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Animal Farm ~ Russian Revolution
Transcript of Animal Farm ~ Russian Revolution
“Animal Farm” replaces “Manor Farm” as the name of the animals’ home after they remove Mr. Jones. This mirrors the change from “The Russian Empire” to “The United Soviet Socialist Republic.” A republic involves the people, and considering that in Animal Farm, the animals are the “people,” the name “Animal Farm” makes sense to convey the sense of a collective, for-the-people country (or farm), and the accompanying shift in ideology from a capitalist society to a socialist one.
After the animal uprising, the pigs quickly take over. The pigs are generally known throughout the farm as the “cleverest” animals, and this is used as the reasoning for them to adopt leadership roles on the Animal Farm. They parody the actual leaders of the revolution: the Bolsheviks, who later changed their name to the Communist Party. At first, their leadership seems sensible because they are able to read and they have planning skills. However, they soon begin to use their positions for personal gain, such as not doing as much work as the others, and especially in taking unequal shares of food. This happened to the government of the USSR under Stalin. The privileged class, which was supposed to have been abolished with the monarchy, came back as the new government leaders and held feasts and banquets while their nation starved. The animals themselves note late in the book that while they struggled through a harsh winter, the pigs continued to gain weight. This is an apt metaphor for the extravagance that continued in the ruling classes even after the fall of the monarchy.
Events of Animal Farm
Parallels of History and Literature
BY: Carrie Z. Glenda L. Sarah P. Deeksha K.
DATE: Oct. 9th/2013
Animalism ~ Communism
Revolution and Corruption
Old major gives his speech
Old Major Dies
Snowball & Napoleon Rise to Power
Mr. Jones forgets to feed the animals
Mr. Jones is overthrown
Commandments are written; Animal Farm is named
System of government/labour is developed
Newborn puppies are taken away by Napoleon
Milk disappears; pigs take apples - beginning of inequality
News of Animal Farm spreads
Battle of Cowshed occurs
Mollie leaves Animal Farm
Windmill is proposed
Snowball is exiled; Napoleon becomes sole leader
Windmill construction begins
Animal Farm begins trading
Pigs begin to sleep on beds
Windmill is destroyed during a storm, construction is restarted
Pinkeye becomes taste-tester for Napoleon
Makes a deal with Frederick for lumber; is double-crossed
Battle of the Windmil occurs; windmill is destroyed again; construction restarted
Pigs begin drinking alcohol
New litter of piglets is born
Boxer is sent to the slaughterhouse
The pigs begin walking on two legs
The farm name is changed back to "Manor Farm"
Mr. Jones, Old Major, and most animals are introuced
Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer are introduced
Mr. Pilkington at Foxwood and Mr. Frederick at Pinchfield are introduced
Mr. Whymper is introduced
Stalin and Trotsky rise to power
Stalin's Constitution is written
Civil War Occurs
Czar is ovethrown
5-Year Plans begin
Trotsky ousted and exiled
Nazi-Soviet Pact made
Events of the Russian Revolution
Czar Nicholas II
Both Mr. Jones and Czar Nicholas II are dictatorial leaders of their ‘domains’ (Manor Farm and Russia, respectively). Neither take particularly good care of their people, evident in Mr. Jones forgetting to feed the animals, and the terrible state of Russia’s economy and society just prior to the revolutions. Mr. Jones’ drunkenness represents the uncaring attitude of the Czar and nobles towards the plight of the people of Russia. They both are eventually overthrown by their people. He is married to Mrs. Jones, who can practically be considered Czarina Alexandra by their relationship.
Capitalists of the Time
This fairly shady man represents the capitalists of the time who were smart enough to take advantage of the situation created within the Soviet Union. The connection is made because of how Mr. Whymper is the only one who was quick enough to realize that the Animal Farm would require outside supplies for progress to be made. Soon enough, he acted as the mediator between the animals and humans and received a commission which no other human seized the opportunity to attain.
Churchill / Roosevelt
Closely related mannerisms* explained at a later point.
Main concept: Chronology of events differs slightly, but major events are present in both.
Closely related mannerisms* explained at a later point .
= corresponding events
The Napoleon-Stalin parallel is one of, if not the most obvious parallel in the book, and one of the few confirmed by Orwell himself. Early on, Napoleon, along with Snowball, establishes himself as a leader of the revolution. He competes with Snowball for the “top position,” much like Stalin did with Trotsky. He beats Snowball and exiles him, branding him an “enemy of the state,” which Stalin also did to Trotsky. His tantalizing paranoia leads him to Pinkeye as a taste-tester, much like how Stalin hired one to avoid being poisoned. Napoleon’s oppressive regime closely mirrors Stalin’s in which the dictator is practically worshipped whilst his people suffer (increased work, food shortages). Another thing that closely relates the two is their efficient use of propaganda (Pravda, Squealer) and force (military, the vicious dogs) to make the masses behave in a way that is beneficial to them. The most unfortunate link is their blatant disregard for the masses and their willingness to place themselves over the loyalty of their people (or animals). The formation of the secret police (the dogs), the purges (the confessions followed by the dogs killing the confessor), and the gradual descent into corruption (stealing milk to blaming Snowball to consuming alcohol) all mirror Stalin’s actions in USSR history.
Old Major (Willingdon Beauty)
Karl Marx / Vladmir Lenin
Old Major was the instigator of the revolution in Animal Farm. Considering his role, he simultaneously represents Karl Marx, one of the fathers of Communism, as well as Vladimir Lenin, the original main leader of the Bolshevik party, and a major player in the Russian Revolution. Both Lenin and Marx came from relatively affluent backgrounds, being born into educated, middle-class families. Old Major is the same: rather than being a pig bred for slaughter, he is a show pig. Also, his name (Willingdon Beauty) shows that he is known all over Europe just as Karl Marx was famous for his ideology. Both Lenin and Marx had revolutionary ideas about freeing themselves from the oppression of monarchy and giving power to the people. This was Old Major’s role: he did not actually contribute to the revolution, but he laid down the principles that would spark it. This is more akin to Marx than Lenin: Marx was the basis for the ideas of the socialist revolution. We see that the character of Old Major represents both revolutionary men.
Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin were the two main figures expected to lead to Communist Party after Lenin’s death. Trotsky was critical of Stalin’s ultra-nationalistic ways, as well as his repression of political thought. Snowball and Napoleon are always disagreeing, something that Stalin and Trotsky often did. Around the time of Lenin’s death, Stalin managed to gain political hold over Trotsky, force him out of the government , and then exile him. This also happened with Snowball. After he was exiled, Napoleon continually used him as a scapegoat for every problem on the farm, including ones that made no sense, such as bad weather. At this point, Snowball turns from a metaphor of Trotsky, to one of Left-Oppositionists (denouncers of Stalin and his extreme measures) in general, as well as counter-revolutionaries. During Stalin’s rule, these groups were blamed for many things that happened, as well as the excuse for executing thousands during the Great Purges.
The Pravda / The Glavlit
Squealer is introduced as a “brilliant talker” who could “turn black into white”. This sets him up as a manipulator of truth, otherwise known as a propagandist. Throughout the entire story, since the pigs rise to power after Old Major’s death, he acts as the main messenger from the pigs to the rest of the farm animals. Later, his role intensifies when he is the sole method of communication between Napoleon, his tyranny, and the animal masses. He presents them with Napoleon’s version of oppressive events, takes advantage of their naivety, and artfully twists reality in a way that will appease the rest of the population. He is a direct comparison to Pravda, the Russian political newspaper that was practically controlled by the communist party in charge of Russia. Their publications were heavily laden with propaganda and support for communist Russia (well, obviously it would be). Also, Squealer could perhaps be connected to the Glavlit (short for General Directorate for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press under the Council of Ministers of the USSR), which was basically a censorship and committee for the Soviet Union. They refined exactly what was published and what wasn’t and ensured that what the masses were being exposed to did not offend the government or its policies. This is comparable to when Squealer announces that Beasts of England will no longer be sung (namely because the banning of it would crush any unified thoughts of freedom in the face of extreme oppression that the animals face). Essentially, the common theme connecting Squealer and the Pravda or the Glavlit is the extreme propaganda they all contribute to.
Consumption of Art by Propaganda
Minimus was in charge of writing poetry to spread the messages of Napoleon to the masses. His works had to be approved by Napoleon before they were published. This is representative of how the artists of the Soviet Union created works that reflected the beliefs of Stalin as opposed to personal ones. In other words, Minimus shows the transformation of art into propaganda devices.
Educated Working Class
She is perhaps the most ambiguous character to discern a comparison for. We consider her to be the educated working class. She is better off than the horses (working class) or the sheep (uneducated peasants), but remains unaware of the grand oppression suppressing her. This is shown by her ability to read but not comprehend; similar to reading with your eyes as opposed to your mind. Lastly, as with the majority of the working classes, she succumbs to propaganda and swallows her unease of the situation by accepting what is presented to her by Squealer (the Pravda).
Boxer & Clover
Male & Female Working Class
Simply, yet powerfully, Orwell symbolizes the working class of the Soviet Union under Stalin’s oppressive rule. Both of these horses represent different sides of the working class (male and female). They are hardworking (on the farm doing various labor tasks), dedicated (conforming to Napoleon’s policies without retaliation), and most importantly, not intelligent enough to be aware or actually accomplish something. The below-average brainpower that they exemplify leaves them to accept Squealer’s propaganda without question. Boxer simply consents to hardships and adapts his motto to suit his perpetually growing work ethic. Clover feels unease at points in the book but is unable to voice her concerns (such as when she has tears in her eyes but has no words to say), let alone clarify what they mean. They are swept into the idea of communism and dive head-first into a realm of oppression they can barely comprehend, passing on their superficial sentiments in simple words to others (more so near the beginning). In the end, as with the actual USSR under Stalin, it turned out that the working class was absolutely betrayed by the prized leader whom they were loyal to (just as Boxer is sent to the slaughterer on Napoleon’s orders and Clover finally understands the scale of her subjugation at the end.
Russian Orthodox Church
This character, whilst mysterious at first, turns out to represent religion within the Russian Revolution and more importantly, the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church was closely working with the Czar, who provided it with countless privileges due to the belief that a monarchy’s absolute power was derived from God. In relation, Moses was known to receive special treatment from Mr. Jones such as beer-soaked bread. When the Czar was overthrown, the Russian Orthodox Church practically lost all power, especially under the new anti-religious perspective brought forth by the Bolsheviks and sustained by Stalin (like how the pigs try to suppress Moses’ ramblings after Old Major dies) . Similarly, when the Jones are chased off of the farm, Moses simply croaks whilst following Mrs. Jones (or perhaps Czarina Alexandra) off the farm for some time. Yet Moses returns to the farm as a way to satiate the growing restlessness amongst the animals by speaking of Sugarcandy Mountain (symbolizing heaven). This resembles how Stalin reintroduced the church in 1941 when he was trying to gain support for the war effort against Germany (because Karl Marx had once said that “Religion is the opiate of the masses”. He still denounced religion, as Napoleon does, but allows its presence to appease the people.
Bourgeois / Upper Class
Mollie, the vain and ditzy character of the book, represents one of two things: the petit bourgeois, or the upper-class. She represents the former group because she fled from the farm just like so many petit bourgeois fled from Russia after the revolution. However, she could also represent the upper-class because she partook in almost no work (her only contribution of labor being pulling Jones’ trap) for maximum gain (praise, ribbons, food). Also, the revolution greatly reduced her prestige just as it did with the actual upper-class of the Soviet Union.
Upper Class Freeloaders
The selfish and lazy ways of the cat reflects of the upperclassmen during the revolution who flourished taking advantage of the system. They won’t object the ruling as long as they are favoured; they were not part of the famine and they didn’t have to work. The cat, too, was absent during work hours and returned during feeding time. She wasn’t in trouble because her cases were often overlooked by the leader, like how the upperclassmen were mostly safe as long as they weren’t opposing Stalin (which was in their favour).
This originally confusingly bleak character turns out to perhaps convey a multitude of things. Firstly, he may represent the population of people during Stalin’s rule that was aware of the apparent oppression caused by the regime and realized that nothing could be done about it (shown by the numerous times he does not point out that the commandments are being changed because he knows it would be futile). Or maybe he represents the educated, commonsensical, or intelligent people of the USSR that believe challenging the tyrannic Stalin would be dangerous (his intelligence is shown by the fact that he can read as well as any of the pigs). His cynical nature also leads us to think that he may have simply represented the critics of communism or the older generation of Russians who barely benefited from the revolution.
Bolsheviks / Privileged Class
New Upper Class
Kamenev and “United Opp.”
The four young pigs, granted with above average intelligence vis-a-vis the other farm animals, opposed Stalin’s wishes and did not fall prey to his propaganda. However, their combined force was not strong enough to override the rulings of Napoleon, they were not successful in gaining supporters, and were defeated by Napoleon’s crew. These pigs were similar to the White Army which was composed of people from various locations with differing views who were united by by a hatred for the Bolshevik’s and the Red Army in general. They lost because the White Army lacked organized leadership and also resources which the Red Army had access to.
Dogs (Bluebell, Jessie, Pincher)
Former Military Forces
These dogs were the parents of the nine puppies which served as a sort secret police force for Napoleon. They are the generation of soldiers before Stalin. They all have military means but they weren’t part of the secret police because they couldn’t do what the new generation did. Bluebell, Jessie, and Pincher all had paws and teeth like their pups but they weren’t trained since youth to utilize those features directly for Napoleon. Nevertheless, they were still loyal.
The puppies were born as blank canvases, and since their youth, were trained by Napoleon. They grew up with the harsh enforcement of Napoleon’s methods in order to become his bodyguards. They protect him from all harms, surrounding him, tasting his food before his meals, and killing anyone they must. This reflected Stalin’s Secret Police. They were the people who, without questions, did whatever they were told to. From abduction to brainwashing, they had to handle all the dirty work for Stalin and keep the identity of their master anonymous. The main act of violence was the purging (executing on basis of false confession) of those who weren’t loyal to the system and/or those who could possibly block the development of the country (like spies or traitors). Like the CHEKA, the dogs served as military forces in the beginning and there was only one pack of them. However, as they were more needed by Napoleon later, the packs began to evolve into a bigger organization, bringing new puppies in and training them to become like the first pack. This was like how CHEKA modernized into NKVD and KGB.
Lowest Working Class
The Hens were mostly disregarded. Even though Napoleon said equality for all, like the other animals, they were then treated unfairly. When the animals took a walk, the hens were asked to stay at the very end. Since their eggs are produced on a large scale, Napoleon ordered them to increase their offer of eggs. This took them back to the time of when Mr. Jones was in power at the farm. The fast reproduction for hens resulted in giving them a larger population like the lowest working class of the Russian society. They had to work hard but little is given in return, and when they ran low on food because Stalin was using them in trading, the lowest working class died by the masses.
The sheep represent the uneducated, blinded masses of Russia. They do not have any knowledge of the true workings of Napoleon and blindly go along with with the pigs’ demands. Furthermore, the sheep even work against the other animals (unintentionally) with their bleating of maxims given to them by the pigs. Similarly, many people in the USSR, due to lies spread by the state, failed to understand the extent of what was happening within the country and simply went along with the state.
The rats had been previously chased around and bullied whilst the rabbits were not comfortable around the farm animals. The proposal to put all animals on equal grounds changed the ways the others looked at them. They were voted to become “comrades”, but didn’t become equals. This made a difference because they weren’t the enemy, but they weren’t really a part of the society either. They were allowed to stay on good terms with the rest of the farm animals because, obviously, they were all animals. These wild animals represent the social outcasts such as thieves, beggars, and the homeless; even though they were citizens of Russia, they weren’t treated as equals.
The real aspect of the revolution that the pigeons portrayed was of international significance. As the pigeons fly around over Willingdon (a metaphor for Europe), they spread news of the revolution and communism to other farms (countries). This could be compared to the function of the Comintern, whose sole purpose was to encourage foreign countries to partake in communism and unite the communist nations. In addition, the pigeons could also represent the media that Russia released to the rest of the world (perhaps official statements) and this can be compared to when the pigeons are instructed to spread the word that the Animal Farm resents a certain farm during the negotiations of the timber (“Death to Pilkington” vs “Death to Friedrick”).
The pigs establish themselves as the ruling class early on in the novel. The benefits of this are obvious: better living conditions, less work, more privileges. The pigs are the only group of animals to get educated properly. These benefits, in the typical “ruling class” way (nepotism) transfer to the pigs’ children. Therefore, the power gap continues and the pigs’ rule is passed down. This worked in the same fashion in Russia: even after the revolution, the privileged upper-class was not abolished, it merely shifted to another group of people: the bolshevik leaders and their families.
Animal Farm is a metaphor for a country scaled down to a farm. Foxwood and Pinchfield also are scaled-down countries. It stands to reason then, that the town in which these farms reside would be a continent, namely, Europe. The people of the town gossip about Animal Farm, similar to the different thoughts that European nations had about Russia during the time.
The Pinchfield farm is described as a small, yet efficiently managed farm. However, its owner is unscrupulous and abusive to his animals. This mirrors Germany’s state in the mid-19th century, after Hitler’s rise to power, as well as the vast prison camps and their horrendous conditions. The economy of Germany after WWI was terrible: the reparations they were forced to pay to other nations inflated their currency substantially. After the rise of the fascist Nazi Party, the economy was completely controlled by the state, in an attempt to increase productivity. This did work, especially given the large amount of slave labour the Nazis got from their prison camps. The owner of Pinchfield farm, Mr. Frederick, mirrors Hitler himself. Even his name, Frederick, is a very Germanic name (humorously enough, Frederick means ‘peaceful ruler’). During WWII, Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany forged a non-aggression pact. The USSR generally seemed to be happy to go along with this deal, but Hitler (due to the Nazi’s ideological hatred of Communism), had planned from the start to eventually invade the USSR. He eventually breaks off the deal, and invades. This is seen in Napoleon’s trust of Mr. Frederick during the trading of lumber, and Frederick’s double-crossing by paying in counterfeit money and then the attack on Animal Farm during the Battle of the Windmill.
The other neighbouring farm to Animal Farm, Foxwood is described as a large, unkempt farm whose owner doesn’t pay very much attention to it. This is most comparable to Britain, with a failing empire that was not well looked after, but also to the other major allied powers: France and the USA. The diplomatic relations between Animal Farm and Foxwood are similar to the dealings between Russia and the Allies during WWII. This is especially apparent during the lumber trade: Animal Farm mainly negotiates with Foxwood (officially), and spreads malevolent propaganda about Pinchfield. This is comparable to the USSR’s “official” stance as a member of the allied force. However, they are dealing under the table with Nazi Germany (or Pinchfield, in Animal Farm). This eventually comes back to bite them, as Germany double crosses them, as Pinchfield does. Foxwood, or the allied forces, are understandably annoyed at the USSR (Animal Farm) for going behind their backs. Basically, this proves to us that Foxwood is representative of the allied forces as a whole.
The Manor Farm, as it was originally called, represented Russia under monarchical control. The name “Manor Farm” indicates status, as ‘manor’ brings to mind lavish houses and sprawling lawns. The Russian monarchy viewed itself very highly, not really realizing that it was a remnant of a bygone age, but the state of its country showed that it was a failing system. The name “manor farm” is then rather funny, as Mr. Jones may consider the farm manor-like, but but the system that is unsatisfactory to the animals, as the Russian monarchy was to the people of Russia. The reversion of “Animal Farm” to “Manor Farm” at the end of the book symbolically shows the failure of the USSR and the Communist Party to make any lasting changed to Russia, and that in the end, they end up exactly where they started: under the control of dictators.
Animalism corresponds to the ideology of communism; they both promote the idea of equality and classlessness. The idea of the system was to give the power to change the system to the people, but the leaders used them to promote themselves and slipped in their own decisions one by one and ended up corrupting the system. Animalism and communism both didn’t work because the leaders who practiced it created laws where equality was destroyed due to the difference in social classes.
The barn is introduced to us as the forum in which Old Major first relays his thoughts of revolution. After Old Major’s death, the barn is used as a forum to talk, debate, and vote. This shows the barn as a parallel to the media. Later, as Napoleon becomes more and more totalitarian, the barn gets reduced from a forum to a podium for directives and pointed praise of the state. This mirrors the degradation of the free press into an utterly controlled, propaganda-filled mouthpiece for the state. The commandments themselves are written on the barn, making it a literal canvas for the constitution. As they are changed, it also shows the press’ part in obfuscating the truth from the common people.
Totalitarianism from Napoleon and Stalin was the reason animalism and communism didn’t work out. Instead of following the ideologies’ laws and practicing equality, they changed the system to totalitarianism: where the government is a single-party dictatorship. They made the decisions on their own and opinions of those being ruled weren’t considered. The citizens had to obey the government without question which gave the dictators power of censorship, decision making, and complete power of ruling over the country. They were able to practice totalitarianism by gaining supporters first with the ideas of communism/animalism and changing the people in ways similar to brainwashing.
Animal Farm Flag
The Flag of the Soviet Union is perhaps the most clear parallel between the stories aside from Napoleon’s Stalin-esque portrayal. In the USSR, the flag was composed of a solid red background (because the Russians considered it a largely positive color) and had the symbols of the hammer (representing the industrial workers) and the sickle (representing agricultural workers). In comparison, the flag in Animal Farm parodies this structure with a green background (maybe to express the harvest season, fertility, and a plentiful pasture) and the symbols of the hoof (representing the working or draft animals) and the horn (representing the grazing animals).
Stalin's Soviet Constitution
Czarist Excessive and
Old Major's Skull
When Stalin’s soviet constitution was written in 1936, it promised rights and freedoms to the people of Russia. Overwhelmingly, it promised that all people would have equal access to opportunities and goods, such as food or technology. The seven Principles of Animalism reflect this: they are a ‘guide’ for Animal Farm’s governing. Both the principles of Animalism and the Soviet constitution were violated at will by the totalitarian government, as well as interpreted in whatever way suited them best. The gradual editing and violation of the written commandments in Animal Farm mirrors Stalin’s gradual disregard of human rights, shown in his illegal arrests, censorship, and executions.
Lenin’s body is preserved and on display in Moscow, much like the way Old Major’s skull was put on display on the tree stump. Both were basically used as symbols of nationalism for the remaining revolutionaries (like when animals filed past it). It also helps develop each’s cult of personality by giving a specific symbol for citizens to pay homage to (it is important to note, though, that Lenin’s body was also used for Stalin’s cult of personality as he could always be relied on to say “That’s what Stalin would have wanted”). However, the skull is buried towards the end of the story, unlike the body of Lenin, showcasing the more extreme tyranny that the Stalin of Animal Farm (Napoleon) displays.
Both revolutions, Stalin’s and Napoleon’s, started out promising a brighter future with a new system and equality. Stalin and Napoleon evolved their plan to a new reform where equality was abolished by their laws and the brighter future fell back to what they were before the revolution, or worse. They changed course which led to unsatisfactory outcomes. The reasons for their corruption mirrored each other. The moment the value of different abilities received different meals, the class system came into being and equality was broken. Napoleon and Stalin ruled like dictators and took what their citizens would’ve needed to flourish. They ended up changing their own ways because they were afraid of being overruled.
Stalin, like Napoleon, promised equality for all. But for Stalin, with the introduction of his Five Year Plan, argued that it was necessary to pay higher prices for different workers in order to encourage increased output. But the pressures of the difference in wages separated the workers to different social classes. Through the class system, the amount of goods they could get to the state was differentiated. In the case of the farm, they were separated because Napoleon was able to manipulate them to a system where their intelligence played a big part in deciding how close they were to complete comfort.
In both the USSR and Animal Farm, intelligence and knowledge is used as power. The pigs are the “cleverest” animals in the novel: they learn quickly, can read and quickly take management positions. They use their intelligence, first to benefit the farm: learning how to work machines, reading up on strategies, etc. But they begin to use it for their own personal gain, especially as justification for the things they take (they need more food and more sleep because ‘they work with their brains’). The pigs restrict information, keeping it as a source of power over the other animals. At the same time, they create an education gap between the classes, as only pig children are allowed to be educated. The education in the USSR was generally well distributed among the classes, but the education system glorified the regime and did not give people the true information about the government. Knowledge is power (as shown by Stalin’s rise to power through exploiting politics and the art of persuasion), and this is easily seen in both the USSR’s history and in Animal Farm.
The revolt by the animals against Mr. Jones is similar to the overthrow of the Russian Monarchy. However, while the revolt that led to the creation of the USSR was a lengthy process with several stages, in Animal Farm, the process is simplified. Historically, the overthrow of the Czar leads to the Provisional Government in the Spring Revolution, which leads to the Bolshevik Takeover in the Fall Revolution, and finally culminates in the civil war between the White and Red armies. In Animal Farm, a jump is made from Czarist Russia, straight to the Bolsheviks under Stalin. The civil war is represented by the Battle of the Cowshed. Basically, both the animals in Animal Farm and the people of Monarchist Russia wanted to free themselves from oppressive and damaging rulers, and they rose up and claimed power for the people. Neither ended up being successful in maintaining it.
This is a pivotal moment in Animal Farm. The pigs begin to subvert their positions and the principles of Animalism for their own gain. The other animals were uneasy about this at first, but the propaganda of the pigs convinces them that it was necessary for the pigs to get all the apples and all the milk. The pigs knew well that it was unnecessary, but they still exploited the other animals for “the good of the state”. This is similar to the leaders of the USSR taking all the grain and goods from the peasants and using the profits to host fancy dinners and live in luxury.
Russia after the fall of the Czar was still a very technologically-backwards country. The industries which had begun to flourish a century earlier in the rest of Europe (railway, weaponry, etc.) were still infantile in Russia. The communist government wanted to “catch-up” with the rest of Europe, doing this by executing his “5-Year Plans,” basically plans for economy and industrial production that were supposed to help Russia. This is similar to Napoleon’s advocation of building the windmill: a piece of technology that was intended to help the people. Also similar to the windmill, the 5-Year Plans faced many hardships and failures that ended up killing millions. In the end, the plans didn’t do much for Russia’s economy anyway.
The Battle of the Cowshed happened similar to how the Civil War happened. It was between the Bolsheviks and the other revolutionaries (the White Army) who all had the same objective: to go against the Bolsheviks. Like the White Army, Mr. Jones and his “army” didn’t have a plan when they attacked while the animals were prepared for them. The animals had the upperhand and easily defeated the unprepared Mr. Jones. The White Army’s purpose was to take Russia while Mr. Jones’ aim was to take back the farm.
Pigs' Taking of Milk and Apples
Start of Corruption
Building of the Windmill
Battle of the Cowshed
Animal Farm, by George Orwell, does a remarkable job of representing Stalinist Russia, as well as showing its failings in a humorous and readable manner. The novel has much depth and there is much to be discovered beneath the surface of the characters, settings and events. A first-class example of a satirical piece of literature.
The killings that started in Animal Farm after Snowball’s exile are similar to killings that occurred in the USSR between 1936-1939, known as the “Great Purges.” These were mass round-ups, interrogations, and executions of hundreds of thousands of people. We see this in the slaughter of animals during Animal Farm’s “purges.“ Often, the “enemies of the state” that were executed were innocent people that were conveniently scapegoated by the government to mask the real root of problems. The accusations laid on the executed animals of being in league with Snowball mirror those given by the USSR of being a counter-revolutionary.
Boxer was a hard worker and blindly believed in Napoleon’s ways. His motto was to better himself and see problems in himself rather than in the system he worked for. When he became useless, he was sent away and no sympathy was given from the ones with power because he meant less than the economy did. This is similar to how Stalin sold the majority of the food production, instead of giving it to the hardworking, starving peasants. Letting them starve to death is barely any different than killing them off or sending Boxer to be slaughtered. Napoleon didn’t do the killing himself, but it was because of his direct decisions that Boxer died. Boxer was no more than a disposable worker to Napoleon, just like the workers of Russia were to Stalin.
During WWII, the USSR (which was officially a supporter of the Allies) and Nazi Germany signed a treaty, known as the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact. While the USSR seemed generally to be serious about an alliance with Germany, even signing a neutrality pact with Japan, its long-time enemy. However, Germany planned from the start to invade Russia eventually using a plan called ‘Operation Barbarossa.’ The Nazis break the pact in 1941 and invade the USSR. The false pact is seen in Frederick’s deception when trading lumber with Animal Farm. The following invasion is mirrored in the attack on Animal Farm by Pinchfield’s farmers. Both the pigs and the USSR published propaganda towards whichever side they were currently openly supporting (the Nazis or the Allies). While the Battle of the Windmill represents Operation Barbarossa as a whole, more specifically, it represents the Battle of Moscow. Capturing Moscow was one of the German’s key goals in the operation, and failing to do so was a major blow to their morale. Another significant (and paralleled) event during the Battle of Moscow was Stalin’s evacuation order to the government officials, while he stayed behind to provide support and morale. In Animal Farm, a line from the Battle of the Windmill reads: “... all the animals, except Napoleon, flung themselves flat on their bellies...” This line shows that Napoleon was providing the same front-line support and lack of fear that Stalin did during the Battle of Moscow.
This scene is representative of the Tehran Conference of 1943 in which the USSR (Stalin), the USA (Roosevelt), and the United Kingdom (Churchill) met to discuss various objectives. Just like in the actual conference, the participants were trying to be on friendly terms even though they had been hostile to one another (because of Russian alliances with Germany/Animal Farm’s timber trading with Pinchfield) at a previous point in time. Also, the aces played on the table at the same time by Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington could possibly symbolize the beginning of animosity between the United States and Russia (signaling the Cold War).
Boxer's Sale to
Starving of Peasants
Pinchfield Wood Trade & Battle of the Windmill
Nazi-Soviet Pact & Operation Barbossa (Battle of Moscow)
Conference of Tehran
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Population Aware of Oppression