Animal Farm

Animal Farm

It is the history of a revolution that went wrong and of the

excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of

the original doctrine, wrote Orwell in the original blurb for the first

edition of Animal Farm in 1945. His simple and tragic fable has become a

world-famous classic of English prose.

George Orwell is the pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair. The change of the

name corresponded to a profound shift in Orwells life-style, in which he

changed from a pillar of the British imperial establishment into a literary

and political rebel.

Orwell is famous for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four.

In 1944 Orwell finished Animal Farm, a political fable based on the story

of the Russian Revolution and its betrayal by Joseph Stalin. In this book

the group of barnyard animals overthrow and chase off their exploitative

human masters and set up an egalitarian society of their own. Eventually

the animals intelligent and power-loving leaders, the pigs, subvert the

revolution and form a dictatorship whose bondage is even more oppressive a

heartless than that of their former masters.

Orwell derived his inspiration from the mood of Britain in the 40s.

Animal Farm confronted the unpalatable truth that the victory over Fascism

would in some respects unwittingly aid the advance of totalitarianism ,

while in Nineteen Eighty-four warns the dangers to the individual of

enroaching collectivism. In these last, bleak fables Orwell attempted to

make the art of political writing in the traditions of Swift and Defoe. The

most world-known Gullivers Travels. This satire? First published in 1726,

relates to the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon on a merchant ship,

and it shows the vices and defects of man and human institutions. So far

as satire has become the subject of our research-work, it is necessary we

look at the nature and sources of comic.

What is comic? Similar considerations apply to the historically

earlier forms and theories of the comic. In Aristotles view laughter was

intimately related to ugliness and debasement. Cicero held that the

province of the ridiculous lay in the certain baseness and deformity. In

19th century Alexander Bain, an early experimental psychologist, thought

alone these lines not in physical effects alone, but in everything where

a man can achieve a stroke of superiority, in surpassing or discomforting a

rival is the disposition of laughter apparent. Sidney notes that while

laughter comes from delight not all objects of delight cause laugh. We are

ravished in delight to see a fair woman and yet are far from being moved to

laughter. We laugh at deformed creatures, wherein certainly we can

delight. Immanuel Kant realized that what causes laughter is the sudden

transformation of a tense expectation into nothing. This can be achieved

by incongruity between form and content, it is when two contradictory

statements have been telescoped into a line whose homely, admonitory sound

conveys the impression of a popular adage. In a similar way nonsense verse

achieves its effect by pretending to make sense. It is interesting to note

that the most memorable feature of Animal Farm the final revision of the

animals revolutionary commandments: All animals are equal but some animals

are more equal than others, is based on that device.

Other sources of innocent laughter are situations in which the part

and the home change roles and attention becomes focused on a detail torn

out of the functional defect on which its meaning depends. A birds wing,

comrades, is an organ of propulsion not of manipulation. Orwell displaces

attention from meaning to spelling. One of the most popular comic devices

is impersonation. The most aggressive form of impersonation is parody,

designed to deflate hollow pretense, to destroy illusion and to undermine

pathos by harping on the weaknesses of the victim. Orwell resorts to that

device describing Squealer: The best known among them was a small fat pig

named Squealer with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements and

a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker:

A succession of writers from the ancient Greek dramatist Aristophanes

through Swift to George Orwell, have used this technique to focus attention

on deformities of society that, blunted by habit , are taken for granted.

Satire assumes standards against which professions and practices vicious,

the ironic perception darkens and deepens. The element of the incongruous

point in the direction of the grotesque which implies an admixture of

elements that do not march. The ironic gaze eventually penetrates to a

vision of the grotesque quality of experience, marked by the discontinuity

of word and deed and the total lack of coherence between the appearance and

reality. This suggests one of the extreme limits of comedy, the satiric

extreme in which the sense of the discrepancy between things as they are

and things they might be or ought to be has reached to the borders of the


Early theories of humor, including even those of Bergson and Freud,

treated it as an isolated phenomenon, without attempting to throw light on

the intimate connections between the comic and tragic, between laughter and

crying. Yet these two domains of creative activity form a continuum with no

sharp boundaries between wit and ingenuity. The confrontation between

diverse codes of behavior may yield comedy, tragedy or new psychological

insights. Humor arouses malice and provides a harmless outlet for it.

Comedy and tragedy, laughter and weeping yields further clues of this

challenging problem. The detached malice of the comic impersonator that

turns pathos into bathos, tragedy into travesty. Comedy is an imitation of

common errors of our life, which representeth in the most ridiculous and

scornful sorts that may be.

Surely satire reflects changes in political and cultural climate and

it had its ups and downs. George Orwells satire of the 20th century is

much more savage than that of Jonathan Swift in 18th century. It is only in

the mid 20th century that the savage and the irrational have come to be

viewed as part of the normative condition of the humanity rather than as

tragic aberration from it. The savage and irrational amount to grotesque

parodies of human possibility, ideally conceived. Thus it is the 20th

century novelists have recognized the tragicomic nature of the contemporary

human image and predicament, and the principal mode of representing both is

the grotesque. This may take various forms. In Animal Farm it takes a form

of apocalyptic nightmare of tyranny and terror.

The satire in Animal Farm has two important aims both based on the

related norms of limitation and moderation. First, Animal Farm exposes and

criticizes extremist political attitudes as dangerous. On the one hand, it

satirizes the mentality of the utopian revolutionary the belief at

through the conscious effort of a ruling elite a society can be suddenly

severed from its past and fashioned into a new, rational system. Implicit

in Snowballs vision of high technology modernization is the extirpation of

the animals resent agricultural identity as domesticated creatures and

if Boxers goal of improving his mind is any indication , their eventual

transformation into Houyhnhnms. Instead, Snowballs futuristic

incantations conjure up the power-hungry and pleasure-loving Napoleon.

An allegorical view of reality the thing said or displayed really

meaning something elsesuited the Marxist-oriented social criticism of the

1930s,which was indefatigable in pointing out an economically self-serving

motives underlying the surface features of modern bourgeois society. One

form of allegory is the masque, a spectacle with masked participants.

Analyzing the novel we can hardly determine comedy from tragedy. We

cant find those sharp boundaries which divide these two. Orwell can be

called the true expert of mans psychology. Cause only a man who studied

psychology of the crowd could create such a vivid image of characters,

which we see in Animal Farm. Describing the characters Orwell attaches

great significance to the direct remarks which help the reader to determine

who is the victim and who is hunter in the novel. The features of the

animals are : A white stripe down his nose gave him somewhat stupid

appearance, Mollie , foolish, pretty white mare. Stupidity becomes a

kind of leitmotif in the description of the animals. Pigs on the contrary

are represented as very clever animals: the pigs were so clever that they

could think of the way round every difficulty, with their superior


The author creates the image of the crowd which plays a very important

role in the novel. What is a crowd? This is not only mass of individuals

if to look deeper from the psychological point of view we shall find out

that crowd is a gathering of people under the definite conditions which has

its traits, which differ from that of single individual. The conscious

person disappears , besides feelings and ideas of everyone who forms that

gathering which is called crowd, receive united , indivisible direction.

Orwell ridiculed that vice of the society. In this respect it takes the

form of innocent laughter. Old Major found an answer to all problems of the

animals and opened the thing on which the support and pleasure of their

days depend on. It is summed up in a single word Man. Man is the only

real enemy we have. That episode makes the reader laugh but at the same

time this very moment can be considered the tragic one, as the victim of

the crowd has been chosen and pointed out and now nothing can stop the

proces. 'It is not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the ivels of the

life of ours spring ffrom the tyrany of human beings? Only get rid of Man,

and the produce of our labour would be our own.Almost overnight we can

become rich and free.

Major provides animals with scapegoat. In the nature of individual the

image of an enemy excites aggressiveness but in the dimensions of the

crowd the hostility increases thousands times. S.Moskovichy wrote in his

book The machine that creates Gods, that society is ruled by passions on

which one should play and even stimulate them in order to have an

opportunity to rule them and to subordinate to intellect. Having read that

episode we dont pay attention to its deep psychological sense, but simply

enjoy the humor with which the author speaks of it.

Orwell uses very popular device he gives the description of the

character and at the end he gives a short remark which completely destroy

the created image: Old Major was so highly regarded on the farm that

everyone was quite ready to lose an hours sleep in order to hear what he

had to say... they nestled down inside it and promptly fell asleep,she

purred contentedly throughout Majors speech without listerning to a word of

what he was saying. He uses the same device in the situation when Old

Major is telling the animals about the song : Many years ago when I was a

little pig, my mother and other sows used to sing an old song of which they

knew only the tune and the first three words I had known that tune in

infancy , but it had long since past out of my mind, last night however it

came back to me in my dream. The reader is carefully prepared to hear some

kind of patriotic march but instead of that the author in one sentence

breaks down the created image: It was a stirring tune something between

Clementine and La Cucaracha.Through those short remarks we learn the

attitude the author towards what is going on in his novel. He laughs at his

heroes pretending that the things he speaks about to be very important

while making the reader understand the contrary thing.We can see hear again

an integral part of any kind of humour-incongruity between the reality and

the situation as it is said to be. The lack of coherance between things in

its turn lead to the very invisible boundary between comedy and tragedy.

Orwells novel is always balancing between tragedy and comedy. In

Animal Farm Orwell is exposing the selfish power-hunger of the few behind a

collectivist rhetoric used to gull the many . And in at least two Orwells

allegorical exposure is also an exposure of allegory. Because the surface

fiction tends to be considered of lesser importance than the implied

meaning , allegory is inherently hierarchical , and the insistence on the

dominant meaning makes it an authoritarian mode.

If allegory tends to subordinate narrative to thesis, the structure of

allegory, its dualistic form, can be emphasized to restore a balance

between fictional events and conceptual massage. In Animal Farm there are

signs of a balance struck between satiric devices allegorically martialed

to expose and assault a dangerous political myth and collateral apolitical

elements the latter akin to the solid objects and useless scraps of


Orwell allows the reader to fix disgust at cruelty, torture and

violence on one leading characterNapoleon. The way Orwell presents the

figure is structural, in that the figure of the Napoleon clarifies his

political intent for the reader. There is no doubt about the way the reader

feels toward Napoleon, but Orwells handling of him is all the more

effective for combining humor with the disgust.Napoleon was a large,

rather fierce looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not

much of a talker but with the reputation for going his own way.

Orwell presents Napoleon to us in ways they are, at first amusing as,

for example, in the scene where he shows his pretended disdain at

Snowballs plans for the windmill, by lifting his leg and urinating on the

chalked floor. One day ,however, he arrived unexpectedly to examine the

plans. He walked heavily round the shed, looked closely at every detail of

the plans and snuffed at them once or twice, then stood for a little while

contemplating them out of the corner of his eye; then suddenly he lifted

his leg, urinated over the plans and walked out without uttering a word.

The increasing tension of description is broken down immediately this makes

the reader smile. Besides the author speaks of Napoleons ridiculous deeds

in such a natural way, as that is the normal kind of behavior that we just

cant stand laughing. Napoleon produced no schemes of his own, but said

quietly that Snowballs would come to nothing. Napoleon is seen to have no

respect for Snowball who creates the plans. This is most apparent in his

urinating on them which emphasises his brutal and uncivilised character.

Animals urinate on objects to mark their territory. This is symbolic as

Napoleon later takes the idea for the windmill as his own.

On the allegorical level the differing views of socialism held by

Trotsky and Stalin are apparent. In contrast with Snowballs speeches,

Napoleon merely makes the minimum response and when he does speak it is

usually to criticise Snowball. Speech becomes less and less important to

Napoleon. The sheep with their mindless bleating effectively silence the

opposing opinions as no-one else can be heard. It was noticed that they

were specially liable to break Four legs good, two legs bad in the

crucial moments of Snowballs speeches. Snowballs reduction of Animalism

for the benefit of stupider animals and the way the sheep mindlessly take

it up , parodies the way socialist ideology reduces itself to simply

formulas that everyone can understand, but which stop any kind of thought.

In the Communist Manifesto, for example, there is the following sentence :

The theory of the communists may be summed up in the single sentence:

Abolition of private property. Set this beside the basic principle of

Animalism: Four legs good, two legs bad. Orwells feelings about dangers

of over simplification are clear. The more short the statement is the more

it is deprived from any kind of provement, the more it influences the

crowd. The statement exert influence only if it is repeated very often, in

the same words. Napoleon said that there is only one figure of the theory

of orators art,which deserves attention repetition. By the means of

repetition an idea installs in the minds so deeply, that at last it is

considered to be the proved truth.

What the truth is? The Russian dictionary gives the difinition of

truth as:the truth is ,what corresponds to the reality. But is it always

so? Very often it happens so that we exept as the true the false things

which we want to be true, or the things that someone whant us to exept.

That is one of the most intresting perculiarities of mans psychology, that

Orwell ridicules.There is one univerce truth , but the man has a strange

habit to purvert truth.

Napoleon appears to have gained the support of dogs and sheep and is

helped by the fickle nature of the crowd.

From the start it seems, Napoleon turns events to his own advantage.

When the farm is attacked in the Battle of Cowshed, Napoleon is nowhere

to be seen. Cowardice is hinted ft and his readiness to rewrite history

later in the novel shows the ways in which Napoleon is prepared to twist

the truth for his own ends. The Seven Commandments in which are condified

the ethnical absolutes of the new order, are perverted throughout the book

to suit his aims.

There is an interesting thing to notice about Seven Commandments. That

is an important device to use the lucky number to deepen the impression

of animals misfortune. Every time the changing of the commandment takes

place, we see an example of how the political power , as Orwell sees it, is

prepared to alter the past in peoples minds, if the past prevents it from

doing what he wishes to do. Firstly the fourth commandment is altered in

order that pigs could sleep comfortably in warm beds. A simple addition of

two words does it. read me the fourth commandment. Does it not say

something about sleeping in beds? With some difficulty Muriel spelt it out.

It says that no animal shall sleep in the bed with sheets. Whenever

the pigs infringe one of Majors commandments, Squealer is sent to convince

the other animals that that is the correct interpretation . you didnt

suppose , surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely

means the place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly

regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention.

Napoleon secures his rule through an unpleasant mix of lies distortion

and hypocrisy / there are two scenes where Napoleons cruelty and cold

violence are shown in all their horror : the scene of the trials and the

episode where Boxer is brought to the knackers. The veil of mockery is

drown aside. In these episodes humour is absent, the stark reality of

Napoleons hunger for power, and the cruelty< and death it involves are

presented. Orwell reminds of the heavy stink of blood, and associates

that smell with Napoleon.

And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there

was a pile of corpses lying before the Napoleons feet and the air was

heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the

expulsion of Jones.

Napoleon in the novel stands for Joseph Stalin, and of course we cant

omit the way the author skillfully creates this character. Everything from

purvation of communist ideology to the cult of personality of Stalin, found

its reflection in the novel.

Orwell in the cruelest kind of parody gives to Napoleon such titles

as: Our ,leader, Comrade Napoleon, The Farther of all animals, Terror of

Mankind, Protector of the Sheepfold, Ducklins Friend.

The novel mainly is based on the historical facts, and even the

relationships of Soviet Union and Germany are shown in that fairy tale. For

the all cleverness of the Napoleon, though, he is fooled by Frederic of

Pinchfield ( he stands for Hitlers Germany) who gets the timber out of

him, pays him false money, then attacks the farm, and blows up the


Orwells satire will be no iconoclastic wrecking job on the Stalinist

Russia whose people had been suffering so cruelly from the war and whose

soldiers , under Stalins leadership, were locked in desperate combat with

the German invader even as Animal Farm was being written. That Orwells

assault is primarily on an idea, the extremists fantasy of technological

utopianism devoid of hard work, and less a living creature, the commander

is chief, is demonstrating during the most dramatic moment of Farmer

Fredericks attack on the farmthe juxtaposition of dynamited windmill and

the figure of Napoleon alone standing unbowed. And despite Orwells

fascination with Gullivers Travels, it is a sign of his attempt to draw

back from the Swiftian revulsion at the flash a disgust that , as Orwell

later noted could extend to political behavior toward the more balanced

and positive view of life that Animal Farm, despite its violence, has few

references to distasteful physical realities, and those two are

appropriate to the events of the narrative.

Napoleon is a simple figure. Orwell makes no attempt as to give

reasons as to why he comes to act the way he does. If Napoleon was a human

character in the novel, if this where a historical novel about a historical

figure Orwell would have had to make Napoleon convincing in human terms.

But isnt human and this is not a novel. It is an animal fable and Orwell

presents the figure of Napoleon in ways that make us see clearly and

despise what he stands for. He is simplified for the sake of clarity. He

lends force of Orwells political massage, that power tends to corrupt, by

allowing the reader to fix his disgust at cruelty torture and violence.

The primary objective of the tale is that we should loathe Napoleon

for what he stands for. The other animals are used to intensify our disgust

or else to add color and life to the tale by the addition of the farmyard

detail. The most significant of the other animals is undoubtedly the cart-

horse Boxer, and in his handling of him Orwell shows great expertise in

controlling the readers reactions and sympathies and in turning them

against what is hates.

Throughout the novel boxer is the very sympathetic figure. Honest and

hardworking, he is devoted to the cause in a simple-minded way, although

his understanding of the principles of Animalism is very limited. He is

strong and stands nearly eighteen feet high, and is much respected by the

other animals. He has two phrases which for him solve all problems, one, I

shall work harder, and later on, despite the fact that Napoleons rule is

becoming tyrannical, Napoleon is always right. At one point he does

question Squealer, when he, in his persuasive way, is convincing the

animals that Snowball was trying to betray them in the Battle of Cowshed.

Boxer at first can not take this, he remembers the wound Snowball received

along his back from Joness gun. Squealer explains this by saying that it

had been arranged for Snowball to be wounded, it had all been part of

Joness plan. Boxers confused memory of what actually happened makes him

a little uneasy but when Squealer announces , very slowly that Napoleon

categorically states that Snowball was Joness agent from the start then

the honest cart-horse accepts the absurdity without question.

Orwell through the figure of Boxer is presenting a simple good-nature

, which wishes to do good, and which believes in the Rebellion. So loyal is

Boxer that he is prepared to sacrifice his memory of facts, blurred as it

is. Nevertheless, so little is he respected, and so fierce is the hatred

the pigs hatred the pigs have for even the slightest questioning of their

law that, when Napoleons confessions and trials begin, Boxer is among the

first the dogs attack. Wish his great strength he has no difficulty in

controlling them: He just simply, almost carelessly put out his great hoof

, caught a dog in mid-air, and pinned him to the ground. At a word from

Nahjleon he lets the dog go , but still he doesnt realize he is a target.

Boxers blind faith in the pigs is seeming disastrous. Confronted with the

horrifying massacre of the animals on the farm, Boxer blames himself and

buries himself in his work. This show of power pleases us as a reader, in

what we like to think of physical strength being allied to good nature,

simple though a good nature may be. Boxer has our sympathy because he gives

his strength selflessly for what he believes, whereas Napoleon gives

nothing , believes in nothing and never actually works. Boxer exhausts

himself for the cause. Every time the animals have to start rebuilding of

the windmill he throws himself into the task without a word of complaint,

getting up first half an hour, then three quarters of an hour before

everybody else.

Boxers sacrificial break down in the service of what he and the other

worker animals believed to be technological progress might be interpreted

as allegorically portending the future deterioration of the animal


At last his strength gives out and when it does his goodness is

unprotected. The pigs are going to send him to the knackers to be killed

and boiled out into glue. Warned by Benjamin the donkey (his close, silent

friend throughout the book), and by Clover he tries to kick his way out of

the van, but he has given all his energy to the pigs and now has none left

to save himself. The final condition of Boxer, inside the van about to

carry him to the knackers in exchange for money needed to continue work on

the windmill, emblematically conveys a message close to the spirit of

Orwells earlier warnings : The time had been when a few kicks of Boxers

hoofs would have smashed the van to mach wood. But alas! His strength had

left him; and in the few moments the sound of drumming hoofs grew fainter

and died away. This is the most moving scene in a book Indeed our feelings

here as readers are so simple, deep and uninhibited that as Edward Thomas

has said movingly, we weep for the terrible pity of it like children who

meet injustice for the first time.

Boxer can be attributed to the tragic heroes cause he doesnt

struggle with the injustice as the tragic hero should do. And surely we can

consider him a comical hero as all through the story the reader has

compassion on him. Orwell managed to unite tragedy and comedy in one

character. Boxer arouses mixed contradictory feelings. His story is no

longer comic, but pathetic and evokes not laughter but pity. It is an

aggressive element, that detached malice of the comic impersonator, which

turns pathos into bathos and tragedy into travesty.

Not only Boxers story reminds us more of a tragedy. The destiny of

all animals makes us weep. If at the beginning of the novel they are happy

and excited in the middle they work like slaves but still happy, at the

end they are shaken and miserable. After Napoleons dictatorship has

showed its disregard for the facts and its merciless brutality, after the

animals witnessed the forced confessions and the execution, they all go to

the grassy knoll where the windmill is being built Clover thinks back on

Majors speech before he died, and thinks how far they had gone from what

he would have intended: as Clover looked down the hillside her eyes filled

with tears. If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to

say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves

years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race. This scenes of

terror and slaughter where not what they had looked forward to on that

night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had

had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free

from hunger and whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity,

the strong protecting the week. Instead she did not know why they had

come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs

roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces

after confessing to shocking crimes.

From the sketch of the political background to Animal Farm it will be

quite clear that the main purpose of that episode is to expose the lie

which Stalinist Russia had become. It was supposed to be a Socialist Union

of States, but it had become the dictatorship. The Soviet Union in fact

damaged the cause of the true socialism. In a preface Orwell wrote to

Animal Farm he says that for the past ten years I have been convinced that

the distruction of Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of

socialist movement. Animal Farm attempts, through a simplification of

Soviet history, to clarify in the minds of readers what Orwell felt Russia

had become. The clarification is to get people to face the facts of

injustice, of brutality, and hopefully to get them to think out for

themselves some way in which a true and democratic socialism will be

brought about. In that episode Orwell shows his own attitude to what is

happening on his fairy farm. And he looks at it more as at the tragedy than

a comedy, but still he returns to his genre of satire and writes: there

was no thought of rebellion or disobedience in her mind. She knew that even

as things were they were far better than they had been in the days of

Jones, and that before all else it was needful to prevent the return of the


Finally, the moderateness of Orwells satire is reinforced by a

treatment of time that encourages the readers sympathetic understanding of

the whole revolutionary experiment from its spontaneous and joyous

beginnings to its ambiguous condition on the final page. A basic strategy

of scathing social satire is to dehistoricize the society of the specific

sociopolitical phenomena being exposed to ridicule and condemnation.

In Animal Farm the past that jolts the creatures from the timeless

present of the animal condition into manic state of historical

consciousness is a quick, magically transformative moment .

© 2009