040217 Literature essay: Animal Farm is not merely a fable

Q3. “Animal Farm is not merely a fable.”

“ Animal Farm is not merely a fable.” With regard to this statement, I am in total agreement. Animal farm is a fable because according to the dictionary, a fable is a short story that teaches a moral lesson. The author, George Orwell, has used it to bring out a strong but simple point: how the hunger for total dictatorship can be dangerous.

However, if we study it at a deeper level, we will be able to see that Animal Farm is also a political satire. The whole story represents Stalin’s modernization of Russia after the revolution of 1917 and the different animal characters represent the political Russian figures at that time.

In the beginning of the story, it is shown that Mr. Jones was not a good master to the animals of Manor Farm. The animals worked hard, but were ill treated and not given dignity.  Similarly in Russia before the revolution, the people were living in poverty and tyranny under the rule of the Tsar Nicholas ll, represented as Mr. Jones.

In chapter one of Animal Farm, as soon as Jones had hit the pillow, there was a meeting in the big barn as “ Old Major… had a strange dream… and wished to communicate it to the other animals.” Old Major explained the need for the rebellion to regain their freedom and dignity. Old Major represents Lenin, who supported a communal life.

Soon after he died, the Rebellion took place. Jones and his men were thrown out of Manor Farm. In 1917, the Russian revolution (Rebellion) happened and Tsar Nicholas ll was overthrown, freeing the Russians from poverty and tyranny temporarily. “Manor Farm” was replaced with “Animal Farm” while Russia with the Soviet Union. There was also a power struggle for leadership between Napoleon and Snowball. Both represent Josef Stalin, General Secretary of the Communist Party, and Trotsky respectively. They were “never in agreement”. Many committees were set up in the Soviet Union just as Snowball did too.

On October the twelfth, the Battle of the Cowshed took place with Animal Farm emerging victorious. Similarly in the Soviet Union, its people managed to triumph in the Battle of Kronstadt.

As time grew, Snowball was a very strong obstacle and rival in Napoleon’s goal for power and authority. One day, Napoleon’s nine enormous dogs chased Snowball out of Animal Farm. Then, Napoleon stood on the platform, one level above the animals in authority, and announced the orders for the week. This was the starting of the terror of Napoleon’s reign. In 1929 of Russian history, Trotsky was driven into exile by his ruthless rival, Stalin.

The dogs Napoleon had used had been ‘brainwashed’ to obey his orders. They helped Napoleon silence dissatisfied animals. Similarly, Stalin kept the “Secret Police” Force to kill those he thought were after his life.

Since the decision of building the windmill was declared, the animals “worked like slaves”. At that time in the Soviet Union, as Stalin came up with more plans to modernize the country, the people had to work even harder. The country became a vast labour camp.

Inspired by the dream of a Utopian world of justice and equality, the animals did not complain about the hard work. Even though slave labour was increasingly used in the Soviet Union, the people were blinded by the promise of a good life in the city to notice things were getting worse under Stalin’s absolute rule. The one who contributed the most in Animal Farm was Boxer, who represented the Stakhanovs. Each accomplished the work of about 60 people. What was commendable of the Soviet Union was the introduction of collectivization. There was division of labour.

Whatever Napoleon saw as an opposition party, he had them executed. The hens, which had resisted against surrendering their eggs for sale were capitulated. A goose was slaughtered even for having “secreted…corn…and eaten them”. Clearly, he wanted to show the animals who was in charge and to silence any thoughts of rebelling against him. Stalin held show trials as he slowly gained total dictatorship. During these trials, people would be accused of imaginary crimes and executed. The Kirovs were the ones Stalin considered the most threatening. They were the four porkers who had protested when they heard that there was to be no more debates, meaning there would be no more democracy. They were eventually murdered after confessing that they “had been secretly in touch with Snowball”.

While the animals rebuilt the windmill, there were announcements that production of foodstuff had increased tremendously. The same statistics lies were used by Stalin to report that production statistics of grain, coal and steel were increasing.

Since the expulsion of Snowball, Squealer was sent to put the blame on Snowball for anything that had gone wrong. He became a propaganda tool of Napoleon to achieve his goal of a totalitarian regime. In the Soviet Union, Stalin made use of radiobroadcasting to spread the message that the Trotsky Fascist group was responsible for acts against the state.

In 1941 of Russian history, Germany invaded the Soviet Union after signing a non-aggression pact with it. Angered, the Soviet Union joined the British and fought back. After immense suffering and countless deaths, the Germans were expelled. Stalin and his people earned the praises of the Britons (Pilkington) and Americans. In Animal Farm, after Napoleon had sold the timber to Frederick, also Germany, Frederick turned back on his words and paid Napoleon fake bank-notes. He also made his attack on the farm immediately. “A cow, three sheeps, and two geese were killed and nearly everyone was wounded.” The animals won the battle and Napoleon’s grip was maintained. A portrait of Napoleon was put in the barn just as the portraits of Stalin appeared everywhere. Visibly, the dictatorship of Napoleon was complete.

“Animal Farm is not merely a fable.” It is a political story on the form of an animal fable. Orwell has written it to warn us about the rise to power of a dictator and the way power corrupts through making Animal Farm a microcosm of Russia. Does the idea of Communism really work? Nobody will work hard if this political theory exists because it promotes class war and public ownership of all property. I end with the conclusion that Animal Farm is a modern fable and a story for all time.

Gloria Cheng (2)

2 SY

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