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Personification in Animal Farm

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  • 0:00 Political Satire
  • 0:39 Old Major as Vladimir Lenin
  • 1:18 Napoleon as Joseph Stalin
  • 2:29 The Oppressed Working Class
  • 3:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In the novella, 'Animal Farm,' George Orwell uses personification of animals to make a political statement about the political events in Russia and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Watch this video to find examples of personification, and then take the quiz.

Political Satire

Have you ever wanted to speak out against someone in authority, but didn't know how to do it? When George Orwell developed Animal Farm, it was intended to be an allegory, or metaphor, for some of the big political events of the time - specifically the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist era that followed. By personifying the animals, Orwell was able to satirize some of the most serious political figures of this era. Personification in literature is the technique of giving human characteristics to things that are not human. Let's learn more about how Orwell uses personification in Animal Farm.

Old Major as Vladimir Lenin

A well-respected pig, Old Major, like Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx, is idealistic about the workers coming together and living a communist lifestyle in lieu of being satisfied with hard labor that benefits only an elite class. His hopes and dreams of Animalism inspire the working class to rise up and take control of the farm soon after his passing. Unfortunately, those that took the reins after his death distorted his views for their own benefit. Similarly, Lenin never saw his dreams come to fruition because of his death, and he would have been disappointed in the way Marxism was implemented after his demise.

Napoleon as Joseph Stalin

Napoleon, a big, stubborn pig on the farm, quickly emerges as one of the three leaders, along with Snowball and Squealer, when Animalism, or animal control of the farm, begins after the Rebellion against the farm's owner, Mr. Jones. Before long, Napoleon wants more power for himself, so he takes it upon himself to provide an education for some new puppies that he has taken from their mother, and trains them to be attack dogs. Using fear of the dogs and public executions as his weapon, Napoleon kicks Snowball off the farm and gains complete control. A campaign of propaganda against Snowball solidifies the support of the working animals that don't know any better.

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