What does Orwell reveal about human nature through his depiction of animals in Animal Farm?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Orwell seeks to present a conception of humanity that is divergent and highly eclectic through the animals on the farm.  It seems like each animal represents some characteristic of humans.  To fully understand what it means to be human from a political standpoint, different animals are used to represent aspects of human consciousness from a political point of view.  For example, Napoleon comes to embody the human desire for political appropriation of power, while Squealer represents what it means to manipulate statistics and "spin" information to ensure continued political rule is possible and plausible in the modern political setting.  In contrast to this, Mollie would come to represent the dangerous political apathy, one that sacrifices civic awareness for materialism and self- interest. Boxer represents the danger in trusting political authority blindly, and not speaking out.  Benjamin represents the fundamental human problem in being cynical, and the lack of power one actually has when they continually refuse to take an active political role, dismissing it with pessimism.  Even Moses embodies what it means to zealously believe in religious notions of the good, sacrificing civic awareness on its altar.  I think that Orwell constructs the different realities in the modern political setting that human beings embody through the animals he uses in the story.


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