Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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Why can it be said that George Orwell based the following characters on the following historical figures?: Old Major - Vladimir Lenin, Napoleon - Joseph Stalin, Snowball - Leon Trotsky

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One reason why people would say that Orwell based characters of Animal Farm off of individuals in the Russian Revolution is because they closely parallel one another.

Old Major is shown to be the source of Animalism.  He brings the philosophy to the farm and speaks from a theoretical perspective that unifies the farm. His persuasion enables the animals to "buy in."   Old Major dies before his vision can take full form.  Lenin served much of the same function in the history of the Russian Revolution. He brings to Russia the theories of Karl Marx that preached Socialism and Communism.  For the most part, the way he persuaded the Russian people of the need for change is why he is seen as the "father of the Russian Revolution."  

Once Lenin/ Old Major dies, a power struggle emerges.  In Russian history, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky sought to assume roles of leadership.  Trotsky was more animated by the theory of the revolution, something that we can see in Orwell's characterization of Snowball.  Stalin, like Napoleon, is driven by power and control.  Stalin used authoritarian power to consolidate his own rule. Napoleon carries himself in the same way.  Stalin eventually gains power and runs off Leon Trotsky from the political scene, much like Napoleon does to Snowball. A reason why so many people see similarities between Orwell's characters and the figures in Russian history is because Orwell consciously created personalities in Animal Farm that mirror it.

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