Symbolism in the “Animal Farm”
Table of Contents
What is the best way to tell a story? While authors have different ways of telling their stories, symbolism is a common strategy many authors apply. Animal Farm by George Orwell is a typical piece of writing that utilizes symbolism to convey a message to the readers. The story paints a fascinating picture of a setup involving animals and their owner on a farm, surrounded by other parties. Uniquely, the writer populates the narration with symbolism, helping readers relate the story to events that have happened in the world. In Animal Farm, the author uses the animal farm, the surrounding farms, whiskey, and pigs as symbols to explain the events of the Russian Revolution.
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Animal Farm and Surrounding Farms
One of the recognizable symbols in the Animal Farm story is the animal farm that depicts Russian Revolution. In the story, the events on the animal farm represent the Russian Revolution leadership, which sought to advance a socialist form of administration (Somers, 2019). According to Albloly and Nour (2019), different characters in the story represent figures that actively advanced the idea of the Russian Revolution, which eventually collapsed. For example, the owner of Manor Farm, Mr. Jones, symbolizes the ineffective Czar Nicholas II of the Russian Revolution (Somers, 2019). A lot of corruption and bad leadership is happening on the farm, which mirrors the troubles that faced Russian Revolution, contributing to its downfall. For instance, Squealer, acting as Napoleon’s deputy, uses dogs to threaten pigs, a sign of leadership witnessed during the Russian Revolution (Orwell, 1945). The farm setup forms the story’s foundation as animals discuss their way of life. Unarguably, the animals face oppression from their leaders.
Again, the farms surrounding the Manor farm represent the European powers that watched over the Russian Revolution. Foxwood represents England under the owner Mr. Pilkington. Mr. Pilkington is unconcerned with the farm, spending most of his time hunting and fishing (Orwell, 1945). Mr. Pilkington’s behavior signals a disregard for the interest of the farm. There is another neighboring Pinchfield farm representing Germany, owned by Mr. Fredrick. In the story, Mr. Fredrick is represented as a man who flogs, starves, and kills animals at the farm (Orwell, 1945). Altogether, the owners of the two farms represent selfish leaders who witnessed the Russian Revolution in Russia as leaders of European powers. They depict egoistic motives and are unconcerned with the well-being of others.
Whiskey and Pigs
Additionally, there is whiskey, which signifies corruption. One of the commandments spelled on the farm is that none of the animals will ever drink alcohol (Albloly & Nour, 2019). However, the animals do not hold on to this commandment. At some stage, the commandment is redefined to no animal shall drink excess alcohol (Albloly & Nour, 2019). Napoleon, one of the most significant characters leading the rebellion, drinks much of it as a selfish leader and, at some point, orders barley planting. This decision is meant to give some of the leaders on the farm an upper hand. Within the farm, there is a proclamation that although animals are equal, some are more important than others (Albloly & Nour, 2019). All these are indications of corrupt leaders who oppress society members for self-interests.
Lastly, pigs in the story symbolize the leaders of the Soviet Union. The famous pig figures in the novel are the Old Major, Snowball, and Napoleon. These figures represent different Russian revolutionists, where Old Major signifies Vladimir Lenin, Snowball represents Leon Trotsky, and Napoleon symbolizes Stalin (Abdel-Rahman, 2019). In the farm, Old Major portrays the life of animals on the farm, sensitizing the animals to a need for revolution to fight for their well-being. Old Major successfully paints a picture of the misery and enslavement of the animals, challenging them to seek a better way of life (Abdel-Rahman, 2019). These influences coincide with Lenin’s revolutionist ideas in Russia. Again, there is Snowball, who depicts a picture of a critical thinker and elite leader. Snowball shows the best care for the farm, spreading animalism (Abdel-Rahman, 2019). Snowball’s leadership skills symbolize Leon Trotsky, whose leadership abilities are higher than Napoleon’s because of his unmatched influence. However, he faces stiff competition from Napoleon, whose leadership is based on coercion. Napoleon, who takes over the mantle from Old Major, is deceitful. He makes no effort for the well-being of the animals on the farm but uses the animals’ inadequacies to gain more power to become the absolute leader (Abdel-Rahman, 2019). He represents Joseph Stalin, who sacrificed democracy for dictatorial leadership in the Soviet Union. Thus, the pigs symbolize popular leaders in the Russian Revolution journey.
Undoubtedly, Orwell’s short story significantly uses Manor farm, surrounding farms, whiskey, and pigs as symbols to tell an account of the Russian revolution. While the Manor farm sets the ground for the revolution, the neighboring farms symbolize European nations. These are Pinchfield and Foxwood, signifying Germany and the United Kingdom. In the story, whiskey symbolizes corruption advanced by selfish animals on the farm, especially Napoleon, to the detriment of the farm’s survival. More so, pigs represent different revolutionist leaders. For example, the Old Major symbolizes Vladimir Lenin, Snowball signifies Leon Trotsky, and Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin. The symbolism helps relate to the Russian revolution on an animal farm.
- Abdel-Rahman, E. (2019. Symbolism in animal farm. Academia. https://www.academia.edu/39125536/Symbolism_in_animal_farm
- Albloly, A. M., & Nour, Dr. H. S. M. (2019). The political symbolism in George Orwell writings: With reference to animal farm and nineteen eighty four. The International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Invention, 6(9). https://doi.org/10.18535/ijsshi/v6i9.03
- Orwell, G. (1945). Animal farm. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Corp.
- Somers, J. (2019, March 12). Animal farm: Themes, symbols, allegory. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/animal-farm-themes-symbols-4587867