One Big Colorful Picture: Animal Farm | Teen Ink

One Big Colorful Picture: Animal Farm

January 11, 2019
By ajstahovec BRONZE, Littleton, Massachusetts
ajstahovec BRONZE, Littleton, Massachusetts
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

It could be said humans have been introspectively irrational, and oftentimes too quick to act. We are an impulsive, largely fearful, and imperfect species, and this is what in essence, makes us unique. It should not be overlooked that there are other species out there that share similar traits, and this similarity is what George Orwell utilizes in Animal Farm. Orwell’s novel is about farm animals, who rebel against their human superiors, and begin to form a complicated system of governing themselves. They share many significant ideals with historical figures, most notably those in the old U.S.S.R., and they act accordingly to their historical counterparts. This makes the book sometimes confusing for a young reader, but that should not detract from the brilliant profiles of the characters, whose decisions often mirror very basic human-decisions, with thinking to back them up. In fact, Animal Farm is a well-crafted novel with a few exceptions, but not to detract from the great parallels the novel makes to human ideology.

Animal Farm shows strong examples of simple human-thinking, presenting it in a questionable manner, and the idea of a fear-based political campaign in a thought-provoking method, that aides the reader’s understanding. The backdrop of one of our main characters, Napoleon, is that his political campaign, similar to that of a dictator, is fixed in a fear based campaign. His more lenient counterpart, Snowball, who had a very short role in the novel, was constantly being used as a tool of fear, and was portrayed as a leader who did not want the best  for his peers, whereas Napoleon only had the animals betterment at heart. This, of course, was not true, and Napoleon seemed to much prefer his own betterment to that of his peers. There are other instances of fear-tactics, and they come whenever another animal raises a reasonable point against Napoleon. For example, immediately following Snowball’s expulsion from the farm (carried out by Napoleon and his fearsome dogs), the pigs who were not in full allegiance to Napoleon began to bring up discussion about what had just happened, and Napoleon who presumably feared a rebellion, called upon his dogs. The narrator remarks, “But suddenly the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again. (40)” Napoleon uses his dogs as a dictator would a private army. Using these fearsome beasts as extra muscle, he can “strong-arm” any decision he wants from now on through sheer force. We as humans use fear tactics like these in everyday life, and it’s fairly disturbing to think how often they are used. Another form of fear-tactic, which does not involve threatening small farm animals, is the use of “guilt tripping.” This is commonly used in human syntax, to convince others of your opinion through feeding off someone’s empathetic side. It’s a selfish tactic, no doubt, but so are many fear-based tactics.

Furthermore, Animal Farm is heavy-handed with its parallels to real-world events as it pertains to the USSR, and this detracts from the underlying message of the book. While this could be helpful to the experienced reader, unless you know some fairly in-depth Russian history, you’re likely to be confused by the parallels. For those who don’t know, Animal Farm is based on events that took place in oldern-Russia, during the days of the U.S.S.R. This means that many of the significant characters in the novel have real world counterparts, i.e. Old Major paralleling Lenin, Snowball paralleling Trotsky, and Napoleon paralleling Stalin. In a classic show of propoganda, Napoleon comes up with the slogan, “FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD”. This is very similar to propoganda created by the Russian communists, creating an “us against them” ideology. This artifical division helps bolster “nationalism” and creates pride in ones country. On one hand however, it’s necessary to have these real-world parallels to aid, the mature reader’s understanding of the events that take place in Animal Farm. A reader can resort back to the human counter-parts of some of the characters in Orwell’s novel, to be a better example for the reader. On the other, Orwell did not use these real-world events in a proper way, and could prove to be confusing for a reader that looks to these events as a skeleton for their understanding. There is even a quote from Orwell himself talking about his writing, “that although the various episodes are taken from the actual history of the Russian Revolution, they are dealt with schematically and their chronological order is changed;” I guess it could be said that Orwell understands where he went wrong in his writing, and recognizing that is a very cool thing for an author to do. This lets us practically overlook these flaws, and just futhers my love for the book.

Animal Farm, a very well written novel, has a few bumps along the way, but they should not be taken too seriously, as they are not excessively problematic. Orwell is a master of parallelisms, and the steps he takes to explain them to his readers are so done, that his intentions can not be overlooked. Animal Farm is very calculated in the sense that there does not seem to be a line out of place in the novel, and every action taken by an animal, and every line recited by the mindless followers, is deliberate. There are so many parallels to human nature in Animal Farm that one only has to look for them a little, to see the big, colorful picture.

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