This is another essay I had written as part of my 9th Grade ELA class.
Animal Farm, the renowned satire by George Orwell, is a tale about a farm that is owned by the nasty farmer Jones, who is a drunk who sometimes neglects and abuses his work animals. He does not feed the animals one night, so the animals, who are anthropomorphic, drive him out and run the farm themselves. The farm pigs, being the most intelligent, take over the farm’s operations and create a utopian society where they live an idyllic life of equality. One greedy and ambitious pig, Napoleon, takes over the farm, convincing the others that Snowball, his rival, was actually working to restore Jones’s ownership of the farm. Napoleon and the other pigs begin to subtly change the utopian farm, passing of obvious exploitation and abuse as rightful because of the laws of ‘Animalism’. The animals realise the truth too late, and they end up no better off on the farm than where they were when Jones owned it. This is a parallel of Russian history, under the communist regime between 1917 to 1953, when Stalin was the dictator of a fledgeling U.S.S.R. Each character represents and suffers a similar fate to a historical figure. The most obvious parallels are Napoleon, who represents Joseph Stalin, Snowball representing Stalin’s rival Leon Trotsky, and Jones, who represents the last Tsar, Tsar Nicholas II.
The main character in Animal Farm is the pig Napoleon. He is the character who eventually dictates and leads the Animal Farm back to its former, unliberated self. The beginning of this regression is seen in chapter 7, where Napoleon orders the execution of several farm animals. This represents the Great Purge, where several innocent people suspected of treason were sent to their death in prison camps. The execution goes as follows: three hens, four pigs, and some sheep who opposed Napoleon from the very beginning are executed viciously and painfully, their ‘crimes’ attributed to Snowball’s bad influence. (Orwell 25). Several presumably innocent animals were killed by Napoleon to incite fear and terrify the rest of animals into submission. Stalin also used the Great Purge for similar reasons- by killing millions of people, he had created fear and no one would oppose his rule out of fear of unimaginable pain. Napoleon also shows how hypocritical his rule is in the final chapter. In the final chapter, which takes place years after the previous chapters, many animals from the story have died and the Revolution lives on as a dimly remembered story. Napoleon has learned to walk upright and dress as a human, and reverts the name of Animal Farm to Manor Farm. He talks of rebuilding relations with his former rivals and as the animals watch, Napoleon looks like the other men he is speaking to (Orwell 42). The animals realise what Napoleon truly is and regret that they allowed him to gain power. Likewise, when many people realized how brutal Stalin was, they had regretted putting him in power. The effects of Napoleon’s actions and the results of Stalin’s actions were the same. Therefore, Napoleon is the parallel of Josef Stalin in Animal Farm.
Napoleon’s rival in Animal Farm is Snowball, who represents Leon Trotsky. Snowball is not as charismatic as Napoleon, but instead is very intelligent and focuses on innovating the farm. He is also Napoleon’s bitter rival. Snowball devised plans for a windmill to generate electricity for the farm. This is obviously beneficial, but Napoleon strongly opposed it. (Orwell 10). Snowball and Napoleon never agree on anything, which makes for lively debates. Similarly, Trotsky and Stalin were bitter rivals, and in the beginning, it seemed like Trotsky would lead Russia, which is what the bitter debate over the windmill, brought up by Snowball, references. However, in the crucial moment, Snowball is driven out of the farm, when in the final debate, Napoleon calls upon bodyguard dogs to drive away Snowball,who was allegedly consorting with Jones. (Orwell 16). Snowball was forced out of the farm by Napoleon, and he is not seen from again in the novel. This is how Trotsky was exiled from Russia by Stalin’s officials. Trotsky was unpopular at first, and Stalin was eager to spread rumors and scandals about him. Trotsky was then exiled from Russia and lived peacefully in Mexico until he was assassinated. Whether Snowball was also killed like Trotsky is left uncertain, but from his fate and how he acts, it is clear Snowball’s real-life equivalent is Leon Trotsky.
Lastly, the original owner of the farm, Jones, represents the Tsar of Russia, who was overthrown by the commoners. The Tsar of Russia allowed for the harsh policy of serfdom, where peasants worked as servants to the landowning aristocrats. Many people felt oppressed and also angered at his reign. When the ideas of a communist utopia spread to the commoners, they revolted. In this case, Jones was forcibly thrown out of his farm after letting the animals starve: “ Mr. Jones went into Willingdon and got so drunk at the Red Lion that he did not come back till midday on Sunday. The men had milked the cows in the early morning and then had gone out rabbiting, without bothering to feed the animals. When Mr. Jones got back he immediately went to sleep on the drawing−room sofa with the News of the World over his face, so that when evening came, the animals were still unfed.” (Orwell 6). The Tsar was one of the richest people in Russia and had the responsibility of caring for the people, but he acted lazy and left them to fend for themselves. Naturally, he was driven out and then killed. In Animal Farm, Jones is also used as an alternative to the principles of Animalism. If the animals did not want to continue rule under Animalism, then the alternative was to be ruled under Jones. Squealer says at one point: “Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back!” (Orwell 11) In Russia, communism was seen as only a little better than monarchy. Even though life had not changed very much, it was still preferable to having the Tsar, or in the case of Animal Farm, Jones. As a result, Jones symbolises the Tsar of Russia, who was expelled and replaced with a communist order.
The warning presented in George Orwell’s Animal Farm is simple- absolute power corrupts absolutely. The story, for the most part, clearly parallels the history of the U.S.S.R. which was a communist regime corrupted by the human idea of greed. The corrupted leader of Animal Farm, the titular farm in the novel, is Napoleon, who parodies Josef Stalin. Stalin’s rival, Leon Trotsky, is played by the ill-fated Snowball. Lastly, the corrupt ruler who was killed during the revolution, the Tsar, is allegorical to Mr. Jones, the original owner of Animal Farm. Animal Farm may just be a “fairy tale” but the morals about corruption, false realities, and the striking resemblance to world events remain the same.