The purpose of a revolution, as history has shown, is to fight some sort of political or social injustice suffered by a group of the general public. Typically a minority of the population, in search of a better lifestyle fights back against the oppression they have been forced to endure. History is full of countless examples of this. Two such notable revolutions are the French and Russian movements, though they occurred at completely different time periods they share common similarities.
Many times in the course of a revolution the initial goals of the revolting group are enjoyed and for a short period of ime a general sense of accomplishment is felt by the induction of new ideas. However as seen in the French and Russian revolutions the leadership that was so strongly opposed is returned to power with little change noted on the surface. Author George Orwell in his recent novel Animal Farm writes a very effective political allegory of not only the Russian Revolution but of movements of the same nature.
So transparent are the obvious links to the revolution that it took the acclaimed author several publisher rejections, including his own, to finally find one who would ublish his book. Included in the reasons for rejection were the fear of the impact on wartime needs and policies, and the opinion that Orwell’s satirical view was to strong given the present political climate. None the less the novel was published by Frederic Warburg, and rightfully so, as the tale of the Animal Farm is written to almost perfection and has been called by many one of the best written books of our time.
The Russian revolution is one of the only revolutions in history that can be compared to the French revolution in size and outcome. Orwell’s impression of such a movement seems to be clouded by his negative interpretation of the actions of those in power. Animal Farm’s use of satirical attacks on the revolution and it’s key players is a perfect depiction of Orwell’s and those outside of Russia, especially in Britain, view. Orwell’s story at the Manor farm takes the reader through the course of a revolution, from Marxist views to the reign of Stalin or in his story Napoleon.
Through what Orwell calls a fairy tale, his characters represent the major figures and themes of Russia under the revolution. The character Mr. Jones is the cruel and irresponsible farmer who mistreated his animals and who was suffering from financial difficulties, can clearly be a representation of Czar Nicholas II. Who as we all know was at best a poor leader unable to properly govern. Karl Marx’s socialist order and ideas of communism and equality that take front and center stage in Russia are the driving force behind the initial revolutionary ideas in history and the novel.
Marxist views are solely brought to the forefront by the character Old Major who inspires the revolution and like Marx devises the concept of animalism a clear parallel to communism. Animalism preaches the equality of all animals, wild or domestic no matter the circumstances. Unfortunately like communism, the human (in this case the animal) tendency for a hierarchy of some sort quickly abolishes the ideas of equality. Orwell’s ability to deliver this message in such a precise manner only strengthens the foundations for his argument against such revolutions.
Leon Trotsky who by many was considered to be a diehard communist with the goal of unquestionable equality for all Russians is nobly represented in Orwell’s tale. Many who have criticized the novel so far have labeled it a pro-Trotsky novel. Evidence of this is countless an quite apparent with the character of Snowball. One may consider such a view point as the only flaw in the novel, while others may appreciate the Orwell message that much more through his depiction. Snowball who like Trotsky is a good speaker with idealistic goals for the equality of animals, tragically is exiled from his position by the other leader of revolution, Stalin.
Orwell’s character of Napoleon is by no stretch of the imagination the most clear allegory in the novel. His characteristics as a leader are a perfect satirical representation with those of Stalin. Napoleons ambitions for power lead to his own personal corruption and the alienation of his followers. Orwell’s brilliant comparisons continue and include; propaganda of Lenin’s government being represented by a pig named Squealer, the KGB’s influential and many times brutish behavior is found with Napoleon’s vicious dogs. The dedicated but tricked general public of Russia are seen by the reader in the eyes and hard work of Boxer.
Delivering his message in such a manner, Orwell is able to satirically deliver what many political or social commentators are unable to. Without directly discussing the points of the Russian revolution his message is that much stronger. If instead Orwell had decided to perhaps write a critical essay on the subject, though his message would be direct and upfront, the effectiveness of his view would be lost. Also considering the current political turmoil, an essay of such nature would have a very low probability of any exposure. Such a writing style provides a greater circulation for his beliefs.
It is hard to imagine an essay of the same beliefs to be enjoyed by so many readers nation wide and soon internationally. One could compare his method of writing to those of writers during the French revolution. Though many of those authors feared prosecution for their writings, they used satires and sarcastic remarks in well written pamphlets, articles and dictionaries to have a chance to voice their true opinions. Their writings were therefore more telling and had the ability to discuss subjects which were not generally acceptable.