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Angličtina - George Orwell - Animal Farm

Autor: Přemysl Brada

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a novel based on the lives of a society of animals living on the Manor Farm, which is owned by Mr. Jones. The animals revolted against human rules and cruelty and started to rule themselves alone.

They all live according to the Seven Commandments of an old pig Major, who led the revolution but who died shortly thereafter. New leader Napoleon, also a pig, changed Major’s orders, led the pigs to superiority and brought totalitarian manners.

Although the title of the book suggests the book is merely about animals, the story is a much more in depth analysis of the workings of society in Communist Russia. The animals are used as puppets to illustrate how the communist class system operated, how Russian citizens responded to this, and how early Russian leaders such as Stalin used propaganda, and the effect this type of leadership had on the behaviour of the people of Russia.

Animal Farm was written between November 1943 and February 1944. Orwell knew it would be difficult to find a publisher for it because the left-wing publishers who had brought out his earlier work were quite unwilling to publish this book because of its criticism of Stalin (in the character of the pig, Napoleon). It was finally published in August 1945, and has never been out of print since.

Telling a story about animals is a very old method for the story-teller to say something about humans, since it is possible to keep the reader aware that the story is working on two different levels at the same time: the animals are both animals and also stand for human beings whom the author is laughing at or satirising.

A very clear example of this in Animal Farm is Major’s speech to the other animals, which expresses Marx’s view of history as a struggle between groups-in the book case between humans and animals (from the point of view of the animals, as Orwell said)-and can also clearly be applied to two groups of human beings, with the animals here standing for the proletariat in contrast to the ruling classes.

Orwell described Animal Farm as being “the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole”, and the animal story and the political story it tells work together throughout the book.

Many of the characters and events in the book can also be understood on two levels. Major, as well as being an old boar, expresses in very simple terms the beliefs of Marx and Lenin, who established the principles of the Russian Revolution.

Napoleon can stand for Stalin, who led the Soviet Union during the 1930’s and the Second World War. In the 1930’s, after he became leader, many of those who had previously been his comrades were put on trial for crimes against State, “confessed” and were put to death.

Snowball’s career follows that of Trotsky, who was defeated for the Soviet leadership by Stalin and later expelled from the Soviet Union. Many of those found guilty of crimes against the Soviet State in 1930s said that Trotsky had inspired them.

Of the neighbouring farms, Foxwood can stand for the European Allies during World War 2, while Pinchfield stands for Germany, so that the attack by Frederick and his men on the farm, and following destruction of the windmill, which the animals had built before, represent German invasion of the Soviet Union and its results.

The lesser characters in the book stand for “types” rather than individuals: Moses represents the forces of religion; Clover knows something has gone wrong with the Revolution but can’t express it clearly.

The horse Boxer uses his great physical strength to establish the Revolution, he contributed the most to the development of the windmill, but simply answers all his increasing doubts and problems with the two slogans “Comrade Napoleon is always right” and “I will work harder”.

The issue of Boxer represents how people are used for their skills and talents. As soon as they are not needed they are disregarded. So when Boxer was unable to continue working, Napoleon got rid of him.

“Boxer’s face disappeared at the window. Boxer was never seen again.”

This scene illustrates that Animal Farm is a real story about human nature, as it is a human tendency to use people to achieve certain means, but disregard them as soon as they are no longer needed.

Clover’s feeling for Boxer also illustrates how Animal Farm is about human nature and behaviour. Clover’s fondness for Boxer is shown when Boxer confided in Clover admitting to her how much his split hoof hurt. Clover treated Boxer’s troubled hoof with poultices of herbs.

After Boxer’s hoof had healed, he worked harder than ever and Clover tried to convince him that he shouldn’t be working so hard and he should be taking better care of his hoof, but Boxer paid no attention.

When Boxer had his fall, Clover was first who was coming to his aid, for the next two days when Boxer had to stay in his stall and was giving Boxer a medicine. In the evenings Clover was lying in his stall and talking to him. When the knackers came to collect Boxer, Clover did all in her power to stop the knackers taking Boxer away.

This example of behaviour indicates the human quality of love and compassion towards others.

While Benjamin, who has enough intelligence and independence of mind to understand what is happening, refuses to get involved in the political life of the farm. His clear attitude in the story is an example of what Orwell regarded as one of the worst social sins: intelligence, which refuses to take political responsibility.

The pigs, who give themselves the education and privileges which mark a ruling class, use the power which gives them (and the force of terror provided by Napoleon’s dogs) possibility to control the other animals in ways that are different from those used by ruling group before the Revolution (Jones and his men) but are even more effective, because the pigs establish power over the other animals’ mind as well as their bodies.

Much of this power is established by the pigs’ use of language for their own purpose: one of Orwell’s major concerns was the way of language was being used as a weapon of propaganda for the ruling classes of different societies, and there are many examples in Animal Farm of the pigs using language to gain and keep political control.

From Squealer’s ingenious explanation of why pigs, but not other animals, should have milk and apples in beds, to his explanation of Napoleon’s change of attitude to the windmill, the language is used as one of the best implements how to not only control but even influence powerless people as it was possible to see in communist Russia as well as in Nazi Germany and other totalitarian states.

In several cases language is used to persuade the other animals not to believe the evidence of their own senses, as when Snowball’s role in the battle of the Cowshed is later denied, and when the animals are convinced that they can not be as hungry as they are, because there is not really a reduction in rations, only a “readjustment”.

Above all language plays a vital part in the story because the Revolution is based on the Seven Commandments of old Major, and it is the changes in their wording that chart the pigs’ gradual betrayal of the principles of the Revolution – and the mindless chanting of slogans by the sheep that prevents too many awkward questions from being asked.

At the end of the story the pigs invited Jones and his friends to the farm and they all started to booze together. Later on it is not possible to distinguish, who is human being and who pig because they are all very drunk.

Orwell is not suggesting that true revolution is possible, but there is always a danger of the revolution being betrayed, and that language is a major tool of the betrayal.

Freedom of expression and political freedom, for Orwell, could not exist without each other, so that he felt the control of language by anyone group in society.

His comment on the connection between politics and philosophy as well as an underlying theme of Animal Farm sounds: “Liberty is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Although Animal Farm tells the story about Russian society through animals, the fact is that it is a story about real people who makes Animal Farm a story about human nature and behaviour.



A short extract from Animal Farm

The pigs now revealed that during the past three months they had taught themselves to read and write from an old spelling book which had belonged to Mr. Jones s children and which had been thrown on the rubbish heap. Napoleon sent for pots of black and white paint and led the way down to the five-barred gate that gave on to the main road. Then Snowball (for it was Snowball who was best at writing) took a brush between the two knuckles of his trotter, painted out MANOR FARM from the top bar of the gate and in its place painted ANIMAL FARM.

This was to be the name of the farm from now onwards. After this they went back to the farm buildings, where Snowball and Napoleon sent for a ladder, which they caused to be set against the end wall of the big barn. They explained that by their studies of the past three months the pigs had succeeded in reducing the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments.

These Seven Commandments would now be inscribed on the wall; they would form an unalterable law by which all the animals on Animal Farm must live forever after. With some difficulty (it is not easy for a pig to balance himself on a ladder) Snowball climbed up and set to work, with Squealer a few rungs below him holding the paint-pot. The Commandments were written on the tarred wall in great white letters that could be read thirty yards away. They ran thus:


1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.

2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a


3. No animal shall wear clothes.

4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.

5. No animal shall drink alcohol.

6. No animal shall kill any other animal.

7. All animals are equal.

It was very neatly written, and except that "friend" was written "freind" and one of the "S s" was the wrong way round, the spelling was correct all the way through. Snowball read it aloud for the benefit of the others. All the animals nodded in complete agreement, and the cleverer ones at once began to learn the Commandments by heart.

"Now, comrades," cried Snowball, throwing down the paintbrush, "to the hayfield! Let us make it a point of honour to get in the harvest more quickly than Jones and his men could do."

But at this moment the three cows, which had seemed uneasy for some time past, set up a loud lowing. They had not been milked for twenty-four hours, and their udders were almost bursting. After a little thought, the pigs sent for buckets and milked the cows fairly successfully, their trotters being well adapted to this task. Soon there were five buckets of frothing creamy milk at which many of the animals looked with considerable interest.

"What is going to happen to all that milk?" said someone.

"Jones used sometimes to mix some of it in our mash," said one of the hens.

"Never mind the milk, comrades!" cried Napoleon, placing himself in front of the buckets.

"That will be attended to. The harvest is more important. Comrade Snowball will lead the way. I shall follow in a few minutes. Forward, comrades! The hay is waiting."

So the animals trooped down to the hayfield to begin the harvest, and when they came back in the evening it was noticed that the milk had disappeared.