Russian Revolution in Animal Farm


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Animal Farm, a fairy tale written by George Orwell, is inspired by the Russian Revolution of 1917 and mocks the system established after it through allegory. Eric Arthur Blair, hiding behind his pen name George Orwell, was against totalitarianism and he supported democratic socialism, as can be seen in his works, including Animal Farm. The book is either seen as a satire or as a novel. When first published in 1945, it was presented as a fairy tale and not satire because at the time Stalin, a political leader of Russia at that time, still had a positive reputation. The main goal of the book was to boost the morale of people to some extent and show the real truth of the reign behind the curtains of rulers of the USSR.

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Socialism as we all know is indeed the basis of Marx’s communism, built on the idea that everything is shared equally among people. Socialism in Animal Farm is presented as the idea of Animalism. Orwell wanted to show how easy it is to corrupt systems and people of the world. After the Old Major’s death, an old pig in the book, representing Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx at the same time, when the 7 commandments were made by the animals of the farm, it represented 7 simple rules to ensure every animal on the farm is satisfied and happy, but to also reach the goal of a utopian world, preached by Old Major. Old Major is a character that is pretty much a mixture of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin (because of the ideas of the utopian world), as he introduced his idea to the animals of the “Manor Farm” and made them think of an idea of freedom and peace. Similar to Marx, it was Old Major’s idea for the revolution, the first character that realized the inequality between man and animal. Old Major motivated all the animals, showed them the real enemy and showed the reason behind the dissatisfaction of animals. He got all the animals working together, he wanted all of them to share resources and try to build a utopian world. Same as Lenin, Old Major dies shortly after presenting the ideas, and as that usually goes, all of his ideas were no longer first thing on a to-do list.

As nothing in life goes smoothly, with little effort, Napoleon was able to turn the situation to his benefit. Napoleon was the pig of the farm, represented by Orwell as Joseph Stalin, one of the main actors in the Revolution of 1917, and an heir of the communist values. What helped majorly Stalin to gain power and support of the Russian people was propaganda, a powerful tool to expand his influence and ideas which were appealing to exhausted Russians. Propaganda on the other hand was present in the book via the character of the little pig called Squealer, who used language efficiently to negotiate and persuade animals that Napoleon’s ideas were the best and that he was always right. All these characters and their actions remind a lot of the situation in Russia at the time, everything which led to the rise of the idea of Animalism (Socialism-Communism-Marxism), which later developed Napoleon’s rule that we can connect with Stalin and his regime.

In the middle of WW1, a group of communists that went by the name Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, introduced the idea of radical change. The basis for Lenin’s campaign was the slogan ‘Peace, Bread and Land’, which spread rapidly and inspired many people in the time of war and hunger to take the matter into their own hands. One of the main goals was overthrowing Tsar Nicholas II, the Russian Emperor at that time, and reconstructing the country. Lenin fulfilled his promises, as he left the war, he redistributed land, set up new rights and laws, and was still trying to make Russia better. After Lenin died, USSR was left in hands of Joseph Stalin, one of the most brutal dictators in history. Stalin was a little paranoid and afraid that someone would take power away from him, which lead him to the idea of removing the opposition, which resulted in the collapse of communism and the spread of hunger and death in the country, all driven by Stalin’s urge for power.

The form of leading a country known as “rule of an iron fist”, is an ideology based on fear and manipulation. For everything to be controlled well, it is of great significance to prevent people from knowing your failures and mistakes. The name of it is Fascism, and the best examples are Mussolini’s rule of Italy, Hitler’s Nazi rule of Germany, and Stalin’s rule in the USSR.

Defined in the dictionary, “Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.”, but this ideology was established in Europe as a form of radical nationalism very easily by the people. If we take Italy for example, people of Italy were dissatisfied and were in a blind spot, so the idea of unity and the idea of being a great power as one the Roman Empire was, made circumstances for Benito Mussolini to drive the Kingdom of Italy into a regime of Fascism and make it a Fascist Italy. Now returning to Russia, there was no influence of Fascism in Russia, but on the Animal Farm, the pigs established fascist rule. Fascism on the Animal farm created by Napoleon shows us how Stalin made Communist Russia. Similar to Stalin, Napoleon used propaganda (Squealer) to always say nothing but good things about him, to hide his failures and frauds, and to boost his image as much as possible. This led to animals being unable to make their own view of what the farm really was, or to create their own opinion, so they blindly followed Napoleon and his rule.

Fascism as one of the main ideologies of Animal Farm was described with two links. In Animal Farm pigs got the authority on the farm by saying they were smart and powerful ones that have best abilities when it comes to organizing the work and the farm, and eventually not only that they became leaders, but they slowly became “people”, completely different to other animals and taking the highest place on the social pyramid. Same as in Fascism the privileged class gets to do pretty much whatever they want, like controlling the society and all aspects of it. Even though Napoleon’s and Snowball’s intentions were different, they gained power and influence in the same way. Another link to fascism is the seven commandments, which were gradually changed based on how pigs were transforming, which resulted in animals having no rights and rules, showing how privileged class, pigs, can change laws and basic human rights (animal rights). Here, Orwell reflects totalitarianism, something he despised and mocked how easily one country can become a fascist, nazist, or totalitarian country.

Animalism, the system which Napoleon and Snowball made based on ideas of Old Major is a type of communism-socialism. It shows a community where animals are in charge, it should have fought for all animals being equal. Pigs shaped the Seven Commandments in their own favor. ‘’All animals are equal’’, was one of the Commandments before Napoleon being a leader, after his goals are reached, he changes that Commandment to “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. Animalism really did not change much, it made some things better, but also made some things worse.

Shortly after the death of Old Major, Napoleon and Snowball lead the revolution and later the whole of Animal Farm. the two pigs were in They used revolution for personal benefits with the help of Napoleon’s dogs, which are next to the brain of Napoleon’s main actors in establishing the spot of the dictator of the Farm.

Part by part Napoleon took the advantage of the farm (at first using small benefits like keeping apples for himself). Snowball did lead the revolution and was sharing the throne with Napoleon, but he, much like Trotsky, did not have bad intentions like Napoleon or Stalin. Napoleon was striving for power, so he made himself the only leader of Animal Farm. This portrays the relationship between Trotsky and Stalin. When Napoleon realizes that animals are falling under the influence of Snowball, he uses his dogs to get rid of him. The only difference is that Stalin was the one gaining support from the people, which he later used to get rid of Trotsky and exile him from the USSR.

All of the characters in the novel are basically actors in Russian Revolution. In Boxer, the hard-working and loyal horse, we can see the proletariats (working class), who were loyal to the state. Head of Stalin’s Communist propaganda was Molotov Vyacheslav, whose role is represented in Squealer (pig) who is pretty much a mouthpiece for its chief Napoleon. Middle, materialistic class is shown through the character of Mollie the mule, which is not interested in the revolution nor Animalism, and was selfish and wanted rather be enslaved but with benefits than free, same as the selfish middle class which left Russia immediately after the revolution. Orwell also presented himself in a shape of an old donkey named Benjamin, who refuses the ideas of revolution, and his main averment is that donkeys live long and can go through anything. He is a pessimist with a touch of realism so he shows many doubts about the animal-governed world, as seen in the book: “Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.” Other characters from the revolution are Mr. Pinklington who is the owner of Foxwood farm, he represents the capitalists, in this case, UK and the USA, Mr. Fredericks owns a neighboring farm, and he represents Adolf Hitler, which is described as a very untrustworthy neighbor.

Animal Farm represents a tale that does not have an expiration date, it talks about society and patterns of human behavior. It shows us that society can not be equal, it shows us that those in power consider themselves above others. Powerless people seek power, and once they have it, they look for self-interest only. There are many examples of these happenings, pretty much in every country, but people’s promises and plans when seeking power, and people’s promises and plans once power is acquired, are two very different things. It is like human behavior.  

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