George Orwell's Attack of Social Institutions in Animal Farm

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George Orwell's Attack of Social Institutions in Animal Farm

'Animal Farm' is a novel from the 1950's. It was written as a reaction

to the major social and political changes occurring in Europe and

throughout the world in the first half of the twentieth century. The

greatest of these was communism, which was a revolutionary brand of

socialism that had taken hold in Russia. Orwell agreed with the

principles of Communism, which promoted equality and the removal of

social classes. However, he recognised that it would not work in

practice, as it had not in Russia under Stalin, because of human


The novel details the history of Communism in Russia, from the

revolution to the height of Stalin's regime, through a parallel

fiction about a farm where the animals rise up and take over. Through

this allegory, Orwell can criticise several social institutions that

are relevant to most societies. He comments on the nature of

leadership, hierarchies of social class and methods of controlling the

people. Characters in the novel become symbolic, representing many

ideas and figures from history.

Orwell is critical of all types of leadership in the novel. Farmer

Jones owns the farm before the revolution. He is weak and a drunkard

who lets the farm deteriorate and neglects the animals in his charge.

They are not fed properly and in the first paragraph of the novel we

learn he is too drunk to lock up the poultry for the night hence

putting their lives in danger.


The farm before the revolution is symbolic of a state that is governed

autocratically, or by a monarch. Such leaders achieve their position

by inheritance rather...

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...ame as the humans at the end. However, All these things come to pass

because the animals are passive and allow themselves to be manipulated

by Squealer and Napoleon. They never challenge what they are told and

when they do and are severely punished they never rise up against

their new oppressor. Orwell is showing that the workers never actually

recognise their collective strength and use it. The animals need to be

led. Consequently they are at the mercy of whoever is strong enough to

dominate and govern.

This is probably the most pessimistic message of the novel and the

most troubling for the reader. Can we ever control our own lives or is

human nature too flawed to allow utopia to exist? Orwell seems to be

suggesting that we have to accept this situation as history has shown

we make the same mistakes time and again.
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