Assess the significance of George Orwell needing to talk about Stalin through Napoleon in an allegorical form.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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For Orwell, writing a work that criticizes in the most brutal terms Stalin would not be published.  Given the alliances and interests that England had with Stalinist Russia, it was a practical impossibility that a work could be published that was so condemning of the Russian leader.  Orwell understood that an allegorical detailing of the Russian leader's abuses was the only way that a work of such magnitude would be published.  At the same time, Orwell understood that making the work an allegory would accomplish a literary purpose of reaching more readers as opposed to a political essay.  For Orwell, depicting Stalin in allegorical form would forge greater thought and greater thought provoking analysis.  In his desire to enable individuals to question authority in a more stringent manner, depicting Napoleon and his abuses as Stalin in an allegory would broaden the work to operate as both literature and history, enabling more people to understand its implications.  In this, Orwell feels the need to talk about Stalin through Napoleon in allegorical form.


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