Animal Farm

It is the history of a revolution that went wrong — and of the
excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of
the original doctrine’, wrote Orwell in the original blurb for the first
edition of Animal Farm in 1945. His simple and tragic fable has become a
world-famous classic of English prose.

George Orwell is the pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair. The change of the
name corresponded to a profound shift in Orwell’s life-style, in which he
changed from a pillar of the British imperial establishment into a literary
and political rebel.

Orwell is famous for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four.
In 1944 Orwell finished Animal Farm, a political fable based on the story
of the Russian Revolution and its betrayal by Joseph Stalin. In this book
the group of barnyard animals overthrow and chase off their exploitative
human masters and set up an egalitarian society of their own. Eventually
the animals intelligent and power-loving leaders, the pigs, subvert the
revolution and form a dictatorship whose bondage is even more oppressive a
heartless than that of their former masters.

Orwell derived his inspiration from the mood of Britain in the ‘40s.
Animal Farm confronted the unpalatable truth that the victory over Fascism
would in some respects unwittingly aid the advance of totalitarianism ,
while in Nineteen Eighty-four warns the dangers to the individual of
enroaching collectivism. In these last, bleak fables Orwell attempted to
make the art of political writing in the traditions of Swift and Defoe. The
most world-known Gulliver’s Travels. This satire? First published in 1726,
relates to the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon on a merchant ship,
and it shows the vices and defects of man and human institutions. So far
as satire has become the subject of our research-work, it is necessary we
look at the nature and sources of comic.

What is comic? Similar considerations apply to the historically
earlier forms and theories of the comic. In Aristotle’s view ‘laughter was
intimately related to ugliness and debasement’. Cicero held that the
province of the ridiculous lay in the certain baseness and deformity. In
19th century Alexander Bain, an early experimental psychologist, thought
alone these lines ‘not in physical effects alone, but in everything where
a man can achieve a stroke of superiority, in surpassing or discomforting a
rival is the disposition of laughter apparent.’ Sidney notes that ‘while
laughter comes from delight not all objects of delight cause laugh. We are
ravished in delight to see a fair woman and yet are far from being moved to
laughter. We laugh at deformed creatures, wherein certainly we can
delight’. Immanuel Kant realized that what causes laughter is ‘the sudden
transformation of a tense expectation into nothing’. This can be achieved
by incongruity between form and content, it is when two contradictory
statements have been telescoped into a line whose homely, admonitory sound
conveys the impression of a popular adage. In a similar way nonsense verse
achieves its effect by pretending to make sense. It is interesting to note
that the most memorable feature of Animal Farm — the final revision of the
animals revolutionary commandments: ‘All animals are equal but some animals
are more equal than others’, is based on that device.

Other sources of innocent laughter are situations in which the part
and the home change roles and attention becomes focused on a detail torn
out of the functional defect on which its meaning depends. ‘A bird’s wing,
comrades, is an organ of propulsion not of manipulation’. Orwell displaces
attention from meaning to spelling. One of the most popular comic devices
is impersonation. The most aggressive form of impersonation is parody,
designed to deflate hollow pretense, to destroy illusion and to undermine
pathos by harping on the weaknesses of the victim. Orwell resorts to that
device describing Squealer:’ The best known among them was a small fat pig
named Squealer with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements and
a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker:’

A succession of writers from the ancient Greek dramatist Aristophanes
through Swift to George Orwell, have used this technique to focus attention
on deformities of society that, blunted by habit , are taken for granted.
Satire assumes standards against which professions and practices vicious,
the ironic perception darkens and deepens. The element of the incongruous
point in the direction of the grotesque which implies an admixture of
elements that do not march. The ironic gaze eventually penetrates to a
vision of the grotesque quality of experience, marked by the discontinuity
of word and deed and the total lack of coherence between the appearance and
reality. This suggests one of the extreme limits of comedy, the satiric
extreme in which the sense of the discrepancy between things as they are
and things they might be or ought to be has reached to the borders of the

Early theories of humor, including even those of Bergson and Freud,
treated it as an isolated phenomenon, without attempting to throw light on
the intimate connections between the comic and tragic, between laughter and
crying. Yet these two domains of creative activity form a continuum with no
sharp boundaries between wit and ingenuity. The confrontation between
diverse codes of behavior may yield comedy, tragedy or new psychological
insights. Humor arouses malice and provides a harmless outlet for it.
Comedy and tragedy, laughter and weeping yields further clues of this
challenging problem. The detached malice of the comic impersonator that
turns pathos into bathos, tragedy into travesty. Comedy is an imitation of
common errors of our life, which representeth in the most ridiculous and
scornful sorts that may be.

Surely satire reflects changes in political and cultural climate and
it had it’s ups and downs. George Orwell’s satire of the 20th century is
much more savage than that of Jonathan Swift in 18th century. It is only in
the mid 20th century that the savage and the irrational have come to be
viewed as part of the normative condition of the humanity rather than as
tragic aberration from it. The savage and irrational amount to grotesque
parodies of human possibility, ideally conceived. Thus it is the 20th
century novelists have recognized the tragicomic nature of the contemporary
human image and predicament, and the principal mode of representing both is
the grotesque. This may take various forms. In Animal Farm it takes a form
of apocalyptic nightmare of tyranny and terror.

The satire in Animal Farm has two important aims — both based on the
related norms of limitation and moderation. First, Animal Farm exposes and
criticizes extremist political attitudes as dangerous. On the one hand, it
satirizes the mentality of the utopian revolutionary — the belief at
through the conscious effort of a ruling elite a society can be suddenly
severed from its past and fashioned into a new, rational system. Implicit
in Snowball’s vision of high technology modernization is the extirpation of
the animals’ resent agricultural identity as domesticated creatures and —
if Boxer’s goal of improving his mind is any indication , their eventual
transformation into Houyhnhnms. Instead, Snowball’s futuristic
incantations conjure up the power-hungry and pleasure-loving Napoleon.

An allegorical view of reality – the thing said or displayed really
meaning something else—suited the Marxist-oriented social criticism of the
1930s,which was indefatigable in pointing out an economically self-serving
motives underlying the surface features of modern bourgeois society. One
form of allegory is the masque, a spectacle with masked participants.

Analyzing the novel we can hardly determine comedy from tragedy. We
can’t find those sharp boundaries which divide these two. Orwell can be
called the true expert of man’s psychology. Cause only a man who studied
psychology of the crowd could create such a vivid image of characters,
which we see in Animal Farm. Describing the characters Orwell attaches
great significance to the direct remarks which help the reader to determine
who is the victim and who is hunter in the novel. The features of the
animals are : ‘A white stripe down his nose gave him somewhat stupid
appearance’, ‘Mollie , foolish, pretty white mare’. Stupidity becomes a
kind of leitmotif in the description of the animals. Pigs on the contrary
are represented as very clever animals: ‘the pigs were so clever that they
could think of the way round every difficulty’, ‘with their superior

The author creates the image of the crowd which plays a very important
role in the novel. What is a crowd? This is not only mass of individuals
if to look deeper from the psychological point of view we shall find out
that crowd is a gathering of people under the definite conditions which has
its traits, which differ from that of single individual. The conscious
person disappears , besides feelings and ideas of everyone who forms that
gathering which is called crowd, receive united , indivisible direction.
Orwell ridiculed that vice of the society. In this respect it takes the
form of innocent laughter. Old Major found an answer to all problems of the
animals and opened the thing on which ‘the support and pleasure’ of their
days depend on. ‘It is summed up in a single word— Man. Man is the only
real enemy we have’. That episode makes the reader laugh but at the same
time this very moment can be considered the tragic one, as the victim of
the crowd has been chosen and pointed out and now nothing can stop the
proces. 'It is not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the ivels of the
life of ours spring ffrom the tyrany of human beings? Only get rid of Man,
and the produce of our labour would be our own.Almost overnight we can
become rich and free.’

Major provides animals with scapegoat. In the nature of individual the
image of an enemy excites aggressiveness but in the dimensions of the
crowd the hostility increases thousands times. S.Moskovichy wrote in his
book ‘The machine that creates Gods’, that ‘society is ruled by passions on
which one should play and even stimulate them in order to have an
opportunity to rule them and to subordinate to intellect’. Having read that
episode we don’t pay attention to it’s deep psychological sense, but simply
enjoy the humor with which the author speaks of it.

Orwell uses very popular device he gives the description of the
character and at the end he gives a short remark which completely destroy
the created image: ‘Old Major was so highly regarded on the farm that
everyone was quite ready to lose an hours sleep in order to hear what he
had to say… they nestled down inside it and promptly fell asleep’,’she
purred contentedly throughout Majors speech without listerning to a word of
what he was saying’. He uses the same device in the situation when Old
Major is telling the animals about the song : ‘Many years ago when I was a
little pig, my mother and other sows used to sing an old song of which they
knew only the tune and the first three words I had known that tune in
infancy , but it had long since past out of my mind, last night however it
came back to me in my dream’. The reader is carefully prepared to hear some
kind of patriotic march but instead of that the author in one sentence
breaks down the created image: ‘It was a stirring tune something between
‘Clementine’ and ‘La Cucaracha’.Through those short remarks we learn the
attitude the author towards what is going on in his novel. He laughs at his
heroes pretending that the things he speaks about to be very important
while making the reader understand the contrary thing.We can see hear again
an integral part of any kind of humour-incongruity between the reality and
the situation as it is said to be. The lack of coherance between things in
it’s turn lead to the very invisible boundary between comedy and tragedy.

Orwell’s novel is always balancing between tragedy and comedy. In
Animal Farm Orwell is exposing the selfish power-hunger of the few behind a
collectivist rhetoric used to gull the many . And in at least two Orwell’s
allegorical exposure is also an exposure of allegory. Because the surface
fiction tends to be considered of lesser importance than the implied
meaning , allegory is inherently hierarchical , and the insistence on the
dominant meaning makes it an authoritarian mode.

If allegory tends to subordinate narrative to thesis, the structure of
allegory, it’s dualistic form, can be emphasized to restore a balance
between fictional events and conceptual massage. In Animal Farm there are
signs of a balance struck between satiric devices allegorically martialed
to expose and assault a dangerous political myth and collateral apolitical
elements — the latter akin to the ‘solid objects and useless scraps of

Orwell allows the reader to fix disgust at cruelty, torture and
violence on one leading character—Napoleon. The way Orwell presents the
figure is structural, in that the figure of the Napoleon clarifies his
political intent for the reader. There is no doubt about the way the reader
feels toward Napoleon, but Orwell’s handling of him is all the more
effective for combining ‘humor with the disgust’.’Napoleon was a large,
rather fierce looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not
much of a talker but with the reputation for going his own way’.

Orwell presents Napoleon to us in ways they are, at first amusing as,
for example, in the scene where he shows his pretended disdain at
Snowball’s plans for the windmill, by lifting his leg and urinating on the
chalked floor. ‘One day ,however, he arrived unexpectedly to examine the
plans. He walked heavily round the shed, looked closely at every detail of
the plans and snuffed at them once or twice, then stood for a little while
contemplating them out of the corner of his eye; then suddenly he lifted
his leg, urinated over the plans and walked out without uttering a word.’
The increasing tension of description is broken down immediately this makes
the reader smile. Besides the author speaks of Napoleon’s ridiculous deeds
in such a natural way, as that is the normal kind of behavior that we just
can’t stand laughing. ‘Napoleon produced no schemes of his own, but said
quietly that Snowball’s would come to nothing’. Napoleon is seen to have no
respect for Snowball who creates the plans. This is most apparent in his
urinating on them which emphasises his brutal and uncivilised character.
Animals urinate on objects to mark their territory. This is symbolic as
Napoleon later takes the idea for the windmill as his own.

On the allegorical level the differing views of socialism held by
Trotsky and Stalin are apparent. In contrast with Snowball’s speeches,
Napoleon merely makes the minimum response and when he does speak it is
usually to criticise Snowball. Speech becomes less and less important to
Napoleon. The sheep with their mindless bleating effectively silence the
opposing opinions as no-one else can be heard. ‘ It was noticed that they
were specially liable to break ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ in the
crucial moments of Snowball’s speeches. Snowball’s reduction of Animalism
for the benefit of stupider animals and the way the sheep mindlessly take
it up , parodies the way socialist ideology reduces itself to simply
formulas that everyone can understand, but which stop any kind of thought.
In the Communist Manifesto, for example, there is the following sentence :
‘The theory of the communists may be summed up in the single sentence:
‘Abolition of private property’’. Set this beside the basic principle of
Animalism: ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’. Orwell’s feelings about dangers
of over simplification are clear. ‘The more short the statement is the more
it is deprived from any kind of provement, the more it influences the
crowd. The statement exert influence only if it is repeated very often, in
the same words’. Napoleon said that ‘there is only one figure of the theory
of orators art,which deserves attention —repetition. By the means of
repetition an idea installs in the minds so deeply, that at last it is
considered to be the proved truth.

What the truth is? The Russian dictionary gives the difinition of
truth as:the truth is ,what corresponds to the reality. But is it always
so? Very often it happens so that we exept as the true the false things
which we want to be true, or the things that someone whant us to exept.
That is one of the most intresting perculiarities of man’s psychology, that
Orwell ridicules.There is one univerce truth , but the man has a strange
habit to purvert truth.

Napoleon appears to have gained the support of dogs and sheep and is
helped by the fickle nature of the crowd.

From the start it seems, Napoleon turns events to his own advantage.
When the farm is attacked in the ‘Battle of Cowshed’, Napoleon is nowhere
to be seen. Cowardice is hinted ft and his readiness to rewrite history
later in the novel shows the ways in which Napoleon is prepared to twist
the truth for his own ends. The Seven Commandments in which are condified
the ethnical absolutes of the new order, are perverted throughout the book
to suit his aims.

There is an interesting thing to notice about Seven Commandments. That
is an important device to use the ‘lucky number’ to deepen the impression
of animals misfortune. Every time the changing of the commandment takes
place, we see an example of how the political power , as Orwell sees it, is
prepared to alter the past in peoples minds, if the past prevents it from
doing what he wishes to do. Firstly the fourth commandment is altered in
order that pigs could sleep comfortably in warm beds. A simple addition of
two words does it. ‘read me the fourth commandment. Does it not say
something about sleeping in beds? With some difficulty Muriel spelt it out.
‘It says that ‘ no animal shall sleep in the bed with sheets’’. Whenever
the pigs infringe one of Major’s commandments, Squealer is sent to convince
the other animals that that is the correct interpretation . ‘you didn’t
suppose , surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely
means the place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly
regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention’.

Napoleon secures his rule through an unpleasant mix of lies distortion
and hypocrisy / there are two scenes where Napoleon’s cruelty and cold
violence are shown in all their horror : the scene of the trials and the
episode where Boxer is brought to the knacker’s. The veil of mockery is
drown aside. In these episodes humour is absent, the stark reality of
Napoleons hunger for power, and the cruelty< and death it involves are
presented. Orwell reminds of the ‘heavy’ stink of blood, and associates
that smell with Napoleon.

‘And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there
was a pile of corpses lying before the Napoleon’s feet and the air was
heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the
expulsion of Jones’.

Napoleon in the novel stands for Joseph Stalin, and of course we can’t
omit the way the author skillfully creates this character. Everything from
purvation of communist ideology to the cult of personality of Stalin, found
it’s reflection in the novel.

Orwell in the cruelest kind of parody gives to Napoleon such titles
as: ‘Our ,leader, Comrade Napoleon’, ‘The Farther of all animals, Terror of
Mankind, Protector of the Sheepfold, Ducklin’s Friend.’

The novel mainly is based on the historical facts, and even the
relationships of Soviet Union and Germany are shown in that fairy tale. For
the all cleverness of the Napoleon, though, he is fooled by Frederic of
Pinchfield ( he stands for Hitler’s Germany) who gets the timber out of
him, pays him false money, then attacks the farm, and blows up the

Orwell’s satire will be no iconoclastic wrecking job on the Stalinist
Russia whose people had been suffering so cruelly from the war and whose
soldiers , under Stalin’s leadership, were locked in desperate combat with
the German invader even as Animal Farm was being written. That Orwell’s
assault is primarily on an idea, the extremists fantasy of technological
utopianism devoid of hard work, and less a living creature, the commander
is chief, is demonstrating during the most dramatic moment of Farmer
Frederick’s attack on the farm—the juxtaposition of dynamited windmill and
the figure of Napoleon alone standing unbowed. And despite Orwell’s
fascination with Gulliver’s Travels, it is a sign of his attempt to draw
back from the Swiftian revulsion at the flash — a disgust that , as Orwell
later noted could extend to political behavior — toward the more balanced
and positive view of life that Animal Farm, despite it’s violence, has few
references to distasteful physical realities, and those two are
appropriate to the events of the narrative.

Napoleon is a simple figure. Orwell makes no attempt as to give
reasons as to why he comes to act the way he does. If Napoleon was a human
character in the novel, if this where a historical novel about a historical
figure Orwell would have had to make Napoleon convincing in human terms.
But isn’t human and this is not a novel. It is an animal fable and Orwell
presents the figure of Napoleon in ways that make us see clearly and
despise what he stands for. He is simplified for the sake of clarity. He
lends force of Orwell’s political massage, that power tends to corrupt, by
allowing the reader to fix his disgust at cruelty torture and violence.

The primary objective of the tale is that we should loathe Napoleon
for what he stands for. The other animals are used to intensify our disgust
or else to add color and life to the tale by the addition of the farmyard
detail. The most significant of the other animals is undoubtedly the cart-
horse Boxer, and in his handling of him Orwell shows great expertise in
controlling the readers reactions and sympathies and in turning them
against what is hates.

Throughout the novel boxer is the very sympathetic figure. Honest and
hardworking, he is devoted to the cause in a simple-minded way, although
his understanding of the principles of Animalism is very limited. He is
strong and stands nearly eighteen feet high, and is much respected by the
other animals. He has two phrases which for him solve all problems, one, ‘I
shall work harder’, and later on, despite the fact that Napoleon’s rule is
becoming tyrannical, ‘Napoleon is always right’. At one point he does
question Squealer, when he, in his persuasive way, is convincing the
animals that Snowball was trying to betray them in the Battle of Cowshed.
Boxer at first can not take this, he remembers the wound Snowball received
along his back from Jones’s gun. Squealer explains this by saying that ‘it
had been arranged for Snowball to be wounded, it had all been part of
Jones’s plan’. Boxer’s confused memory of what actually happened makes him
‘a little uneasy’ but when Squealer announces , very slowly that Napoleon
‘categorically’ states that Snowball was Jones’s agent from the start then
the honest cart-horse accepts the absurdity without question.

Orwell through the figure of Boxer is presenting a simple good-nature
, which wishes to do good, and which believes in the Rebellion. So loyal is
Boxer that he is prepared to sacrifice his memory of facts, blurred as it
is. Nevertheless, so little is he respected, and so fierce is the hatred
the pigs hatred the pigs have for even the slightest questioning of their
law that, when Napoleon’s confessions and trials begin, Boxer is among the
first the dogs attack. Wish his great strength he has no difficulty in
controlling them: He just simply, almost carelessly ‘put out his great hoof
, caught a dog in mid-air, and pinned him to the ground’. At a word from
Nahjleon he lets the dog go , but still he doesn’t realize he is a target.
Boxer’s blind faith in the pigs is seeming disastrous. Confronted with the
horrifying massacre of the animals on the farm, Boxer blames himself and
buries himself in his work. This show of power pleases us as a reader, in
what we like to think of physical strength being allied to good nature,
simple though a good nature may be. Boxer has our sympathy because he gives
his strength selflessly for what he believes, whereas Napoleon gives
nothing , believes in nothing and never actually works. Boxer exhausts
himself for the cause. Every time the animals have to start rebuilding of
the windmill he throws himself into the task without a word of complaint,
getting up first half an hour, then three quarters of an hour before
everybody else.

Boxer’s sacrificial break down in the service of what he and the other
worker animals believed to be technological progress might be interpreted
as allegorically portending the future deterioration of the animal

At last his strength gives out and when it does his goodness is
unprotected. The pigs are going to send him to the knacker’s to be killed
and boiled out into glue. Warned by Benjamin the donkey (his close, silent
friend throughout the book), and by Clover he tries to kick his way out of
the van, but he has given all his energy to the pigs and now has none left
to save himself. The final condition of Boxer, inside the van about to
carry him to the knacker’s in exchange for money needed to continue work on
the windmill, emblematically conveys a message close to the spirit of
Orwell’s earlier warnings : ‘The time had been when a few kicks of Boxers
hoofs would have smashed the van to mach wood. But alas! His strength had
left him; and in the few moments the sound of drumming hoofs grew fainter
and died away’. This is the most moving scene in a book Indeed our feelings
here as reader’s are so simple, deep and uninhibited that as Edward Thomas
has said movingly, ‘we weep for the terrible pity of it like children who
meet injustice for the first time.

Boxer can be attributed to the tragic heroes cause he doesn’t
struggle with the injustice as the tragic hero should do. And surely we can
consider him a comical hero as all through the story the reader has
compassion on him. Orwell managed to unite tragedy and comedy in one
character. Boxer arouses mixed contradictory feelings. His story is no
longer comic, but pathetic and evokes not laughter but pity. It is an
aggressive element, that detached malice of the comic impersonator, which
turns pathos into bathos and tragedy into travesty.

Not only Boxer’s story reminds us more of a tragedy. The destiny of
all animals makes us weep. If at the beginning of the novel they are ‘happy
and excited’ in the middle ‘they work like slaves but still happy’, at the
end ‘they are shaken and miserable’. After Napoleon’s dictatorship has
showed it’s disregard for the facts and it’s merciless brutality, after the
animals witnessed the forced confessions and the execution, they all go to
the grassy knoll where the windmill is being built Clover thinks back on
Major’s speech before he died, and thinks how far they had gone from what
he would have intended: ‘as Clover looked down the hillside her eyes filled
with tears. If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to
say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves
years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race. This scenes of
terror and slaughter where not what they had looked forward to on that
night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had
had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free
from hunger and whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity,
the strong protecting the week. Instead — she did not know why — they had
come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs
roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces
after confessing to shocking crimes’.

From the sketch of the political background to Animal Farm it will be
quite clear that the main purpose of that episode is to expose the lie
which Stalinist Russia had become. It was supposed to be a Socialist Union
of States, but it had become the dictatorship. The Soviet Union in fact
damaged the cause of the true socialism. In a preface Orwell wrote to
Animal Farm he says that ‘for the past ten years I have been convinced that
the distruction of Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of
socialist movement’. Animal Farm attempts, through a simplification of
Soviet history, to clarify in the minds of readers what Orwell felt Russia
had become. The clarification is to get people to face the facts of
injustice, of brutality, and hopefully to get them to think out for
themselves some way in which a true and ‘democratic socialism’ will be
brought about. In that episode Orwell shows his own attitude to what is
happening on his fairy farm. And he looks at it more as at the tragedy than
a comedy, but still he returns to his genre of satire and writes: ‘there
was no thought of rebellion or disobedience in her mind. She knew that even
as things were they were far better than they had been in the days of
Jones, and that before all else it was needful to prevent the return of the

Finally, the moderateness of Orwell’s satire is reinforced by a
treatment of time that encourages the reader’s sympathetic understanding of
the whole revolutionary experiment from it’s spontaneous and joyous
beginnings to it’s ambiguous condition on the final page. A basic strategy
of scathing social satire is to dehistoricize the society of the specific
sociopolitical phenomena being exposed to ridicule and condemnation.

In Animal Farm the past that jolts the creatures from the timeless
present of the animal condition into manic state of historical
consciousness is a quick, magically transformative moment .

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