Satire in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’

The book Animal Farm, is a political satire of a totalitarian society ruled by a mighty dictatorship, in all probability an allegory for the events surrounding the Russian Revolution. The animals of “Manor Farm” overthrow their human master (Mr. Jones) after a long history of mistreatment. Little by little, the pigs become dominant, gaining more power and advantage over the other animals, so much so that they become as corrupt and power-hungry as their predecessors, the humans. Major (an old boar) tells them that the source of all their problems is man, and that they must remove man from their midst for hopes of a Utopia. After Major’s death Napoleon and Snowball, two boars led the rebellion were soon things start to change. Orwell builds Napoleon’s career in reference to this quote, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Napoleon cheated, manipulated, and killed because of greediness for one’s place in power. Mr. Jones tries to reclaim his power but the animals prevent him from doing so in what they call “The Battle of the Cowshed.” After the battle, Napoleon drives Snowball off the farm telling everyone that Snowball was on Mr. Jones’ side. This is just the beginning of what Napoleon’s plans are for the future of Manor Farm. This is no surprise coming from Napoleon, based on what he has done before, always disagreeing with Snowballs plans and thinking of his own. Napoleon is further appreciated by the other animals for exposing and removing the traitor, Snowball, from their midst.

Animal Farm is a direct comparison to the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, as a result of Joseph Stalin’s Communism. Orwell substitutes animals for humans, so the big concepts of communism are shown on the farm. Communism is meant to be a society where all people are equal, yet the revolution of the Russians results in certain people having more power over others, but those people are the same kind of tyrants. The pigs take over because they think that they are the smartest and in order to protect them, it’s eventually decided to reserve the best food for them. George Orwell’s Animal Farm uses satire to show the political ideology and the misuse of power in communistic society.

Orwell uses humorous satire by making the setting on a farm and the characters animals. Orwell, then, shows the perversion of political ideals and the corruption of power which occur in human societies. The power of the new society becomes corrupt and the people aren’t all equal. Napoleon, stalin, slaughters the animals that disagree with him and who don’t follow his orders. Napoleon slaughters the animals to strike fear into the other animals so that they don’t rebel. When napoleon accuses snowball of destroying the windmill, even though it wasn’t him. This shows that Napoleon even lies when it comes to making snowball look bad to the other animals.

The main characters are animals but their failings are all too recognisably human. They begin with an attempt to form a new society, separated from the tyranny of humans and established on the principle of equality and freedom for everyone, but it all goes wrong as the pigs take over. The animals, russian people, try to create a new society and government but the new system didn’t work well as curtain groups took over. Protected by the brute power of the dogs, the pigs give themselves all manner of comforts and even luxuries for themselves, while treating the other animals in the same way as slavery and how they suffered under humans. Napoleon, stalin, uses the dogs, which is the kgb, to scare the people into obeying him and following his orders.

Orwell uses irony throughout that goes hand-in-hand with satire. Major’s words in the beginning of the book reflect throughout the novel, “all men are enemies. . . we must not resemble them. . . no animal must ever tyrannize his own” according to Robert Girard’s , because they become a blueprint for the very behaviors of Napoleon once he’s established his dominance over his own. The commandments change as his control over the animals changes and erases the original purposes of the revolution. The farmhouse, a symbol of the evil of man, is co-opted by Napoleon as his own and helps transform him into the being indistinguishable from men. The windmill, a symbol of the Revolution, becomes the means to manage the animals. Rebuilding it certainly focuses their energies on one task and not on their health, but in making Snowball the enemy for its destruction, Napoleon convinces the animals into being more determined and faithful to their cause by telling them that they do not want to work under the tyranny of Jones or one of his agents. Yet, in the end, they are exchanging one tyrant for another.

Throughout the whole novel a strong phrase is said, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”, this phrase shows what the animals originally tried to create in the beginning of the novel. When the new society started to build it became less and less equal, this is stated when Orwell states,”The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”, this shows that the original society was starting to resurface but the pigs being man instead.

Orwell’s point that the pigs are really just the same as the human tyrants they replaced is expressed in the ending of the novel, as the pigs mingle with humans to the extent that it becomes impossible to distinguish between them and the humans. Although the specific animals and events that he uses clearly resemble particular parallels in the real world, their status as symbols allows them to signify beyond specific times and places.

Work cited

Kirschner, Paul. “The Dual Purpose of ‘Animal Farm.'” The Review of English Studies, vol. 55, no. 222, 2004, pp. 759-786. New Series,

Letemendia, V. C. “Revolution on Animal Farm: Orwell’s Neglected Commentary.” Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 18, no. 1, 1992, pp. 127-137.,

George Orwell.” Encyclopedia of World Biography¨, Gale, 1998. Biography in Context, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.

Animal Farm, by George Orwell


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