Animal Farm vs. Marxism


 Characters, items, and events found in George 
Orwells book, Animal Farm, can be compared to similar 
characters, items, and events found in Marxism and the 1917 
Russian Revolution. This comparison will be shown by using 
the symbolism that is in the book with similarities found in 
the Russian Revolution. 
 Old Major was a prized-boar that belonged to Farmer 
Jones. The fact that Old Major is himself a boar was to 
signify that radical change and revolution are, themselves, 
boring in the eyes of the proletariat (represented by the 
other barnyard animals), who are more prone to worrying 
about work and survival in their everyday life. Old Major 
gave many speeches to the farm animals about hope and the 
future. He is the main animal who got the rebellion started 
even though he died before it actually began. Old Major's 
role compares to Lenin and Marx whose ideas were to lead to 
the communist revolution. Animal Farm is a criticism of Karl 
Marx, as well as a novel perpetuating his convictions of 
democratic Socialism. (Zwerdling, 20). Lenin became leader 
and teacher of the working class in Russia, and their 
determination to struggle against capitalism. Like Old 
Major, Lenin and Marx wrote essays and gave speeches to the 
working class poor. The working class in Russia, as 
compared with the barnyard animals in Animal Farm, were a 
laboring class of people that received low wages for their 
work. Like the animals in the farm yard, the people is 
Russia thought there would be no oppression in a new society 
because the working class people (or animals) would own all 
the riches and hold all the power. (Golubeva and Gellerstein 
 Another character represented in the book is Farmer 
Jones. He represents the symbol of the Czar Nicholas in 
Russia who treated his people like Farmer Jones treated his 
animals. The animal rebellion on the farm was started 
because Farmer Jones was a drunk who never took care 
of the animals and who came home one night, left the gate 
open and the animals rebelled. Czar Nicholas was a very 
weak man who treated his people similar to how Farmer Jones 
treated his animals. The Czar made his working class people 
very mad with the way he wielded his authority and preached 
all the time, and the people suffered and finally demanded 
reform by rebelling. The Czar said "The law will 
henceforward be respected and obeyed not only by the nation 
but also the authority that rules it - and that the law 
would stand above the changing views of the individual 
instruments of the supreme power." (Pares 420).
 The animal Napoleon can be compared as a character 
representing Stalin in Russia. Both were very mean looking, 
didn't talk very much but always got what they wanted 
through force. In one part of the book Napoleon charged the 
dogs on Snowball, another animal. Stalin became the Soviet 
Leader after the death of Lenin. He was underestimated by 
his opponents who always became his victims, and he had one 
of the most ruthless, regimes in history. In was not till 
very many years later that the world found out about the 
many deaths that Stalin created in Russia during the 
Revolution. For almost 50 years the world thought that the 
Nazis had done the killing in Russia, when in fact it was 
Stalin. (Imse 2).
 The last characters that are symbolic of each other 
are the animal Snowball with the Russian leader Trotsky. 
Snowball was very enthusiastic and was a leader who 
organized the defense of the farm. He gave speeches and 
instructions but was not very beneficial. All the other 
animals liked him, but he was outsmarted by Napoleon. 
Trotsky and Stalin's relationship was very much like 
Snowball's and Napoleons. Trotsky organized the Red Army 
and gave speeches and everyone in Russia thought he would 
win power over Stalin. After Lenin's death Trotsky lost 
all his power to Stalin and was expelled from the communist 
party. He was at one time considered the second most 
powerful man in Russia. (Trotsky" Comptons 290).
 Besides characters there are many items that can be 
compared as symbols in the book and in Russia. The whip 
that Napoleon used in the farmyard to wield power can be 
compared to the power that Stalin used on the Russians. 
Napoleon carried a whip in his trotter. Stalin used his 
power to starve the Russian people and to have Lenin 
arrested. Stalin's main goal was to maximize his personal 
power. ("Stalin," Britannia 576). Stalin "whipped" his 
people into shape by collectivizing agriculture, by police 
terror, and by destroying remnants of individual prosperity. 
He also led the Soviet Union into the nuclear age (Clarkson 
 Propaganda is another item that was used in the 
Russian revolution. It can be compared to Squealer in 
Animal Farm. Squealer brainwashed (a form of propaganda) 
the barnyard animals into believing that they did not like 
apples and milk, while he and Napoleon were stealing the 
food for themselves. In Russia, the Bolsheviks carried out 
propaganda on the people by passing out leaflets and 
putting stories in the newspapers that were not true. They 
told workers, soldiers, and peasants to not trust their own 
hands and to take away land from the landowners. (Golubeva 
and Gellerstein 80).
 Another item that is similar in both Animal Farm and 
Russia are the dogs and the secret police. Napoleon trained 
his dogs when they were puppies to guard him and to obey his 
every command. They chased Snowball away. Stalin trained 
his secret police to do his bidding whenever he issued an 
order. Stalin had his secret police kill between 60,000 to 
70,000 people. These police were called the Checka and the 
bullets in each skull were found many years later. (Imse, 
 Another symbolism that exists in the book and in 
Russia is a similarity to events that took place. The 
windmill that is present in Animal Farm can be compared with 
the growth of industry in Russia or the Industrial 
Revolution. Snowball first introduced the windmill concept 
to the farm but Napoleon disagreed with him and had the dogs 
chase him away. Napoleon then presented the windmill as a 
good idea and the animals were presented with hope that 
things would get better on the farm. When it blew down, 
Napoleon blamed it on Snowball. Napoleon thought that if he 
could keep the barnyard animals busy all the time replacing 
the windmill that they would not realize how bad their 
living conditions were, and he could blame the destruction 
all the time on Snowball. The windmill is the only thing 
that was holding the animals together as a unit. In Russia 
the growth of factory and industry was very depressing but 
depended on the obligatory labor of serfs. Russia hoped 
that by keeping the serfs working all the time and promising 
them a better world that they would not realize how bad 
their living conditions were. The Industrialists were 
pressing their own constitutional demands. (Clarkson 352). 
None of the social classes were fighting each other because 
there were no classes left. What Russia got working was to 
make the people think that the prospect of loss of potential 
improvements in conditions of life of the here 
and now, could only be attained by stimulating labor to 
unprecedented efforts. 
 The last event that was similar in the book and in 
Russia was the animal rebellion on the farm and the Russian 
Revolution of 1917. Farmer Jones was drunk a lot and would 
forget to feed the animals on the farm. The withholding of 
this food is what finally forced the animals on the farm to 
rebel against Farmer Jones. In Russia, there were many food 
shortages which caused the people to demonstrate and then 
the Russian soldiers refused to suppress them and the 
leaders demanded that Nicholas transfer his power to 
parliamentary government because everything was getting out 
of control. Soviet workers and soldiers formed a special 
committee and established a government. The same day the 
emperor abdicated. ("Russian Revolution," Grolier npa). 
This actually backfired in Russia and the war continued and 
the people still starved.
 Many lessons can be learned by reading Animal Farm 
that can help countries and governments around the world 
from making mistakes in wielding their power against their 
people. If a population is suppressed and not allowed to 
accumulate things for themselves then an overthrow of the 
government that is suppressing them will be the result.


Clarkson, Jesse. A History of Russia. New York: Random 
House, 1969.

Golubeva, T. and L. Gellerstein. Early Russia - The Russie. 
 Moscos, Press Agency Publishing 
House, 1976.

Imse, Ann. Mass Grave Seen as Evidence of Massecure by 
Stalins Police. "Hunstsville Times, 
13, August. 1990.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Signet 50th Anniversary 
Edition, Harcourt Brace & Company, 

Pares, Sir Bernard. The Fall of the Russian Monarchy. New 
York: A division of Random 
House, 1939.

"Russian Revolution of 1917." Grolier Electronic 
Publishing, Inc. 1992 ed.

"Stalin, Joseph." Encyclopedia Britannica. 1917 ed.

Zwerdling, Alex. Orwell and The Left. New Haven: Yale 
University Press. 1974.


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