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Orwell's "Animal Farm" was written in reponse to the rise of communism and the aggression of Hitler and World War II.
Communism may have looked good on paper, but as Orwell repeatedly shows, it does not work in practice. The tenet "All animals are created equal" soon is amended to "but some are more equal than others."
For more on the historical context of the novel, please visit the link below.
Yes, like 1984, Animal Farm was the product of Orwell's disillusionment with the corruption of the communist ideal. It is a political cautionary tale.
The animals in Animal Farm start off fine--they follow their principles and they seem dedicated to creating and maintaining a society in which the members are not exploited. However, very quickly, the animals re-establish a class system and a few select animals claim power (due to their superior intelligence) and establish a tyrannical rule, replete with enforcers. As time goes on and the original rules on which the society is founded become too restrictive for the pigs, they simply rewrite the rules. Because most of the population is illiterate and undereducated, few animals notice or comment upon the changes. The premise behind the story is that with power comes the (inevitable?) potential for corruption.
George Orwell said that the purpose of ANIMAL FARM was “the destruction of the Soviet myth” of the events of the Russian Revolution from 1917-1943 (especially the political figures of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin). He added, however, that, more specifically, the book is an allegory that satirizes dictatorship in general. The name of the ruling pig, “Napoleon,” is a reminder that there have been dictators outside Russia. Not Stalin in particular, but totalitarianism, is the enemy Orwell exposes.
Actually, the book was written before World War II as a response to the Russian Revolution, in which revolutionaries overthrew the czar and took control of the government. Animal Farm portrays the irony of the communist movement: what started out as a society of equals devolved into a state where some were more equal than others. There will always be the "pigs" who must have power and privilege, while the "sheep" fall in line and do the government's will. In overthrowing one oppressor (the farmer in Animal Farm; the czar in Russia), the animals/Russians have gained another, perhaps harsher oppressor.
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