Animal Farm; Symbolic Politics

Animal Farm; Symbolic Politics

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Animal Farm by George Orwell is known by many readers as a sometimes challenging look at symbolic farm animal characters who show the political ideas of human beings.  There is a high amount of figurative language and metaphor. The main characters of this book include Napoleon; a tyrant pig, Major; a kind pig, Snowball; a female competitor pig, Squealer; a working dog, Mr. Jones; a farmer, Mr. Pilkington; a friendly owner of Napoleon and Frederick; another pig- you get the idea. It takes place in England, and it was written during the early to mid 20th century when communist and fascist civil wars were fresh in George Orwell’s memory. The story connects to government themes and the debate between which economic form of power and control is the best.  This short video explains the complicated time period pretty clearly.  

One night, Old Major ,a pig, told all the animals to come to Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm assembly. He wanted to tell them about his dream that he had about a world where all animals live free from the tyranny of their human masters. After old Major dies, all the animals came together for a meeting. Furthermore, they had talked about the rebellion against Jones and the other people. Later, the two pigs; Snowball and Napoleon wanted to show how important they were. They showed the animals their plans of how to make the windmill.  This is symbolic of economic power.  When citizens have economic power then they have political power. However, by the time Mr. Jones was about to feed the animals, the revolution had started as Mr. Jones and his men were chased off by the farm animals. Manor Farm was renamed Animal Farm and the Seven Commandments of Animalism were painted on the barn wall. every government needs its laws.

Many animal complaints arose about the harvest and the required meetings that they were going to every Sunday. Nevertheless, Napoleon proves his power by stealing cow’s milk as well as apples.  Power through corruption seems to be the theme of Napoleon.  Additionally, Napoleon was in a position where he had to make many decisions because he had the ability to persuade other animals. The first battle that happened was battle of the cowshed, and it was during winter. Since humans were enslaving the animals, many animals rebelled against that.

In the Animal Farm, Napoleon took over the power, which meant that every animal in the farm had to follow his rules. Who ever acted against him was excluded. One way that he would exclude animals was by letting his friends the dogs kill the rebel animals in front of the entire farm.  He and the pigs moved into Jones’ house and began sleeping in beds.The animals received less and less food, while the pigs grow fatter- this reminds me of modern dictatorships like North Korea.  Napoleon made many windmills, but they were destroyed due to wars. However, he was able to complete the last windmill. Later Frederick and his men attacked the farm and exploded the windmill,but the humans were eventually defeated. Since many of the Commandments of Animalism were broken by the pigs, they had to revise the language of the seven Commandments.  Citizens in power change the laws to meet their own needs.

At the end of the story all animals became equal and the Seven Commandments were reduced to one law. Pilkington and Napoleon shared drinks with each other in Jones’ house. Napoleon changed the name of the farm back to Manor Farm.  At the end of the book they were arguing with each other over the rules of a card game. All pigs loyal to Napoleon were dressed as humans, showing that they have the characteristics of humans or that the ones who feel abused by power will rise up and become like their former abusers.  As other animals watched the scene from outside the window, they cannot distinguish the pigs from the humans. I believe this book is about the communist party during World War II and the ugly reality of communism and war.  We say we have such good ideas but power corrupts those ideas.

Themes of Government present in this story:

  • Napoleon speaks about security and fear to preserve his power.
    • ” Still it had been decided to build the walls three feet thick this time instead of 8 inches as before.”
    • “ Human never give us enough food to survive but they worked for all day and never had freedom.”
    • “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
  • One of the seven commandments:
    • “No animal shall kill any other animal”
    • but later: “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.”

This book was challenging for me because it had different meanings than the other books that I have read. I made a connection to the story when George Orwell was connecting the Animal Farm to government. They were using people like animals who were working as slaves. In the Animal Farm, many of them wanted to live a better life. So, Major wanted to tell all the animals to rebel against humans and their activities. Major was the one who thought he knows the best for all the animals, and he told all the animals to rebel.  Many animals knew that there wouldn’t be enough of anything for them, and human took everything they had such a milk, eggs, foals and lambs. Old Major represents Frederick Douglass who was a slave and a leader of slaves. He was very important to the U.S because he can told about slavery and fought for an end to it as he gave advice to President Abraham Lincoln.   

Here is a funny interpretation of the story that may help you understand this book:

Animal Farm – Thug Notes Summary and Analysis – YouTube