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Perhaps the first thing to do in order to understand the true meaning of George Orwell's novella is to read some background material on the author, who was originally a socialist, but he grew to realize the dangers in Marxism and Communism. His Animal Farm is an allegory that serves as a cautionary tale.
Another step in understanding this novella of Orwell's is to research the Russian Revolution and Communism and learn about Lenin, Trotsky, and Joseph Stalin. Originally, Russian socialists who brought about revolution, wanted the country's economy in the hands of the people with every person sharing in the wealth of the country. Some Russian socialists wanted the economy controlled at the local level while others desired a powerful, centralized state. At any rate, they all opposed capitalism with its free-enterprise because they felt that the inequality left many without what they deserved. So, they assassinated the Tsar (like a king) in 1881 and organized a socialist society based upon the theories of Karl Marx. In 1903, the socialists set up a national party that split into two groups: the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. The first group wished to follow the socialism of Western Europe, while the Bolsheviks followed Russian tradition and believed in a tight dictatorial group that would tell the proletariat (the lower classes) what to do. They were led by Vladimir Ulyanov, who later became known as Lenin.
There were two more revolutions; one in 1905 and one in 1917. Later in that year the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin established a dictatorship with secret police. Then, Lenin set up the New Economic Program with allowed the peasants to sell their crops and make a profit; these actions led to economic prosperity for a while. In 1922 Joseph Stalin became General Secretary of the party, and Lenin died in 1924. A former member of the Mensheviks, Leon Trotsky led a struggle of the Left Opposition to oust Stalin, who executed millions of Russians; however, Trotsky failed and was exiled to Mexico where he was later assassinated. Stalin ruled as dictator of a totalitarian government until 1953. During his brutal reign millions of Russian were forced into labor camps, others were deported, and executed.
In Animal Farm, Napoleon first represents Lenin, and Snowball represents Trotsky, who wished to model Russia's socialism upon Western Europe. Snowball's plan to build the windmill and his intention to have the animals make enough for themselves is like the Western ideas. Later, Napoleon represents Stalin when he runs off Snowball and establishes his cruel dictatorship. Clover and Boxer, who repeats, "I will work harder," are the Russian peasants who truly believe in the precepts of Communism. The sheep are the poor, ignorant peasants who really do not know what is happening. They are deceived by propagandists such as Squealer. Of course, Mr. Jones is the Tsar, who like Tsar Nicholas II was assassinated in the 1917 Revolution. With the various animals representing the different levels of Russian society, George Orwell's allegory depicts the different "types" of Communists.
Animal Farm is a farm run by animals. The animals took over the farm when their owner, Mr. Jones, failed to feed them. The animals follow a new philosophy that they call Animalism, which means that they do everything on their own without humans.
The idea for Animal Farm came from Old Major, an old pig who had a dream of a farm without humans. The animals have a rebellion and follow through, and they have their first harvest on their own. Soon the pigs appear to be in charge, and they begin taking more and more privileges for themselves.
Eventually, the ideals of Animal Farm crumble as the pigs become more and more tyrannical and treat the animals as badly as the humans did.
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