TU Dortmund University
Symbols, Characters and Themes of Animal Farm
Introduction to British Literary Studies– Group D Professor Sarah Neef
Table of Contents
A. Communism vs Capitalism
B. The Barn
VI. Works cited
Animal Farm is one of the most popular books by George Orwell that satire on communism and equality, where all barnyard animals live free from their human masters’ tyranny. Inspired to rebel by Major, an old boar, animals on Mr Jones’ Manor Farm embrace Animalism and stage a revolution to achieve an idealistic state of justice and progress. What trigger animals to attempt this rebellion is to get rid of class issues and their masters and the dream of living equally free from someone who rules them. The main conflict in the story is capitalism against communism. They are supposed to produce for themselves, not for their master’s and more importantly live for themselves. Everybody is supposed to work equally and earn as well. However, things do not go as they expect and a power-hungry pig, Napoleon, takes over the control of the farm and becomes a totalitarian dictator who leads the Animal Farm. With the coming of this dictatorship, even though everything is done on the farm for the sake of equality, it becomes just the opposite of it and farm is controlled by only one brain. What George Orwell aims at in this novel is to show why communism never works as a regime of a government. Even though he was not a supporter of capitalism or any other regimes, he has always been of the opinion that communism can not bring equality. Orwell wrote Animal Farm as a satire of communism, and that’s why he used plenty of metaphors, symbols, and allegories in his book using his extensive ranged history and literary knowledge. Although Animal Farm looks like fable written for children, it can be clearly seen that all the characters and symbols have a deeper meaning in the book which was put by Orwell to functions as a specific person.
Communism against Capitalism. That is the main conflict through the whole novel. In Animal Farm, Orwell contrasts two regimes of government. First one is capitalism, represented by Mr Jones, the real owner of the farm, and the other one is communism, represented by Napoleon and Snowball. However, even though the farm is ruled by communism and equality on the surface, it transforms into totalitarian regimes by pigs Napoleon and Snowball. When animals rebelled against Mr Jones and took over the farm, their purpose was to create a small
world for themselves where they were supposed to live equally without having orders from anyone. That’s why they created their motto, “All animals are equal” and “Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers.” (Orwell 7). They were of the opinion that animals would produce for themselves and everybody would get the same thing the same amount. In the novel, the primary purpose of Orwell is to show why communism never works and it cannot be the ruling way of a government. Although he tries to create a world without any hierarchy which will rule the animals, another hierarchy comes up among animals which are opposed to features of communism. Two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, announced themselves as the head of the farm and they were in charge of making decisions and ruling the farm. Thus, at the beginning of the novel Orwell depicted the degeneration of animal farm under Mr Jones and later on Orwell focused on this similar degeneration one more time under pigs. Last, of all, Napoleon became the leader of the farm who rules everything and everybody. What Orwell implies in the novel is there will always be hierarchy and class. By instinct, people try to be over others and do not like to be ruled by someone else. No matter how people try to be totally equal, there will always be someone who is better than others and dominate them. Paul Kirschner looks through this hierarchy from a different angle by saying in his essay: “In the passage Orwell deemed crucial, the clever pigs, including both Napoleon and Snowball, privatize the milk and apples instead of sharing them out equally, arguing that they are brain workers and that Science has proved milk and apples necessary for their well being… in. A new class system is born based on biological equality” (Kirschner 770). Kirschner basically points out that pigs break all the taboos of equality for the sake of their own good and benefits. They always find an excuse or reason why they should not have equal rights with other animals. Beginning of the novel, all animals rebelled to be equal and have equal rights. With the leading of Napoleon, their motto, “All animals are equal” transformed into “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” (Orwell 122). This transformation is an ultimate example of pig’s abuse of
logic and language to control other animals in the farm. Although in the first clause, it was announced that all animals were equal to one another, this revision changed everything in the farm. The transformation of the original motto points out equality is completely over, and there is a definite hierarchy in the Animal Farm. In the new phrase, the word “some animals” refers to Napoleon and his fellows who control the farm. As Jim Morrison said: “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” with creating new rules in the farm, Napoleon gets more corrupted everyday and becomes a dictator in the farm who controls everything and everybody as he wishes. Finally, the farm is controlled by only one leader, and this is the end of equality on the farm. Another hierarchy comes up among animals even though their purpose was to end class issues. This is precisely what Orwell aims at telling in the story. There will be always one specific person who is over the others and rule them. However, Orwell does not support totalitarianism or capitalism, he only criticises communism and shows people why it never works as a regime of a government.
Characters play a significant role in the story Animal Farm. On the surface, even though Animal Farm looks like a fable where characters are talking animals, characters in the story symbolise some important people in history and function for specific purposes. The main character of the story of Napoleon is actually created by Orwell to function as a particular person, Joseph Stalin. From the very beginning of the story, Napoleon emerges as a wholly corrupted opportunist. He does not make any contribution to the farm other than giving orders and telling animals what to do. He does not care about anything but his own power over the whole farm. Napoleon’s only attempt is training the puppies which are not for the sake of farm or puppies but for his own power and dominance in the farm. Considering the fact that Napoleon became a totalitarian leader, he also symbolises the corruption in the farm. After becoming the leader of the farm, he gets more and more corrupted every day. Just like Stalin, he rebelled against the people who helped them rise to power. As Stalin followed Marxism and ideas of
Karl Marx, Napoleon adopted Animalism and Old Major. However, both shaped these ideas and aspects for the sake of their own good and power. In the beginning, while one of their most important commandments was “four leg is good, two leg is bad” (14) which discredit humans and adopted Animalism, when Napoleon followed irresistible force of money and became allies with people, he changed it as “four leg is good, two leg is better (46) and he stood up and started to walk just like a normal human being. It was the ultimate symbol that Napoleon was totally corrupted. Another character that is as important as Napoleon is Snowball. Unlike Napoleon, Snowball is an idealist pig who throws himself soul and heart into the attempt to spread Animalism and improve animal farm in terms of its power against humans. However, because of his idealist thoughts and ideas, his inevitable downfall comes soon. Relying on his intelligence, logic, and tactics, he becomes a threat to the crown of Napoleon. Thus, this makes him a foe of Napoleon and brings his expel from the animal farm. Snowball is the one who puts the idea of constructing a wind-mill for the sake of farm so that they could produce their own energy and work less. “With a piece of chalk gripped between the knuckles of his trotter, he would move rapidly to and fro . . . uttering little whimpers of excitement (Orwell 33). However, Napoleon urinated over them. It is the first time he signals his coup d’etat to Snowball. His expulsion is a demonstration that not good ideas and intentions but power governs the Animal farm which is what Orwell points out since the very beginning of the novella. Another important character in the story is Boxer. Orwell created Boxer to function as the exploited working class in the farm. Boxer is naïve, hardworking animal who never questions his duty and leaders. He does whatever he is ordered to do so. Just like the working class in the era, Boxer always thinks that he is living a great life because of the fact that he never questions anything and looks around. He keeps working but gets nothing. Orwell’s depiction of Boxer is actually a warning for working class to open their eyes. All he says is “I will work harder” (26). He is always of the opinion that he is supposed to work more and bend the knee to Napoleon.
Boxer is the only thing which sticks the farm together. He plays a father figure among the animals. With the death of Boxer, Orwell stressed out that everybody from working class will die by spending their life as a slave of the system. Working class will never gain anything. These people are an example of legal slavery and communism will never work for them. Throughout the whole novel, Orwell points out working class to open their eyes and stop being a part of the system.
The windmill is one of the most important symbols in the Animal Farm. From an allegorical point of view, the windmill is a representation of immense modernisation projects undertaken in Soviet Russia after the Russian Revolution. Just as the same purpose, animals desired to make their farm civilised and modern which death will have enough power to itself. The idea of building a windmill comes up from the pig Snowball. However, the opposition of Napoleon to both the ideas of Snowball and the windmill is the first sparkles between these two pigs. In the Animal Farm, windmill functions as a show of strength and modernity. Animals, mostly Napoleon, are an attempt to prove they can live by themselves without anyone who will rule and commend them. Also, just like Boxer, the windmill is one of the few things puts all the farm together. They gather for a same specific purpose which is to complete windmill and produce their own energy and increase their power so that they could prove animal farm can live without any leader or owner. What pursues them to finish windmill is the idea that once it ends, they all will work less. However, the windmill never decreases their working days. Animals are just exploited by Napoleon who does not help at all other than giving orders to animals. When windmill had some damage, when animals were still constructing, it was always thought that Snowball attacked it and demolished. With the demolition of the windmill, Orwell pointed out that by working hard and taking orders, animals would gain anything. Also, Orwell used windmill as a symbol of a dream which will never come true. Ever since Don Quixote, the windmill is thought of as an impossible dream. Thus, Orwell pointed out that windmill will
never help animals it is just an exploit of animals in some way. The windmill is not the only symbol that Orwell used in the Animal Farm. The barn is another symbol which is as important as the windmill. The barn is where everything starts with the story. Animals make their rebellion plan in the barn and gather there to make important decisions. Also, all the commandments are hung up in the wall of the barn in order to make clarify everything in the farm. Thus, the barn is the common area of the animals where they gather and live together. However, this situation changes with moving pigs to Mr Jones home. This leads a rumour saying that pigs do not follow the commandments because one of the rules in the Animal Farm is animals cannot sleep in beds o “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets” (Orwell 27). However, pigs send Squaler to explain why they sleep in beds which is because they are head of the farm and they make all important decisions. Thus, they have the right to get rest and start the day with a fresh mind. With some animals moving to Mr Jones home, barn loses its importance and becomes a place for the lower class. Inequality comes up one more time in Animal Farm.
As a result, Animal Farm is not written to entertain children, but to function as a specific purpose and deliver a message about it. Orwell has used every character and symbol to carry a message and symbolise something. In his book Animal Farm, George Orwell has clearly pointed out that communism can never be a regime of government and it never works. “The basic antagonism between working class and capitalist is also strongly emphasised by the metaphor: pig and man quarrel fiercely at the end of the story. The diversity of the animal class, like the working class, is equally stressed by the differing personalities of creatures” (129). said V.C. Letemendia in his essay to clarify this exploit in the story. Orwell stresses out working class will never gain anything by submitting their owners and obey what is told. They will never be equal to their masters. Thus, in Animal Farm, Orwell tells the working class to awake and quit being exploited, or there will be the same as Boxer. For Orwell, equality and communism are two different aspects which cannot be run together. Even though Orwell wrote Animal Farm
as a satire of communism, he never openly expressed that he was a supporter of capitalism. What Orwell points out is there will always be someone who is over the corn others and will command them. No matter how humans try to be equal and have equal rights, then there will be another hierarchy among those “equal people” which happened in the story when Napoleon said some animal are more equal than others. Orwell’s satire is also an example of the corruption of societies and people. At the end of the story, Napoleon’s standing up on his feet just like a person is the ultimate example of this corruption and Orwell aimed at this since the very beginning of the novel. Paul Kirschner explained this corruption in his essay “As the Commandments are chipped away and the pig- managers increasingly resemble farmers, the allegory requires balancing. Physical details, previously anthropomorphic, now remind us that Napoleon is a pig, since morally he begins to seem all too human” (762). As a result, George Orwell has written his masterpiece Animal Farm, not for children but to carry important messages. Therefore, it makes it one of the most read books in literature.
Works Cited Gulbin, Suzanne. “Parallels and Contrasts in ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Animal Farm.'” The English Journal, vol. 55, no. 1, 1966, pp. 86–92. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/811152. http://www.huzheng.org/geniusreligion/AnimalFarm.pdf Kirschner, Paul. “The Dual Purpose of ‘Animal Farm.'” The Review of English Studies, vol. 55, no. 222, 2004, pp. 759–786. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3661599. Letemendia, V. C. “Revolution on Animal Farm: Orwell’s Neglected Commentary.” Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 18, no. 1, 1992, pp. 127–137. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3831551. Letemendia, V. C. “Revolution on Animal Farm: Orwell’s Neglected Commentary.” Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 18, no. 1, 1992, pp. 127–137. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3831551.