Explain how George Orwell’s Animal Farm is an allegory and identify the real-life historical events and persons represented in the story.

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Animal Farm retells the events of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of Stalin's dictatorship, recrafting this history as a fable. Some of its characters stand for specific historical individuals. For example, the power struggle between Napoleon and Snowball represents the power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky, with Stalin...

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Animal Farm retells the events of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of Stalin's dictatorship, recrafting this history as a fable. Some of its characters stand for specific historical individuals. For example, the power struggle between Napoleon and Snowball represents the power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky, with Stalin seizing power and building a totalitarian dictatorship and Trotsky driven into exile. Meanwhile, the Old Major can be somewhat more difficult to identify, given that he seems to be a combination of Karl Marx (who originated Marxism) and Vladimir Lenin (the key organizer and political theorist for the Bolsheviks, and leader of the Bolshevik Revolution).

Bolshevik ideology envisioned a party-dominated approach to socialism, with power emanating downwards from a small elite of professional revolutionaries (this is in sharp contrast to the more populist vision held by the Mensheviks). This power structure is represented in the special status of the pigs, who take a leadership role as organizers and planners on the farm. Meanwhile, we also have the human farmer, Mr. Jones, and the other surrounding farms, that collectively represent the capitalist world. Interestingly, as the story goes on, the pigs collectively become more and anthropomorphic, until (at the end of the book) the other animals can no longer differentiate between the humans and the pigs. This itself is a powerful condemnation of the Soviet Union and its leadership.

One can point towards other examples: Boxer, the strong and devoted workhorse, represents the Working Classes, only to be betrayed by the Revolution itself. One can also look towards the fate of the four pigs who speak out against Napoleon only to be silenced (in chapter 5) and are later, in chapter 7, made to confess to treachery and executed (this represents the purges conducted under Stalin). For one last example, there is Moses, the raven, who represents the church. Taken as a whole, Animal Farm is a richly allegorical work describing the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of Stalinist Russia, and there is a lot for you to work with.

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