Why did George Orwell use allegory in Animal Farm?

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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On one level, Orwell wanted to write a fable that could be enjoyed by people of all ages and situations. By using animals as characters for the story, he was following the pattern of many previous writers of fables, dating all the way back to Aesop. Other characteristics of the story also follow the traditional format used in telling fables.

On a deeper level, Orwell wanted to express his condemnation of the rise to power of the Soviets and the evils he saw in the leadership of the Communist Party. The book was written during World War II, at which time England was an ally of the Soviet Union against Germany, so a book condemning the Soviet Union was a politically unpopular thing to write. The book was not published until after the War in Europe had been concluded.

In an allegory, characters and events stand for something else. In this case, the characters in the novel stand for significant figures in twentieth-century Russian history.

By presenting his story as an allegory, Orwell was able to highlight actions, attitudes, and characteristics of the historic figures he was portraying without directly identifying any of those people. He presented the story and allowed the readers to draw their own conclusions and find their own lessons - the ultimate purpose of an allegorical story.


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