Animal Farm: Communism Through The Eyes of George Orwell


Throughout history, writers have written about many different subjects
based on their personal experiences. George Orwell was the pen name of Eric
Blair. He is one of the most famous political satirists of the twentieth
century. He was born in Bengal, India in 1903 to an English Civil Servant and
died in 1950. He attended Eton from 1917 to 1921, and served with the Indian
Imperial Police in Burma from 1922 to 1927 before moving to Europe.Two of his
most famous books, Animal Farm, written in 1946, and Nineteen Eighty-Four,
written in 1949, were written about the political and social environment
surrounding his life. "The driving force behind his two satires is an intense
revulsion against totalitarianism, combined with an even stronger revulsion
against its defenders among left-wing intellectuals."1 In most of George
Orwell¹s books and essays, there is a strong autobiographical element due to the
fact that he spent many years living with Communists in northern Great Britain
(a small number of people started to follow Communism in northern Great Britain
when it started in Russia). George Orwell¹s writing was affected greatly by his
personal beliefs about Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism, and
by the revolts, wars, and revolutions going on in Europe and Russia at the time
of his writings.
George Orwell was a Socialist2 himself, and he despised Russian
Communism3, and what it stood for. Orwell shows this hatred towards Communist
Russia in a letter he wrote to Victor Gollancz saying, "For quite fifteen years
I have regarded that regime with plain horror."4 Orwell wrote this letter in
1947, ten years after announcing his dislike of Communism. However, he had
thought a great deal about Communism and what he disliked about if for a long
time before he announced it to the public. Orwell "did not expect anything good
from the Communist"5 and therefore Communism personally did not affect him, but
"He was concerned with it (Communism) only because it was a problem for
others."6
In Animal Farm, "an animal fable satirizing Communism,"7 Orwell uses
farm animals in England to satirize Russian Communism and its leaders. One
animal he uses is a pig named Napoleon, whose counterpart in the Russian
Revolution is Joseph Stalin. After Napoleon takes charge of the farm, he
assumes the role of a dictator that benefits himself much like Stalin did.
During Stalin¹s reign, 1929-1953, he used terror to enforce his laws, and
allowed no one to oppose his decisions. If someone did oppose him, he would
punish him or her harshly. In Animal Farm, Napoleon also uses violent force to
enforce his laws. Napoleon showed this force when he "called upon them to
confess their crimes....When they had finished their confession, the dogs
promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded
whether any other animal had anything to confess."8 This violent force that
Joseph Stalin used to enforce his laws is one of the main reasons that Orwell
disagreed with the main principles behind Communism and its leaders.
Another comparison that Orwell makes between Napoleon and Stalin is the
changing of history to benefit themselves. In Animal Farm, Napoleon often
changes history to make himself look better. Even though Snowball, the other
pig that was in charge with Napoleon, was the true hero in the "Battle of the
Cowshed,"9 Napoleon makes himself out to be the hero. Squealer, one of Napoleon¹
s top pigs in command, says,"Do you not remember how, just at the moment when
Jones and his men had got inside the yard, Snowball suddenly turned and
fled...that it was just at that moment when panic was spreading and all seemed
lost, that Comrade Napoleon sprang forward with a cry of ŒDeath to Humanity!¹"10
Just as Squealer retold the event to Napoleon¹s benefit,the same thing can be
said about Stalin. After he "became dictator of the Soviet Union, he had
history books rewritten to say that he had led the revolution with Lenin."11
This however is not the truth. In reality, it was Leon Trotsky who led the
revolution with Lenin. This is just one of the many comparisons that Orwell
makes between Stalin and Napoleon. Stalin was what Orwell and people who were
against Communism feared the most; a ruler who rules only for his own power.
Orwell uses another pig named Snowball to symbolize the part that Lenin
played in the Russian Revolution. Lenin was the founder of the Communist Party
in Russia and set up the first Communist dictatorship in the world. "Lenin¹s
goals were the destruction of free enterprise (privately owned and controlled
business)