Animal Farm by George Orwell: Russian History and Beyond
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Animal Farm by George Orwell: Russian History and Beyond

George Orwell's anti-utopian classic Animal Farm, labeled by the author as a "fairy story," has been said to explore Russian history in a very symbolic manner. However, fairy stories often have morals and ideas that can be applied to any person, and the ideas in Animal Farm can be applied to any society, considering its overall exploration of humanity's flaws and general disposition towards self-ruin.

George Orwell's novel Animal Farm tells the story of a group of animals living on Manor Farm that overthrow their human masters but ultimately fall to their appointed animal leaders, who become the monsters they were fighting. It is considered an anti-utopian novel due to its themes of humanity inevitably tainting its own world due to human nature, as opposed to utopian novels, which profess that humanity can create and live in a perfect world. Animal Farm, on one level, has been said to symbolically explore Russian history and society at the time the book was written, but this novel is truly timeless in that it can be taken to other levels and applied to any society.

In the beginning of the novel, an aging pig named Old Major reveals his ideas for a better society to the other animals, proclaiming that humanity is the one true enemy of animals, and that once humans have been expelled, animals will be able to live in a perfect world. In Russian history, Old Major represents Karl Marx, the father of Communism, and Vladimir Lenin, a Marxist revolutionary.

After Old Major's death, the animals successfully overthrow the farm's owner, and two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, struggle for leadership of the farm, with Napoleon eventually expelling Snowball and winning the struggle. Snowball is a representation of the Russian politician Leon Trotsky, while Napoleon is a representation of the Russian politician and eventual dictator Joseph Stalin.

Napoleon's charisma and propaganda win the other animals over for quite a while. The bulk of the animals are described as "stupider" and cannot comprehend what is really going on. This is a commentary on the "average citizens" of Russia. However, Napoleon's hidden agenda is eventually realized, and he becomes more and more human until finally, at the end of the novel, it becomes impossible to distinguish between the humans and the pig.

Animal Farm may have been intended to tell the story of Russia, but any society can be analyzed through these themes. It is not merely a commentary on Russia, but a commentary on humanity in general. Orwell's main message was that humanity will always find a way to fall victim to itself, and the vision of a perfect world embodied in utopian novels will never truly be realized. It is up to the reader to decide whether this is true, but Orwell makes a very convincing argument in Animal Farm.

Photo: Pig in mud 2 by Tmou, from stock.xchng 

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