George Orwell - all about him

George Orwell

Table Of Contents

1) The life of George Orwell


       A detailed chronological timetable of the author's life.

2) The person George Orwell

3) The important literary works of George Orwell

4) Book reports on some of his books.

       a) Down And Out In Paris And London

       b) 1984

       c) The Road To Wigan Pier


       d) Animal Farm

5) Summary

6) Literature


1) The life of George Orwell


1903                Eric Arthur Blair is born on the 25th of June at Motihari, Bengal in India as the son of  Richard Walmesley Blair (a civil servant) and Ida  Mabel Blair.

1904                In this year he is brought to England by his mother, where they

settle down in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

            1908 - 1911    Eric gets educated at Sunnylands, an Anglican school in

Eastbourne, Sussex.


            1911                He leaves Sunnylands and starts at St. Cyprian's School.

1912                Eric's father retires from the India Civil Service and returns to England.

                                   The family now moves to Shiplake near Henley.

            1914                Eric Arthur Blair gets his first work, Awake Young Men Of England

(poem), published.

            1916                Eric leaves the St. Cyprian's School.

1917                He starts at Eton College as King's Scholar.

1921                Eric leaves Eton College.                                

1922                Eric Arthur Blair arrives in India as a recruit

for the Indian Imperial Police in Burma.

Serves there trough 1927.

            1928 - 1929    He lives now in Paris and works as a dishwasher. In February of 1929

he gets hospitalised because he suffers from pneumonia.

1930                Eric works as schoolmaster in London. He goes tramping in London

and its surroundings. He writes Down And Out In Paris And London, which is rejected twice before  it is published. He uses the pseudonym "George Orwell" for the first time.

            1933                Orwell suffers again from pneumonia.

1934 - 1935    In these years Burmese Days and  A Clergyman's Daughter are published. Orwell meets Eileen O'Shaughnessy, who was 30 at this             point of time.


1936                On the 9th of June he marries Eileen O'Shaughnessy. He also gathers

information for The Road To Wigan Pier in this year. Keep The Aspidistra Flying is published and in December Orwell leaves for Spain.

1937                He lives in Spain from January to June. George Orwell gets involved

into street fightings in Barcelona between the government and anarchist

troops. One day he gets wounded at the throat by a sniper. In March of this year The Road To Wigan Pier is published. There is a Left Book Club edition of 40.000 copies of this book.

1938                Orwell comes into a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kent. Homage To

Catalonia is published in April. In September he goes to Morocco for his health.

            1939                In this year Orwell's father Richard Blair dies. George Orwell

comes back to England after his stay in Morocco. In June the book Coming Up For Air is published.

            1940                Inside The Whale gets published in March. In May he moves to

London. Orwell writes for Time and Tide and Tribune. In this year he

joins the Local Defence Volunteers (Home Guards).

            1941 - 1943    The Lion And The Unicorn is published in February

1941. Orwell starts at the BBC as the Talks Producer

in charge of broadcasting to India and Southeast Asia.

In 1943 his mother dies. Orwell also starts his work           on Animal Farm in this year.

            1943 - 1946    Orwell works as the Literary Editor of Tribune.

1944                George Orwell finishes Animal

Farm. He and his wife Eileen

adopt a one-month-old boy,

whom they name Richard Horatio


            1945                Orwell is now a war correspondent for The Observer in Paris and

Cologne (March - May). Death of his wife Eileen on March 29th. He

covers the first post-war election campaign (June - July). Animal Farm is published in August after problems finding a publisher for this book.

            1946                Critical Essays is published in February. Orwell moves to Barnhill, Isle

of Jura in May. Animal Farm is elected "the book of the month" in the USA and sells half a million copies there.

            1947                On Christmas Eve of this year Orwell enters Hairmyres Hospital, near

Glasglow, with tuberculosis of the left lung. Starts writing Nineteen

Eighty - Four.

            1948                He returns to Barnhill and completes the revision Nineteen Eighty -

Four by December.

1949                George Orwell enters Costwolds Sanatorium,

Cranham, Gloucestershire in January. In June

Nineteen Eighty - Four is published and sells more

than 400.000 copies in the first year. In September

he is transferred to University College Hospital in

London. George Orwell marries his second wife

Sonia Bronwell, an editorial assistant with Horizon,

in hospital (October).

            1950                George Orwell dies suddenly on the 21st of July in University College

Hospital, of a haemorrhaged lung. Buried in the churchyard of All

Saints, Sutton Courtnay, Berkshire as Eric Arthur Blair.


2) The Person George Orwell

Orwell was a political writer. In his writings he thought about the political problems all over the world and especially in England.

But he didn't only describe political problems. In his Socialist times he wrote about the social problems in England. The Road To Wigan Pier, published in 1937, is a good example for this period of his life. He wrote about the problems of the English class system and it's "disputes" with Socialism.

Later on Orwell tried to combine political concerns with artistry, as he writes in "Why I Write" (1946). This happened the first time in "Animal Farm" (1945).

Something very typical for Orwell is, that he often used his own experiences in his books. For example for "The Road To Wigan Pier" Orwell lived along English coal-miners and even tried to work as a coal miner. All these experiences he used to write this book. It's the same with "Down And Out In Paris And London", in which he describes how he lived as a plongeur in the streets of Paris and his time tramping around the countryside of London. He really lived among bums and criminals in the streets. He had no money and so he had to pawn all his clothes and belongings in Paris.

Because of this I'm sure that Orwell was really interested in the topics he wrote about.

At the end Orwell in his own words : "Every line I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism, and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it." (taken from the preface to "Animal Farm") I think this sentence he wrote, describes his interests behind his works, the best.



3) The most important literary works of George Orwell


His first work to be published was Awake Young Men Of England, which was a poem. It came out in 1914 when Orwell was just 11 years old.

The next important work by George Orwell was published in 1930. It was called Down And Out In Paris And London. The original version of this book entitled 'A Scullion's Diary' was completed in October 1930 and came to only 35,000 words because Orwell has used only a part of his material. In 1931 the London Chapters were added. One year later the title was first changed to 'Confession of a Down and Out in Paris and London', and then to its actual name. In the original manuscript Orwell used an 'X' for his name before he finally adopted his pen-name, 'George Orwell'.

Between 1934 and 1935 Burmese Days and A Clergyman's Daughter were published.

One year later Keep The Aspidistra Flying was published.

In 1937 The Road To Wigan Pier is the next important work to be published. In this

book George Orwell describes the bad conditions in which the coal-miners and their

families had to live. Orwell also talks about Socialism and the English class system in

this book. He gathered the information and his material for this book by living with

the miners families and visiting mining towns. It had a Left Book Club edition with

more than 40.000 copies.

Just one year later Homage To Catalonia was published. This book is about the

Spanish Civil War.

In 1939 Coming Up For Air was published.

In May of 1940 Inside The Whale came out.

One year later The Lion And The Unicorn was the next book to be published.

Animal Farm came out in August of 1945. It was very difficult for Orwell to get this politically brisant story printed, which was refused by several publishers, before it finally could be presented to the readers all over the world. One year later this book was very popular in the U.S.A., and so it was elected "the book of the month" there, because of selling more than 500.000 copies.

1946 is the year in which Critical Essays and "Why I Write" were published.

The last book to be published was Nineteen Eighty - Four. It came out in June 1949 in London, and sold more than 400.000 copies in the first year. Since 1954, this was when the first paperback of this book came out, it has been reprinted twenty - six times. This book is also politically brisant, just like Animal Farm or The Road To Wigan Pier.


4) Book reports on some of his books.



a) Down And Out In Paris And London


            Down and Out in Paris and London is a documentary of the life of lower class people in Paris and London. Orwell shows up the social conditions of the so-called plongeurs (they are cheap and unqualified workers in restaurants, hotels etc.) in Paris, and of the tramps in London. By joining these people, and living amongst them, Orwell generates a very realistic view. It was even more than that, Orwell wasn't only living amongst them, for these months he was even one of them.

The book consists of 38 chapters. The first 25 chapters are about Orwell's experience as a plongeur in Paris, and the next chapters describe his experience as a tramp in England.

Orwell's narration starts in the Rue Du Coq D'Or, a street in one of the slums in Paris. This was a very busy street and many foreigners lived there in very cheap hotels. Despite the dirt and the social problems there were also some respectable French people living in this quarter. Most of them owned tiny shops and bistros. In the evening the bistros were full and the people where drinking, singing and laughing there. Orwell wrote that he thinks this slum is a quite representative one for Paris.

Orwell stayed in the Hôtel des Trois Moineaux, a very dirty place with many bugs. The other lodgers where foreigners of any trade: artists, navvies, students and prostitutes. Orwell earned his living by giving English lessons occasionally. The money he earned with the lessons wasn't enough, and one month before his savings came to an end he started looking for a job. He intended to become a tourist guide or something similar. But a piece of bad luck prevented this. A young Italian has robbed nearly all his savings (Later Orwell admitted to a friend that he wasn't robbed by an Italian, but stripped of all his money by a girl. He didn't want to admit a relation because of his conservative parents). This was the time when Orwell's real poverty begun. From this time on Orwell had to live on six francs a day.

He describes that poverty isn't the way we expect it to be. We, who have never experienced real poverty, think that it must be terrible, it isn't, it happens to be squalid and boring. Another problem is that you don't dare to admit it, you have to pretend that you are living quite well. You have to waste desperately needed money on things you can't afford, just to make people think that you are well off. These lies are expensive lies. He also describes that poverty and in consequence hunger degrade a man to 'a belly with some additional organs'. Orwell lived three weeks like this, until his last savings were gone. From this point on, he had to live on his money that he earned with English lessons, this were thirty-six francs a week. He had no experience of being poor, and so he often handled the money bad and was a day without food. Sometimes he smuggled out some clothes to bring them to the pawnshop, to get some money.

One day even the English lessons were cancelled abruptly. At this point Orwell decided to pawn all his clothes, and to stop pretending being well of. At the pawnshop he didn't get the money he had expected, and so he left disappointed, with no clothes, except what he stood in, and only little money left. Luckily some days later he received two hundred francs for a newspaper article he wrote, and so could afford to pay another months rent. Now Orwell realized that he had to look for a job. He went to visit an old friend, a Russian called Boris, who had promised him some help. Boris had fled from Russia after the revolution, and has worked his way up to be a waiter. Boris was a former officer at the Russian army and therefore pleased about everything that had to do with soldiers. Boris often used to talk about the army and his dream of saving enough money as a waiter, in order to open an own restaurant.

So Orwell went to visit Boris. But what he found there didn't make him expect too much. The address Boris has given him was a tiny dirty little hotel in a narrow back street. Orwell was very disappointed when he saw that Boris was even worse off than himself. Boris was in this situation because he was injured at his leg, and therefore he was still a bit lame. In the afternoon Boris and Orwell went out to search a job. They went to a café, which was used as an employment bureau. Young waiters, dishwashers, cooks and many more were sitting in the café with an untouched cup of coffee. Once in a while a restaurateur would come in and talk to the barman. The barman then would call a person. Boris and Orwell sat there for two hours (that was the maximum one could stay there) but they were never called. Later they heard that one had to give the barman twenty francs to get a job. They went to some other restaurants and cafés, without result. In the next weeks they went around in Paris looking for a job. Everything went as bad as possible, and it seemed that they missed jobs by half an hour. Boris sometimes collapsed in the utterest despair. Then he would lie the whole day in bed cursing. The situation became worse and worse. In his despair Orwell even went fishing in the Seine, but he didn't fish anything, that could feed him. At this point even Boris was completely out of money. He even had to flee from his room, because he couldn't afford to pay the months' rent. Boris pawned all his clothes, and so they could afford their first meal after having been three days without food.



b) Nineteen Eighty - Four



The Story starts, as the title tells us, in the year of 1984, and it takes place in England or how it is called at that time, Airstrip One. Airstrip One itself is the mainland of a huge country, called Oceania, which consists of North America, South Africa, and Australia. The country is ruled by the Party, which is led by a figure called Big Brother.  The population of Oceania is divided into three parts:

1.The Inner Party Members (app. 1% of the population)
2.The Outer Party Members (app. 18% of the population)
3.The Proles (the rest of the people)

The narrator of the book is 'Third Person Limited'. The protagonist is Winston Smith, a member of the OuterParty, working in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, rewriting and altering records, such as newspaper-articles, of the past. The action starts when Winston develops critic thoughts against the ruling dictatorship of the party, for the first time. Doing so he buys himself a book, a rare thing these days, to use it as a diary. Having a diary was a crime, which could even be punished with death. There were so-called telescreens in each room, showing political propaganda. It had a built in camera and microphone, in order to spy on the people. Therefore keeping a secret book was not only forbidden, but also very dangerous. When Winston makes the first entry in the diary, he thinks about an experience he has made during the Two Minutes Hate, a propaganda film that was repeated each day. During this Film he caught the eye of O'Brien, a member of the Inner Party, of whom he thought that he might also stand critic to the regime, or that at least there is a bond of some kind between them. After the reflection, he finds that he has written the sentence: "Down with Big Brother' all over the page. In the same night Winston dreams about, his mother and sister, who had starved to death in the war because he had been so greedy. Then he dreams of having sex with a girl he has seen in the Records Department, during the Two Minute Hate. Early in the morning Winston is woken up by the harsh voice from the telescreen. During the performance of the exercises, Winston's thoughts move back to his childhood. The last thing he remembers clearly is the World War. After the WW the party has taken control of the country, and from then on it was difficult to remember anything, because the party changed the history permanently to their own benefit. After the exercises Winston goes to work, to the Minitrue (Ministry of Truth), where his job is to alter records, and once altered, to throw them into the Memory Hole where they are burnt. For example B.B. (Big Brother) has promised that there will be no reduction of the chocolate ration, but there has been one, so Winston has to rewrite an old article, where the speech of B.B. is written down. At dinner Winston Smith meets Syme, a philologist, who is working on the 11 th edition of The Newspeak Dictionary, Syme explains the main character of their work on this dictionary. During their conversation the telescreen announces that the chocolate ration has been raised to 20 g a week, whereas yesterday it was cut down to 20 g a week. Winston wonders whether he's the only person with memory, that isn't inflicted by Doublethink. As he looks around in the dining room he catches the eye of the dark-haired girl he had dreamed the same night. Back home again he makes an entry into his diary about his meeting with a prostitute three years ago. He remembers her ugliness, but nevertheless he had sex with her. Winston had a wife, but she was very stupid and just following the orders of the Party, which said that there may only be Sex to produce children, 'new material' for the Party, and that sex for the personal pleasure is a crime. Then Winston thinks about the Party, and believes that the only hope lies in the Proles who pose over 80% of Oceanias population. Later he remembers another fact of his past, Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford, the last three survivors of the original leaders of the Revolution. They were arrested in 1965, and confessed all kind of sabotage. On trial, they were pardoned and reinstated but not long after this, they were arrested again, and executed. During the brief period Winston has seen them in the Chestnut Tree Cafe. In the same year a half page torn out of The Times came to Winston trough the transport tube in the Minitrue. This page of The Times showed the three men in Eastasia on a certain day. But Winston remembered clearly that they have confessed being in Eurasia on that day (At this time Eurasia was at war with Oceania, and Eastasia was an allied). So Winston could proof that the confessions were lies. But Winston had sent this paper down to the Memory Hole. The last entry Winston writes in his diary is that freedom is to say that two and two makes four. If this is granted everything else follows. The next day Winston decides not to participate in the community actions, but to take a walk in the quarters of the Proles, around St Pancras station. During the walk a Rocket-Bomb explodes nearby. After a while Winston finds himself in front of the junk-shop, where he has bought the diary. There he sees an old man just entering a pub. He decides to follow the man, and to ask him about the time before the revolution, but the old man has already forgotten nearly everything about this time, except for some useless personal things. Winston leaves the pub and goes to the Shop, where he finds a pink piece of glass with a piece of coral inside which he buys. Mr Carrington, the owner of the shop, leads him upstairs to show him an old fashioned room. W. Smith likes the room because of its warmth and of course because there are no telescreens. When Winston leaves the shop he suddenly meets the dark-haired girl in the street. He now believes that this girl is an amateur spy or even a member of the Thought Police, spying on him. The next morning he meets the girl in the Ministry of Truth, and in the moment she passes, she falls down and cries out in pain. When Winston helps her up, she has presses a piece of paper into his hand. At the first opportunity he opens it and finds the startling message: 'I love you' written on it. For a week he waits for an opportunity to speak with her. Finally he is successful, and he meets her in the canteen where they fix a meeting. Some time later they meet on the fixed place, there the girl gives Winston precise instructions how to get to a secret place on Sunday. It is Sunday and Winston is following the girl's directions. On the way he picks some bluebells for her. And then finally she comes up behind him, telling him to be quiet because there might be some microphones hidden somewhere. They kiss and she tells him her name, which is Julia. She leads him to another place where they cannot be observed. Before she takes off her blue party-overall, Julia tells Winston that she is attracted to him by something in his face, which shows that he is against the party. Winston is surprised and asks Julia if she has done such a thing before. To his delight she tells him that she has done it scores of times, which fills him with a great hope. Evidence of corruption and abandon always fills him with hope. Perhaps the whole system is rotten, and will simply crumb to pieces one day. The more men she had, the more he loves her, and later as he looks at her sleeping body, he thinks that now even sex is a political act, a blow against the falseness of the Party. Winston and Julia arrange to meet again. Winston rents the room above Mr Carringtons junk shop, a place where they can meet and talk without the fear of being observed. It is summer and the preparations for 'Hate Week', an enormous propaganda event, are well forthcoming, and in this time Winston meets Julia more often than ever before. Julia makes him feel more alive, she makes him feel healthier, and he even puts on weight. One day O'Brien speaks to Winston in the Ministry of Truth. He refers, obliquely to Syme, the philologist, who has vanished a couple of days before, and is now, as it is called in Newspeak an unperson. In doing so O'Brien is committing a little act of thought crime. O'Brien invites Winston to his flat, to see the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Winston now feels sure that the conspiracy against the Party he had longed to know about - the Brotherhood, as it is called - does exist, and that in the encounter with O'Brien he has come into contact with its outer edge. He knows that he has embarked on a course of action, which will lead, in one way or another, to the cells of the Ministry of Love. Some days later Winston and Julia meet each other to go to the flat of O'Brien, which lies in the district of the Inner Party. A servant admits them to a richly furnitured room. To their astonishment O'Brien switches off the Telescreen in the room. (Normally it is impossible to turn it off) Winston blurts out why they have come: they want to work against the Party, they believe in the existence of the Brotherhood, and that O'Brien is involved with it. Martin, O'Brien's servant brings real red wine, and they drink a toast to Emanuel Goldstein, the leader of the Brotherhood. O'Brien asks them a series of questions about their willingness to commit various atrocities on behalf of the Brotherhood and gets their assent. They leave, and some days later Winston gets a copy of 'The Book', a book written by Emanuel Goldstein, about his political ideas. Now it is Hate Week and suddenly the war with Eurasia stops, and a war with Eastasia starts. This of course meant a lot of work for Winston. He had to change dozens of articles about the war with Eurasia. Nevertheless Winston finds time to read the book. The book has three chapters titled, 'War is Peace', 'Ignorance is Strength' and 'Freedom is Slavery', which were also the main phrases of the party. The main ideas of the book are:

1: War is important for consuming the products of human labour, if this work would be used to increase the standard of living, the control of the party over the people would decrease. War is the economical basis for a hierarchical society.

2: There is an emotional need to believe in the ultimate victory of Big Brother.

3: In becoming continuous, war has stopped to exist. The continuity of the war guarantees the permanence of the current order. In other words 'War is Peace'.

4: There have always been three main grades of society; the High, the Middle and the Low, and no change has brought human equality a millimetre nearer.

5: Collectivism doesn't lead to socialism. In the event the wealth now belongs to the new 'high-class', the bureaucrats and administrators. Collectivism has ensured the permanence of economic inequality.

6: Wealth is not inherited from person to person, but it is kept within the ruling group.

7: The masses (proles) are given freedom of thought, because they don't think! A Party member is not allowed the slightest deviation of thought, and there is an elaborate mental training to ensure this, a training that can be summarised in the concept of doublethink.

So far the book analyses how the Party works. It has not yet attempted to deal with why the Party has arisen. Before continuing with the next chapter Winston turns to Julia, and finds her asleep. He also falls asleep. The next morning when he awakes the sun is shining, and down in the yard a prole women is singing and working. Winston is again filled with the conviction that the future lies with the proles, that they will overthrow the greyness of the Party. But suddenly reality crashes in. 'We are the DEAD', he says to Julia. An iron voice behind them repeats the phrase, the picture on the wall falls to bits to reveal a telescreen behind it. Uniformed man thunder into the room and they carry Winston and Julia out. Winston is in a cell in what he presumes is the Ministry of Love. He is sick with hunger and fear, and when he makes a move or a sound, a harsh voice will bawl at him from the four telescreens. A prisoner who is dying of starvation is brought in, his face is skull-like. Later the man is brought to 'Room 101' after screaming and struggling, and even offering his children's sacrifices in his stead. O'Brien enters. Winston thinks that they must have got him too, but O'Brien says that they got him long time ago. A guard hits Winston, and he becomes unconscious. When he wakes up he is tied down to a kind of bed. O'Brien stands beside the bed, and Winston feels that O'Brien, who is the torturer, is also somehow a friend. The aim of O'Brien is to teach Winston the technique of Doublethink, and he does it by inflicting pain in ever-increasing intensity. He reminds Winston that he wrote the sentence:' Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four'. O'Brien holds up four fingers of his left hand, and he asks Winston how many there are. Winston answers four a couple of times, and each time the pain increases (this is not done to make Winston lie, but to make him really see five fingers instead of four). At the end of the session, under heavy influence of drugs and agony, Winston really seas five fingers. Now Winston is ready to enter the second stage of his integration (1. Learning, 2. Understanding, 3. Acceptance). O'Brien now explains why the Party works. The image he gives of the future is that of a boot stamping on a human face - forever. Winston protests, because he thinks that there is something in the human nature that will not allow this, he calls it 'The Spirit of Man'. O'Brien points out that Winston is the last humanist, he is the last guardian of the human spirit. Then O'Brien gets Winston to look at himself in the mirror, Winston is horrified what he sees. The unknown time of torture has changed him into a shapeless and battered wreck. This is what the last humanist looks like. The only degradation that Winston has not been trough is that he has not betrayed Julia. He has said anything under torture, but inside he has remained true to her. Winston is much better now. For some time he has not been beaten and tortured, he has been fed quite well and allowed to wash. Winston realises that he now accepts all the lies of the Party, that for example Oceania was always at war with Eastasia, and that he never had the photograph of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford that disproved their guilty. Even gravity could be nonsense. But nevertheless Winston has some unorthodox thoughts that he cannot suppress. But now it is time for the last of the three steps, reintegration. Winston is taken to Room 101. O'Brien says that the room 101 is the worst thing in the world. For each person it is his own personal hell. For some it is death by fire or burial alive. For Winston it is a cage containing two rats, with a fixture like a fencing mask attached, into which the face of the victim is strapped. Then there is a lever, which opens the cage, so that the rats can get to the face. O'Brien is approaching nearer with the cage, and Winston gets the bad smell of the rats. He screams. The only way to get out of this is to put someone else between him and the horror. "Do it to Julia', he screams in a final betrayal of himself. Winston is released, and he is often sitting in the Chestnut Tree Café, drinking Victory Gin and playing chess. He now has a job in a sub-committee, which is made up for others like himself. On a cold winter day he meets Julia, they speak briefly, but have little to say to each other, except that they have betrayed each other. A memory of a day in his childhood comes to Winstons' mind; It is false, he is often troubled by false memories. Now he realises how pointless it was to resist. He loves Big Brother!




George Orwell wrote this book in the years 1946 to 1949, just after the Second World War. In '1984' he describes a Communist system, but it could also be Fascist one - it is a general description of a totalitarian system. Because of that, many parallels to other systems, especially to Nazi-Germany, can be seen: one leader who is mystified ; the Inner Party members, who have a lot of privileges ; the Thought Police - the GESTAPO ; the telescreen - the Volksempfänger ; the Spies - the HJ or BDM ; and many more. A very interesting fact is also the existence of one enemy who is blamed for everything. Orwell chose the name Goldstein for his enemy, which is a Jewish name because of the fact that Jews were "the" enemy in Nazi-Germany and they were also prosecuted in Communist -Russia.


c) The Road To Wigan Pier 



            In the first part of this book Orwell tries to give the reader a detailed view of the conditions of the poor and unemployed. In the first chapter of the first part, Orwell describes the Brooker family. They belong to the so-called 'wealthy' among the poor ones. In their house, they have installed a cheap lodging-house and a tiny shop. Both, Mr and Mrs Brooker are already pensioners, and with the rent they get for the rooms, they can afford at least enough to eat. The people who live in this lodging house are unmarried or very old and also pensioners. Orwell himself spends a couple of weeks in this house during his researches. In the second chapter he describes the life of miners. Their working conditions are very bad, for they work underground, where it is very hot, dusty, and where the miners have just the minimum of space. The work is also very dangerous, the coal-miners are often handling with dynamite and the tunnels aren't very stable. Here Orwell describes how he went down to see the working conditions down there. He describes that the place where the coal is dismantled is not just right at the elevator, but often lies some miles away from it. And the tunnel is often only three to four feet high. This means that the miners not only have to work under the hardest conditions, but also have to 'travel', this means going to the working place in the miners-jargon, for about half an hour. Orwell who is not trained needed about one hour to get there ('After half a mile it gets an unbearable agony', 1/2 P 23). In the next chapter Orwell takes a look at the social situation of an average miner. First of all he looks at the hygienic situation of the miners, for many people believe that miners generally do not wash. But in fact only every third has a bath or shower for the miners. The situation in the homes of the miners is even worse. Only a couple of houses in the industrial region have bathrooms. The rest of the coal-workers have to wash in little basin. The miners also have very little time, although they work only seven hours a day. But actually getting to the pit, and the travelling underground can make up to three hours. So the average miner has about four hours leisure time, including washing dressing and eating. Then there is the common believe that miners get comparatively well paid, about ten to eleven shillings a week. But this is very misleading, because only the ' coal getter' is paid at this rate, whereas for example the 'dattler' is paid at eight to nine shilling per shift. But one also has to look at the conditions the miners are paid at. So the 'getter' is paid for the tons he extracts. On the one hand he is dependent on the quality of the coal, and when the machinery breaks down it may rob him a days or two earnings. Another fact is that miners certainly do not work six days a week. In 1936 the average earning of the miners per shift actually was 9s 1¾d. But even this sum is just a gross earning, there are all kind of stoppages, which are deducted from the miners wage every week. Totally this stoppages make around 4s 5d per week.

The next chapter deals about the housing situation in those districts. Generally all the houses look all the same. The main problem is the housing shortage in this region. So people are ready to accept any dirty hole, bugs, blackmailing agents and bad landlord, just to get a roof over ones head. And as long as the housing shortage exists the local authorities cannot do anything to make the existing houses more liveable. The authorities can condemn a house, but they cannot pull it down till the tenant has no other house to live in. But there is another problem that results from this one. The landlord will surely not invest more money that he can help in a house that is going to be pulled down in the future. Orwell has made notes to a dozens of houses in this region, and here are two examples: House in Wigan, near Scholesquarter: Condemned house, four rooms (two up two down) +coal hole, walls falling to pieces, water comes into upstairs rooms in quantities, downstairs windows will not open. Rent 6s, Rates 3s 6d total 9s 6d. House in Barnsley, Peel Street: Back to back (front house facing street, back house facing yard), two up and two down + large cellar, all rooms have about 10 feet square, living room very dark, gaslight at 4 ½d a day, distance to the lavatory 70 yards (lies in the yard), four beds for eight persons (parents, two girls one 27, young man, and three children), bugs very bad, smell upstairs almost unbearable. Rent 5s 7½d including rates.
Another problem in these regions is, that whole rows of houses are undermined, and the windows often are ten to twenty degrees out of the horizontal. Because of the bad housing situation there are also so-called 'caravan dwellers'. Only in Wigan, which has a population of 85.000, there are about 200 caravans, which are inhabited by about 700 people. In whole Britain there might be around ten thousand families living in caravans. The worst thing about those caravans is that the people who live in such a place don't even save money, because the rent can make up to ten shillings! Despite this problems the city of Barnsley for example built a new town hall for 150.000 £ although there is a need for over 2000 houses, not mention pubic baths (the public baths in Barnsley contain nineteen men's slipper baths-in a town with 70.000 inhabitants, largely miners who have not a bath at home).

The next chapter of The Road To Wigan Pier deals about unemployment. In 1937 there were about two million unemployed persons. But this number only shows how many persons are receiving the dole. One has to take this number and multiply it with at least three, to get the number of persons actually living on the dole. But there are a large number of people that have a work, but from financial point of view, might as well be unemployed, because they are not drawing anything that can be described as a living wage. Together with the pensioners in the industrial regions that makes around fifteen million poor and underfed people. Only in Wigan there are around 30.000 drawing or living on the dole. So every third person in Wigan is dependent on social help. The money that the families get varies from twenty-five to thirty shillings per week. One organisation that helps the unemployed is the NUWM (National Unemployed Workers Movement). This organisation helps the unemployed to spend their time.

In the sixth chapter of the book Orwell takes a look at the food of a family living on the dole, or on a very low wage. Generally the food for an average family makes fifteen shillings a week, including fuel for cooking. Of course these families could live on even less money, but especially in the poor families one can see the trend not to buy the cheapest, and most nutritious things, but rather to buy something ' tasty', in order to forget ones dull life. This trend results in general physic degeneration among the poor people. So for example in industrial towns the mortality is at a very high level. Another fact that can be observed is that hardly anyone, except children of course, has his own teeth. In the next chapter Orwell criticises the ugliness of the industrial towns (e.g.: Birmingham, Coventry, Norwich Market)

In the second part Orwell describes his personal idea of socialism, and what socialism is like in England. The general idea of Orwell is that socialism and communism are no longer movements of the working class. This movement is lead by the middle-class. The bourgeoisie, as Orwell always calls them. But firstly he explains how the English class-system works. In Britain it isn't possible to determine the class of a person by simply looking at his income. In England the tradition plays a very important part, and therefore one can find middle-class persons with an income up to 2000£ a year, and down to 300£ a year. The things that make a middle-class person are his behaviour, birth and profession. The people around 400£ led a life on two social levels; so for example they had a standard of living comparable to a good situated worker, but knew everything about good behaviour, how to give a servant a tip, how to ride a horse, about a decent dinner, although they never could afford a servant or a good dinner. One could say that they are struggling to live gentle lives on what are virtually working-class incomes. So the colonies (India and Africa) are very attractive to this social class, for the people would earn as much as in England (if they had a job in the administration or army), and could afford a servant and many things more and, what was most important, they could act like big gentlemen. Another aspect of the class-system in Britain is the almost inherited rejection of the lower classes. Orwell here tells a story of his early boyhood, when he felt that the lower-class people are almost subhuman, that they have coarse faces, hideous accents, gross manners, and that they hated everyone who was not like themselves. This rejection somehow results from the time before the first world war when it was impossible or at least very dangerous for a well-dressed person to go trough a slum street. Whole quarters were considerate as unsafe because of hooligans. But nevertheless the rejection of the lower class has also some physical root. So the children of the middle-class were always taught that the working-class smelled. And this is obviously an impassable barrier, for no feeling of like and dislike is so fundamental as a physical feeling. Class hatred, religious hatred, differences of education, of temperament, of intellect, even differences of moral code can be got over; but physical repulsion cannot. But what about those middle-class people whose views are not reactionary but 'advanced'? Beneath his revolution mask is he so much different from the other? Are there any changes in his habits, his taste and his manners, his ideology, as it is called in the communistic jargon? Is there any change at all except that he votes Labour of Communist? It can be observed that middle-classed communist still associates with the middle-class, still lives among the middle-classed, and his tastes are those of a bourgeoisie person. The main thing Orwell criticises is that middle-classed communists and Socialists often speak against their own class, but that they evidently have the behaviour and manner of a middle-classed person. The Socialists who make propaganda for 'proletarian solidarity' generally don't even have a lot of contact with the class they are 'fighting for'. The only contact with working-class that socialists generally have is only with the lower-class intelligentsia at the divers politic workshops. Generally Orwell says that Socialism is a nearly impossible thing.



d) Animal Farm



            The story takes place on a farm somewhere in England. An all-knowing narrator in the third person tells the story. The action of this novel starts when the oldest pig on the farm, Old Major, calls all animals to a secret meeting. He tells them about his dream of a revolution against the cruel Mr. Jones. Three days later Major dies, but the speech gives the more intelligent animals a new outlook on life. The pigs, which are considered the most intelligent animals, instruct the other ones. During the period of preparation two pigs can distinguish themselves, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon is big, and although he isn't a good speaker, he can assert himself. Snowball is a better speaker, he has a lot of ideas and he is very vivid. Together with another pig called Squealer, who is a very good speaker, they work out the theory of 'Animalism'. The rebellion starts some months later, when Mr Jones comes home drunk one night, and forgets to feed the animals. They break out of the barns and run to the house, where the food is stored. When Mr Jones recognises this he takes out his shotgun, but it is to late for him, all the animals fall over him and drive him off the farm. The animals destroy all whips nose rings, reins, and all other instruments that have been used to suppress them. The same day the animals celebrate their victory with an extra ration of food. The pigs made up the seven commandments, and they write them above the door of the big barn.

They run thus:
1.: Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2.: Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings is a friend.
3.: No animal shall wear clothes.
4.: No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5.: No animal shall drink alcohol.
6.: No animal shall kill another animal.
7.: All animals are equal.

The animals also agree that no animal shall ever enter the farmhouse, and that no animal shall have contact with humans. These commandments are summarised in the simple phrase: 'Four legs good, two legs bad'. After some time Jones comes back with some other men from the village to recapture the farm. The animals fight brave, and they manage to defend the farm. Snowball and Boxer receive medals of honour for defending the farm so bravely. Also Napoleon who had not fought at all takes a medal. This is the reason why the two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, often argue. When Snowball presents his idea to build a windmill, to produce electricity to the other animals, Napoleon calls nine strong dogs. The dogs drive Snowball from the farm, and Napoleon explains that Snowball was in fact co-operating with Mr Jones. He also explains that Snowball in reality never had a medal of honour, which Snowball was always trying to cover up that he was fighting at the side of Mr Jones. The animals then start building the windmill, and as time passes on the working-time goes up, whereas the food ration declined. Although the 'common' animals have not enough food, the pigs grow fatter and fatter. They tell the other animals that they need more food, for they are managing the whole farm. Some time later the pigs explain to the other animals that they have to trade with the neighbour farms. The common animals are very upset, because after the revolution, there has been a resolution that no animal shall make trade with a human. But the pigs ensured that there never has been such a resolution, and that this was an evil lie of Snowball. Short after this decision the pigs move to the farmhouse. The other animals remember that there has been a commandment that forbids sleeping in beds, and so they go to the big barn to look at the commandments. When they arrive there they can't believe their eyes, the 4th commandment has been changed to: 'No animal shall sleep in bed with sheets'. And the other commandments were also changed: 'No animal shall kill another animal without reason', or 'No animal shall drink alcohol in excess'. Some months later there is a heavy storm, which destroys the windmill, which was nearly finished. Napoleon accuses Snowball of destroying the mill, and he promises a reward to the animal that gets Snowball. The rebuilding of the mill takes two years. Again Jones attacks the farm, and although the animals defend it, the windmill is once again destroyed. The pigs decide to rebuild the mill again, and they cut down the food ration to a minimum. Some day Boxer breaks down. He is sold to a butcher, whereas Napoleon tells the pigs that Boxer has been brought to a hospital where he has died. Three years later the mill was finally completed. During this time Napoleon deepens the relations with the neighbour farm, and one day Napoleon even invites the owners of this farm for an inspection. They sit inside the farmhouse and celebrate the efficiency of his farm, where the animals work very hard with the minimum of food. During this celebration all the other animals meet at the window of the farm, and when they look inside they can't distinguish between man and animal.


The novel Animal Farm is a satire on the Russian revolution, and therefore full of symbolism. General Orwell associates certain real characters with the characters of the book. Here is a list of the characters and things and their meaning:

Mr Jones: Mr. Jones is Orwell's chief (or at least most obvious) villain in Animal Farm. Of course Napoleon is also the major villain, however much more indirectly. Orwell says that at one time Jones was actually a decent master to his animals. At this time the farm was thriving. But in recent years the farm had fallen on harder times and the opportunity was seen to revolt. The worldwide depression began in the United States when the stock market crashed in October of 1929. The depression spread throughout the world because American exports were so dependent on Europe. The U.S. was also a major contributor to the world market economy. Germany along with the rest of Europe was especially hit hard. The parallels between crop failure of the farm and the depression in the 1930's are clear. Only the leaders and the die-hard followers ate their fill during this time period. Mr. Jones symbolises (in addition to the evils of capitalism) Czar Nicholas II, the leader before Stalin (Napoleon). Jones represents the old government, the last of the Czars. Orwell suggests that Jones (Czar Nicholas II) was losing his 'edge'. In fact, he and his men had taken up the habit of drinking. Old Major reveals his feelings about Jones and his administration when he says, 'Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, and he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving and the rest he keeps for himself'. So the animals successfully uproot Jones and the old government. Little do they know, history will repeat itself with Napoleon and the pigs.

Old Major: Old Major is the first major character described by Orwell in Animal Farm. This 'pure-bred' of pigs is the kind, grandfatherly philosopher of change an obvious metaphor for Karl Marx. Old Major proposes a solution to the animals desperate plight under the Jones 'administration' when he inspires a rebellion of sorts among the animals. Of course the actual time of the revolt is unsaid. It could be the next day or several generations down the road. But Old Major's philosophy is only an ideal. After his death, three days after the barnyard speech, the socialism he professes is drastically altered when Napoleon and the other pigs begin to dominate. It's interesting that Orwell does not mention Napoleon or Snowball anytime during the great speech of old Major. This shows how distant and out-of-touch they really were; the ideals Old Major proclaimed seemed to not even have been considered when they were establishing their new government after the successful revolt. It almost seems as though the pigs fed off old Major's inspiration and then used it to benefit themselves (an interesting twist of capitalism) instead of following through on the old Major's honest proposal. This could be Orwell's attempt to dig Stalin, who many consider to be someone who totally ignored Marx's political and social theory. Using Old Major's seeming naivety, Orwell concludes that no society is perfect, no pure socialist civilisation can exist, and there is no way to escape the evil grasp of capitalism. (More on this in the Napoleon section.) Unfortunately when Napoleon and Squealer take over, old Major becomes more and more a distant fragment of the past in the minds of the farm animals.

Napoleon: Napoleon is Orwell's chief villain in Animal Farm. The name Napoleon is very coincidental since Napoleon, the dictator of France, was thought by many to be the Anti-Christ. Napoleon, the pig, is really the central character on the farm. Obviously a metaphor for Stalin, Comrade Napoleon represents the human frailties of any revolution. Orwell believed that although socialism is good as an ideal, it could never be successfully adopted due to uncontrollable sins of human nature. For example, although Napoleon seems at first to be a good leader, he is eventually overcome by greed and soon becomes power-hungry. Of course Stalin did too in Russia, leaving the original equality of socialism behind, giving himself all the power and living in luxury while the common peasant suffered. Thus, while his national and international status blossomed, the welfare of Russia remained unchanged. Orwell explains, 'Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer--except, of course for the pigs and the dogs.' The true side of Napoleon becomes evident after he slaughters so many animals for plotting against him. He even hires a pig to sample his food for him to make certain that no one is trying to poison him. Stalin, too, was a cruel dictator in Russia. After suspecting many people in his empire to be supporters of Trotsky (Orwell's Snowball), Stalin systematically murders many. At the end of the book, Napoleon doesn't even pretend to lead a socialist state. After renaming it a Republic and instituting his own version of the commandments and the Beasts of England, Comrade Napoleon quickly becomes more or less a dictator who of course has never even been elected by the animals.

Squealer: Squealer is an intriguing character in Orwell's Animal Farm. He's first described as a manipulator and persuader. Orwell narrates, 'He could turn black into white.' Many critics correlate Squealer with the Pravda, the Russian newspaper of the 1930's. Propaganda was a key to many publications, and since there was no television or radio, the newspaper was the primary source of media information. So Stalin and his new Bolshevik regime seized the monopoly of the Pravda. In Animal Farm, Squealer, like the newspaper, is the link between Napoleon and other animals. When Squealer masks an evil intention of the pigs, the intentions of the communists can be carried out with little resistance and without political disarray. Squealer is also thought by some to represent Goebbels, who was the minister of propaganda for Germany. This would seem inconsistent with Orwell's satire, however, which was supposed to metaphor characters in Russia.

Snowball: Orwell describes Snowball as a pig very similar to Napoleon at least in the early stages. Both pigs wanted a leadership position in the 'new' economic and political system (which is actually contradictory to the whole supposed system of equality). But as time goes on, both eventually realise that one of them will have to step down. Orwell says that the two were always arguing. 'Snowball and Napoleon were by far the most active in the debates. But it was noticed that these two were never in agreement: whatever suggestion either of them made, the other could be counted to oppose it.' Later, Orwell makes the case stronger. 'These two disagreed at every point disagreement was possible.' Soon the differences, like whether or not to build a windmill, become to great to deal with, so Napoleon decides that Snowball must be eliminated. It might seem that this was a spontaneous reaction, but a careful look tells otherwise. Napoleon was setting the stage for his own domination long before he really began 'dishing it out' to Snowball. For example, he took the puppies away from their mothers in efforts to establish a private police force. These dogs would later be used to eliminate Snowball, his archrival. Snowball represents Leo Dawidowitsch Trotsky, the archrival of Stalin in Russia. The parallels between Trotsky and Snowball are uncanny. Trotsky too, was exiled, not from the farm, but to Mexico, where he spoke out against Stalin. Stalin was very weary of Trotsky, and feared that Trotsky supporters might try to assassinate him. The dictator of Russia tried hard to kill Trotsky, for the fear of losing leadership was very great in the crazy man's mind. Trotsky also believed in Communism, but he thought he could run Russia better than Stalin. Trotsky was murdered in Mexico by the Russian internal police, the NKVD-the pre-organisation of the KGB. Trotsky was found with a pickaxe in his head at his villa in Mexico.

Boxer: The name Boxer is cleverly used by Orwell as a metaphor for the Boxer Rebellion in China in the early twentieth century. It was this rebellion, which signalled the beginning of communism in red China. This communism, much like the distorted Stalin view of socialism, is still present today in the oppressive social government in China. Boxer and Clover are used by Orwell to represent the proletariat, or unskilled labour class in Russian society. This lower class is naturally drawn to Stalin (Napoleon) because it seems as though they will benefit most from his new system. Since Boxer and the other low animals are not accustomed to the 'good life,' they can't really compare Napoleon's government to the life they had before under the czars (Jones). Also, since usually the lowest class has the lowest intelligence, it is not difficult to persuade them into thinking they are getting a good deal. The proletariat is also quite good at convincing each other that communism is a good idea. Orwell supports this contention when he narrates, 'Their most faithful disciples were the two carthorses, Boxer and Clover. Those two had great difficulty in thinking anything out for themselves, but having once accepted the pigs as their teachers, they absorbed everything that they were told, and passed it on to the other animals by simple arguments.' Later, the importance of the proletariat is shown when Boxer suddenly falls and there is suddenly a drastic decrease in work productivity. But still he is taken for granted by the pigs, which send him away in a glue truck. Truly Boxer is the biggest poster-child for gullibility.

Pigs: Orwell uses the pigs to surround and support Napoleon. They symbolise the communist party loyalists and the friends of Stalin, as well as perhaps the Duma, or Russian parliament. The pigs, unlike other animals, live in luxury and enjoy the benefits of the society they help to control. Orwell, who criticised Marx's oversimplified view of a socialist, "utopian" society, expresses the inequality and true hypocrisy of communism here. Obviously George Orwell doesn't believe such a society can exist. Toward the end of the book, Orwell emphasises, 'Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer except, of course, the pigs and the dogs.'

Dogs: Orwell uses the dogs in his book, Animal Farm, to represent the KGB or perhaps more accurately, the bodyguards of Stalin. The dogs are the arch-defenders of Napoleon and the pigs, and although they don't speak, they are definitely a force the other animals have to contend with. Orwell almost speaks of the dogs as mindless robots, so dedicated to Napoleon that they can't really speak for themselves. This contention is supported as Orwell describes Napoleon's early and suspicious removal of six puppies from their mother. The reader is left in the dark for a while, but later is enlightened when Orwell describes the chase of Snowball. Napoleon uses his 'secret dogs' for the first time here; before Snowball has a chance to stand up and give a counter-argument to Napoleon's disapproval of the windmill, the dogs viciously attack the pig, forcing him to flee, never to return again. Orwell narrates, 'Silent and terrified, the animals crept back into the barn. In a moment the dogs came bounding back. At first no one had been able to imagine where these creatures came from, but the problem was soon solved: they were the puppies that Napoleon had taken away from their mothers and reared privately. Though not yet full-grown, they were huge dogs, and as fierce-looking as wolves. They kept close to Napoleon. It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr. Jones.' The use of the dogs begins the evil use of force, which helps Napoleon maintain power. Later, the dogs do even more dastardly things when they are instructed to kill the animals labelled 'disloyal.' Stalin, too, had his own special force of 'helpers'. Really there are followers loyal to any politician or government leader, but Stalin in particular needed a special police force to eliminate his opponents. This is how Trotsky was killed.

Mollie: Mollie is one of Orwell's minor characters, but she represents something very important. Mollie is one of the animals that are most opposed to the new government under Napoleon. She doesn't care much about the politics of the whole situation; she just wants to tie her hair with ribbons and eat sugar, things her social status won't allow. Many animals consider her a traitor when she is seen being petted by a human from a neighbouring farm. Soon the "dedicated" animals confront Mollie, and she quietly leaves the farm. Mollie characterises the typical middle-class skilled worker who suffers from this new communism concept. No longer will she get her sugar (nice salary) because she is now just as low as the other animals, like Boxer and Clover. Orwell uses Mollie to characterise the people after any rebellion that aren't too receptive to new leaders and new economics. There are always those resistant to change. This continues to dispel the believe Orwell hated that basically all animals act the same. The naivety of Marxism is criticised socialism is not perfect and it doesn't work for everyone.

Moses: Moses is perhaps Orwell's most intriguing character in Animal Farm. This raven, first described as the 'especial pet' of Mr. Jones, is the only animal that doesn't work. He's also the only character who doesn't listen to Old Major's speech of rebellion. Orwell narrates, 'The pigs had an even harder struggle to counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven. Moses, who was Mr. Jones's especial pet, was a spy and a talebearer, but he was also a clever talker. He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges. The animals hated Moses because he told tales and did no work but some of them believed in Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place." Moses represents Orwell's view of the Church. To Orwell, the Church is just used as a tool by dictatorships to keep the working class of people hopeful and productive. Orwell uses Moses to criticize Marx's belief that the Church will just go away after the rebellion. Jones first used Moses to keep the animals working, and he was successful in many ways before the rebellion. The pigs had a real hard time getting rid of Moses, since the lies about Heaven they thought would only lead the animals away from the equality of socialism. But as the pigs led by Napoleon become more and more like Mr. Jones, Moses finds his place again. After being away for several years, he suddenly returns and picks up right where he left off. The pigs don't mind this time because the animals have already realised that the 'equality' of the revolt is a farce. So Napoleon feeds Moses with beer, and the full-circle is complete. Orwell seems to offer a very cynical and harsh view of the Church. This proves that Animal Farm is not simply an anti-communist work meant to lead people into capitalism and Christianity. Really Orwell found loopholes and much hypocrisy in both systems. It's interesting that recently in Russia the government has begun to allow and support religion again. It almost seems that like the pigs, the Kremlin officials of today are trying to keep their people motivated, not in the ideology of communism, but in the 'old-fashioned' hope of an after-life.

Muriel: Muriel is a knowledgeable goat who reads the commandments for Clover. Muriel represents the minority of working class people who are educated enough to decide things for themselves and find critical and hypocritical problems with their leaders. Unfortunately for the other animals, Muriel is not charismatic or inspired enough to take action and oppose Napoleon and his pigs.

Old Benjamin: Old Benjamin, an elderly donkey, is one of Orwell's most elusive and intriguing characters on Animal Farm. He is described as rather unchanged since the rebellion. He still does his work the same way, never becoming too exited or too disappointed about anything that has passed. Benjamin explains, 'Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.' Although there is no clear metaphoric relationship between Benjamin and Orwell's critique of communism, it makes sense that during any rebellion there or those who never totally embrace the revolution those so cynical they no longer look to their leaders for help. Benjamin symbolises the older generation, the critics of any new rebellion. Really this old donkey is the only animal who seems as though he couldn't care less about Napoleon and Animal Farm. It's almost as if he can see into the future, knowing that the revolt is only a temporary change, and will flop in the end. Benjamin is the only animal who doesn't seem to have expected anything positive from the revolution. He almost seems on a whole different maturity lever compared to the other animals. He is not sucked in by Napoleon's propaganda like the others. The only time he seems to care about the others at all is when Boxer is carried off in the glue truck. It's almost as if the old donkey finally comes out of his shell, his perfectly fitted demeanour, when he tries to warn the others of Boxer's fate. And the animals do try to rescue Boxer, but it's too late. Benjamin seems to be finally confronting Napoleon and revealing his knowledge of the pigs' hypocrisy, although before he had been completely independent. After the animals have forgotten Jones and their past lives, Benjamin still remembers everything. Orwell states, 'Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse hunger, hardship, and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life.'

Rats & Rabbits: The rats and the rabbits, which are regarded as wild animals, somehow represent the socialist movement, the so-called 'Menscheviki'. In the very beginning of the book the animals vote if rats and rabbits should be comrades.

Pigeons: The pigeons symbolise Soviet propaganda, not to Russia, but to other countries, like Germany, England, France, and even the United States. Russia had created an iron curtain even before WWII. The Communist government raved about its achievements and its advanced technology, but it never allowed experts or scientists from outside the country to check on its validity. Orwell mentions the fact that the other farmers became suspicious and worried when their animals began to sing Beasts of England. Many Western governments have gone through a similar problem with their people in this century. There was a huge 'Red Scare' in the United States in the 20's. In the 1950's in the United States, Joseph McCarthy was a legislative member of the government from Wisconsin. He accused hundreds of people of supporting the Communist regime, from famous actors in Hollywood to middle-class common people. The fear of communism became a phobia in America and anyone speaking out against the government was a suspect.

Farm buildings: The farm stands for the Kremlin. In the early days of the USSR there were sightseeing tours trough the Kremlin. Later it became the residence of Stalin.

Windmill: The Windmill for example stands for the Russian industry, that has been build up by the working-class (Clover)

Fredericks: Stands for Hitler. There also has been an arrangement and secret deals. (allusion to Fritz)

Foxwood: Foxwood farm is representing England.

Pinchfield: Pinchfield symbolises Germany.


I've chosen George Orwell for my special topic because I've read some books of him. I've done this in school and private too. Especially 1984 fascinated me and so I wanted to know more about this author. I found out that Orwell was a very political writer and that he often used his personal experiences for his books. (e.g. Down And Out In Paris And London, The Road To Wigan Pier, Homage To Catalonia, )

6) Literature

Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life, Penguin 1992 (Second Edition)

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