How do you insult the Soviet Union and get away with it? Make them animals. (No one will ever know.) That was George Orwell's plan, and it worked. He was able to insult Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky, all while masking them as barn animals—which really is an insult in itself. Would you like to be compared to a pig?
|Author||Orwell - George Orwell|
|British Literature||Post-1945 British Literature|
|Post-1945 Literature||All Post-1945 Literature Videos|
Post-1945 British Literature
|Themes||Dreams, Hopes, and Plans|
Foolishness and Folly
Lies and Deceit
Rules and Order
central to the Russian Revolution. With this device, Orwell demonstrates the
great value of metaphors.
More or less, each animal represents a specific player in the Russian Revolution.
Old Major is both
Karl Marx and
Vladimir Lenin. Napoleon is an allegory for
Joseph Stalin. Snowball channels
Leon Trotsky. So it begs the big question:
why did Orwell choose animals as characters instead of
…humans? Our old pals Marx,
Trotsky are a LOT more interesting than a bunch of barnyard animals, aren’t they?
We here at Shmoop don’t think so. Orwell’s metaphorical use of animals is
precisely what makes Animal Farm such an interesting book.
By using animals, Orwell was able to make his book interesting to both young and old
alike. Because seriously, who doesn’t love animals?
For real… Just one more. Really, how can anyone resist
these <<in baby voice>> fuzzy wuzzy wittle animals?
Orwell’s use of animals also gives his writing much more power.
Hulk angry! Using animals gives Orwell the ability to
criticize the Soviet Union and its leaders without directly endangering himself.
Humans good. Especially Soviet humans! Orwell also gives himself the freedom to let
the animals perform primitive actions
that a human would never, ever, ever perform. Like murdering their own kind…
…or abusing power and oppressing lower classes…
…or using the media to trick and manipulate the population.
what? Orwell was able to successfully emphasize
and exaggerate mankind’s uglier attributes. What better way to show that man is a pig
to make him one? There’s some food for thought.
Shmoop amongst yourselves.
Who let the pigs out? Oink… oink… oink oink. What’s the deal with all of these
animals running amok – and in a work of classic literature, no less? Isn’t this
a children’s book? Something’s fishy here…