By Rachel Salter
I have always believed in equality among society and after reading George Orwell’s horrific novel Animal Farm, I was left feeling shocked and disgusted by the deceitfulness and greed of the pigs. Animal Farm is not only an allegory for the Russian Revolution but a thought-provoking and dynamic story.
From the beginning of the book it is clear that the pigs are the most intelligent of all the animals so they immediately take control after the rebellion. Some of the ‘elite’ pigs have already adopted some of mans ways; Snowball and Napoleon have suddenly taught themselves to read and write. At this point it became apparent to me that the pigs would desire leadership positions. “The pigs did not actually work but supervised the others.”
Napoleon is forever perceived as greedy and selfish. An example of this is being when a bucket of milk mysteriously disappears. Napoleon (who evidently drank it) dismisses the problem by proclaiming “the harvest is more important”. The true nature of Napoleon is discovered after he slaughters a small group of his fellow comrades for plotting against him. He tortures them and forces them to confess which is what Stalin did during the 1930’s as a means of getting rid of his enemies. This highlights the atrocities of the regime.
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Both Snowball and Napoleon yearned for leadership positions. Snowball is portrayed as a good leader and he seems to respect the other animals wishes and demands. Snowball and Napoleon argue over everything to win support of the other animals, however, during one particular hot debate over Snowball’s plan to build a windmill, Napoleon signals his private troop of attack dogs whom chase Snowball out of the farm, never to be seen again. He has now left himself at the centre of power and domination. The parallels here between the Russian Revolution and Animal Farm are very clear. Stalin did the same thing in Russia. Trotsky, in fear of his life, fled to Mexico where he was hunted down and killed by Stalin’s secret police, creating a dictatorship. Without a voice against him, Stalin gained power and influence over his people. Similar to the animals on the farm, they believed everything he said and promised. Also Napoleon now has an elite guard to protect him, identical to Stalin’s brutal personal bodyguards. It was at this point that I began to sympathise for the gullible and innocent animals.
Squealer is Napoleon’s number two throughout the story. He is portrayed as the link between Napoleon and the other animals. Squealer has a special ability to persuade others, Orwell boasts “…he could turn black into white.” His mission is to keep everything subjective in the minds of the animals. “No-one believes, more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourself. But sometimes you might make the wrong decision, comrades, and then where should we be?” This classic hypocrisy seen here is only too hard to miss; if all the animals were really equal, then wouldn’t it be as likely that Napoleon might make a mistake. Squealer is also in charge of propaganda against Snowball. Stalin also used propaganda as a means to control the Russian people; this is another reflection of the Russian Revolution.
Throughout the story the pigs twist and plot their way to power. One way of accomplishing this is changing and altering the seven commandments to suit their wishes and strengthen their power. When the pigs stumble across a case of whisky in the cellars of the farmhouse, Napoleon suddenly becomes “sick” and is said to be dying. Obviously he has broken the 5th commandment “No animal shall drink alcohol” and sure enough, after the hangover the leader is better and soon is perfectly fine. To justify this little episode, arrangements are made to amend the rules. “Muriel, reading over the Seven Commandments to herself, noticed that there was yet another of them which the animals had remembered wrong.” Napoleon is now altering the original ideas and changing the farm into a dictatorship to suit himself.
Approaching the end of the story is the touching yet destined death of Boxer, a devoted and loyal horse. After working so hard under his master Napoleon, it was easy to guess the tragic outcome. The troubling part however, is the way Napoleon and the other pigs handled his death. Instead of granting him his leisurely retirement, they forced him into a glue manufacturing truck and then lied about it to the other animals. Squealer’s role is again illustrated as he proclaims that Boxer died peacefully despite receiving all the best care possible. This highlights that revolutionary socialism does not respect individualism and emphasises the atrocities of the regime.
Orwell’s approach to the pigs was very effective at another way of emphasising the atrocities of Stalinist Russia in the 1930’s. He also may have felt he needed to warn his readers of a tendency towards corruption in all revolutions. Orwell was extremely successful at exploring the faults, which he saw as existing in revolutionary socialism. He proved that it is very difficult to create a truly equal society. Orwell’s admirable achievement of reflecting Stalin and Napoleon created a wonderful and commendable novel, twisted with lies and deceitfulness.