I need to know the historical significance of Animal Farm. 

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Animal Farm is significant as an example of satire. Specifically, it is an allegory of actual historical events that took place during Orwell's life, specifically the Russian Revolution and Joseph Stalin's rise to power in the Soviet Union. The book was written during the Second World War, and published just at the end, in 1945. Orwell, a lifelong socialist, was disappointed with the direction that the revolution had taken, and Animal Farm is a warning that revolutions that begin with the best of intentions can go amiss if individual human rights are not respected. Many of the animals are meant to represent actual people in the Revolution. Napoleon, of course, is Stalin; Snowball is Leon Trotsky, Stalin's rival, who was eventually exiled and murdered; and Jones is the overthrown Tsar Nicholas. Old Major is Karl Marx, whose philosophy served as the intellectual foundation for socialism ("animalism" in Animal Farm.) More generally, Squealer represents the power of propaganda in a totalitarian society, the sheep represent party loyalists who are unwilling to question orthodoxy, and Boxer stands for the workers whose labor (and unquestioning support) provided the foundations for Stalin's regime. Orwell satirizes the manipulation of information, the devastating famines, and constant fear that characterized totalitarian socieites. Most famously, the animals' commandments that were articulated at the beginning of the revolution, and established equality between the animals, are distilled to a single, less than egalitarian statement by the end: "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others." The pigs, like Stalin's regime, have become as bad or worse than those they replaced.