Though Animal Farm can be considered nothing more than a charming animal fable depicting a doomed rebellion, its origin is actually of a more serious and political nature. It is not only the tale of Napoleon and Animal Farm, but a satire and commentary on that of the Russian Revolution, Stalin and Communism. For a person to gain a true understanding of Orwell's meaning in Animal Farm, it is best that he or she has an understanding of the political parties and history surrounding Communism, Stalin, and the upheaval and fear that followed Stalin's rise to power.
Orwell did not write Animal Farm simply as a bed time story for children, or for a work to be studied by students in their classes. As Alok Rai stated, "Orwell's Animal Farm was a calculated outrage, a deliberately provocative affront to the contemporary admiration for the Soviet Union, whose armies were fighting with epic heroism against Hitler's dread war machine. This background is crucial to a correct understanding of Orwell's brilliantly serious jest" (113). To draw the similarities between Napoleon the pig and Stalin, or Snowball the pig and Trotsky is part of what makes this book so interesting, and to do so one must have some knowledge of the political issues Orwell was writing about at the time.
As stated, it is helpful for a person who is reading Animal Farm to have some knowledge of history to fully appreciate the novel. What was the political situation that was taking place during the time in which Orwell wrote Animal Farm? For one, World War II was occurring, though by the time the novel was published it was close to the end of the war. Stalin was in control of the Soviet Union, under a Communist rule, though th...
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...ther and, to whomsoever power was entrusted, it was almost certain to be abused. For power was itself corrupting" (147). This can, of course, be one of several different messages that are taken away from the novel by a reader.
Does one, then, have to be a political history student to understand all that goes on in Animal Farm? No. History student or not, there are several messages to be found within the novel, which anyone is capable of finding, if it is read properly. However, to fully appreciate all that Orwell attempted to accomplish with Animal Farm, or to see the parallels between the novel and the turmoil of Orwell's reality, it is important to have some grasp of the politics and history of that time. Otherwise, though not all the messages he intended within the pages of Animal Farm will be lost, the majority of ironies and parallels most certainly will be.
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