Reviews, opinions, recommendations and other literary ramblings.
Quote of the week:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep." - William Shakespeare.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Animal Farm´s Symbolism.
is a follow up from the previous post and a summarizing approach to the
symbolism lying beneath the characters in this allegorical masterpiece.
have already mentioned that the novel itself symbolizes the rise and
development of the Russian revolution and, at the same time, it
epitomizes how a revolutionary movement that starts with lofty and
wholesome ideals, can become defiled and corrupted to the point of
falling back and turning into the same regime that once struggled to
behind each particular character there lies an allusion to either an
influential political persona of the Russian revolution or to the
specific roles of the people involved in both the subduing of the
population and the subjected themselves:
At the beginning of the uprising there are two main leaders of the
movement, one of them, a circumspect, morose and yet extremely cunning
pig named Napoleon that manages to efface all his rivals and potential
enemies, to impose his own distorted vision of the world and to
blamelessly commit the most heinous atrocities and still be acclaimed
and worshiped by the rest of the animals. Napoleon symbolizes Iósif
Stalin, his role in the revolution and how he ruled Russia afterward.
At the end of the novel (SPOILER ALERT), when Napoleon and his minions
manage to walk only on their hind legs, fully dressed as humans and
already defiled with their most common vices, it symbolizes not only how
the oppressed can easily become the oppressors when the right
circumstances reign, but also how Stalin eventually embodied the tyranny
of the tsarist Russia that the very revolution tried to vanquish.
The other political leader of the farm is a highly persuasive pig
called Snowball, whose ideals of equality and highly effective orator
skills lead him to become the sworn enemy of Napoleon´s and eventually
got him exiled and stigmatized as the Farm´s eternal foe. Snowball is
meant to symbolize León Trotsky and his failure to maintain himself as a
prominent figure in the establishment of the new order in the
c) The dogs:
Napoleon´s knockout method to obtain obedience, power and respect is
through a pack of vicious dogs, whose loyalty lies solely in Napoleon´s
wishes and commands. The dogs symbolize the military by means of which
the ruthless ruler murders, intimidates and exploits the rest of the
d) The sheep:
Probably the biggest hindrance for the dissatisfied animals are the
sheep, symbolizing the mindless and drone-like partisans, whose lack of
self-thinking, easy manipulative nature and inane babble eventually
blots out any other utterances from the animals, holds in check any
possible demonstrations and insidiously plays part in the propaganda of
the ruling pigs. It is through the ceaseless chanting of the sheep that
more often than not, the pigs get away with the most awful abuses.
e) Moses the tame raven:
There are some moments in which a raven alights in the farm and sooths
the animals´ weary souls with words of a promised land- “Sugarcandy
Mountain”- a place in which labor no longer exists and the animals dwell
in everlasting happiness and peace. Moses is meant to represent the
Russian Orthodox Church, whose opium-like influence was employed to
abate any possible dissension in the population.
f) The horses:
In the characters of Boxer and Clover we find a somewhat sympathetic
and at the same time brutal portrayal of the working class, the
proletariat. In them we find indefatigable workers, distinguished by an
unshakable loyalty to Napoleon and a desire to materialize the ideals of
the movement. Yet their ignorance, their poor instruction and extreme
naiveté leads them directly into the path of being just another tool for
the ruling stratum to reach their private agenda. They are exploited,
manipulated and eventually disposed of when they start suspecting that
the pigs might actually not be looking out for the welfare of all the
animals of the farm or their backs simply give out from the unbearable
these are just a few of the myriad meanings hidden in every nook and
cranny of Animal Farm. Other characters that give you something to think
about are Benjamin the donkey, Mollie the shallow mare, the cat, the
hens, Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington and I could even make a case for
Mr. Whymper, hired by Napoleon to represent the farm in human society.
so we could go on and on, gloating in the richness of this great novel,
that keeps reminding us one of the most important things in life: to
keep thinking by ourselves.