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Ineffectiveness of Communism Exposed in Animal Farm

Satisfactory Essays
At one level, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” is an entertaining fable of an animal revolution in England. However, beneath this innocent storyline lie several bleak invited readings presented through textual features such as literary devices, characters and events which parallel the Bolshevik Revolution. These readings, achieved through marginalising certain information and privileging other information, lead readers to adopt a pessimistic attitude toward particular groups and political ideologies. Among Orwell’s invited readings are the tendency of communist governments to become corrupt, the abuse of extensive authority and the effectiveness of propaganda.

Throughout “Animal Farm”, Orwell leads readers to view communism pessimistically by suggesting that communist governments are hypocritical and violate ethical principles. Communism is founded upon beliefs of freedom and equality. Indeed, when Old Major paints vivid pictures of animals living freely, he also points out that “no animal must ever tyrannise over his own kind” and that “all animals are equal” (p.6). However, later in the novella, the pigs, having established themselves as the upper class, reign supreme. The pigs force the other animals to labour endlessly while they lead lives of luxury. Their oppression culminates at the modification of the final commandment to “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” (p.85). Despite Old Major’s dream of liberation and equality for all animals, democracy fails to materialise at Animal Farm. Here, Orwell’s text suggests that communism often becomes corrupt and violates the principles that founded it, leading readers to view communism negatively. This is reinforced when Orwell draws parallels between the corruption of Animal Farm and the corruption of the ideals of the Russian Revolution. Rivals for Soviet leadership Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin are burlesqued by Snowball and Napoleon respectively. Privileged readers who are aware of the events in the Russian Revolution comprehend the irony and are thus presented with two communist governments that failed. Consequently, readers are led to believe that communism rarely works. While communism may be an unsuccessful form of government, its disastrous effects were worsened by extensive authority in the hands of corrupt leaders.

Orwell privileges the concept that the vices of leaders possessing extensive authority are reflected in the society which they govern. Napoleon, who is the leader of Animal Farm, is naturally selfish. This trait is exhibited when Napoleon and the pigs lead luxurious lives while the other animals live in poverty. For example, after Mr Jones is overthrown: “it was agreed that the milk and the windfall apples…should be reserved for the pigs alone” (p.
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