The writer created Animal Farm work during the Second World War from 1943 to 1944, but it was published only in 1945 in Great Britain. The book belongs to the genre of satire and is a parody of the Russian revolution of 1917. In the Soviet Union, however, it was first published in 1988 due to a change in the course of power. Orwell, in his work, shows the replacement of dictatorship under a noble pretext.
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One of the central characters in work is the Old Major, the boar, the ideological inspirer of the revolution, who dies shortly before the uprising. He comes up with the basic concept of the future course and explains to other animals of the barnyard why it is necessary to expel a person. He says that they live in slavery and poverty because man appropriates the fruits of their labor and calls for an uprising: “you need to free yourself from man” (Orwell, 2003, p. 36). The animals will immediately become free and prosperous. Even though Major himself does not live up to the main actions of the story, his ideas have a critical impact on all other inhabitants of the farm. After the death of the Major, preparations for the uprising begin, but no one knows precisely when it will happen. The movement leaders, which will soon gain momentum, are Napoleon, Snowball, and Screech. The first boar is cunning, and power-hungry, the second is extraordinarily quick-witted. Shrieker demonstrates exceptional oratorical talent.
Any revolutionary movement is impossible without an idea, Animalism becomes an inspirational idea for animals. It is based on the lack of contact with people, a way of life that has nothing in common with the human society. Farm dwellers should not sleep in beds, drink alcohol, trade, and so on.
The basis for the Major’s image is Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the ideological inspirer of the revolution in Russia. He dies shortly before the real uprising, which will end the Russian Empire and begin a new era of building socialism in the state of the USSR. Unlike other pigs, Major’s dream was animal freedom, making him more of a positive character. The plan he recounted about the universal equality of animals without people was the reason for the uprising of animals.
Orwell is ironic about the historical figure since the image of the Major is satirical. After the death of the old boar, the skull of the uprising’s mastermind is dug out of the grave by the animals and put on a stake. This fragment is an apparent reference to Lenin since after his death, his body is embalmed by followers and placed in a mausoleum located on Red Square in the center of Moscow. In addition, every morning, the animals on the farm sing the “Beasts of England” anthem, which the Major teaches them shortly before his death. This song is a reference to “Internationale” – a kind of anthem of the Soviet Revolution.
To confirm the thesis about the connection between the Old Major and Lenin’s image, it is worth paying attention to the followers of the deceased pig and, in particular, Napoleon. Napoleon is one of the main characters in the story. In the beginning, he is a hero, the leader of the rebellion, one of the founders of the animal philosophy of Animalism. After the revolution, he seizes the sole power, uses his repressive apparatus in the person of ferocious dogs, and executes animals accused of dissent. The aggressive Napoleon is undoubtedly a copy of Joseph Stalin, during whose reign a similar cult was created. Thus, Orwell’s story’s events repeat the real historical events in the USSR in the first half of the twentieth century.
All the Animal Farm characters have their historical prototypes, which refer either to specific individuals or to certain strata of society. In his work, Orwell analyzes the events in Russia and how people hide behind various ideas to manipulate the minds of the masses. One of the main characters is the Old Major, a boar whose image is a satirical reference to Russia’s revolutionary leader – Vladimir Lenin.
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Orwell, George, and A. M. Heath. Animal farm and 1984. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003.