Animal Farm as an allegory
Animal Farm is an allegory, which is a story in which concrete and specific characters and situations stand for other characters and situations so as to make a point about them. The main action of Animal Farm stands for the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the early years of the Soviet Union. Animalism is really communism. Manor Farm is allegorical of Soviet Russia, and the various characters represent different historical personalities during and after the revolution.
Mr. Jones is modeled on Tsar Nicholas, the last Russian emperor. His rule was marked by terrible poverty and upheaval, and the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1905. Finally, civil war arrived in the form of the Bolshevik Revolution, when Nicholas, like Jones, was removed from his place of rule.
Old Major is the animal version of V. I. Lenin the leader of the Bolshevik Party that seized control in the 1917 Revolution; or Karl Marx, whose theory of Communism was adhered by Lenin. As Animalism imagines a world of shared prosperity in the farm, Communism propagated of a "communal" way of economic equality. Old Major dies like Lenin did before witnessing the ways in which his disciples carried on the work of reform.
The U.S.S.R.'s flag depicted a hammer and sickle — the tools of the rebelling workers — so the flag of Animal Farm features a horn and hoof.
One of Lenin's allies was Leon Trotsky, another Marxist thinker who participated in a number of revolutionary demonstrations and uprisings. His counterpart in Animal Farm is Snowball, who, like Trotsky, felt that a worldwide series of rebellions was necessary to achieve the revolution's ultimate aims. Snowball's plans for the windmill and programmes reflect Trotsky's intellectual character and ideas about the best ways to transform Marx's theories into practice. Trotsky was also the leader of Lenin's Red Army, as Snowball directs the army of animals that repel Jones.
Eventually, Trotsky was exiled from the U.S.S.R. and killed by the agents of Joseph Stalin, as Snowball is chased off of the farm by Napoleon. Like Napoleon, Stalin was unconcerned with debates and ideas. Instead, he valued power for its own sake and by 1927 had assumed complete control of the Communist Party through acts of terror and brutality. Napoleon's dogs are like Stalin's KGB, his secret police that he used to eliminate all opposition. Like Napoleon, Stalin used a great deal of propaganda — symbolized by Squealer in the novel — to present himself as an idealist working for change. His plan to build the windmill reflects Stalin's Five Year Plan for revitalizing the nation's industry and agriculture. Thanks, in part, to animals like Boxer (who swallow whole all of their leader's lies), Stalin became one of the world's most feared and brutal dictators.
Numerous events in the novel are based on ones that occurred during Stalin's rule. The Battle of the Cowshed parallels the Civil War that occurred after the 1917 Revolution. Frederick represents Adolf Hitler, who forged a false alliance with Stalin in 1939, but his forged banknotes reveal his true character. The confessions and executions of the animals reflect the various purges and "show trials" that Stalin conducted to rid himself of any possible threat of dissention. The Battle of the Windmill reflects the U.S.S.R.'s involvement in World War II — specifically the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, when Stalin's forces defeated Hitler's (as Napoleon's defeat Frederick). Finally, the card game at the novel's end parallels the Tehran Conference, where Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin D. Roosevelt met to discuss the ways to forge a lasting peace after the war — a peace that Orwell mocks by having Napoleon and Pilkington flatter each other and then betray their duplicitous natures by cheating in the card game.
The universal message of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is that all violent revolutions which aim to and initially succeed in overthrowing repressive totalitarian regimes, after a brief idealistic period rapidly deteriorate into totalitarian and repressive regimes themselves. Orwell illustrates and clarifies this profound universal truth by allegory.