. “It’s a prison!”
Recommended Reading: Animal Farm 2 – by Martin Knox
Fiction author and qualified chemical engineer, Martin Knox, has published his new book Animal Farm 2 which continues George Orwell’s 1945 political satire Animal Farm, updating it to include the Cold War and its aftermath, within a broader context of the superpowers’ environmental movements.
The farm is on Caruba, a tropical island controlled by the Social Republic near the Democratic Union, who are in an arms race and space race with them. Pigs had led a rebellion of the animals, ousted the farmer, taking control and ruthlessly exploiting the animal workers. When the farm animals discover coal on the farm and mine it to supply a power station constructed on the farm, they become embroiled in the climate and energy manoeuvring of the DU, SR and Caruba governments.
Martin’s blog is at https://martinknox.com/the-author/