News & Articles


by Lauren Sivak

What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into art. -George Orwell

The year was 1936. Hitler had power in Germany, Stalin in Russia and George Orwell had just returned home from the Spanish Civil War. In Spain, Orwell fought alongside socialist Republicans, who were fighting for the working class against the Nationalists, supported in part by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. While fighting, he suffered a gunshot wound to the throat and witnessed the brutality of war, particularly for those in lower classes who were most often on the front lines taking the brunt of the violence. Orwell returned from war longing for a society free of class distinctions and a purer version of Socialism, one that actually represented the undereducated and powerless. He wanted to put his words into action. Orwell committed to writing a story that would not only expose the lies of the Russian government—which he believed claimed socialistic ideals but did not practice them—but a story that could be understood by many and easily translated into a variety of languages. He was searching for the right way to tell this story when he witnessed the following seed for Animal Farm. Orwell writes, “I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge cart-horse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.” On the surface, Animal Farm is an allegorical story about a group of animals that stand up for themselves against their oppressive owner in hopes for a better life. The ideals presented by the character of Old Major, an aged sow, represent a push towards a society founded on equality and justice. In the beginning, the animals work together; However, their positive ideals are systematically betrayed by Old Major’s fellow pigs and the principles of equality are abandoned. As a result, animals are divided by power and class, by laborers and leaders, by the educated and the not. Animal Farm was Orwell’s personal revolution. What will yours be?