What was Orwell's purpose in writing Animal Farm?

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teachersage's profile pic

teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

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Orwell wrote Animal Farm to illustrate the way Stalinism had betrayed the ideals of the socialist revolution in the Soviet Union. As he put it, "I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages." 

Though popular today, when alive Orwell managed to alienate people on both the left and the right. Although he was a Democratic Socialist, socialists condemned him for betraying the revolution in pointing out its flaws (as he did in Animal Farm) and rightwing people condemned him for his socialism.

Orwell called it as he saw it, and like other leftwing intellectuals, was dismayed at Stalin, a person he depicts as Napoleon the pig in the novel. Like Stalin, Napoleon has show trials in which animals, such as the three poor, not very intelligent hens "confess" to so-called crimes and are executed. Like Stalin, Napoleon runs his rival Snowball (Trotsky) out of the country. Also like Stalin, Napoleon ends up signing a pact with the enemy. In Stalin's case, it was Hitler; in Napoleon's case Farmer Jones.

We may not remember the distinct historical parallels that Orwell references, but the warning against an idealistic rebellion turning into a tyranny is still being heeded.

bmadnick's profile pic

bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

The novel criticized the Soviet Union, one of England's allies in World War II. This is why it wasn't published until after the war ended. The themes of the book are topics Orwell had been concerned with for much of his life, such as politics, truth, and class conflict. He used animals to write this allegorical fable that could be read on the surface as an entertaining story about animals. His deeper meaning, however, was an attack on those who misuse their political power. This criticism was directed at Joseph Stalin, the dictator of Russia at that time. Orwell used the animals to satirize humans who abuse their power in government. It has never been out of print since it was first published.

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