Animal Farm, written by George Orwell, is a formulated allegory that explores marginalized groups during the Russian Revolution, through the use of language techniques and devices. The Russian Revolution severely affected the people of lower social classes as well as the relevance of classism, oppression, and segregation throughout the novel Animal Farm. Violation of human rights and systematic oppression towards the lower classes were not uncommon in Russia. The peasants and working-class of Russia were restricted from accessing basic necessities, such as food, water, and access to education. Forced slave labor and rationed food upon lower classes led to a rise in the Bolshevik Party, which popularised the ideas of communism in the Russian public. The period of major Russian political upheaval between 1917-1945 heavily influenced Orwell’s depiction of certain characters and groups throughout Animal Farm, as the transition to communism and the abolition of class systems created a major lifestyle change for all Russians.
The main marginalized group during the Russian Revolution was the Uneducated Working Class. Throughout Animal Farm, the character that most commonly depicted and effectively represented this social class was Boxer; a faithful, naive, and loyal horse. Boxer is the main laborer on Animal Farm and is the most susceptible to exploitation from authority figures, as a direct result of his blind faithfulness in Napoleon’s judgment. This becomes evident through Orwell’s incorporation of Boxer’s personal mottos such as “Napoleon is always right” (55). Repetitive and negative affirmation in Boxer’s mottos demonstrates the internalized mentality of self-blame and dependence of the Working Class. This is largely due to their lack of education and Orwell’s meticulous use of repetition, hyperbole, simple language, and irony builds on this dramatically. The focus on ‘Always’ exaggerates and adds an ironic element to the maxim, as it is blatantly incorrect – highlighting Boxer’s stupidity in the process. This use of hyperbole and repetition provides a better understanding of the environment and the relationship between Boxer and Napoleon, best described as a dictatorship. It becomes clear that Boxer is easily persuaded and controlled by Napoleon because of his gullibility. This was also true during the Russian Revolution, as the working class was subject to many vigorous anti-worker campaigns, but still remained faithful towards and dependent on Stalin to make effective decisions on their behalf. The marginalization of the working class during the Russian Revolution is heavily focused on their lack of education, which is particularly how Orwell depicts them in Animal Farm. Orwell consistently draws attention to Boxer’s “great muscles” (77) to show that he is a strong worker, but also to show that his mind is less developed. This representation brings a different understanding of this group and how they are considerably disadvantaged against the higher and educated social classes.
When Boxer is attacked by Napoleon’s dogs, instead of killing them, Boxer defers to Napoleon’s leadership. Regardless of the situation, Boxer is a loyal servant. Napoleon “sharply ordered Boxer to let the dog go” and Boxer obeyed. Boxer’s obedience is a clear indication of Napoleon’s control over his actions, Orwell’s use of commandment and obedience in this passage helps to explore the extent to which higher power can manipulate minority groups into following orders, regardless of fatality. This reflects the lower social class during the Russian Revolution, as people were manipulated into ‘voluntarily’ placing themselves in life-threatening situations.
With one in every 5 Russians during the Revolution being peasants, this social class was the largest in Russia. Peasants owned less than nothing and regardless of making up over 20% of the population, peasants were considered less than human. Orwell’s representation of the peasants in Animal Farm was reflective of the social time during Russia. Hens are considered to be weak, pathetic, and stupid animals which is highly symbolic of the views towards peasants at that time. The Hens in Animal Farm are constantly ridiculed, controlled, and violated by those in power due to their helpless reputation. The hens are a class of animals whose labor can easily be commodified for humans.