I first want to emphasize that the events in Animal Farm are comparable to the Russian Revolution of 1917. The book illustrates the ideals of the revolution and how the masses were maltreated by corrupt leaders and the false promises of a Utopian socialistic society. This goal of equality was what the animals sought, and despite their sacrifices and hard work, their leaders betrayed them. Animal Farm is essentially a harsh criticism of totalitarianism. Orwell is portraying the noble goals of Marxism which were corrupted by a dictator’s avarice for power.
As he notes in his study, “The book is not only a parody of Stalin’s Russia but also intends to show that Russia was not a true democratic Socialist country. ”(1) Despite the apparent criticism, Orwell shares the viewpoints of Marxism as far as worldwide revolution was concerned. However, in the book, a utopian future seemed highly unlikely from the start. The idea of Animalism was a theory created by Old Major in his dream. Old Major was a highly respected and venerable boar. He managed to assemble the farm animals where he told all of them his dream of a revolution.
As Major said, “our lives are miserable, laborious and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies and for those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant our usefulness has come to an end, we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. ”(pg 7) This is particularly typical of what the Russian people faced during the Czarist days of Russia. The Bourgeoisie, or the rich, had full control over the Proletariats, who were the poor workers.
The workers were treated poorly and they lived in utter poverty and misery. They were exploited and mistreated by the rich and lived a harsh life where even basic sustenance was impossible to find. It was through their labor that the Czar and the rich existed. Karl Marx noticed this problem and he wrote The Communist Manifesto, where he suggested that the workers of the world should unite and overthrow the tyrannical capitalist countries. Marx wanted the proletariat class to start a revolution and change the social structure and distribute the wealth among the masses. Old Major represented Karl Marx.
They both were visionaries who called upon the tormented masses to rise up against their bourgeoisie masters, in Animal Farm’s case, Man. Yet, unfortunately both Marx and Major would never see their revolution commence. Old Major dies in three days after speaking to the animals and Marx died before the Russian Revolution began. There were only two capable leaders left on the farm who could start the revolution. Snowball was a young, intelligent and a vivacious pig with a brilliant talent for speaking. Whenever he spoke, he placed an incredible amount of emotion into his voice that pulled the animals toward him.
Snowball’s objective was to carry out the last wishes of Old Major and to make life better for the animals. Snowball could be compared to Leon Trotsky who was a devout follower of Marxism and he wanted to improve the lives of the Russian people. Both Snowball and Trotsky were thrown out of power by their supposed comrades. Napoleon, a Berkshire boar, did not possess the skill and acumen of Snowball. However, Napoleon made up for this weak point by being ruthless, cruel, devious, and corrupt. His ambition was to have full control and power over Animal farm. If anyone stopped him, he would destroy the opponent.
Napoleon used his dogs to intimidate the other animals and to kill any animal that opposed him. He also used Squealer, a garrulous pig who could convince any animal with doubts about the greatness of Napoleon and that it was Napoleon who thought up the revolution. Basically, Squealor was a propaganda spokesman. Old Major, before his death, had spoken out a list of seven commandments that all animals had to follow. The commandments were concerned with animal-human relations. Squealor changed and manipulated the seven commandments to suit Napoleon and the pigs.
You may have noticed by now that the character names all have a symbolic meaning to them. The name Napolean refers to the legendary emperor of France. He was ruthless and he killed anyone who opposed him. Squealor, by his contemptuous actions, implied that he was a spy and he informed Napoleon about any activity against him. Napoleon could be compared to Josef Stalin, the madman of Russia. He was not as educated or convincing as Trotsky. Yet Stalin was a brutal man who craved power. He killed millions of people and used the KGB (indoctrinated dogs) to punish dissenters.
Napoleon also used Moses, the tame raven, to control the animals. Moses represented the Church where he constantly babbled about Sugar Land Mountain. This heavenly abode is where all animals go when they died and they forever lived in peace and tranquility with good food and lots of rest. The animals believed in Moses because their lives were already full of misery. Surely there had to be a better place where the animals could go and be content. Moses was a tool for Napoleon. He said all this jargon in order to make the tired animals work hard and not complain and Moses was paid with bread soaked in beer.
On the topic of religion, Marx considered it the, “Opiate of the people. ” (2) Orwell however said that people will always turn to religion for answers and places where they could go for an easier existence. In addition, Orwell refused to approve of a society where leaders like Napoleon or Stalin distorted the true meaning of Socialism and instilled fear and tyranny over their own people. As Orwell said, “To accept Orthodoxy, is always to inherit unresolved contradictions. ”(3) This makes sense because the animals had jumped out of the frying pan (Mr.
Jones’ reign) and into the fire (Napoleon’s dictatorship). Either way you see the result, it is the same. The animals continued to suffer. What did Animalism accomplish? What were the goals, what were the dreams and what were the results? The basic idea was to share power and to stop the tyrant Mr. Jones (who represented the Czar). The goals of the newly established government was to declare all animals equal, that they would get more food, more sleep, respect, rules to protect animals from oppression, and technology-in the form of windmill to make life better for all.
The animals owned the farm. Everything was to be equally shared. Humans were the enemy and no animals should deal with Man and no one could act like Man. As Major said, “.. in fighting Man, we must not come to resemble him. Even when you have conquered him, do not adopt his vices. ”(pg 12) The seven commandments were made for the protection of the animals and their rights. Leaders and workers will work together and education is available to all. These were the hopes and dreams of all animals so that they may be free from the bonds of slavery and live in happiness and equality.
However, when Napoleon claimed power, the entire basis of the revolution crumbled into dust. The goals of the government were stripped to suit the Pigs. As the rule said, “some animals are more equal than others. ” Rather than motivating animals to work, they are forced to work otherwise they would not receive their ration of food. The Seven commandments were changed to Pig Laws. Pigs became more powerful and thus they controlled every aspect of the farm. What I note, and Orwell also notes, is that how could the proletariats trust the self-proclaimed leaders and their intentions?
As Orwell wrote, “The main weakness of Marxism is the failure of human motives”(4) and “It is impossible to have an intuitive understanding of men’s motives and therefore impossible to predict their actions. ”(5) It’s difficult to fathom why the animals didn’t recognize the pig’s treachery and why they didn’t rebel. Maybe the fierce dogs were too intimidating or maybe the animals were just content with their nationalistic pride of their farm. An example of their pride can be seen when the animals march past their flag and the disinterred skull of Old Major.
They have a feeling of joy and contentment because their farm is run by the animals and not humans. However as Orwell writes, “the proletariat is too easily swayed by its leaders as well as its guiding ideologies. ”(6) For example in Animal Farm, the animals fail to realize that all their rights and the seven commandments are being stripped and changed before their very eyes. The knowledge that all the animals are illiterate is very useful to Napoleon and he freely changes all the laws according to his tastes without worry.
Yet the animals should have said something when the “Beasts of England,” the revolutionary song taught by Old Major, is changed to “Animal Farm. ” Take Boxer the horse for example. He was a devout follower of Napoleon and he gave his life for his brethren. He sacrificed himself day and night in the construction of the windmill so that the dreams of heat and electricity would come true and that all the animals could reap the benefits. Boxer always said, “Napoleon is always right. ” It is all Boxer can do whenever he had doubts. Had Boxer materialized his doubts into action, Napoleon would never have succeeded in gaining total power.
That’s why I believe Boxer is attacked by the three dogs after he develops doubts about Snowball being a traitor. Luckily he is strong enough to stop the dogs. Boxer represented a communist or Animalist supporter. He was a dedicated and hard worker but the crafty Squealer and Napoleon used him where Boxer was eventually betrayed by the leaders he so willingly followed and helped. Orwell understood the significance of Marxism and shared many of its beliefs but Animalism was not an extreme political goal. The basic concept was equality, sharing, and working together for the betterment of all.
Yet the system was so badly twisted by the leaders that the animals were in limbo. The animals became oppressed slaves to the pigs who became no different than the human masters. They were even crueler to the animals than Jones and the Revolution became a cruel joke. What changes had occurred? Absolutely nothing except that instead of humans ruling over animals, animals came to rule over animals. The final line in the book summarizes it all, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man and man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. ”(pg 155)