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Animal Farm Timeline
Transcript of Animal Farm Timeline
Animals meet in the big barn
This event is analogous to the
written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and published in 1848. The extremely influential book attempts to promote communism and to explain that society revolves around a class struggle. Old Major accomplishes this in his speech by articulating that there is an inequality between animals (proletariat) and humans (bourgeoisie). He states that the evils of animal life "spring from the tyranny of human beings." Old Major, like Marx, believes that significant change can only be caused by a revolution. He ends his speech with a patriotic anthem while Marx concludes with the famous line "workers of the world, unite!" The uproar of the singing wakes Mr. Jones and "the whole farm was asleep in a moment." This symbolizes the period of time between Marx's ideas and Lenin's rise to power, but once Animal Farm awakens, the revolution is in full effect.
Store-shed revolt, eviction of Mr. Jones
The knocking down of the store-shed door begins a revolution that incorporates elements of the February and October Russian Revolutions. The February Revolution resulted in the abdication of the Tsar which is represented by Mr. Jones fleeing Animal Farm. The duel power between the provisional government and the Soviets is skipped and the story immediately continues into the October Revolution when the Bolsheviks overthrew the provisional government in Petrograd. After the animals gain control of the farm, "their first act was to gallop in a body right round the boundaries of the farm, as though to make quite sure that no human being was hiding anywhere upon it." This represents the violent Russian street mobs that gathered during the turmoil. After evicting Mr. Jones, the animals proceeded to eradicate memories of his dictatorship by destroying various items symbolic his rule such as dog chains, knives, reins, and whips. This equates to the statues and paintings of Tsar Nicholas II being erased from society.
Pigs claim the right to the apples
Battle of Cowshed
The October conflict later named the Battle of Cowshed is symbolic of the Russian Civil War between 1918 and 1921 that is often called Red October. The civil war was a conflict between the Bolsheviks referred to as the Reds, and the opposing Whites. Although the Whites had support from allied forces like Mr. Jones had "half a dozen others from Foxwood and Pinchfield", the anti-communists struggled due to a lack of leadership and a wide range of objectives. A large part of the Reds' success can be attributed to the leadership of Trotsky. In the story, Snowball receives the "Animal Hero, First Class" award for his efforts. Tsar Nicholas II's assassination during the war is mirrored by Mr. Jones' retreat and disappearance.
The windmill is the symbol used to represent the entirety of Stalin's five year plans. It mainly represents the second five year plan that gave top priority to industries including steel and coal. The goal was to make Russia's industrial sector as strong as other nations such as Germany. It's mentioned that the windmill "had aroused furious jealousy in him (Mr. Frederick)". The windmill is introduced as a device that would make life easier, increase production, and shorten the work-week. Stalin believed that improving Russia's industry would lead to the same outcomes. Unfortunately, the quality of the goods produced during this period in Soviet history was very poor. The Soviets were mainly manufacturing products to keep up with Western nations in the same way that Napoleon uses the windmill to impress Mr. Whymper before it eventually falls down due to poor construction. The multiple times that the windmill is reconstructed represents the multiple five year plans put in place by Stalin that all eventually failed.
Exodus of Snowball
Snowball being chased off the farm represents the exodus of Trotsky from the Soviet Union. Soon after Lenin's death and Stalin's rise to power, Trotsky, a direct competitor of Stalin, began criticizing the regime. Stalin then launched a propaganda campaign against Trotsky which is symbolized by the sheep often interrupting Snowball's speeches with "four legs good, two legs bad." Trotsky was soon removed from the Communist Party and expelled from the Soviet Union. After Snowball's dislodgement, he was called a traitor and blamed for all the problems on Animal Farm. Napoleon claimed that Snowball was responsible for the collapse of the windmill and that he made malicious nightly visits. The pigs used fear of Snowball to control the population and even claimed that he was "in league with Jones from the very start." After Trotsky's expulsion, the Communist Party removed him from group photographs and from Russian culture and history. This is characterized by Napoleon refuting that Snowball had been the original proponent of the Windmill. He also took back Snowball's "Animal Hero, First Class" award and declared that he was actually fighting for the other side.
Moses’ return to Animal Farm
The return of Moses signifies the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church. During the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks had declared separation of the church and the state. Opinions of the organization further decreased after it supported the Whites in the Russian Civil War. The Communist Party soon declared freedom of religion and began heavily promoting atheism. A short time after the Battle of Cowshed, "Animal Farm was proclaimed a Republic" and Napoleon, the sole candidate, is elected president. He becomes Animal Farm's absolute ruler and begins acting like a monarch. Just like Stalin revived the Church after the German invasion in 1943 to increase patriotism, Napoleon brings back Moses. Although he "still did no work," Moses is accepted by Napoleon for the advantages that he brings to Napoleon's rule. The animals gained a reward (Sugarcandy Mountain) to look forward to after years of hard work. This increased content and productivity on Animal Farm similarly to how it affected the Soviet Union.
The Battle of the Windmill
The Battle of the Windmill is symbolic of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. It was very well planned by Hitler and his military staff and was named Operation Barbarossa. The majority of fighting is a clear reference to the Battle of Stalingrad. It occurred from 1942 to 1943 and was the largest military attack of WWII. Many soldiers within the city had to resort to close quarters combat which led to an astronomical number of casualties. In the story, "nearly everyone was wounded." At one point Napoleon's personal bodyguard "suddenly appeared on the men's flank." This references the flanking tactic that was used to trap the Germans inside Stalingrad. The Germans faced heavy attrition and eventually surrendered just like "Frederick shouted to his men to getout while the going was good." The fact that Napoleon ordered his own bodyguard to leave his side symbolizes how desperate the Soviets were to win the battle. The Battle of Stalingrad was a very decisive victory for the Soviets and allowed them to push the Germans out of Russia. The economic damages left by the battle were devastating however. This is indicated by the explosion after which "the windmill had ceased to exist."
Selling timber to Mr. Frederick
The action 0f selling Animal Farm's timber to Mr. Frederick is analogous to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. The non-aggression treaty sometimes called the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed soon after the start of World War II and ensured that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany would not attack each other. The fact that Mr. Frederick paid for the timber with forged banknotes is representative of Germany's betrayal and eventual invasion of the Soviet Union. The Nazi treaty was as worthless as the counterfeit money used by Pinchfield's leader.
Public execution of traitors
The public killings and forced confessions of animals are a reference to the Moscow Trials. The three trials between 1936 and 1938 were held by Stalin. The defendants were mostly Old Bolsheviks. The term referred to previous supporters of Lenin and members of the Bolshevik Party before the Russian Revolution. They were charged under Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code for conspiring against Stalin and attempting to restore capitalism. In the story, animals are similarly charged with trying to overthrow Napoleon and conspiring with Snowball. Stalin wanted the confessions to be public so that he could avoid being accused of martyring. The executions were a part of Stalin's Great Purge that aimed to eliminate those who were suspected of challenging his position. Much like how the animals "had come to a time when no one dared speak," the NKDV-led purges terrorized the Russian population.
Pigs relocate to farmhouse
The farmhouse at first represents the Winter Palace. The Palace was built by the tsars to show the power of Imperial Russia and was where multiple monarchs ruled from like Mr. Jones. During the Russian Revolution, the Winter Palace was stormed by the Red Army. The whiskey in the farmhouse being found by the pigs is symbolic of the Palace's wine cellar that was famously looted. In October 1917, the Winter Palace was declared a public museum much like how it was agreed that the farmhouse should not be touched. The moment that Napoleon moves into the house switches the building's symbolic meaning to the Kremlin. In 1918, the Soviet government moved from Petrograd to the Kremlin located in Moscow. This represents the pigs' move from the harness-room in the big barn (Petrograd) to the farmhouse (Moscow Kremlin).
The Animal Committees represent the introduction of the Soviet Union's first five year plan. The first plan in the long series of programs ran from 1928 to 1932 and primarily focused on improving the short-term economy. The "Egg Production Committee for the hens" is symbolic of the Soviet attempt to increase agricultural and industrial production. Just like the first Soviet five year plan, Snowball's variation also attempted to develop literacy. The farm animals were instructed about reading and writing with the alphabet to varying degrees of success. "Napoleon took no interest in Snowball's committees" and instead decided to proceed by creating his personal secret police.
Old Major represents Marx and Lenin in the story. He creates the idea of animalism, yet does not live to see it played out just as Marx established the idea of communism but did not live long enough to see what happened to it. Both genuinely believe that animalism and communism can turn the masses' lives for the better. Old Major also represents Lenin, as he is iconicized by the animals when his remains are displayed at the barn, much like Lenin's body being displayed in the Red Square.
Napoleon represents Stalin in the story. Napoleon starts out as an advocate for the animalism movement, but abuses his position of authority and eventually becomes the kind of oppressor he set out to fight, just as Stalin took control of Russia and became a dictator establishing his own form of bourgeoisie. He is named Napoleon, which is significant as Napoleon Bonaparte became Emperor of France thanks to a revolution against the monarchy, just as Napoleon the pig and Stalin rose to power through a revolution that aimed to destroy said power. Napoleon, like Stalin, is able to warp public opinion in order to consolidate his own power.
Snowball represents Leon Trotsky in Animal Farm. He is the leader of the rebellion, and his concern for the animals' well-being is genuine. Like Old Major, he truly believes that animalism can create a utopia for animals. Trotsky was one of the heads of the communist movement, and an idealist who was an excellent speaker. Snowball and Napoleon constantly disagree, especially about the windmill, as Snowball wants to spread animalism as per the views of old Major. This conflict ends when Napoleon uses his dogs to chase Snowball off of the farm. This is a parallel to Stalin and Trotsky's disputes, especially over the industrialization of Russia, which leads to Stalin exiling Trotsky from Russia.
Squealer symbolizes Stalin's use of propaganda after he rose to power. Squealer is Napoleon's right-hand man and is frequently sent to quell minor protests and questions that the animals on the farm have. The term "squealer" means informant. This is consistent with Squealer's role as someone who reports directly to Napoleon. During Soviet history, the character specifically represents Vyacheslav Molotov. Molotov became general secretary of the Bolshevik Party in 1922 and was a pronounced supporter of Stalin.
Mr. Jones personifies Tsar Nicholas II. He had to flee from the farm in the same way that the Tsar was forced to abdicate. His attempt to recapture Animal Farm mirrors the White Army during the Russian Civil War which was also unsuccessful. The symbolic use of prefixes in the names of all humans is figurative of the prefix of "tsar." Lastly, Mr. Jones' alcoholism and mistreatment of his animals denotes the Tsar's ineffective management of Russia.
Rats and rabbits
The rats and rabbits are not frequently mentioned but their secondary role is representative of the Russian sub-class of criminals and those living in extreme poverty. They are considered outsiders since they do not reside on the Farm and are resented from the opening section of the book when they interrupt old Major's speech. It is however unanimously agreed that they too are "comrades" by everyone except the dogs (police). The Re-education Committee was instituted to "tame the rats and rabbits."
The pigs embody the members of the Bolshevik Party which was later renamed the Communist Party. They become the supreme rulers of Animal Farm despite the seventh commandment stating that "all animals are equal." Just like the Communists that resided at the top of the pyramid in the Soviet Union, the pigs rely on propaganda to maintain the population's belief that their leadership is intended to benefit everyone. Pigs were chosen to fulfill this position since they are very biologically similar to humans who represented the bourgeoisie. By the end of the book, the other farm animals could no longer distinguish between the humans they overthrew and the pigs.
The hens' most significant part in the play is their protest to having their eggs taken by the pigs. This equates to the Kulaks' (prosperous peasant farmers in Ukraine) objection to Stalin's collectivization of farms. The Kulaks revolted the idea of having their land confiscated by destroying their crops and livestock in the same way the chickens intentionally shattered their eggs. The death of nine chickens is symbolic of the millions of peasants that were massacred or sent to work camps.
The cows have a similar role to that of the hens. They were often neglected and unfed by Mr. Jones which made them strong supporters of animalism. The cows led the singing of "Beasts of England" and initiated the revolution by breaking down the store-shed door. They represent the lower class since their milk was taken in the same way that workers' labour is often unappreciated. The cows hoped for a positive change but their lives became even worse after the revolution in many ways.
Although Mollie is a part of the working class since she is one of the horses, she is opposed to the revolution. She preferred the leadership of the Tsar thst often inundated her with gifts such as her red ribbons. She also did not fight in the Battle of Cowshed. Mollie represents the class of Russians that supported the Tsar. She also partially symbolizes the upper class of defectors that left soon after the revolution since she was seen looking over the hedges to Foxwood before she presumably left.
The pigeons signify the worldwide spread of communism. Snowball states that Animal Farm "must send out more and more pigeons and stir up rebellion among the animals on the other farms." His belief is that "if rebellions happened everywhere they would have no need to defend themselves." The specific Soviet organization that the pigeons mirror is the Communist International; a Moscow based group with the goal of overthrowing the bourgeoisie in surrounding nations.
The sheep represent the masses of uneducated people that were willing to blindly follow Soviet propaganda. They are unable to think for themselves and repeat whatever is told to them by Napoleon in the same way that sheep would traditionally follow their shepherd. They are instructed to repeat "four legs good, two legs bad" in order to interrupt any clash of ideology. They then switch their maxim without complaint to "four legs good, two legs better." Napoleon's ability to control the sheep is very reminiscent of the way that Stalin influenced the masses during his reign.
Mr. Whymper is introduced as a liaison between Animal Farm and the outside world. He represents capitalists that chose to do business with the USSR. Napoleon tried desperately to trick Mr. Whymper into thinking Animal Farm's economy was better than it actually was by impressing him with the windmill. The widespread famine that existed on the farm was also concealed. Even though Mr. Whymper likely knew about some of the transgressions on Animal Farm, he turned a blind eye and considered his partnership strictly business related. This can be perceived as a knock on capitalism.
Seven Commandments of Animalism
The Seven Commandments represent the ideas of Marx in the
. The commandments were initially "an unalterable law," but as absolutism prevailed, they were modified to favour Napoleon and his increasingly upper class communist government. The focus on learning the commandments in education represents the communist propaganda that was mixed into Soviet public schools.
Beasts of England
"Beasts of England" is a reference to "The Internationale," the global anthem of socialism and communism throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The originally French song which was translated into Russian in 1902 is very nationalistic and encourages "prisoners of starvation" to stand up against the state and upper class. It was a popular symbol during the Russian Revolution and was adopted as the official anthem of the USSR in 1918. Its replacement in
symbolizes the betrayal of revolutionary ideals.
Animalism is used in exchange for the word "communism." It is an idea that resurfaces throughout the story and is originally exposed to the animals by old Major in a speech designed to mimic the
. The meaning of animalism is changed by Napoleon over time. He uses propaganda that is enforced by Minimus and is spread by Squealer and the pigeons to gain personal power. Orwell warns against the dangers of absolute states like the USSR and Animal Farm and shows how they can regress ideals like animalism.
Animal Farm Flag
The flag adopted by Animal Farm after the revolution is a reference to the flag of the Soviet Union. The Red Flag is associated with left-wing politics and revolution. Red, which is replaced by green in the story, is symbolic of power and blood spilled in the fight for communism. The horse hoof and horn are symbolic of the hammer and sickle; the urban industrial workers and agricultural peasants.
Napoleon's implementation of foreign trade represents part of Stalin's New Economic Policy. It is symbolic of the allies beginning to explore trade options with the Soviets and also Stalin's moderate turn towards capitalism. Animal Farm cannot sustain an efficient economy and have access to luxurious items without trade. The selling of the hens' eggs on the market is symbolic of Russia's coal and steel exports that grew sharply soon after the NEP. Although Napoleon begins to gradually stabilize the economy, he is not able to do it without trade.
The big barn is equivalent to Petrograd. The Russian Revolution was focused primarily on the city which is now named Saint Petersburg. Old Major holds the first meeting there and after the revolt it is the centre of power for the pigs. It is also where the Seven Commandments are hung up. During 1917, Petrograd was where the institution of the Provisional Government and later Bolshevik takeover occurred. The city was also the root of the rise of communism much like the big barn was where animalism was introduced and gained popularity.
Manor Farm is the original name of the farm on which the story is set on. The term "manor" refers to an estate that is sometimes granted to the upper class by royalty. It is historically organized with a principal of feudalism or leasing. The title of "Manor Farm" represents the upper class bourgeoisie. This was considered inappropriate by the animals who adopted a very socialist ideology and was changed soon after the store-shed revolution.
Animal Farm is what Manor Farm was renamed to. The new label is a better representation of the theories of animalism surrounding social equality and the abolishment of the ruling class. The name change represents the real-life transition from the Russian Empire to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. After Napoleon establishes himself as an absolute ruler and Animal Farm returns to its pre-revolution conditions, the farm is renamed to The Manor Farm signifying a complete cycle in government ideology like Benjamin had predicted.
Foxwood is a symbol for the United Kingdom. It is described as "a large, neglected, old-fashioned farm, much overgrown by woodland." This corresponds to the crippled economy of England after World War I that could not sell its "old-fashioned" products on the global market. The "woodland" that overgrows Foxwood represents the high unemployment after the end of total war. Its hedges are "in a disgraceful condition." They symbolize Foxwood's borders and signify that its international prestige is dwindling much like that of the UK at the time.
Sugarcandy Mountain is a place resembling heaven or the afterlife that was advertised by Moses; the church. In Sugarcandy Mountain, "it was Sunday seven days a week" and the paradise is described as "that happy country where we poor animals shall rest for ever from our labours." The pigs at first attempt to discourage the other animals from believing Moses. They later accept the idea of heaven when they notice that the positive reward that everyone is looking forward to actually increases production. This represents the Russian Orthodox Church being brought back by Stalin.
Pinchfield is Mr. Frederick's farm and is commensurate to Nazi Germany. It is described as "smaller and better kept" in relation to Foxwood which represents Hitler's proficient leadership. Pinchfield's intrusion into Animal Farm is comparable to Germany breaking its non-aggression treaty with Russia in 1941.
Minimus' role is to create literature propaganda for Napoleon and animalism. He writes the second national anthem of Animal Farm after the revolutionary "Beasts of England" is banned and often performs at meetings in the big barn. He represents the Soviet artists who were forced to use their talents to advocate communism. Poets like Minimus were not published unless their work revolved around glorifying communism. His name means "insignificant" which represents how many communists viewed artists in comparison to people who contributed to society with hard labour.
Clover symbolizes the more educated members of the working class that are able to partially see through propaganda but are helpless to make a change. She is a more intelligent and less brainwashed female counterpart of Boxer. Clover questions the pigs' move into the house when recalling that the fourth commandment states "no animal shall sleep in a bed." She also realizes that Napoleon led her to "a time when no one dared speak his mind," yet "there was no thought of rebellion or disobedience." This is a reference to the power of the Soviet propaganda campaigns and the secret police.
The dogs in Animal Farm are much like the NKVD of Soviet Russia. In Animal Farm, they are used to make animals that disagree with Napoleon "disappear." Napoleon has complete control over his force to the point that "the dogs learned to read fairly well, but were not interested in reading anything accept the Seven Commandments." This policy of terror is directly adapted from Stalin's secret police. The NKVD were ruthless and eliminated all enemies of the state. Their brutality and loyalty like that of hunting dogs mimics the way Napoleon "educated" his security force.
Mr. Frederick is analogous to Adolf Hitler and Pinchfield corresponds to Germany. Frederick, or its German form Friedrich, was a common German name that was used by nobles including Kings Frederick I through III. The name Frederick ironically means "peaceful ruler." It contradicts the stories about his cruelties towards animals that are designed to symbolize what were then rumours of Nazi concentration camps. Mr. Frederick eventually backstabbed Animal Farm which reflects history during World War II.
Boxer represents the uneducated proletariat population of Russia. He is very susceptible to propaganda, illiterate, and does not understand that he is being exploited just as the proletariat did not understand that communism was taking advantage of them in Stalinist Russia. He believes, as the proletariat did, that he will benefit from animalism, and that to achieve this he must be unfailingly loyal with his maxim of "Napoleon is always right." Like the proletariat, he is the chief victim of animalism since his enthusiasm ("I will work harder") is exploited by the upper class, just like the proletariats' enthusiasm was used by Stalin to effectively enslave them once again.
Moses, the tame raven, is akin to the Russian Orthodox Church. The name "Moses" means "son" in Hebrew and is based on a religious character. When communism forced the Tsar to abdicate the throne, organized religion was banned from Russia. Stalin later brought back the Church which is represented by Moses' return to Animal Farm after a full cycle of absolutism to communism and back to absolutism. Tsar Nicholas II was a strong supporter of the church in the same way that Napoleon fed Moses "crusts of bread soaked in beer" once he too became an absolute ruler.
Benjamin is a very pessimistic character. He is an old, intelligent, and stubborn old donkey that believes that the struggle for change and a better life is futile. The "donkeys live a long time" quote is further evidence to support Benjamin's intellect. It expresses the idea that he has lived long enough to experience previous patterns of revolution and is a foreshadowing of the book's cyclical ending. A donkey was chosen to represent this character because the animal is typically regarded as being lazy. This agrees with Benjamin's stance on the futility of trying to make a change. Benjamin also represents Orwell's personal views and his cyclical understanding of history. Orwell states that Benjamin is one of the few animals who can read properly. His intelligence suggests that the author personally agrees with Benjamin's views.
Mr. Pilkington embodies the allies, especially the United Kingdom and the United States. His main similarities to the UK and Prime Minister Winston Churchill are that he was afraid of communism spreading across Europe and was an opponent of Mr. Frederick (Adolf Hitler). After Mr. Frederick cheats Animal Farm, "four pigeons were sent to Foxwood with a conciliatory message" which represents the alliance of Russia and England between 1941 and 1945. Some evidence that shows Mr. Pilkington more closely resembling US President Franklin Roosevelt is the poker game played at the end.
Mr. Pilkington visits Animal Farm
By the end of the novel, Napoleon and the other pigs begin acting like humans. Napoleon is even seen "strolling in the farmhouse garden with a pipe in his mouth." At this point, the supreme commandment of Animal Farm is changed to "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." It officially returns the farm to its pre-revolution conditions and establishes Napoleon as an absolute ruler in a way that mimics Stalin's journey. Totalitarianism returns to Animal Farm in a classic case of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Mr. Pilkington praises the communist approach to Animal Farm multiple times during his visit and states that it "should be an example to all farmers everywhere." This represents the new diplomatic relations between the allies and the Soviets. Britain and the US officially recognized the Soviet Union's government and the Soviets agreed to end international communist propaganda. To finalize the end of the cycle, Animal Farm is "renamed" to The Manor Farm. After this, Mr. Pilkington and the pigs play a game of poker. Suddenly "there were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, and furious denials" as both Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington simultaneously play an identical ace of spades. Although it is not revealed who cheated, the anger and uncertainty that follows is an early indication of the Cold War.
The cat's role in the story is to represent the portion of the Russian population that does not have a definite opinion about the revolution taking place. The cat has no interest in politics, is indifferent by voting on both sides when asked to give an opinion, and even purrs through most of old Major's speech about animalism. Like the Russian civilians who were impervious to either political view, the cat just reaps the rewards of whatever system is in place.
The pigs' claims of the rights to the apples, milk, and eggs all represent the Soviet government's betrayal of its promises to the peasants of Russia. The apples are symbolic of the land that was given to the peasants soon after the revolution. Part of Stalin's first five year plan was the collectivization of farms that took back land rights in the same way that the pigs take away items such as apples, eggs, and milk. The new government-run mechanized farms increased production in the USSR but they eliminated the Kulak class of peasants that owned land (hens). The new system caused a severe famine in 1932 that is equivalent to the shortage of food that is hidden from Mr. Whymper during his visit to Animal Farm.