In 1946, George
Orwell would author one of the most notorious and astute books of all time, a
book titled Animal Farm. Animal Farm takes place on a farm led by
a pig by the name of Old Major. When he describes his dream to the fellow
animals on the farm, he instructs the farm animals to turn against the humans.
Some days later, Old Major passes away and the animals revolt and take over
farm, renaming it Animal Farm.
Through his novel, George Orwell tries to convey the significance of
being educated and the tragedies that fall upon the uneducated animals. These
include putting their faith in the wrong hands, getting manipulated and
controlled, not being able make decisions for themselves and how it relates to
the soviet union during this time.
In the beginning,
the pigs are seen as faithful to their fellow animals and to the revolution.
They interpret Old Major’s vision and end up turning it into the “Seven
Commandments of Animalism”. However, it isn’t some time before the pigs’ knowledge
and instructions are used as a means of oppression and mistreatment.
Following Old Major’s passing, we see
a major struggle between two characters: Snowball and Napoleon. Napoleon believed than an
emphasis on the younger animals should be the focus of education. This is first
exemplified in Chapter 2/3 when he takes 9 young dogs from their mother in
order to train them. They later come back as Napoleon’s “guards” and play a
large role in his grab for power against snowball.
the pigs began to control education and started to brainwash the animals. Because the animals were indecisive and
uneducated, they were forced to believe something that turned out to be false.
This is one of the reasons Orwell attempts to discuss the impact of education
through his novel.
The instant the pigs are faced with a problem,
they are seen deserting their morals and use their greater knowledge to deceive
the other animals. The pigs also stop the other animals’ chances to gain
intelligence and education early on. They educate themselves to write and read from
a children’s book but later destroy it.
the pigs strengthen their status as the knowledgeable elite, they use their
intellectual advantage to control the other animals. Another important issue
Orwell tries to cover is the issue of dictatorship and manipulation. In this
story, the animals make Napoleon responsible of all affairs, a pig that can read
and write. Napoleon uses his authority to control the animals. One way he does
this is by altering the rules. When the animals first founded the Animal Farm, they came up with seven rules
(commandments) to live by. Every time Napoleon would break a rule, he would
slightly modify it.
appears to me that the wall looks different. Are the seven
commandments the same as they used to be Benjamin?….There
was nothing there
now but a single commandment. It ran: ALL
ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL
THAN OTHERS. After that, it did not seem strange when next day the pigs… “(Page
When we take a look at the Russian Revolution and the major
players involved, we tend to find strong connections between them and the
characters in Animal Farm.
During the Russian Revolution, Karl Marx explained the
injustice that had been taking place in Russia. Furthermore, he describes his
vision for the future where classes were no longer part of society. Similarly,
Old Major describes the cruelty and mistreatment that the animals suffered and
his vision for the animals.
Later in the story, the animals rebel against farmer Jones
when he forgets to feed them. This can be seen as a reflection of the 1905 and
1917 revolutions where war caused food shortages in Russia, resulting in mass
starvation and social problems that ultimately sparked rebellion.
The election between Napoleon and Snowball can also be seen
as a parallel to Stalin and Trotsky who had similar views as their animal
equivalents. Similarly, Napoleon’s
control of education can be easily compared to what Stalin did at the time. Stalin had control over the level of education
delivered to the peasants, and therefore, he gained control over them. Through
this absence of education, the Russian peasants were unable to notice the
steady power Stalin was establishing over the masses.
Through the development
of his novel, Orwell truly tries to demonstrate the significance and importance
of being educated by showing the reader what could happen when groups of people
(animals in this case) are not. Orwell also attempts to give us examples of
such events. Overall, Animal Farm is a must read for anyone interested in the
Russian Revolution, education, and a well written book in general.