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    Animal Farm: Animal Satire Essay

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    This study aims to determine that George Orwell’s Animal Farm is apolitical satire which was written to criticise totalitarianregimes and particularly Stalin’s practices in Russia. In order toprovide background information that would reveal causes led Orwellto write Animal Farm, Chapter one is devoted to a brief summary ofthe progress of author’s life and significant events that hadimpact on his political convictions. Chapter one also presentsbackground information about Animal Farm. Chapter two is devotedto satire.

    In this chapter, definition of satire is presented andsome important characteristics of satire are discussed. In chapterthree, the method of this research is described. Under the lightof information presented in the previous chapters, Chapter fourdiscusses Animal Farm and focuses on the book as a politicalsatire. The last chapter presents the conclusion of this study.




    This chapter introduces general information about George Orwell’slife.

    It includes chronological progress of his life and hispolitical convictions. Furthermore, important events, such as TheRussian Revolution and The Spanish Civil War which had significantinfluence on his commitment to write Animal Farm will bediscussed. Lastly, general information about Animal Farm will begiven. His LifeThe British author George Orwell, pen name of Eric Arthur Blair,was born in Motihari, India, June 25, 1903.

    His father was animportant British civil servant in India, which was then part ofthe British Empire. A few years after Eric was born, he retired ona low pension and moved back to England. Though their income wasnot much enough, the Blair family sent their son away to boardingschool which was an exclusive preparatory school, to prepare himfor Eton Collage. Eric then won a scholarship to Eton Collage. During his education from the age of eight to eighteen, as hewrote in his essay about his school experiences titled “Such, SuchWere the Joys,” he experienced many things about the “world wherethe prime necessities were money, titled relatives, athleticism,tailor-made clothes”, inequality, oppression and classdistinctions in the schools of England (In Ball,1984).

    After the education at Eton College in England, Eric joined theIndian Imperial Police in British-Ruled Burma in 1922. There hewitnessed oppression again, but this time he was looking at thingsfrom the top. Having served five years in Burma, he resigned in1927 and turned back to Europe and lived in Paris for more than ayear. Though he wrote novels and short stories he found nobody toget them published. He worked as a tutor and even as a dishwasherin Paris. During his poor days in Paris, he once more experiencedthe problems of the oppressed, the helpless and lower classpeople.

    In 1933, After having many experiences about the life at thebottom of society, he wrote Down and Out in Paris and London andpublished it under his pen name “George Orwell. ” After a year in1934 he published his novel Burmese Days, which he reflected hisexperiences there. Then, he published A Clergyman’s Daughter in1935, and Keep the Aspidistra Flying in 1936. In 1936, his publisher wanted Orwell to go to the English coal-mining country and write about it which was another importantexperience in his life. He wrote The Road to Wigan Pier to reflectwhat he saw there, the real poverty of people of the LancashireTown of Wigan, and published it in 1937 (Ball, 1984). 1937 was the year that Orwell who for some time had beendescribing himself as “pro-socialist” (BALL, 1984) joined theRepublican forces in the Spanish Civil War.

    When the Communistsattempted to eliminate their allies on the far left, he foughtagainst them and was wounded in the fighting, later was forced toflee for his life. His experience in this war was to have the mostsignificant impact on his political thoughts and his later works. In 1938, Orwell wrote Homage to Catalonia, which recounts hisexperiences fighting for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. One of his best-known books reflecting his lifelong distrust ofdictatorial government, whether of the left or right, Animal Farm,a modern beast-fable attacking Russian Revolution, Stalinism andtotalitarianism, was published in 1945, and Nineteen Eighty-Four,a dystopian novel setting forth his fears of an intrusivelybureaucratised state of the future was published in 1949.

    Hisfirst fame was brought by these two novels and they were the onlyones which made a profit for him as a writer (Ball,1984). Orwell died at the early age of forty-seven of a neglected lungailment in London, Jan. 21, 1950. His Time: Political BackgroundIn his essay “Why I Write”, Orwell (1947) says:I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowingsomething of his early development.

    His subject matter will bedetermined by the age he lives in_at least this is true intumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own_Taking Orwell’s his own words into consideration, in order to geta better understanding of his works and particularly of hispolitical satire Animal Farm, we should look at his politicalconvictions, and the historical context which influenced Orwelland inspired him to write. Very few authors develop essaysexplaining the motivation behind their writing. Orwell was of onethem. Therefore in order to understand his motivations, his essay”Why I Write” would be the most appropriate source to be lookedat. Orwell was a political writer and according to him he was `forced’to be a writer by the circumstances under which he has becomeaware of his `political loyalties’.

    His Burma and Paris daysincreased his `natural hatred of authority’ and `made him aware ofthe existence of the working classes. (Orwell, 1947)As mentioned above, he described himself as “pro-Socialist. ” Whathe was longing for was a society in which there would be no classdistinctions, and he named his ideal ideology “democraticsocialism”. He says “every line of serious work that I havewritten since 1936 has been directly or indirectly, againsttotalitarianism and for democratic socialism ” (Orwell, 1947)There are two significant events that have great influence onOrwell’s political thoughts: The Russian revolution that tookplace in the second decade of 20th century and The Spanish CivilWar between 1936 and 1939. The Russian RevolutionBolshevik Revolution of October 1917 was the first greatrevolution which aimed at to overthrow the owners of the means ofproduction, that is Capitalist Bourgeoisie, and to establish astate to be ruled by the working class, the Proletariat.

    Ideological basis of the revolution was taken from the philosophyof Karl Marx and Frederick Angels who believed that the history ofthe world was the history of a struggle between classes- betweenruling classes and ruled classes (Han?erliodlu, 1976). Marx wasvery critical of industrial capitalist society in which there aremany cruel injustices and men are exploited by men. Out of hisanalysis of Capitalist system, he attained a vision of endingthese injustices and establishing a society in which there wouldbe no social classes and everybody would be equal. To him, inorder to achieve this end the only way was a revolution made bythe working class or the Proletariat against the Bourgeoisie.

    After revolution working classes would own the means ofproduction. Marx called the new order that would be set afterrevolution “dictatorship of the Proletariat” which eventuallyreplaced with a classless society (Han?erliodlu, 1976). In October 1917, V. I. Lenin, led the socialist (Bolshevik)revolution in Russia.

    After the revolution was a four-year bloodycivil war. During this war Red Army of the revolution organisedand headed by Leon Trotsky had to fight against both Russians whowere loyal to Czar and foreign troops (The Academic AmericanEncyclopaedia, 1995). After Lenin died in 1924, a struggle between Joseph Stalin andLeon Trotsky started for the leadership of the Communist Party. Stalin gained priority over Trotsky and; in 1925 Trotsky withseveral other members ousted from Politburo (the chief executiveand political committee of the Communist Party); in 1927 Trotskyand his followers expelled from Party; Stalin took the control. Later Trotsky was exiled and in 1929 he was deported. In 1940 hewas assassinated.

    During this period, Stalin always denouncedTrotsky as a traitor (Ball, 1929). In the following years, Russia witnessed that Stalin started totake all power only in his hands. In 1930’s, many people werearrested. After public trials most of the opposing elements wereeliminated. Stalin has been accused of being a very cruel dictator. However,Nikita Khrushchev, who ruled USSR between 1958-1964 and who wasvery critical of Stalin’s crimes and non-human practices said in1956 that:Stalin believed that all his practices was necessary in order todefend the benefits of labourers.

    He looked at these practicesfrom the view point of the benefit of socialism and labourers. Thus, we cannot define his practices as of a giddy cruel despot. Here, it is the all tragedy (Han?erliodlu, 1979). The Spanish Civil WarIn 1936, General Francisco Franco led a military coup in Spain,plunging the country into civil war. Franklin Rosemont in hisarticle “Spanish revolution of 1936” defines the beginning of therevolution as follows:When Franco’s fascist troops invaded Spain in July 1936 with thepurpose of overthrowing the young and unstable Republic, theSpanish working class responded by making a revolution that wentmuch further toward realising the classless and stateless ideal ofproletarian socialism than any preceding popular revolt. Spontaneously and almost overnight, workers seized factories andother workplaces; land was collectivised; workers’ militias wereformed throughout the country; the church_age-old enemy of allworking-class radicalism and indeed, openly profascist_wasdismantled, and its property confiscated; established politicalinstitutions disintegrated or were taken over by workers’committees (Rosemont, 1988).

    Yet, between 1936 and 1939 the military rising originating inMorocco, headed by General Francisco Franco, spreads rapidly allover the country, After a number of bloody battles in whichfortunes changed from one side to the other. Finally, Nationalistforces occupied the capital, Madrid, on March 28, 1939, and onApril 1, General Franco officially ended the war (The AcademicAmerican Encyclopaedia). Orwell And The Spanish Civil WarDavid Ball (1984) points out three experiences in the SpanishCivil War that were important for Orwell: atmosphere ofComradeship and respect, what happened to his fellow fighters andwhat happened when he returned to England and reported what he hadseen. After spending very poor days in Paris, Orwell went to Spain tofight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.

    When hearrived Barcelona, he found an elating “atmosphere of Comradeshipand respect”. People were friendly and addressing each other”comrade”. To Orwell, relations in the militia group he joinedwere the same and this made him feel that socialism was in actionthere. But later on, he was disappointed by what happened to his armfriends who were imprisoned and killed by their own “comrades” whowere of Communist-dominated elements of the Republican governmentthat they were fighting for. Communists believed that thecommunist ideas were betrayed by the militia group that Orwellbelonged to.

    After he was wounded Orwell went back to England forremedy and was saved from being killed by his “comrades”. When he returned England he reported what he witnessed in the war,but Socialists strongly resisted to understand what he told aboutthe practices of communists in Spain. The reason was that it wasnot the right time to publicise all these things while the war wasgoing on and this information would harm Republican’s position inthe war. After this bad experience, he started to be more criticalof British socialists and of communism. He wrote in his article”The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale andthereafter I knew where I stood.

    ” (Orwell, 1947)Animal FarmThrough his questioning of his own experiences in Burma and Spainand communists’ practices in USSR, Orwell began to develop arejection of totalitarian systems. He was also denouncing theacceptance of soviet regime by the left-wing people of othercountries and particularly of England without questioning indepth. For Michael Shelden, “the idea for the book” which was toserve Orwell’s desire to “make a forceful attack, in animaginative way, on the sustaining myths of Soviet communism hadbeen in the back of his mind since his return from Spain”(Shelden, 1991, p. 399). Another author Peter Davison points outthat, besides Orwell’s experience in Spain, Animal Farm”originated from the incident that suggested its genre: the littleboy driving a huge cart-horse, which could easily overwhelm thechild had realised its own strength. “(Davison, 1996, p.

    125)Shortly after he published Animal Farm, Orwell (1947) in his essaytitled “Why I Write” wrote about his goals in writing his book:Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with fullconsciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose andartistic purpose into one whole. I have not written a novel forseven years, but I hope to write another fairly soon. It is boundto be a failure, every book is a failure, but I do know with someclarity what kind of book I want to write. When Orwell finished his book, no one wanted to publish it. Since,like his efforts to publicise reality after he returned fromSpain, for many people, and of course for publishers, it was thevery wrong time to attack Soviet myth, particularly when the WorldWar-II was going on and Russia was Britain’s ally.

    Consequentlythe book was published in Britain on 17 August 1945, after the warwas over, and sold more than 25. 000 hard copies in five years. When it published in the State in 1946, it sold about 590. 000 infour years (Shelden, 1991).

    The book was a satire on totalitarian regime of Stalin in Russia. Many people thought (and still think) that the book revealsOrwell’s opposition to the ideology that was prevailing in Russia. As Michael Shelden states, the book “caught the popularimagination just when the Cold War beginning to make itself felt. For many years `anti-Communists’ enjoyed it as a propaganda weaponin that war” (Shelden, 1991, p.

    404). But this interpretation ofthe book was completely opposes to the real intention of the book. As Roger Fowler reports, in his preface to the Ukrainian editionof Animal Farm, written in 1947, Orwell writes that his aim withAnimal Farm was not only to attack and to criticise SovietCommunism, but to attack “Soviet Myth” as received in Britain. Tohim, this myth was giving harm to the Socialist movement (Fowler,1995, p. 163).

    Animal Farm might leave a kind of pessimism on readers who haveknowledge of historical background that inspired Orwell to writeit. For instance, one possible pessimistic view that can bederived from Animal Farm is the impossibility of establishing asocial system in which there would be no inequality betweenindividuals and there would be no individuals or groups of peoplewho apt to make use of power just for their benefits. Anotherpossible pessimistic view of those who rely on socialism orcommunism would be that: even socialism, which is claimed to be amore egalitarian system, would be turned into a dictatorship byhuman beings’ desire for power. Actually, the point that Orwell intended to give emphasis is notthe ideology itself, but the human nature. As Christopher Hollis(1962) explains, “The lesson of Animal Farm is clearly not merelythe corrupting effect of power when exercised by Communists, butthe corrupting effect of power when exercised by anybody” (InYemenici, 1997).

    Finally, for a better understanding of Orwell’s intention, it isthe best way to consult Orwell himself. Shelden (1991) quotesOrwell’s letter he sent to Dwight Macdonald in America in which heexpresses his intentions in writing Animal Farm. The letterincluded his arguments against pessimistic view of his book:Of course I intended it primarily as a satire on the RussianRevolution. But I did mean it to have a wider application in somuch that I meant that that kind of revolution (violentconspiratorial revolution, led by unconsciously power-hungrypeople) can only lead to a change of masters. I meant the moral tobe that revolutions only effect a radical improvement when themasses are alert and know how o chuck out their leaders as soon asthe latter have done their job. The turning point of the story wassupposed to be when the pigs kept the milk for themselves(Kronstad).

    If the other animals had had the sense to put theirfoot down then, it would have been all right . . . what I was tryingto say was, `You can’t have a revolution unless you make it foryourself; there is no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship(p. 407).

    ChapterSATIREPresentationThis chapter is devoted to the information about satire. After thedefinition of satire, its significant characteristics, and sometechniques used in satire will be discussed. What Is Satire?DefinitionThere are many different ways to reveal one’s perception of lifeand its reflection by a person. In art for instance, thereflection may be revealed in the form of a sculpture, a song or apicture.

    Satire is one the ways that the reaction or perception oflife is expressed. Since people look at life from different standpoints, as matter of fact, they naturally perceive it in numerousways. As a result of the variety in perception, the way ofrevealing the effects or reflections of these perceptions alsoshows variety. Originally, the word “satire” comes from “the Latin word formedley, satura; the impression that it is to do with the word”satyr” is a popular delusion” (Abrams, 1986, p. 2598).

    it is a wayof revealing the reaction to what is perceived, with a mixture oflaughter and outrage. In The Quarterly Journal of ContemporarySatire the description of satire is given as “a work in whichvices, follies, stupidities, abuses, etc. are held up to ridiculeand contempt. ” In the preface to The Battle of the Books, JonathanSwift, who claimed that satire is therapeutic, describes satire as”A sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discovereverybody’s face but their own” (In Bozkurt, 1977, p. 71). Bozkurt (1977), offers two fundamental types of satire: Horatianand Juvenalian satire.

    These types are named for two Roman poetsHorace and Jevenal, the most differentiated practitioner of them. As Bozkurt reports, both of them were critical of the Romansociety but while the former was more “gentle, urbane, smiling andtolerant”, the latter was “severe” and angry. Horatian satire ispurpose is to sort out society through a “gentle and broadlysympathetic laughter. ” On the other hand, Juvelian satire is”bitter, angry, misanthropic” or cynical. It approaches to itssubject with a degrading and disrespecting manner (Bozkurt, 1977,p.

    68). Characteristics of SatirePeople, in their everyday life, always use satire in order torespond several events going on in their environs. The mainpurpose of using satire is to attack and intensely criticise thetarget subject. It also includes aggressiveness toward the subjectbeing criticised. As a matter of fact, satire should include morethan these in order to be accepted as a satirical work.

    It must,for instance, include aesthetic features like different sound andmeaning patterns that can give pleasure to the readers. Furthermore, the satirist should deal with problematic subjectsthat are known by many people. In doing so, the satirist shouldabstract the setting of satire from the world. Mostly, thisimaginary world is of non-human beings, as in beast fables likeAnimal Farm or, as in Gulliver’s Travels and Alice in Wonderland,a world that possibly would not exist or in which the real worldis turned upside down. Primary reason for abstraction is to movereaders from the concrete reality, and so, while entertaining themthrough a fantastic setting to provide them with a criticalvision.

    Richard (1976) calls this element of satire “fantasy”. Hesays. The satirist does not paint an objective picture of the evils hedescribes, since pure realism would be too oppressive. Instead heusually offers us a travesty of the situation, which at oncedirects our attention to actuality and permits an escape from it. . .

    . It is written for entertainment, but contains sharp andtelling comments on the problems of the world in which we live,offering `imaginary gardens with real toads in them’. As mentioned above, people approach problems, subjects etc. indifferent ways so do authors. The satirist differs from authors ofother types of literature with regard to its way of dealing withhis subject. In novel or drama, for example, the target subject isdealt with directly.

    In the Cherry Orchard, Chekhov deals withsocial change in Russia and how people react to it. His charactersare real persons that can be found in the society as they aredescribed in the play. On the hand, it is impossible to find areal Napoleon or Lilliputian in a society. Since, they are justsymbols of particular types of people. In this sense, the satirist use high level of symbolism.

    Onereason for using symbols might be that it provides the author withan absolute freedom to attack his targets through their images hecreated which seemingly have no relation with the reality. AsRichard (1976) notices, the satirist often aims at “to deflatefalse heroes, imposters or charlatans, who claim a respect whichis not their due, the vehicle he chooses for this is usually themock-heroic. ” Therefore, in order to operate his attack andmockery towards these so-called heroes who might be leaders of acountry or people of prestigiousness, without any restriction thesatirist uses symbols. Since the main topic of satire is politics which is throughout thehistory considered a dirty business, writing political satire isvery risky, but on the other hand it would be very rewardful. Asremarked before, after he published his two satires, Animal Farmand Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell was to be one of the greatestauthors of literature, as mentioned above he hardly find apublisher for Animal Farm, and published it after a year hefinished it.

    In order to achieve his end says Richard (1976), the satirist”must use some of the basic strategies of satire. ” He also should”commit himself boldly to his `impure’ subject, yet retain apurity of attitude, in his aesthetic disengagement from thevulgarities and stupidities of the struggle. ” Richard (1976)continues his argument by adding that what distinguishes satirefrom other kinds of literature is its approach to the subject. Therefore its subject-matter forms the most important aspect ofsatire. Despite he introduces the cruellest facts of life, thesatirist mean to make people laugh and In order to make peoplelaugh, he employs some techniques.

    Techniques of SatireThe satirist may use different forms of literature in prose orverse. But for the satirist some particular techniques arenecessary to achieve his aim. Richard (1976) suggests two maintechniques that the satirist use: the first one is reduction andthe other one is invective and irony. Reduction is the act of decreasing or reducing something. It isthe main means of the satirist to attack his subject.

    People canmore easily criticise those who they can laugh at. Since, laughterloosen muscles and is anatomically relaxing. if you laugh atsomeone, then your critical mechanism are set free, your criticismis revealed easily. Through reduction the satirist aims at to makethe reader laugh at his subject.

    Degrading, says Richard (1976)may be employed “on the level of plot and will almost he continuedto the level of style and language. ” He puts Gulliver’s Travels asthe most outstanding example of reduction. Animal world iscontinually used by the satirist for this aim. Invective is the expression of bitter deep-seated ill will. As itcan be expected the satirist, writing satire, expose himself tocounter-attacks by those who attacked. Richard (1976 )says:this danger becomes the greater, the more the writer is committedto invective and abuse.

    Invective is of course one of his mostuseful weapons, and it is an art its own: it requires elegance ofform to set off grossness of content, and learned allusiveness toset off open insult. But although invective has the sanction ofholy writ, the best satirist use it only occasionally, for shockeffect (p. 130). Irony is one of the figure of speeches. It includes the reversemeaning of what is said. It is one of the main devices of whichthe satirist make use.

    As Richard (1976) wrote,”Irony assumes double meaning and double audience one of which isdeceived by the surface meaning of the words, and another thatcatches the hidden sense and laughs with the deceiver at theexpense of the deceived. In order to operate irony, the satiristuses imaginary or fictional characters or events by which s/heallow the double flow of meaning to be maintained (p. 130). ChapterMETHOD OF RESEARCHPresentationThis chapter is concerned with the procedure of the research whichwas carried out to collect necessary sources for the study andmethod of the study.

    ProcedureSince the subject of this study mainly concerns with GeorgeOrwell’s Animal Farm, first the book was read. After reading thebook, sources about George Orwell’s life and Animal Farm werecited. When investigating Orwell’s intention in writing the bookand his political convictions, mainly his essays were used asprimary sources. During this period it was found that the SpanishRevolution was of great influence. Information on the Spanish Warwas mainly drawn from secondary sources. Since the book is strongly related to the Russian Revolution,Socialism, Communism and Marxism, several sources and Internetsites were searched for to find out important dates and events inthe Revolution, and to gather basic information about theprinciples of above maintained ideologies.

    In the parts related tothese subjects of the study, again, mostly secondary sources wereused. Information about Satire is mainly drawn from secondary sources. Finally, comparison of Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution interms of characters, events and some specific elements, mainlybased on the information gathered from primary and secondarysources. ChapterANIMAL FARM AS SATIREPresentationIn this chapter, under the light of information given in thechapter-1 and chapter-2, Animal Farm will be examined.

    It aims atto show the elements of satire in Animal Farm, and to comparecharacters, events and some elements of Animal Farm and TheRussian RevolutionElements of Satire In Animal FarmOrwell, as quoted before, clearly explains that his main purposefor writing Animal Farm was to write a satire on the RussianRevolution (In Shelden, 1991, p. 399). Through animal satire,Orwell attacks on the Stalin’s practices in Russia and in widerscope, on totalitarian regimes. Taking Bozkurt’s (1977)classification into consideration, Animal Farm would be said to bea Juvenial satire.

    Since, it is clearly seen that Orwell bitterlycriticise Russian Communism and Stalin. Summary of The PlotOne night after Farmer Jones has gone to bed drunk, all theanimals of Manor Farm meet in the barn for a meeting. Old Major,the prize Middle White boar, wants to tell them about a strangedream he had. First, he narrate “the nature of life” as he hascome to understand it. Animals, though work very hard

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