﻿Alvin Kernan’s observation that the beast fable is an effective literary tool is quite true. Storytellers have used beast fables since the story was invented. Something that has remainedpopular for so long must be somewhat effective. The representation of people as animals reduces their characters to the most basic stereotypes. The reader doesn’t have to waste time in trying to figure out the character’s personalities.
In short, their inside is represented on the outside by their own physical being.One of the first and most obvious of Orwell’s stereotypes is exemplified by the pigs. They represent the government officials and political figures.
A great number of people would find that a quite suitable representation. Politicians have always been reputable as dirty, dishonest, and simply undesirable individuals. Pigs are among the filthiest animals to roam the earth. Some would say the same about politicians. I, for one feel that this comparison is veryfitting.The second main comparison Orwell makes uses Boxer, the work horse, to represent the Russian working class.
Laborious individuals and those who possess great physical strength areoften said to be ‘as strong as a horse.’; Boxer is both hardworking and extremely powerful. He was able to do as much work as all the other animals combined. He was also dedicated to his tasks. His motto, ‘I will work harder,’; gave the rest of the farm inspiration to carry on. He worked himself to death for the well-being of others.
Horses are known for their loyalty and determination. Boxer is a fine representative of the common hardworking citizen.The other stereotypical members of society are also clearly represented. Mollie the horse is a portrayal of the upperclass citizens who lose out because of socialism. She had privilegesthat no other animal on the farm had. These were stripped from her when the animals took over.
Her losses eventually caused her to run away and seek her benefits with another owner. Benjamin the donkey represents the elderly who cannot perform labor. Clover is a hardworking middle-aged woman. Moses is a storyteller or entertainer who is no good at physical labor, but keeps everyone’s spirits high. The sheep are the mindless followers who believe anything theyare told and have no sense in forming opinions of their own. The ducks and chickens are able to do small yet intricate tasks. The dogs have been trained and raised to be killers.
They aresoldiers in another man’s battle. All of these different personalities have been reduced to the most simple characters.Animals are so much easier to understand that humans.
They rely on instinct alone. They cannot comprehend things the way we do. Their minds are simple compared to ours. Orwell shows the most basic raw truths of a socialist society by the use of the beast fable. Thereader doesn’t have to know much about each character to understand what they are like.
The animals do however possess individual personalities that make them more or less likable. Thecharacters are not impossible to identify with which is why the story is enjoyable. Orwell has done a fine job of taking an unrealistic literary device and creating somewhat realistic andunderstandable character.