NORTHROP FRYE
Orwell and Marxism

George Orwell's satire on Russian Communism, Animal Farm, has just appeared in America, but its fame has preceded it, and surely by now everyone has heard of the fable of the animals who revolted and set up a republic on the farm, how the pigs seized control and how, led by a dictatorial boar named Napoleon, they finally became human beings walking on two legs and carrying whips, just as the old Farmer Jones had done. At each stage of this receding revolution, one of the seven principles of the original rebellion becomes corrupted, so that "no animal shall kill any other animal" has added to it the words "without cause" when there is a great slaughter of the so-called sympathizers of an exiled pig named Snowball, and "no animal shall sleep in a bed" takes on "with sheets" when the pigs move into the human farmhouse and monopolize its luxuries. Eventually there is only one principle left, modified to "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others," as Animal Farm, its name changed back to Manor Farm, is welcomed into the community of human farms again after its neighbors have realized that it makes its "lower" animals work harder on less food than any other farm, so that the model workers' republic becomes a model of exploited labor.

The story is very well written, especially the Snowball episode, which suggests that the Communist "Trotskyite" is a conception on much the same

____________________
From Northrop Frye: On Culture and Literature: A Collection of Review Essays. © 1978 by Northrop Frye .

-3-

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