Why was Animal Farm Written

Animal farm is a dystopian and allegorical novel written by George Orwell in 1945. This story is one of the most famous political allegories in the world. It is about a group of animals in a farm that rebels against humans with the hope of running the farm themselves in order to live free, equal and happy. However, in the end, the new system also becomes oppressive and tyrannical.

This article explains,

1. Why was Animal Farm Written

2. Who are the Characters in Animal Farm

3. What is Animalism

Why was Animal Farm Written

This story was written as a response to the Russian revolution, where the revolutionaries overthrow the Czar and took control of the government. To be more specific, it portrays the irony of the communist movement where what starts as an attempt to make everyone equal becomes a state where ‘some are more equal than the others’. In this story, all animals rebel against their human owner with the hope of leading equal, free and happy lives. But the pigs end up having more power and prestigious than other animals, making them the leader of the farm. The attempt to change the system ultimately only results in the change of leaders.

The author George Orwell himself has stated that the purpose of this story was “the destruction of the Soviet myth”. In a letter written by Orwell, he states that “I intended it primarily as a satire on the Russian revolution.” However, he also adds that this work is an allegory that satirises dictatorship in general. The name of the tyrannical pig Napoleon, for example, is a reminder that there are tyrannical rulers all over the world.

There are many indirect references to the Russian Revolution and Communism in this book. The characters in this story are also inspired by various political leaders, who are connected to the Russian Revolution. Animalism, the system of beliefs shared by the animals, is an indirect reference to Communism.

Why was Animal Farm Written

Who are the Characters of Animal Farm

Given below are some characters who are based on real political figures.

Mr. Jones – He is the original owner of the animal farm. He does not take care of the animals properly. This character is based on the Tsar Nicholas II.

Napoleon – He is a large pig who later becomes the tyrannical leader of the farm. He is based on the character of Joseph Stalin.

Snowball – He is the pig who fights with Napoleon over the control of the pig. He is also popular among the animals.  His character is based on Leon Trotsky although it also has some qualities of Lenin.

Old Major – He is a prize-winning pig who inspires other animals to fight against the human owner and to take control of the farm. Old Major is based on Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.

What is Animalism

Animalism is a system of beliefs that are shared by the animals; the purpose of this system is to ensure that farm animals behave like actual animals and not like humans.

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

But these are later changed by the pigs to their own benefits. Some of the commandments are changed as follows.

  1. No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
  2. No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
  3. No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.

Eventually, these are replaced by the two maxims:

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”

“Four legs good, two legs better!” 

Animalism is often seen as an indirect reference to communism, and through the revision of the commandments, Orwell attempts to show how political dogma can be turned into malleable propaganda. 

Through all these characteristics and features, it becomes clear that Animal Farm was written as a satirical, allegorical depiction of the Russian revolution and the events that followed it.

Image Courtesy: 

“Animal Farm” by Carl Glover (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr 

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.