Literary Elements of Animal Farm


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The definition of a good novel differs from person to person. That is, what one may consider a good novel may not necessarily be the case for another person. However, inmost cases, effective novels address issues that affect us in our day to day lives. The Animal Farm by George Orwell is one such book which concerns itself chiefly with corruption and power.

The book uses a wide range of literary devices to deliver its message in a somewhat veiled manner and though it spans only 95 pages, the effectiveness of the book cannot be overstated. I this text, I discuss the various literary elements George Orwell uses in his all time classic Animal Farm.

A brief overview of the book

Animal farm is largely about efforts by a group of animals to shift their situations though they seem to get back to square one once they are successful in attaining that which they are perusing. The author of the book, George Orwell, uses the text to vent out his views on communism which he clearly dislikes. He however does so by using guises in a clever way though the tone he adopts throughout the book is largely rebellious. Rebellion can also be gleaned from the way the animals resort to fight so as to enhance their freedom and towards that end; there are three battle scenarios in the book. There is also an informative and sad tone used in the book.

Sad because though he animals sacrifice a lot to enhance their freedom, they always seem to be taken back to square one. A good example can also be the execution of quite a number of animals for allegedly being traitors. The informative tone in the book is brought out by George Orwells insistence on bringing out the bigger picture by his choice of characters and their actions/roles in the book.

The literary elements used in Animal Farm

According to Korf (2008), in writing, some of the most commonly used structures are literary devices and they include but are not in any way limited to theme, plot, setting as well as protagonist, similes and personification. In my opinion, some of the best brought out literary elements include similes as well as personification.


According to Bloom (2009), one of the most prominent literary elements utilized in the book is allegory. In all probability, Animal Farm is actually an allegory of the happenings in Russia in the time period ranging between 1920 and 1940. It is hence largely synonymous with the Soviet Union era which was largely dotted with socialism undertones. In the opening of the Animal farm, we have the old major summoning all the other animals to a meeting and it is here that he shares with other animals the basic tenets of his dreams and calls them to a revolution. In his speech, he is of the opinion that man is the only creature who actually does not produce anything despite his high propensity to consume. It therefore follows that the only way for the animals to rid themselves of the oppression they are already in, they must work day and night for purposes of eliminating the human race. Rebellion is the tone adopted in this scenario.

The allegory in this case is delivered through old Majors speech which in basic terms presents all the key components of communism as were put down in the 1848 communist manifesto by the likes of Fredrick Engels and Karl Marx. The manifestos primary message was that as an economic system, communism had a good share of substantial flaws. Here, the individuals who controlled the productions means are the ones who benefited at the expense of the workers. The basic argument as presented by Marx as well as old Major in both scenarios is that by ensuring that the capitalists (human beings in the Animal Farm) were overthrown, all those who were downtrodden (i.e. animals in the Animal Farm and Workers in the capitalist model) would live in relative prosperity as well as peace by controlling the production means by themselves.

Further, according to Rodden (1999), Animal Farm uses Russias tsar, Nicholas II when it comes to the use of Mr. Jones as an allusion. In the Russian scenario, the tsars were known to have lost touch with the masses and though this was the case for Nicholas II who as notoriously aloof and had completely lost touch with the masses. A good instance to demonstrate this postulation is when he led Russia to the World War I in disregard to the wishes of the majority who were opposed to Russia taking any part in the war. Nicholas II went ahead and mismanaged the war leading to the suffering of so many people.

Eventually, people ended up loosing confidence in him entirely. In the animal farm scenario, Mister Jones has completely lost touch with the animals and it is his actions in disregard to the well being of the animals that leads to their loosing confidence in him. For instance things get out of hand when Mr. Jones goes out to during and leaves the animals unattended to and completely hungry. Rebellion in its entirety erupts when Mr. Jones tries to whip all the animals into submission and in the end; it is him and his friends who are chased out of the farm.


There are a number of instances when this literary element is prominently used in the book Animal Farm. To begin with however, personification can be defined in a general way as giving things which are not human some traits which are largely attributable to humans. These traits could include but are not in any way limited to characteristics, action, feelings as well as qualities. In Animal Farm, personification is a common occurrence. For instance, on page 49, we have a line that states that the pigs could already read as well as write perfectly. This is a classic example of the assignment of human characteristics to animals i.e. writing and reading whereas in real life, animals can’t read or write. Further, we have the animals acting like humans for most part of the book including their ability to plan, talk and relate in an extraordinary way.


Simile can be taken to be a speech figure that comes up with a comparison between two things that are substantially different. Most of the words hat are employed to bring out similarity include but are not in any way limited to than, as or like. One of the instances in Animal Farm that have utilized simile is presented in the books page 76. Here, the animals are likened to slaves by the phrase,¦the animals worked like slaves. This seems to bring out the animals as slaves where in actual sense they are not.


It is important to note that the setting of Animal Farm came up as a result of a scenario in which the author witnessed an incidence of the whipping of a carthorse by a young boy. This can be gleaned from the preface where Orwell notes that things could be deferment if such animals were to realize their strength and relevance. He continues to note that the way men exploit animals can be likened to the way the proletariat is exploited by the rich.

It can hence be said that all it took for the book to come into being was the knowledge of the Russian situation. This is what Orwell recounts in a creative way in the setting of an England rural setting. Indeed, it is important to note that the authors clever choice of the setting makes it much easier to bring out the allegory. That is, the various proletariat members are represented by the various animals in the farm while the Russian tsar and more especially Nicholas II is represented by Mr. Jones. It doesn’t however stand there. The five year plans by Stalin are represented by the windmill project.


It is important to note that Animal Farm is a classic when it comes to the use of ways that are less conventional as far as the expression of the happenings in Russia is concerned. This the author does through the use of imagery as well as metaphors and other literary elements. Hence in the final analysis, Animal Farm has so much to offer rather than its symbolic title.


Korf, C. (2008). George Orwell’s Animal Farm: Fable and Satire in a Rural Landscape. GRIN Verlag

Bloom, H. (2009). George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Infobase Publishing

Rodden, J. (1999). Understanding Animal farm: a student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents. Greenwood Publishing Group

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