The Russian Revolution and its aftermath

Even though Animal Farm is, on the surface, a bizarre tale about animals rising up against their masters to form a new society, it is clearly intended to directly reflect real developments that took place in Russia in the first half of the 20th century.

Old Major represents the various authors of the political philosophy of Communism (which becomes ‘Animalism’ in the novel), notably the philosopher Karl Marx (who wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848). However, Old Major also recalls Vladimir Lenin, a central figure in the early days of the Soviet Union. Lenin served as the head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 (the time of the October Revolution) until his death in 1924. Just as Lenin’s ideas encouraged a group of Russians to rebel against the rule of Tsar Nicholas II, Old Major’s ideas inspire the animals to rebel against the oppressive rule of Mr. Jones.

After Lenin’s death, a cult of personality was established around Le…


Revolutions in general

Though the novel is meant as a direct parallel to the Russian Revolution (see above), it also touches upon more general concerns that apply to the…


The power of propaganda

An important theme in Animal Farm is connected to the power of political propaganda. Even though their condition becomes more and more terrible, the efficient propaganda delivered by Squealer in both speech and text usually manages to convince the other animals that they are actually well off, and effectively prevent any real attempts to rebel against Napoleon and the pigs.

The novel also shows the way propaganda can be used to alte…

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