Analysis of Symbolism in Animal Farm

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 871
Topics: Animal Farm, Book, Soviet Union, Symbolism

Animal Farm is an enthralling anti-utopian novel published in 1945 by the English novelist Eric Blair known by his pseudonym, George Orwell. The short novel is an allegory of the Russian Revolution and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) establishment. Orwell wrote the play just after the Second World War, reflecting on the aftermath of the wars on the governorship, especially after the rise of the Soviet Union. Orwell is famous for his profound condemnation of totalitarian regimes and his promotion of democratic socialism. Orwell utilizes numerous symbols in the novel to give readers a deep insight into the effects of a totalitarian government on its people’s democracy and freedoms. Animal farm is characterized by lucid narration and figurative language that represents real-life experiences of any human society. Although the novel is a specific allegory of the Russian Revolution and Joseph Stalin’s rise to power, it is a universal symbol of political revolution and the fight for power. Through coherent prose from a group of farm animals who overthrow the owner, the author utilizes various symbols, including the farm, barn, and windmill, to explore totalitarianism, corruption, and the power of language in manipulation.

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The animal farm is the main symbol of any human society with a political entity in dire need of democracy and other diplomatic concerns. The farm was known as Manor Farm before it changed to Animal Farm after the revolution. Guocheng (2020) points out that although the farm explicitly symbolizes the Soviet Union under the governance of the Communist party, it represents any government that is restrictive and oppressive to its people. According to Albloly (2019), the farm represents an internal structure of a country with a government represented by the pigs and the law enforcement functions performed by the dogs. The farm is under the leadership of Mr Jones, who neglects his role of feeding the animals. This power vacuum and ineffective leadership symbolize a political entity in dire need of a revolution (Shaikh, 2021). Old major, a revered old boar, gathers the animals and states, “Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labor is stolen from us by human beings” (Orwell, 1945). His speech forms the foundation of Animalism, which can also be viewed as the beginning of communism. Although the Old Major dies before the realization of his plan, his disciples, Napoleon and Snowball, fulfill the ideology of Animalism. However, the differences in ambition between Napoleon and Snowball illustrate how the power vacuum can be an unpleasant fight for control. Consequently, the animal farm becomes a battlefield for control and power, elucidating the impacts of self-governance and dominance.

Manipulation and Corruption

The windmill symbolizes the change in technology as the regime attempts to modernize the country to keep up with the evolving world. The windmill can be interpreted as a direct representation of Russia’s modernization initiatives instituted by the Soviet leader after the revolution (Guocheng, 2020). As a leader who values his people and their interests, Snowball advocates for constructing the windmill to provide electricity for all animals. Orwell writes, “After surveying the ground, Snowball declared that this was just the place for a windmill, which could be made to operate a dynamo and supply electric power” (Orwell, 1945). In Snowball’s view, the windmill represents the progressive change aimed at improving the living conditions and lifestyle of the animals. However, the windmill also portrays an opportunity for exploitation and dominance as the pigs manipulate it for their own benefit (Shaikh, 2021). Napoleon claims the project as his own and manipulates the other animals into thinking it is for their benefit. During the battle with Snowball, he claims, “Comrades…Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? Snowball!” (Orwell, 1945). Napoleon uses the windmill for his own benefit and other loyal pigs at the expense of the animals who diligently worked for its construction, symbolizing the values of a totalitarian regime.

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The barn wall with the Seven Commandments of Animalism symbolizes the power of propaganda utilized by a totalitarian regime to manipulate its people. Similarly, the commandments illustrate the malleable nature of history and misinformation, especially when the population is ignorant of reality and facts. The barn was formalized as the seat of the governing body of Animal farm, where “all animals trooped…for a general assembly” (Orwell, 1945). However, the pigs’ meetings were principally controlled by the main agendas that revolved around their ideology. Orwell states, “The other animals understood how to vote, but they could never think of any resolutions of their own” (Orwell, 1945). The pig’s ability to read gave them an advantage in manipulating the rules, including the seven commandments in their favor (Albloly, 2019). As a result, they continuously altered the commandment illustrating how the animals moved further away from their initial principles after the revolution.

Overall, George Orwell’s Animal Farm explores the abuse of power through socialist ideas and class stratification using various symbols illuminating a totalitarian regime’s outlook. Using an animal farm that represents a nation with numerous diplomatic concerns, Orwell creates a society that symbolizes any human society that is oppressive and manipulative. Although the novel allegorizes the Russian revolution, the story universally symbolizes the effects of class warfare, corruption, and authoritarianism.

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  1. Albloly, A. M., & Nour, H. S. M. (2019). The Portrayal of Political Symbolism in George Orwell Writings: With Reference to “Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four .” The International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Invention6(9), 5642-5648.
  2. Guocheng, M. (2020). Symbolism in the Absurdity of Animal Farm. The Frontiers of Society, Science and Technology2(3).
  3. Orwell, G. (1945). Animal farm. Oxford University Press.
  4. Shaikh, N. (2021). Symbolic political exploitation in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Motifs: A Peer Reviewed International Journal of English Studies7(1), 98-109.
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