George Orwell

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Metaphors on the Commentary of Communist Russia
George Orwell’s use of metaphors in Animal Farm will be analyzed in order to interpret Orwell’s satirical commentary on Communism, most specifically the Communism during the Russian Revolution, correctly.

George Orwell uses metaphors to animals to satirically comment on Communist Russia in his novella Animal Farm.
Orwell uses the metaphor of animals so that he reaches a wide audience of many different people (because who doesn’t love animals),and because he can criticize without endangering himself. He also uses animals to show the “animal-like” or “savage” behavior that not only to do animals have but also humans that took place in Communist Russia but also happens in everyday society in general.
Orwell creates the scene of a farm where “Old Major” the pig who many scholars claim is to be Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin, who are often considered the fathers of communism in the purest form, declares to the rest of the farmyard that he has a dream.
"Comrades, you have heard already about the strange dream that I had last night. But I will come to the dream later. I have something else to say first. I do not think, comrades, that I shall be with you for many months longer, and before I die, I feel it my duty to pass on to you such wisdom as I have acquired. I have had a long life, I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, and I think I may say that I understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living. It is about this that I wish to speak to you." (Orwell 6).
"Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free. What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion! I do not know when that Rebellion will come, it might be in a week or in a hundred years, but I know, as surely as I see this straw beneath my feet, that sooner or later justice will be done. Fix your eyes on that, comrades, throughout the short remainder of your lives! And above all, pass on this message of mine to those who come after you, so that future generations shall carry on the struggle until it is victorious. (11).
If anyone has knowledge of the Russian Revolution, lines can easily be drawn between the speech of Old Major and the leadership of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Lenin helped overturn the Bolshevik Regime in order to have equality for the people. Marx wrote the book The Communist Manifesto which discusses a socialist society in the purest form. Old Major is compared to these men to show how his ideals were parallel to them and how he wanted the society of the farmyard to function.
After Old Major dies (or when Lenin becomes ill and another leader must be put in place to lead Communist Russia), there is a power struggle for the role as leader between Napoleon (Joseph Stalin) and Snowball (Leon Trotsky). Orwell craftily creates this power struggle with Snowball (Trotsky) proposing an idea that would help the community (the windmill) while Napoleon (Stalin) is completely against it. Napoleon ends up turning some of the community against Snowball and have him killed. This parallels to the history of Communist Russia when Stalin turned many people against Trotsky and had Trotsky exiled.
Napoleon then becomes the leader of this socialist community as Stalin does of Communist Russia. While Old Major was still alive the 7 Commandments were enforced very strictly, they are as follows,
“1.Whatever goes upon two legs is a enemy.
2.Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3.No animal shall wear clothes.
4.No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5.No animal shall drink alcohol.
6.No animal shall kill any other animal.
7.All animals are equal.”
But, when Napoleon came to power he went against these rules and began to abuse the power given to him in his benefit. The rules soon became something like

  1. Once the pigs start walking on two legs, two legs become better than four.
  2. The pigs end up thinking any animal who walks on four legs or has wings in inferior.
  3. The pigs all end up wearing clothes.
  4. "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets"
  5. "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess"
  6. "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause"
  7. " All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others"
The society that Old Major had wanted for the farmyard becomes corrupt and does not function as Old Major had planned. This is similar to Stalin’s takeover of Russia and the way he operated Russia compared to the idea of a socialist community that Lenin had for Russia.
Orwell questions the functionality and even proposes the collapse of Communist Russia by having Napoleon construct the windmill for the community that Snowball proposed but because it was missing a vital part, it comes crashing down. Orwell is commenting on Russia suggesting that originally Russia had the right idea but is missing the right components to make a socialist society to function properly.

KM 2015

Allusions to Conclusions
In this critique D.M. will explore George Orwell’s own commentary on Communist ideals through Orwell’s use of allusions in his novel Animal Farm.
Animal Farm, by George Orwell, is most notably a mirror of the emergence and development of Soviet Communism in the form of an animal fable. Orwell’s story and characters allude directly to historical events and figures, and Orwell’s own commentary is depicted through these allusions.

Popular belief dictates that Orwell’s work, an obvious criticism of Soviet Russia, reflects a hate for Communism and Marxism that exudes from his very being. By this fact it is often assumed that Orwell was a right-wing Conservative who wanted nothing to do with government. In fact, Orwell was quite the opposite. A Democratic Socialist, Orwell believed in the ideals of Karl Marx, and hated every form of totalitarianism. Animal Farm was not written as criticism of Communism and Marxism, but as a criticism of how the Soviet Russians used those ideals in a terribly perverse form.

Animal Farm begins with a secret meeting of all the animals on a farm. Old Major, an old boar, leads the meeting and delivers a speech of rebellion towards their owner, Mr. Jones. He speaks of a new life where everyone is equal, capitalism has vanished, and outlines specific rules of what the animals must not do. “Your resolution must never falter. No argument must lead you astray. Never listen when they tell you that Man and animals have a common interest…we must not come to resemble him…No animal must ever live in a house or sleep in a bed, or wear clothes, or drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or touch money, or engage in trade” (Orwell 5). Old Major is used as an allusion to Karl Marx, the father of Communism. Old Major’s speech stirs a rebellion, and it is this one idea of a better life that brings the animals together to fight and gain freedom and equality, at least for a small time.

Problems arise soon enough, and the hope of total equality is shattered. The pigs on the farm claim to be “brainworkers” and they the use the natural division between intellectual and physical labor to their benefit, manipulating everyone else. Two pigs rise to power distinctively, Snowball and Napoleon. They allude to Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin, respectively. While Snowball follows the ideals of Old Major, Napoleon chooses to not follow Old Major, and removes all who oppose him in his rise to power. Snowball is systematically undermined and exiled, leaving Napoleon to guide the farm. Under his leadership, the farm trades with humans and they start to use money, two things Old Major strongly prohibited. Napoleon begins to trust his fellow animals less, covet power more, and makes drastic changes to Old Major’s vision. This clear deviation from the original ideals that brought all the animals together mirrors the circumstances of the Soviet Union. George Orwell’s obvious criticism of this event but political standing leads the reader to infer that his own commentary is one in protest of the way the Soviet Union twisted the originally beneficial ideology.

Napoleon’s, or Stalin’s, manipulation of the rules begins to create an irony. He makes changes to the Seven Commandments, which were Old Major’s original ideals, and creates his own private police force to subdue any resistance to his quest for greater power. The seventh Commandment, which read, “All animals are equal,” was changed to, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” which effectively disintegrates the equality and freedom all the animals had fought for. The irony that is created by the corruption of these ideologies indicts the hypocrisy of tyrannies that base themselves on and owe their initial power to ideologies of liberation and equality. Soviet Russia became a totalitarian state, as does Animal Farm, and George Orwell’s intense opposition to totalitarian society and distaste for the perverse use of originally beneficial ideologies is clearly depicted through the allusions that are made to the plight of Soviet Russia.

Orwell’s allusions are obvious, and through these allusions his criticism of Soviet Russia is made clear. Being a Democratic Socialist himself, Orwell does not criticize the use of Communist ideals, but rather the manner in which the ideals are used, and then brutally perverted and corrupted, thus the basis of his commentary.

1984 by George Orwell

Remote Manipulation Through Language

In this critique, D.M. will explore how language is used to create complete obedience to the totalitarian state in George Orwell’s 1984.

Angela Carter once wrote, “Language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation.” In the case of 1984, language is the instrument of domination, and through various mediums it is used to impose complete obedience upon the subjects of the totalitarian state.

One of these aforementioned mediums is Newspeak. Newspeak is the official language of the totalitarian state Oceania, where 1984 takes place. This official language is English, but has been incredibly condensed, making it more difficult and often impossible to express varying degrees of emotion or think on a broad scale. The Party, the governing body under Big Brother in the totalitarian state, uses this condensed language to enclose the public and isolate them from the real world. One Newspeak engineer says, “’Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meaning rubbed out and forgotten’” (Orwell, 52). The smaller vocabulary that is designed for only distinct, concrete ideas will utterly reduce the ability of the public to think. The engineer also says, “Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller” (52). Newspeak will create a passive public with a lack of independent thought, and this will consequently make them more subservient and more easily bent to the totalitarian state’s will. In short, Newspeak is used to destroy the will and the imagination, making it a perfect tool to keep order in a totalitarian society.

In a society where incompetence is the key to controlling the masses, language is also used in the form of media. Winston, the protagonist in the novel, is a Party member who works at the Ministry of Truth. Ironically, his job at the Ministry of Truth is to rewrite historical, past, and current events. He writes newspapers and other articles, which praise Big Brother, the Party, and Oceania, all for the purpose of deceiving the incompetent public. Considering that language is the connection to history, this idea is particularly disconcerting. At one point Winston muses, “This processes of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets . . . Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record” (42). The obliteration of history will inevitably lead to less opposition, and in a society where the public lacks the ability to think, they pose an even smaller threat and are completely subservient to the will of the totalitarian state.

Irony is also seen in the Ministry of Peace, which is devoted solely to warfare, and the Ministry of Plenty, which falsifies economic figures to convince the public that the economy has never been better, despite the shortages of all commodities due to the war. The Ministry of Love is also purposely ironic, being that its purpose is to question and torture suspected criminals. Every Ministry constantly spews forth language through the medium of media, indoctrinating the public and making them loyal to the Party in their already subservient state.

Media is the ultimate manipulator, and the masses of Oceania are its slaves. For example, the telescreens initiate a Two Minute Hate, where the people are roused to a frenzy by images of their enemies, broadcasted by the media, which is controlled by the Party. These simple images are so compelling due to the Party’s mind manipulation that Winston recounts, “People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the top of their voices…[a girl] had begun crying out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!’”(15). The psychic control that the Party has implemented is effective to the point of complete emotional control.

Through these different mediums, it is clear that language is used as the ultimate weapon of the totalitarian state. The language is used politically to deceive and manipulate people, leading to a society where people unquestioningly obey the government and accept the propaganda as a reality. Therefore, the manipulation of language is the perfect way to institute complete obedience to the totalitarian state, as is seen in George Orwell’s 1984.

In this critical analysis, an in depth breakdown of the symbols in 1984, by George Orwell, will be explained to provide a better understanding of the novel for a closer read.

One of the first symbols evident in the novel as a symbol of freedom and escape is the uses of Victory Gin and Victory Cigarettes. Both used as a source of self medication, it temporarily takes Winston out of his paranoia and stressful thinking. Before he wrote in his journal he calmed himself down with his Victory Gin, and smoked his Victory Cigarette when he was stressed. An alternate twist to this symbol, however, is the fact these two items are mandated to him. Given to him for this purpose exactly, to keep him in a sedative state and unwilling to turn his back on the Party. Winston believes he is helping himself with these doses, but in reality the Party is only helping themselves.
Yet another symbol that proves to be helpful towards the Party, and important for Winston,’s fascination of the past, is the picture of St. Clement’s Church that hangs on the wall of the apartment he rented from the shop keeper.This object is very significant to the plot of the story, and completely changes the outcome. At the start it was looked upon as a relic of the past, a window into freedom and escape from Oceania. The irony that surrounds the photo lies behind the picture itself. After arriving at the fact that a telescreen has been watching Winston and Julia the entire time from cleverly hidden behind it, can you grasp the concept that no one is ever free and Winston’s dreams of reconnecting with the past will never come true.
Winston’s fascination of the past and yearning to glimpse into it bring many symbolic attributes to the novel. Not only was the photograph of the St. Clement’s Church a symbol of lost hope, but the paperweight Winston bought from the junk shopwas as well. All throughout the book he dreamt of escaping within the paperweight in a world where he does not have to hide from the Party. Where he and Julia can love in piece. The coral decoration within the glass sphere is also a symbol for fragility, along with the glass which encases it. When he and Julia get caught the paperweight falls to the ground and shatters, symbolizing all his hopes and dreams never being attainable. A person Winston thought was similar to himself in the sense that he was not zealous towards the Party was a man named O’Brien. The phrase “the place where there is no darkness” comes to him in a dream. Hoping this would be an amazing opportunity to meet with O’Brien, Winston constantly dreamt of their meeting. Unfortunately for him, The place with no light is the Ministry of Love, the prison that keeps the lights on all hours of the day. After being captured Winston is brought here and tourchered, the phrase itself is a symbol of false hope and control of the Party.
The telescreens are also a symbol that transcends throughout the novel. They are devices which, in their vision, capture your every movement so you can be monitored for suspicious behavior. They symbolize the grasp the Party has on all its citizens, the constant fear and repression it embodies, and the totalitarian rule in which it works for. Instead of making living conditions better for all of Oceania's inhabitants, they abuse technology to further its reign. For example, in the first chapter Winston shows us “
a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people's windows.” (2). A symptom of repression shown through Winston is his varicose ulcer above his ankle. Sexual repression is a powerful guideline the Party places on all its citizens. His uncler bothers him in the morning and when he is alone, but once he starts seeing Julia the symptoms subside. Similarly, when he is separated from Julia the ulcer begins to irritate him once again. Speaking of Julia and sexual repression, her Anti- Sex sash is a symbol of her duality within the novel which she used to hide her true actions. In the passage on page 31, which came to him in a dream, “The girl with dark hair was coming towards them across the field. With what seemed a single movement she tore off her clothes and flung them disdainfully aside. Her body was white and smooth, but it aroused no desire in him, indeed he barely looked at it. What overwhelmed him in that instant was admiration for the gesture with which she had thrown her clothes aside. With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm. That too was a gesture belonging to the ancient time.”, encaptures Winston's lust for freedom and lack thereof. Julia’s sash could even be related to the Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, due to the color, and reprimanding nature behind those who practice free sex.
Many people introduced in the novel have symbolic backgrounds also. Winston’s mother, for example, is a symbol of his regret for believing he killed his parents, and also a symbol of better times before the Party took over. Another person that holds symbolism is the old man Winston buys drinks for at the bar. He represents Winston trying to get in touch with the past. After speaking to him and not getting any valuable information, he concludes the man is useless and a waste of time. Furthering his lust and unattainability to the past. Two other people Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein go hand in hand in their symbolic meaning. Both figure heads, no one knows for sure whether or not these two men even exist. That is a symbol for the Party’s ability to change what is truth. Whereas Goldstein is the Party’s scapegoat, Big Brother is supposed to be the face behind the Party. The last person that holds symbolism within the book is the singing proles woman. She fills Winston with hope and promise that there are more people like her ready to turn their backs on the Party. He and Julia were also in awe of her supposed beauty and ability to give birth to other prole children, furthering the chances of the population overthrowing Big Brother.

(A.F. 2016)