Why did George Orwell write Animal Farm?

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George Orwell wrote Animal Farm to bring public attention to the abuses of Stalinism. Orwell wrote the novella in the context of World War II, when Britain and the Soviet Union were allied against the Nazis and support for Stalin and the Soviet Union would have been at its strongest.

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Orwell wrote Animal Farm because he was disturbed at the British left's whitewashing of Josef Stalin's tyranny and atrocities. He feared that if Stalin's lies were accepted as truth and his dictatorship approved, it would be all the easier to undermine democracy and freedom in England. He did not believe supporting the principles of communism countenanced supporting the man who betrayed those principles in the real world.

Stalinism was the immediate target of Animal Farm, but it was not that alone that distressed Orwell. He wanted to speak out against any regime that twisted language and truth to serve its own agenda. He wanted, too, to speak out against any regime that oppressed the mass of the population for its own benefit. He didn't care what the ideology was of the ruling party, whether fascist or communist, if it was harmful to individuals in its society.

Orwell wanted to warn the British people in the simplest possible language and in the simplest possible story to beware being swayed by propaganda and the threat of force into giving up either their freedoms or their right to a fair share of society's resources. Even though this made him unpopular with his left-wing friends, Orwell believed speaking the truth essential. Many of the themes he brings in up in this work crop up later, in a more fleshed-out form, in 1984.

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Orwell actually describes his motivations for writing in the essay "Why I Write," stating,

The Spanish war and other events in 1936–37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.

Animal Farm, much like 1984, was written largely with this political motive in mind.

Remember, Animal Farm, the famous satire of the Soviet Union, was originally published in 1945, written during a context in which the United Kingdom had actually been allied with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany during World War II. This immediate political context must also be weighed against pro-Stalinist apologists among journalists such as Walter Duranty.

With this in mind, it is also worth noting that Orwell himself was not alone in trying to publicize and bring attention to the oppression of Stalinism, as can be seen in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, which sought to bring public awareness to the Stalinist purges.

It was in this context that Orwell wrote Animal Farm, seeking to influence public opinion against Stalin in a time when public support would have been at its strongest. Indeed, on these grounds, Orwell's novella was actually quite controversial when it was originally written, but at the same time, one might also state that this was also the reason it was so important for Orwell to write Animal Farm to begin with.

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Orwell had been shaped by his experience in the Spanish Civil War and by watching the way the revolution evolved in Russia and then the Soviet Union. He was concerned, as so many in the West were, about the rise of Stalin and what he saw as a "cult of personality" being raised around him. This danger only appeared to increase as Stalin consolidated his power during the second world war.

Orwell himself described Animal Farm as his first effort to use an artistic novel to also try and accomplish a political aim. He was proud of the way he was able to combine the two elements into this very memorable and significant story.

In particular, he felt it was a better representation of Stalin and the Soviet Union than what was generally accepted in Britain at the time he wrote it. He wanted to push back against the very positive image of Stalin held by some leaders and bureaucrats in the government.

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Orwell felt that political action and political speech were necessary in order to live a life of integrity and honor. Setting aside his particular views, we can say that Orwell wrote Animal Farm because he felt that he must say something about the political climate in which he was living. 

Had he held different political views, he may have written an allegory informed by capitalist beliefs...who knows, but given his outlook on integrity he probably would have written something even if he wasn't an adherent of democratic socialism. 

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This is a great question. There is also a good answer for this. Here is some of the background that might be helpful. The book was published in August 1945. This is still the context of World War II. Also there was a rising feeling among the British and Americans that Stalin was a force that they needed to oppose. Orwell did not like what he was seeing. Although he was democratic socialist, he was very wary of Stalin. He did not agree with his type of communism with all the abuses of power - the arrests, which seemed arbitrary, censorship, and simple abuse of power.

In light of this background, Animal Farm can be seen as an allegory to his historical context. In short, the power of corrupt leaders destroys the possibility of any type of utopia.

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George Orwell was inspired to write this short novel by the Russian Revolution of 1917. Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate his role as Emperor of Russia, and he and his entire family were assassinated a year later by the Bolsheviks. The character of Old Major, the pig who dies early in the story, is inspired by Vladimir Lenin, and Napoleon the pig is Joseph Stalin whereas Snowball the pig is Leon Trotsky.

Nicholas was an incompetent leader who was out of touch with the Russian people and who refused to change with the times, just as Mr. Jones (the farmer who owned Manor Farm) overworked his animals and did not treat them well. The animals rebelled against Jones just as the Russian people, led by Lenin and the Communist Party, rebelled against the tsar. Lenin helped to foment rebellion but then died in early 1924.

Stalin then lead the Communist party in Soviet Russia after Lenin's death until his own death in 1953. Just as Napoleon runs Snowball off the farm, Stalin had Trotsky removed from power in 1928 and eventually banished from the USSR altogether a few months later. Trotsky preferred a democratic socialism that was antithetical to the more dictatorial regime endorsed by Stalin, which is also evident in the ideological conflict between Snowball and Napoleon.

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Orwell's biography has everything to do with the reasons for writing Animal Farm. He says in one memoir that he wanted to write a piece of political fiction that would be entertaining, which is why he chose the animal fable as the vehicle for his satire. Orwell had worked for the British government in Burma where he observed and participated in its imperialist regime. While British imperialism was not the totalitarianism depicted in the novel, he did learn from his experience much about the relationships and the psychology of power, which in his mind, naturally corrupts the individual, even if he is well meaning--which the pigs in Animal Farm are not. The seduction of power is one topic Orwell studies in Animal Farm.

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From what I understand of Orwell, he was deeply disillusioned by what he saw as the corruption of the socialist ideal. He saw people rising to power who essentially carried on--even trumped--the abuse of power that happened under the monarchy. Animal Farm began, like 1984, out of resistance, but it became much more, which is why we still teach it today. As well as an allegory about the situation in Russia, it offers amazing insight into power relations. Look at what happens: the pigs rewrite the laws to suit themselves; the sheep blurt out whatever inane saying they are taught to say without ever once thinking about what they are saying and whether or not it is what they believe; the workers respond to stress by working harder, which, like Boxer, they do until they have worn themselves out completely, and so on. The animals correspond so perfectly to types of people in our society that the book has come to be not only a warning, but also a wry sardonic comment on the state of the willfully ignorant masses: we will forever be abused by corrupt authority unless we think and act with authority ourselves.

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What was Orwell's purpose in writing Animal Farm?

Orwell wrote Animal Farm to illustrate the way Stalinism had betrayed the ideals of the socialist revolution in the Soviet Union. As he put it, "I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages." 

Though popular today, when alive Orwell managed to alienate people on both the left and the right. Although he was a Democratic Socialist, socialists condemned him for betraying the revolution in pointing out its flaws (as he did in Animal Farm) and rightwing people condemned him for his socialism.

Orwell called it as he saw it, and like other leftwing intellectuals, was dismayed at Stalin, a person he depicts as Napoleon the pig in the novel. Like Stalin, Napoleon has show trials in which animals, such as the three poor, not very intelligent hens "confess" to so-called crimes and are executed. Like Stalin, Napoleon runs his rival Snowball (Trotsky) out of the country. Also like Stalin, Napoleon ends up signing a pact with the enemy. In Stalin's case, it was Hitler; in Napoleon's case Farmer Jones.

We may not remember the distinct historical parallels that Orwell references, but the warning against an idealistic rebellion turning into a tyranny is still being heeded.

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What was Orwell's purpose in writing Animal Farm?

The novel criticized the Soviet Union, one of England's allies in World War II. This is why it wasn't published until after the war ended. The themes of the book are topics Orwell had been concerned with for much of his life, such as politics, truth, and class conflict. He used animals to write this allegorical fable that could be read on the surface as an entertaining story about animals. His deeper meaning, however, was an attack on those who misuse their political power. This criticism was directed at Joseph Stalin, the dictator of Russia at that time. Orwell used the animals to satirize humans who abuse their power in government. It has never been out of print since it was first published.

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Why did George Orwell write Animal Farm as a fable?

George Orwell wrote Animal Farm as a fable because this genre is one of the most effective satirical literary devices. Orwell desired to satirize the Soviet Union--to show that Stalinism was not true to the principles of the Russian Revolution. The format of the fable allows one to accomplish this without bogging down the reader in pages and pages of narrative.

The reason Animal Farm is so much shorter than 1984--Orwell's most popular work--is that symbolism accomplishes much of the descriptive legwork. Orwell does not have to spend pages and pages proving that Napoleon and the other pigs are pigs; he makes them actual pigs and reinforces this description throughout the book.

Moreover, the simplicity of the fable inhibits the peculiar psychology of the author from impeding the story's narrative and moral. It is for this reason that C.S. Lewis--an expert on allegory--considered Animal Farm vastly superior to the dystopian 1984.

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Why was the story Animal Farm written?

Animal Farm is a scathing critique of the Russian Revolution and Soviet Communism, but at its heart, like many of Orwell's works, it is a critique of dictatorship. The story itself shows the gullible nature of people and the ease with which movements and governments are subverted and destroyed. Orwell, who was a socialist, wrote the story as a cautionary tale for anyone who held up Soviet Russia, the Russian Revolution, or Communism as examples to follow.

In a letter to his friend Dwight Macdonald, written in 1946, Orwell explains that:

What I was trying to say was, "You can't have a revolution unless you make it for yourself; there is no such thing as a benevolent dictat[or]ship. . . ."

From Orwell's perspective, it was necessary to point out that revolutions, which he wasn't necessarily against, would only work if they evolved organically. At the start of the story, when the animals overthrow the farmer and establish "animalism," the rules and systems of their society come from the power and authority of the revolution and the animals themselves.

However, once the pigs take charge and the animals let them, there is little hope for anyone on the farm. The myth of the benevolent dictator, something that seems prevalent in all forms of communism, is thoroughly dismantled in Animal Farm. Orwell shows the dangers of dictatorship and the shifting narrative of a communist system that replaces the revolutionary government, pointing out with clarity the flaws in such systems.

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Why was the story Animal Farm written?

George Orwell said that every piece of work he wrote had been a product of his disagreement with totalitarianism. He witnessed how oppressed poor members of society had been throughout history because leaders did not equally distribute material wealth. Although he had written nonfiction works discussing the subject before, Animal Farm gave him an opportunity to do so by combining politics and artistry. In his novel, the animals (who personify the oppressed working class), stage a rebellion againt their human oppressors. The purpose of Animal Farm is to discuss the Russian Revolution and politicians’ disregard for their own beliefs due to their thirst for power and greed. In the novel, Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin, and Snowball represents Trotsky—both real historical figures connected to Russian history. Ultimately, the book strives to help the readers understand how those in positions of power may end up betraying their people and beliefs.

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Why was the story Animal Farm written?

Actually, the book was written before World War II as a response to the Russian Revolution, in which revolutionaries overthrew the czar and took control of the government. Animal Farm portrays the irony of the communist movement: what started out as a society of equals devolved into a state where some were more equal than others. There will always be the "pigs" who must have power and privilege, while the "sheep" fall in line and do the government's will. In overthrowing one oppressor (the farmer in Animal Farm; the czar in Russia), the animals/Russians have gained another, perhaps harsher oppressor.

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Why was the story Animal Farm written?

George Orwell said that the purpose of ANIMAL FARM was “the destruction of the Soviet myth” of the events of the Russian Revolution from 1917-1943 (especially the political figures of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin). He added, however, that, more specifically, the book is an allegory that satirizes dictatorship in general. The name of the ruling pig, “Napoleon,” is a reminder that there have been dictators outside Russia. Not Stalin in particular, but totalitarianism, is the enemy Orwell exposes.

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Why was the story Animal Farm written?

Yes, like 1984, Animal Farm was the product of Orwell's disillusionment with the corruption of the communist ideal. It is a political cautionary tale.

The animals in Animal Farm start off fine--they follow their principles and they seem dedicated to creating and maintaining a society in which the members are not exploited. However, very quickly, the animals re-establish a class system and a few select animals claim power (due to their superior intelligence) and establish a tyrannical rule, replete with enforcers. As time goes on and the original rules on which the society is founded become too restrictive for the pigs, they simply rewrite the rules. Because most of the population is illiterate and undereducated, few animals notice or comment upon the changes. The premise behind the story is that with power comes the (inevitable?) potential for corruption.

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Why was the story Animal Farm written?

Orwell's "Animal Farm" was written in reponse to the rise of communism and the aggression of Hitler and World War II.

Communism may have looked good on paper, but as Orwell repeatedly shows, it does not work in practice. The tenet "All animals are created equal" soon is amended to "but some are more equal than others."

For more on the historical context of the novel, please visit the link below.

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