In his novel titled Animal Farm, why does George Orwell use allegorical methods to discuss the Soviet Union of his day?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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George Orwell wrote his allegory titled Animal Farm, a satire on the Soviet Union and its dictator, Joseph Stalin, during the middle of World War II.  Before the war, Stalin and the Soviets had been the ideological enemies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.  Just before the war broke out, Stalin found it convenient to sign a non-aggression pact with Hitler – a move that shocked and disillusioned many communists overseas.  (Some, however, loyally defended the pact.) When war did break out, Stalin and Hitler divided Poland between themselves. Thus, Stalin became almost an ally of Hitler.  In 1941, however, Hitler surprised Stalin by launching a massive attack on the Soviet Union.

In the war against Hitler, the Soviet Union was now an ally of the western democracies, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and the British Commonwealth. Many people in the west recognized that Stalin’s dictatorship was in many ways at least as bad as Hitler’s and that the alliance with the Soviet Union was merely an alliance of convenience. If and when the war against Hitler was won, tensions with the Soviets were almost inevitable.  Such tensions became especially unavoidable when, in the immediate aftermath of the war, the Soviets imposed communist dictatorships on many of the countries of eastern Europe.

Orwell, who had long been deeply suspicious of many kinds of authoritarianism, wrote Animal Farm as an allegory because openly attacking the Soviet Union might have seemed damaging to an “ally” during a time of war.  However, the allegory Orwell composed is so transparently anti-Soviet that no one could possibly misunderstand the object of his satire. The novel was not published until after the end of the war; it was rejected by several publishers who feared offending the Soviets.

Orwell thus had practical reasons for writing an allegory. However, Orwell may also have felt that writing the book as an allegory would make it more interesting to read than another dry political tract would have been.  All the charges made against the Soviet Union in Animal Farm were well-known charges and could easily have been expressed again in yet another essay.  By writing the book as an allegorical novel, Orwell made old charges seem fresh and clever.

Orwell himself wrote that he merely hoped to find a publisher who

(a) has got some paper and (b) isn't in the arms of Stalin. The latter is important. This book is murder from the Communist point of view, though no names are mentioned.

 

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