How is Animal Farm considered a satire?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Even though Orwell's classic novella Animal Farm is often categorized as an allegory, there are certainly elements of the story that fall under the category of satire.

A historical allegory is when a particular work has two "meanings": the first is the literal text, and the second meaning pertains to political and historical events that the text makes reference to, even though these events (usually) aren't explicitly mentioned in the text. Therefore, Animal Farm allegorically represents the events that transpired before the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the early years of the Soviet Union under Stalin's reign.

A satirical work, on the other hand, ridicules, criticizes, or exposes certain aspects of society using humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule; in the case of this novel, the satirical focus would be political corruption.

There are numerous satirical elements throughout Animal Farm used to criticize, expose, and ridicule Stalin and his corrupt authoritarian regime. The fact that the ruling characters are pigs satirically represents the "repulsive" nature of human tyrants. Even the names of the characters and their personalities are considered elements of satire. Napoleon and Squealer's manipulative propaganda techniques are also satirical of the Soviet Union's corrupt politics. Orwell also uses the novel to satirize the tenets of communism by demonstrating how Napoleon ironically manipulates socialist principles in order to oppress and control the other animals.

Orwell cleverly includes elements of satire that work harmoniously with his allegorical tale of the Russian Revolution and the early years of the Soviet Union as a warning to readers: he illustrates the dangers of consolidating political authority and the corrupting nature of power.

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belarafon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The satire in Animal Farm comes in the form of its allusions to real events, such as the Russian Revolution in the animal revolt, or the banishment of Leon Trotsky in the expelling of Snowball. The book takes the real events and shows the inherent foolishness of Marxist ideology through its inevitable failure, and the rise of a dictator in pretense of "protecting" others from some unseen threat.

Between pigs and human beings there was not, and there need not be, any clash of interests whatever... Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm.
(Orwell, Animal Farm, msxnet.org)

In order to keep their own luxuries, the pigs necessarily reduce the amount of food given to the other animals, and increase their working hours because the pigs are not pulling their own weight. Here the intention of real-life Marxism can be seen; the pie-in-the-sky dreams and good intentions always end in misery for the workers as they toil endlessly for the benefits of a few in power. 

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