What is Animal Farm an allegory for?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Orwell uses allegory to write about the misuse of political power. Through his novel, Orwell makes a political statement and satirically criticizes those who misuse political power. Orwell uses animals to get his message across. His novel Animal Farm is entertaining while it is critical of those who misuse political power:

Using allegory—the weapon used by political satirists of the past, including Voltaire and Swift—Orwell made his political statement in a twentieth-century fable that could be read as an entertaining story about animals or, on a deeper level, a savage attack on the misuse of political power.

George Orwell wrote an allegory that identified Old Major with Karl Marx. Old Major shares his ideas that fuel the Animal Rebellion. In reality, Marx formulated ideas that caused the Russian revolution:

Old Major is identified with Karl Marx because, just as Old Major develops the teachings that fuel the Animal Rebellion, Marx formulated the ideas that spawned the Russian revolution.

Napoleon and Snowball represent the Russian leaders Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Stalin and Trotsky both had disagreements which lead to a controversy and a falling out. Napoleon and Snowball have a falling out which leads to Snowball being banished from the Farm:

Napoleon and Snowball, both pigs, stand for Russian leaders Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Stalin and Trotsky had a falling out much like Napoleon and Snowball do. Events from history— the revolution itself and the Moscow purge trials of the 1930s—also appear in allegorical form in the novel.

Orwell writes an allegory that reveals deeds done by historic figures who were assigned to political positions. These historical figures abused or misused their political power. Through the novel Animal Farm, Orwell reveals how power can corrupt. Through the animals in the novel, Orwell attacks political misuse of power.

The characters are "easily identifiable for those who know the historic parallels, because [Orwell] gives each one a trait, or has them perform certain tasks, that are like that of a historical figure."

Although Old Major was clearly trying to make a political statement that expressed the idea of people being equal one to another, Napoleon corrupted Old Major's philosophy by being power hungry. Napoleon twisted Old Major's ideas to make life better for himself. In the end, life is no better for the animals. They are suppressed by the teachings of Napoleon. Boxer is a fine example of one who is abused by political power. Boxer works so hard but still winds up going to the glue factory. No one is safe from the political misuse of power. Napoleon dominates and misuses his power to make life better for himself. Orwell makes it clear in his allegory.

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Animal Farm

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