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Animal Farm: Allegory Of Stalinism Essay, Research Paper

Animal Farm: Allegory of Stalinism

Most directly one would say that Animal Farm is an allegory of Stalinism,

growing out from the Russian Revolution in 1917. Because it is cast as an animal

fable it gives the reader/viewer, some distance from the specific political

events. The use of the fable form helps one to examine the certain elements of

human nature which can produce a Stalin and enable him to seize power. Orwell,

does however, set his fable in familiar events of current history.

Old Major, a eminent pig on the Jones farm, is regarded as the wise superior by

the other animals. He has had a strange dream and calls the other animals

together to talk about their disastrous situation. Old major declares: ?Let us

face it, our lives are miserable, laborious and short?. He declares in Marxist

terms that Man is the problem: ?Only get rid of the Man, and the produce of our

labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could be rich and free. What then

must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the

human race! That is my message to you, comrades. Rebellion!?

The simple, but emotional appeal, gets trough to the uneducated and plain

animals and, as in all revolutions, the planning begins in euphoria and idealism.

No voice is raised to ask relevant question or call for a considered debate.

The appearance of rats at the meeting raises a question: ?Are rats comrades?? A

democratic vote results in a ringing ?Yes!?. And Old Major proclaims, ?No animal

must ever tyrannise over his own kind. Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are

all brothers. All animals are equal!?

It was however generally understood that the pigs were the cleverest of the

animals, so the work of organising for the Rebellion fell naturally to them.

Especially two pigs take over leadership: Napoleon and Snowball.

The pigs developed Old Major’s teaching into a complete system of thought:

Animalism. Rules of equality, formality, and hard work was proclaimed and

encoded in The Seven Commandments – ?an unalterable law.? The animals enthusiasm

was expressed through a hymn, ?Beasts of England.?

The Rebellion comes sooner then it had been excpected and the successful animals

join together with a will to build a new and better world. To symbolise the new

day the name of the farm is changed from Manor Farm to Animal Farm.

Very soon, however, under the leadership of Napoleon, the techniques and

sanctimonies of tyranny begin to appear. First, there is a strong emphasis on

ceremony and ritual. Sunday morning meeting is set up by Napoleon. Slogans are

recited. A favourite is their great announcement: ?Four legs good – two legs

bad!? When a counter-attack by farmer Jones is beaten off, the great event is

declared ?The battle of the Cowshed?, and military decorations are created

including ?Animal Hero – first Class? and ?Animal Hero – second Class.? Napoleon

awards both of these to himself.

Very soon comes the discrediting of CO-leader Snowball. Snowball is the idealist,

faithfully considering the welfare of all the animals while Napoleon is the

pragmatist, ready to achieve his purposes with violence. So the technique of the

?big lie? and constructed evidence results in Snowball’s being driven out from

Animal farm, leaving Napoleon in sole command. The discredited Snowball can now

be blamed whenever problems arise. Here Orwell is paralleling the conflict

between Stalin and Trotsky with Stalin the winner.

Another distinguishable technique used by Napoleon to hold power is revision of

the past. The seven Commandments – ?unalterable law? – are revised one by one to

suit Napoleon’s purposes. Also the democratic meetings are abolished, and

replaced with assemblies where Napoleon issues his orders. The workers are often

perplexed but they absorb everything they are told and therefore become perfect

subjects for manipulation.

The most outrageous and most effective techniques used by Napoleon are the show

trials, the humiliating confessions, and the summary executions. Orwell does not

explain why there is an epidemic of confessions, but a reasonable conclusion is

that the uncontrolled climate of fear paralyses the judgement, generates

irrational guilt, and creates the confession, in the hope that this will earn

safety. In any case this happened in the Moscow treason trials of 1936-1938.

Other techniques include reports that say that things are better than ever

before; creation of a Mystique of the Leader; elimination of even loyal

supporters when they no longer can be useful. A case in the point is the sale of

Boxer, a great worker and archetype, to the glue factory.

Hypocrisies are numerous, special privileges for the pigs are given and then

justified through a form of doublespeak (a term also found in Orwell’s other

book ?1984?).

The final cynical of all tyrannies is expressed in the last revision of the

Seven Commandments: ?All Animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than


The last episode of the book parallels to the Teheran Conference, which is

symbolised by a game of cards between the pig-dictator Napoleon and a human

neighbour, Mr Pilkington. Suddenly when each of them plays an ace of spades

simultaneously, the frightened farm animals, watching the violent quarrel which

follows from outside the parlour window, are unable any longer to distinguish

the pig’s face from the man’s.

The final moral is of course, that the animals’ revolution has been betrayed by

the selfishness and will to power of the pigs who, like the communist party in

Russia, have controlled it from the beginning; and the living conditions of the

animals are in the end no better than they were under their human exploiters.

Instead of gaining freedom the animals only have exchanged one set of masters

for another. The vision with which they began has been corrupted.

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