Symbolism in Animal Farm
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As one of the most profound pieces of literary political commentary, George Orwell’s Animal Farm contains a host of essential symbols within its pages. So much more than the tale of animals run amuck, the novel provides scathing commentaries about human nature and the interaction of various political systems in society.
The characters themselves represent various elements of society, with the animals selected to fulfill various roles containing symbolic messages. The leaders of this Animal Farm are pigs, signifying the gluttonous and self-serving attitudes of government leaders. The police force or military personnel are dogs, as these animals can be well-trained and viciously protective if need be. The remaining animals on the farm are workers, just as, in any society, the masses exist to provide basic goods and services. While the story itself is representative of the various governmental and political changes taking place in the Soviet Union, the symbolism is easily applied to nearly any political system in any part of the world.
Within the story, there are physical symbols as well. On the outside walls of the barn are painted the seven commandments of the farm, many of which are altered as the story progresses to fit the needs of the ruling class. These alterations come to symbolize the way society can change at the hands of a few select people in power, despite what impact this might have on the masses, often who have no say in the matter. The original commandments were in line with the collective mentality of the masses, but their change represents the self-serving attitude of the machine of government, looking out only for those that are in control at the time. A simple story, Animal Farm is at first glance a straightforward piece. However, when one looks between the lines and considers the imagery and symbolism Orwell presents, the depth of this novel makes itself known, astonishing reader with its applicability to nearly any society and any political system in the world.