An Allegory: George Orwell's Masterpiece
An allegory is “a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation” (Merriam-Webster.com). Aside from conveying a symbolic message, an allegory still remains a story. In order to acclaim popularity or fame, an allegory must be entertaining.
In the novel Animal Farm, author George Orwell venerably appealed to a reader’s sense of enjoyment by using his fable-like tone. Orwell told a brilliant story beneath the deep allegorical context giving the story more meaning, which permitted the great literary work to last the following decades. George Orwell personified Napoleon’s characteristics in great detail to make the story richer in meaning and catch the reader’s attention. If Orwell intended Napoleon to merely represent Stalin without any literary significance, then he would not have personified Napoleon’s character to the extent that he did. Orwell wanted to make Napoleon seem like a relatable and authentic character, which gave the story substance.
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He wanted to show how power can corrupt an individual, and allow the reader to relate “in August Napoleon announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half ” (Orwell 76). This is a relatable theme because power has always been abused by people throughout human existence, whether it be a political leader, military commander or even an employee’s boss in the workplace. There is clearly a “double-role” of Napoleon’s character in the novel. This fact appealed to a variety of readers due to the basic human necessity of being entertained by a story, and allowed Animal Farm to be classified as a classic work. By placing the setting in rural England rather than in Russia, where the true events in the novel actually occurred, George Orwell meant to establish a storyline.
Orwell would have kept Russia as the setting if he was only trying to describe the Russian Revolution, but he did not. He set the story in rural England for literary purposes. The author used an alternate placing of the story and it served as a reminder that Orwell’s novel was ultimately a story that contained some allegorical elements. An alternative setting was implemented to satisfy the readers in a much less philosophic sense. Because Orwell’s novel can stand independent as a story without recognition of the Stalinist Russian Revolution as an underlying theme, Animal Farm can be considered a versatile literary work.
A 1999 film adaption of Animal Farm does not even allude to the historic allegorical side of Orwell’s novel at all (Imbd.com). This adaption simply referred to the fable side of the novel. It was plainly a film about talking farm animals, as opposed to being a platform to criticize the Stalinist Russian Revolution. This version merely preaches about the dangers of power, instead of attempting to exemplify Joseph Stalin. The fact that Animal Farm can stand by itself with ignorance to the Stalinist Revolution ultimately proves that a story exists outside of the allegorical context.
Animal Farm is now revered as a classic and it is all due to its versatility as a two sided novel. On one end, there exists a novel criticizing Joseph Stalin’s ‘communist experiment.’ On the other end; however, there lies a fable that entertains a diverse span of audiences. Beneath the allegorical context, it was the story that separated Animal Farm from other literary works in its category that are not classics. The story prevailed and will always be remembered as one of the greats. ?