Do you think that the message of Animal Farm would come across effectively to someone who knows nothing about Soviet History?Do you think that the message of Animal Farm would come across...

Do you think that the message of Animal Farm would come across effectively to someone who knows nothing about Soviet History?

Do you think that the message of Animal Farm would come across effectively to someone who knows nothing about Soviet History?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, so.  I don't see Orwell's meaning as being locked in by the understanding of Russian History.  It certainly makes sense and is actually quite insightful to read the story as representation of Russian and World History of the 20th Century.  However, I don't think that this background is needed in order to fully grasp its meaning and purpose.

In the end, Animal Farm is about power.  This is something that can be understood by anyone who is able to grasp this message, historical contexts aside.  Understanding the exploitation of the animals under Jones, the revolution, the emergence of animal leadership, the division between Napoleon and Snowball, and Napoleon's consolidation of power are all elements whose meaning and purpose are not limited to Russian History because these ideas are present in all governments and the dynamics of all political rule to a great extent.  Certainly, in order to understand Squealer and "political spin" one need not know all of Russian History, as modern governments use such devices in order to mold public opinion.  To recognize Boxer's plight and his manipulation is not something that has to exist solely in the realms of the Soviet Union, and to grasp the ending when there is betrayal and a sense of bewilderment amongst the animals as to what has become of the government and their place in it can be understood outside of Stalin and the Communists.  In this light, Animal Farm becomes a political allegory whose meaning is effective to anyone who can see how appearances and reality underscore all political rule.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idea of this book would absolutely come across, regardless of whether the reader knew anything about Soviet history.  The themes and ideas of this book are universal.  After all, Orwell was not writing to rehash Soviet history.  He was writing to warn the rest of us about certain problems that seem to crop up (in his mind) in human society.  The very excellent discussion in Post 2 identifies a number of the issues that Orwell is talking about.  We also explore issues such as

  • Why people allow themselves to be tyrannized.
  • The role of religion in people's lives.
  • The way in which power corrupts those who take it.

None of these issues is unique to Soviet history.

In fact, it may be more helpful if you don't know Soviet history.  That way you don't spend so much time trying to think about which things correspond to that history in which way.  You can just read the book as a story and as a commentary on human society and its problems.



Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course!  One doesn't need to know communism and dictatorship personally to understand the evils of one!  And what a shame that Animal Farm couldn't have been in existence beforehand so that people could have had something to learn from first.

Power and greed are elements of true corruption for any governmental system.  Heck, forget about government, ... power and greed can corrupt ANY relationship ANYWHERE!  It matters not whether we refer to the leader of a country or the intimate relationship between a husband and wife.

Focus upon power and greed are death to democracy.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Though Animal Farm is specifically concerned with an era of post-revolutionary communism in Russia, there is a broader message in the book regarding corruption, politics, group-thinking, and abuse of power.

A person need not be familiar with any particular policital or social situation to understand the general message of the book. The statement "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" applies to a human tendency which goes beyond any single political scenario, I think.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Do you follow what is going on in your own country?  Do you listen to and read the news?  How much propaganda is there?!  More than ever, Orwell's novel is relevant--and frightening to any thinking person.

Orwell's novel was written as an allegory about all totalitarian governments. "Power corrupts" is yet true.  In America(!) there are people in the government who have been appointed as "Czars."  Does the word ring any bells?

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, yes, yes. This is  story about greed and corruption and power, and those are things which have always existed and are still recognizable today. Connecting specific names, places, and events from history to the characters, places, and events from the novella is rewarding and adds a wonderful richness to the reading experience. However, the story is effective without that, as well.

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that the book explains how power can corrupt anyone. Yes, even pigs can become corrupt. :) I do believe Animal Farm is an excellent way to teach the Soviet history. Students can tend to understand the allegorical message more so than reading what some students call dry facts from a history book. Orwell's insight is so interesting through his use of animals on a farm.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You definitely do not need to know any history to get the message of the book.  It is an allegory on many levels, even without considering the political implications.  Most people realize that the cautionary tale about revolution and dictatorship applies to any regime.  Knowing the history is just kind of like being in on an inside joke.  It's helpful, but not necessary.

bigdreams1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutely! Human nature is human nature. I think the point of Animal Farm is that no matter the govermental structure, that power will always corrupt whomever is in power. Orwell just happened to use Soviet History as his backdrop because he was familiar with it.