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Animal Farm Introduction
Transcript of Animal Farm Introduction
by George Orwell
born on June 25, 1905 in Bengal, India
Joined the Independent Labor Party and fought with
the Marxists in the Spanish Civil War because he
believed that the Communists, aided by Soviet Russia,
had betrayed the workers
Believed that Stalin, leader of the Soviet Communists, had corrupted the Socialist ideals of the Russian
Wrote Animal Farm as a allegory exposing that
An allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.
Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
Other literary terms you will need to know:
satire: a literary composition, in verse or
prose in which human folly and vice are
held up to scorn or ridicule.
fable: a short story to teach a moral lesson,
often with animals or inanimate objects as
irony: the use of words to convey a meaning
that is the opposite of its literal meaning:
the irony of her reply, "How nice!" when I
said I had to work all weekend.
The subtitle of the novel is
"A Fairy Story". What are
the elements of such a story?
For centuries, Russia had been ruled
by Czars (leaders with absolute powers)
By the end of the 19th century, wealth
in Russia was concentrated in the hands
of a very few.
The working people of Russia (the
proletariat) wanted better working
A massacre on Jan. 22, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators, marching to present a petition to the Tsar Nicholas II, were gunned down by the Imperial Guard while approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points.
There were grave consequences for the Tsarist
regime, as the disregard for ordinary people
shown by the massacre undermined
support for the state.
In 1917, the Russian Revolution,
inspired by the writings of Karl
Marx, caused the overthrow of
Czar Nicolas II and his government.
Marx believed that everyone should
work for the common good and
receive a fair share. This idea is known
The Soviet Union
Formed to replace the void left by the deposed czar.
Made up of bankers, lawyers, industrialists, and capitalists.
Very weak and failed to live up to its promise of ending Russia's involvement in WWI.
Kept Russia in the war and just made things
worse for themselves and for Russia.
By November 1917 the Provisional Government was in complete collapse. In the meantime, the Bolshevik party, helped by German money, had built up an efficient party organisation, a brilliant propaganda machine, and a powerful private army (the Red Guards).
When Lenin moved to take over, the Provisional Government was unable to stop him, and the 'November Revolution' was less of a revolution than a coup d'état.
Land was taken from the tsar and
nobles and given to the peasants.
Factories were put under the control
of elected committees of workers.
In effect, peasants owned their land
& workers owned their factories.
Lenin tried to make Russian society communist:
Banned religion, destroyed churches and killed priests.
A Labor Law gave workers an 8-hour day, unemployment pay and pensions.
There was a huge campaign to teach everyone to read.
Education: Science was encouraged, and useless subjects like Latin and History were banned.
Free love, divorce and abortion were allowed.
Therefore, the Bolsheviks introduced a different morality and style of life.
The Bolsheviks created a totalitarian state:
The CHEKA (secret police) arrested, tortured and
killed all opponents.
The Tsar and his family were killed (or were they?)
All newspapers were censored.
Lenin called this ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’ (a dictatorship was needed until Russia was changed into a Communist country)
There was much terror and no political freedom
The Bolsheviks’ enemies tried to destroy the government, so in 1918-1921 the new government had to fight a Civil War. During the war, especially severe rules were introduced, called ‘War Communism’:
Larger factories taken over by the government.
Military discipline in factories and strikers shot.
Prodrazvyorstka - Peasants had to give all surplus food to the government.
Very harsh tyranny was inflicted upon the Russian people.
The animals in Animal
Farm all have real-life
counterparts who played
major roles in the Russian
Revolution of 1917 and
the time period immediately
irresponsible to his animals (lets them starve)
sometimes cruel - beats them with whip
sometimes kind - mixes milk in animal mash
Czar Nicholas II
a poor leader at best, compared to western kings
cruel - sometimes brutal with opponents
Sometimes kind - hired students as spies to make $
Old Major - A Pig
workers do the work, rich keep the $, animals revolt
dies before revolution
"workers of the world unite", take over gov't
dies before Russian Revolution
no owners, no rich, but no poor
workers get a better life, all animals equal
everyone owns the farm
all people equal
gov't owns everything, people own gov't
Snowball - a Pig
young, smart, good speaker, idealistic
really wants to make life better for all
one of leaders of revolution
chased away into exile by Napoleon's dogs
other leader of "October Revolution"
pure communist, followed Marx
wanted to improve life for all in Russia
chased away by Lenin's KGB (Lenin's secret police)
Napoleon - a Pig
not a good speaker, not as clever like Snowball
cruel, brutal, selfish, devious, corrupt
his ambition is for power, killed opponents
used dogs, Moses, and Squealer to control animals
not a good speaker, not educated like Trotsky
same as Napoleon, didn't follow Marx's ideas
cared for power, killed all that opposed him
used KGB, allowed church, and propagandized
Squealer - a Pig
big mouth, talks a lot
convinces animals to believe and follow Napoleon
Changes and manipulates the commandments
Propaganda department of Lenin's government
worked for Stalin to support his image
used any lie to convince the people to follow Stalin
benefited from the fact that education was controlled
a private army that used fear to force animals to work
killed or intimidated any opponent of Napoleon
another part of Napoleon's strategy to control animals
KGB - Secret Police
not really police, but forced support for Stalin
used force, often killed entire families for disobedience
totally loyal, part of Lenin's power, even over army
Moses the Raven
tells animals about SugarCandy mountain - Heaven
animals can go there if they work hard
Snowball and Major were against him
they though Heaven was a lie to make animals work
Napoleon let him stay because he taught animals to
work and not complain
Marx said that religion was the"Opiate of the people" a lie
used to make people not complain and do their work
Religion was tolerated because people would work
Stalin knew religion would stop violent revolutions
Mollie - A horse
was vain - loved her beauty and self
didn't think about the animal farm
went with anyone who gave her what she wanted
Vain, selfish people in Russia and world
some people didn't care about revolution
only though about themselves
went to other countries that offered more for them
strong, hard working horse, believes in Animal Farm
"Napoleon is always right", "I must work harder"
gives his all, is betrayed by Napoleon, who sells him
Dedicated, but tricked communist supporters
people believed Stalin because he was "Communist"
many stayed loyal after it was obvious Stalin a tyrant
betrayed by Stalin who ignored and killed them
old, wise donkey who is suspicious of revolution
thinks "nothing ever changes", is right
his suspicions are true, about Boxer and sign changes
Skeptical people in Russia and outside Russia
weren't sure revolution would change anything
realized that a crazy leader can call himself communist
knew that communism wouldn't work with power
In summary, George Orwell wrote Animal Farm during World War II and it was published in 1945. He was a democratic socialist and wrote Animal Farm to criticize the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. The major events in the book are based on the history of the Soviet Union. Orwell doesn’t criticize the act of revolution itself, but the misery it could cause if the leaders become corrupt, shortsighted, greedy and indifferent.
"Under Lenin's banners, under Stalin's leadership, forward to a new prosperity of the Soviet Motherland, to the complete victory of communism in our country!"