Historical Parallels in Animal Farm

Thesis: Through the use of characterization, plot, and theme in George Orwell's Animal Farm historical parallels to the Russian Revolution are revealed.

I. Overview of parallels
A. Russian Revolution
B. Animal Farm
II. Use of characterization
A. Napoleon
B. Snowball
C. Farmer Jones
D. Boxer

III. Development of plot
A. Old Major's vision
B. The rebellion
C. Manor Farm
D. The competition
E. Human or Pig ?

IV. Discussion of theme
A. Power
B. Greed

V. Review of parallels

VI. Works cited

Historical Parallels in Animal Farm

Bloom, Harold ed. George Orwell. New York: Chelsea House Publishers 1987.

Gardner, Averil. George Orwell. Boston: Twayne Publishers 1987.

Lee, Robert A. Orwell's Fiction. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press 1970.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Germany: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. 1946.

Rees, Richard. George Orwell: Fugitive from the Camp of Victory. Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press 1962.

Smyer, Richard I. Animal Farm: Pastorlism and Politics. Boston: Twayne Publishers 1988.

Historical Parallels in Animal Farm

George Orwell's Animal Farm is a novel about animals overthrowing the farm, much like the Bolsheviks overthrowing the Czar. The new leaders, the pigs, promise a better life if the follow them, like Marx's communist ideas of a better society. The ideals of the pig's promises never come to be and the animals suffer worse, Stalin promised the ideals of communism, but they never materialize. Stalin, the corrupt one, gains control of the Russian government and makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Similarly, Napoleon takes control of the pigs and corrupts the animal's government, then in turn makes the other animals suffer. Through the use of characterization, plot, and theme in George Orwell's Animal Farm historical parallels to the Russian Revolution are revealed.

The use of characterization is very extensive in this novel, by using fictional characters to mock the real life people involved with the revolution. Barnyard animals, other than the pigs, represent the Bolsheviks, Not really knowing what they are doing but following because they don't like how the live now. Farmer Jones is much like the Czar Nicholas II being negligent of the animal's needs and later overthrown by them in the revolution(Smyer 13). Old Major is the Carl Marx on the Animal Farm preaching the way life should be and giving them something to think about(Bloom 74). Snowball represents Leon Trotsky which gets kicked out by the more corrupt and deceitful Napoleon. Mr. Fredrick is similar to Hitler, wanting the Animal Farm for his own(Rees 67). The Raven that comes and goes in the novel is much like the Russian Orthodox Church. Squealer is the animal equivalent of Pravada, the speaker that persuades people to believe what they are told and not to question it. Napoleon is the Stalin of Animal Farm, abusing his powers of his position to provide a better life for him and his officials, pigs. The pigs collectively represent the party. Farmer Pilkington stands for Churchillian England. There are many equivalents and many similarities between them (Bloom 77).

The plot of the novel is almost as important as the characterization aspect of the novel. The way Old Major explains the situation and his vision of the future is sort of like Marx's ideas of communism, they get rid of the greedy upper class and work for themselves to provide a better life for themselves. They even have there own version of the Russian hammer and sickle flag. Like all situations there is a good guy and a bad guy, after Old Major dies and after the revolution Snowball and Napoleon cannot seem to agree on a single matter of what the animals should do. Napoleon argues everything that Snowball comes up with. Napoleon stealing Snowball's idea for the windmill is similar to the Russian industrialization (Gardner 104). Also the building of the windmill relates to the different five year plans Stalin implemented. Like Stalin exiling Trotsky, Napoleon chases Snowball off the farm and never sees him again(Gardner 106). The Battle at Cowshed shows a fictional side of the Western military intervention in support of White Russian resistance to the Bolsheviks. Also the Battle of the Windmill reflects the Nazi invasion in 1941(Smyer 12). The slaughtering of Snowball's collaborator are the "bloody Moscow purge trials"(Smyer 14). Jones' farmhouse is a seat of the Soviet government. The sale of timber to Fredrick is supposed to represent the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact(Gardner 105). This novel contains many historical parallels