Emily Mills The Great Purges As previously quoted by George Orwell, “Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”. In many cases, a historical significance used in literature can be very effective and can be used to get an event or message across using symbolism and metaphors. George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, incorporates both a children’s read of talking animals taking over a farm and the historical horrors of the 1900’s.
One of the many underlying events that the book includes is the Great Purges. Both metaphorically introduced in Orwell’s satire version, and historically researched, the Great Purges were displayed as “respectable” murders and ways to gain power and leadership. George Orwell’s Animal Farm demonstrates how the unwillingness to deny those of higher importance or authority condemns the lower classes to bear the oppression of those in command.
The murders of innocent victims, or purges, with which Josef Stalin eliminated any potential threats and demanded his political title find expression in Animal Farm when the forced confessions and executions of animals, such as other pigs, sheep, and hens whom Napoleon finds distrustful following the collapse of the windmill. Though thought to have been merely out of fear, the confessions were previously coerced and forced by Stalin. In fact, the fear was instilled in Napoleon who warned the other animals to “... keep [their] eyes open.
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For [they had] reason to think that some of Snowball’s secret agents [were] lurking among [them] at this moment! ” (Orwell, 82). Those animals who showed even the slightest hesitation in one of his orders or disapproval toward Napoleon, such as the pigs who opposed the cancellation of Sunday Meetings, were executed immediately. Similar to the 1930s, when Stalin staged a number of infamous“purges,” trials where Stalin and trusted allies forced government members and citizens to “confess” their disloyalty to Stalinist actions. Napoleon forced confessions from other animals with the use of the terror installed by his hounds. In most cases, the victims of the purges would admit to assisting in these illegal actions in which they had never engaged in in order to eliminate further torture. Unfortunately, once confessed, the alleged traitors were murdered as “enemies of the people. ” Both the pigs who admitted to forming an alliance with Snowball and the goose who confessed to “having secreted six ears of corn during the last year’s harvest and eaten them in the night” (Orwell, 84) where both slaughtered along with three hens and a sheep.
Stalin and Napoleon used their purges to terminate any form of disloyalty or mutiny among their people or animals and to instill fear in the eyes of their societies. The Great Purges were a mass of killing streaks lead by Joseph Stalin in the late 1930’s. The purpose behind the purges was so that Stalin had a way of keeping his party loyal to him. Also, he executed anyone with power or thought to have power who opposed or challenged him. Before Stalin, it was Vladimir Lenin who had planted the seed, but Stalin who took the initiative to proceed with the idea.
Instead of expelling members of his party, like Lenin had suggested, Stalin took the drastic and unnecessary route of execution. Another huge part of the Great Purges was known as “the confessions”. Stalin’s policeman, the NKVD, would round up innocent people and accuse them of crimes against society and proclaim them as traitors. Then, through methods of torture, confessions would be signed, and they would be executed. Killing nearly 500,000 people and sending many more to concentration camps, Stalin left a huge and unforgettable bloodstain on Soviet Russia’s history.
This historical event connects to George Orwell’s story Animal Farm in several ways. The actual event of the Great Purges is shown in chapter seven when Napoleon has all of the animals executed for helping out Snowball. This is exactly what Joseph Stalin did when he executed the men of his party and all of the innocent people for being traitors. Also when all of the animals confess to the crimes that they didn’t commit connects to how during Stalin’s reign, the NKVD tortured people until the confessed to the crimes they didn’t even commit.
While reading Animal Farm, it is easy for the reader to find the similarities in characters and events and connect them to the real life events that took place. George Orwell incorporated and captured the horror of the Great Purges in Animal Farm. He truly grasped the main ideas of the evil ways of Stalin, the tremendous loss of lives, and “the confessions”. The terror of the Great Purges is so hard to comprehend, but through reading Orwell’s satire version it helps society understand, in a more simple way how awful he Great Purges were. In the very few pages that he wrote relating to the Great Purges he really did capture the horrible losses and ghastly events that took place back in the late 1930’s during Stalin’s reign. Works Cited Page 1. "George Orwell Quotes. " BrainyQuote. Xplore, n. d. Web. 24 Feb. 2013 2. Orwell, George. "VII. " Animal Farm;. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1954. 82-84. Print. 3. "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: Chapter 3C. Stalin and Stalinism. " Countries of the World. 1991. eLibrary. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.
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