How did "Animal Farm" help change society?How did "Animal Farm" help change society?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Orwell taught readers that moder man is inadequate to cope with his the changes in his society.  For, too much like the farm animals, people buy into the political words and sweeping slogans of the charismatic and secretly evil.  Certainly critics regard Animal Farm as an insightful and very relevant examination of human nature as well as social behavior and political systems.  Orwell teaches his reader that human nature will forever contain the ambitious, ruthless, and power-hungry: "All pigs are equal, but some are more equal than others." His is a warning of the tyranny of man; although Animal Farm was banned in Soviet Russia, it is doubtful that it did much to effect the changes made there.

In allegorical fashion, George Orwell presents a scathing representation of the evils of totalitarianism.  As so often is the case, those who embrace a sweeping change often end up in a worse situatiion in which they were.  Nevertheless, as Walter Cronkite wrote in the Preface to Orwell's 1984,

Still, the warning has been effective; and every time we use one of those catch phrases...notice something Orwellian....we are listening to that warning again.


kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to add my feeling that it hasn't necessarily changed anything about society, though it is a wonderful read, as a story and as an allegory.

You still have common people being used and propagandized to get whatever leaders want and power structures that prevent the oppressed from finding a way to effect any real change.

Though political systems have changed and the Soviet Union collapsed, can you make a strong argument that life is better for the average person in Russia now?  Can you make the argument that the will of large groups of people in the United States is ignored in order to accomplish the agenda of those in power?  (and I am not just saying that to quote the republican line about Obama and his henchman, I'd include them just as readily)

It is a fantastic book, to be sure, but in terms of having a large effect on society, I am doubtful.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Animal Farm is rarely taught in Russia and is just in the past few years becoming a piece of literature to analyze.

The power that it has had in societies elsewhere over the years been to cause peoples to consider some things, just like I hope you are considering in your classroom. Here are a few of the concepts it leaves upon its readers:

  • Be careful of all leaders.
  • Power corrupts people.
  • Remain educated, and challenge the education you receive. Be a free-thinker.
  • When you know something is right, follow through with it.

So, society is difficult to change by a piece of literature, but enough people with similar ideas will influence generations.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I share the scepticism of #5 and #6: the reality is that any society suffering the same tyranny as the farm would probably not allow copies of this text into the country. I guess what it serves as is a warning of what could happen in any society if we are not careful - behind any political system, no matter how ostensibly democratic, there lies a Napoleon just waiting to trot out with a Squealer in his wake.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am pretty skeptical that any piece of literature has ever changed any society.  The book is read most in England and the US.  These are societies that really did not need the warnings all that much.  Even in those societies, surely a very small percent of the population has even read the book, let alone retained much from it.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Orwell had a great influence on us today. Although the longer 1984 seems to be far-reaching in terms of becoming part of our common culture. For example, the idea that Big Brother is watching us and Doublespeak are part of or language. I think Animal Farm is kind of like the younger brother, famous mostly by comparison.
epollock | Student

I am not so sure that it did change society, other than to bring to the forefront of what happens when people want revolution, and they get it. Apparent in the novel is that what the people wanted is not usually what they end up with, or they should have been more careful to wish for revolution, because they just might get it.

A powerful allegory for what happens with social change, the wheels of progress can slowly turn on the people that started it moving in the first place. When people want things to change, they should keep this novel in the back of their minds and request slow change; otherwise, they might not like the change they get.