Situational Irony and Satire in George Orwell's Animal Farm
George Orwell uses allegory to incorporate numerous symbols that represent elements and ideas of our world. Through his novella, Animal Farm, he sardonically mocks the Soviet Union and revolutions in general. Orwell demonstrates his view that control over the intellectually inferior combined with a government’s dismissal of its policies for personal interests can have drastically adverse impacts throughout the text. Firstly, he portrays the pigs’ command over the intellectually inferior enables them to do as they please without consequences attached, as well as conveying Orwell’s perspective on the importance of education. Furthermore, Orwell conveys that a government’s rejection of its principles leads to irreversible damage to them and the ones they exercise their ruthless authority over.
Firstly, Animal Farm’s recurring theme of the pigs’ control over the intellectually inferior allows an insight into George Orwell’s perspective on the importance of education. The theme of control in the text corresponds to Tsar Nicholas II and Joseph Stalin exercising their ruthless authority over the people, which led to disarray, as well as totalitarian governments as a whole. The greed of the Russian Elite, specifically Tsar Nicholas II, who continuously enslaved people to work for him, is demonstrated by Orwell’s use repetition of rhetorical questions in Old Major’s speech, “Man is the only creature that creates without producing.” Old Major places emphasis on how fruitless the animals’ work is, highlighting the sin and evil of man for the animals to join his dream of rebellion.
George Orwell alludes to Joseph Stalin, using cumulative listing to satirise his attempts to create a divine image of himself in the paragraph, “Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball… the whole farm was convinced Snowball had thrown it down the well.” Napoleon uses Snowball as a scapegoat to relieve attention from his horrible deeds, therefore allowing him to execute some of the ‘traitors’ on the pretense he was ridding the farm of their enemies, further manipulating the animals. Orwell further mocks governments through the quote “Emphasising once again that the friendly feelings had subsisted, and ought to subsist, between Animal Farm and its neighbours.” He uses satire and irony to show that the original aim to get rid of the humans was forgotten, suggesting that all totalitarian governments are the same as they share the same goal- to maintain power by oppressing and exploiting individuals, especially those of lower class.
Furthermore, the pigs’ governments’ dismissal of its policies leads to irreversible damage to them and the ones they exercise their ruthless authority over. This portrayal allowed Orwell to satirise the Soviet Union as a whole as well as revolutions in general. Through the lines, “From now onwards Animal Farm would engage in trade with the neighbouring farms: not, of course, for any commercial purpose but simply in order to obtain certain materials which were urgently necessary.” It reflects Stalin’s hypocrisy and revisionism. Napoleon undermines animalism, of which the basis is humans are the enemy and are not to be trusted. This betrayal demonstrated that he did not seem to believe in the greater good for which he made his people work so tirelessly for. Symbolically, it represented the start of the USSR trading with the West.
Finally, the last quote of the book, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible for them to say which was which” is satirised by George Orwell. He incorporates situational irony and analogy to portray his view that the majority of revolutions (such as the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917) end up failing because the leaders of them take power for themselves, manipulating the very people they promised to help. He comments that no society will be perfect because in any political system there is corruption. It describes how the pigs have become indistinguishable from man after Old Major explicitly warns the animals not to become what they despise. They come to represent the animal’s greatest enemy, being seduced into the human traits of greed, control and deceit. In the end, they exchanged one tyrant for another- a bitter ending, but one that has played out many times over.
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