Symbolism and Interpretation in Animal Farm
When Orwell published Animal Farm in 1945, a popular belief held that
the Soviet Union was an honorable nation. Orwell hoped to write a
novel that exposed the murderous truth of the Soviet System; he
employed allegory to show a truth that remained unclear to many.
As an allegory on early 20th Century Russia, ANIMAL FARM introduces
its audience to a wide array of characters--each serving as a symbol.
The table below provides a list of fictional characters, events, and
items from the film ANIMAL FARM, and the real-life counterparts they
appear to represent. Consider how each character could also be
interpreted to have a larger, broader meaning.
Farmer Jones : The farmer stands for the Russian Czar Nicolas II who
was forced to abdicate after the successful February Revolution. In
addition, Mr. Jones symbolizes the evils of capitalism, and the moral
decline of men under this type of society.
Humans: The humans stand for the capitalists, who exploit the weak.
The gradual transformation of the pigs into human-like creatures
represents the process by which the revolution's leaders became
corrupted. Whether capitalist or communist in name, the underlying
reality of many political systems is tyranny.
Old Major: Many believe Orwell made Old Major a symbol for Karl Marx,
the father of the Communist belief system. Both Old Major and Karl
Marx serve as the founders of a revolutionary creed, and both die
before the revolutionary events they predict.
Snowball: Snowball represents Leon Trotsky. Like Trotsky, Snowball is
a smart, young speaker who dreams of making life better for all
animals. One of the early leaders of the "October Revolution", Trotsky
was banished from the Soviet Union. While abroad, he was repeatedly
denounced as a traitor by his native country, and wild lies were
invented to discredit him. Trotsky was eventually killed in Mexico by
the Russian internal police.
Napoleon: Not as clever as Snowball, Napoleon is also cruel, selfish
and corrupt. Napoleon is most clearly representative of Joseph Stalin,
who, like Napoleon, ruled with an iron fist and killed all those who
opposed him. On a deeper level, he represents the human weaknesses
which eventually undermine even the best political intentions. In much
the same way that Napoleon used the dogs - and Squealer - to control
animals, Stalin used the KGB and cleverly worded lies (called
"propaganda") to control his people.
Squealer: This pig is an extremely...