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Use of animals as symbols in "Animal Farm"

Updated on December 23, 2011

George Orwell's novel "Animal Farm" is a satire that uses animals to represent historical figures and ideas that are important to the Russian Revolution. He uses a farm in which animals take over to show the events of Communism taking over in Russia. I will list the important animals and ideas and ways in which they represent historical figures.

  • Old Major- He symbolizes Marx and Lenin because he is the creator of Animalism and is also the one who started the idea of having a "revolution" to overthrow the past leader
  • Napoleon - Napoleon clearly represents Stalin because he is the strong, stubborn leader of the rebellion who used propaganda to gain the favor of the people and was not as good of a communicator as Snowball,who was the other leader.
  • Snowball - Symbolizes Trotsky because he was the leader who was better at speaking and communicating to the lower castes of animals.
  • Moses - Symbolizes religion because when Communism first takes over he is gone nd this is important because Communism is a godless society and he also spreads the concept of "Sugarcandy Mountain", which symbolizes heaven.
  • Benjamin - He is the stubborn donkey who is used to resemble the skeptics in Russia who did not want Communism to take over and showed no joy when the previous leader was overthrown.
  • Mollie - She is the self-conceited horse who only cares about herself and she symbolizes the rich in Russia who left because they did not want to lose the possessions that they gained because of their prosperity.
  • Clover - This is the motherly horse who can be interpreted to be the peoples desire to see Russia do well. As she says "As Clover looked down the hillside her eyes filled with tears. If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race", this shows the pain that she feels because the country she loves is not doing well.
  • Animalism - This theory is used to symbolize Communism and as it is stated, "all animals are equal"(Animal Farm). This shows how close Communism and Animalism are because in Communism all people are supposed to be the same.

Napoleon the pig and his symbolism of Stalin
Napoleon the pig and his symbolism of Stalin | Source
The Animalism flag shows close resemblance to Communist flag
The Animalism flag shows close resemblance to Communist flag | Source

Orwelll used certain animals because of the behavior and traits that they possess. Pigs, for instance, are selfish, messy animals who only do things if it is beneficial for themselves and this shows Orwell's feelings towards the leaders. He was a very careful man who paid close attention to his writing and made sure it was exactly the way he wanted it to be so it is clear to see that he wanted "Animal Farm" to be read as a warning against the spread of Communism and the false promises that it gave.

The imagery that is present in Orwell's novel allows one to imagine , with great detail, the way that he intended to show through the propaganda that Napoleon used to captivate the lower class, less intelligent animals.

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    • profile image

      Adil 3 years ago

      It is relevant to humans behavior as general,however these days politicians who,oppressed their people in order to consolidate their power and think only on themselves

    • moonstruck4ever profile image

      moonstruck4ever 6 years ago from somewhere in upstate New York

      I think Animal Farm is more relevant than ever today.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Interesting thoughts on an old favorite of mine. But, I believe Animal Farm to be relevant to society in general and not just the Russian revolution. In every upheaval and change in human history, it's interesting that we always seem to settle down to simply have changed the faces at the top -- and not much else. Sometimes it may take a couple of centuries, such as in America, but there they are, the 1% looking just like old European aristocrats. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

      By the way, having raised pigs, they are not messy and selfish. They are actually very clean and form strong bonds with other pigs. Yes, when it comes to the trough, it's every pig for himself -- but that describes a lot of people I know.

      Nice hub. Rated up.

    • PDXBuys profile image

      PDXBuys 6 years ago from Oregon

      Still very relevant today, in my opinion... Everyone should read it!

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      Joe2012miller 6 years ago

      @Vinaya I agree that the symbolism is fantastic, we recently went over it for 2 weeks in my English class and it gave me a different perspective on the Russian Revolution

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 6 years ago from Gurgaon, India


    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Though Animal Farm became quite irrelevant after the fall of Communism, symbolism in this novel is brilliant.