International Journal of Literature and Arts
2016; 4(5): 68-72
ISSN: 2331-0553 (Print); ISSN: 2331-057X (Online)
Anthropomorphism in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and
Mark Twain’s A Dog’s Tale
Dlnya Abdalla Mohammed Ali
Department of English, School of Basic Education, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani, Kurdistan, Iraq
To cite this article:
Dlnya Abdalla Mohammed Ali. Anthropomorphism in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Mark Twain’s A Dog’s Tale. International Journal
of Literature and Arts. Vol. 4, No. 5, 2016, pp. 68-72. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20160405.12
Received: June 21, 2016; Accepted: July 13, 2016; Published: August 30, 2016
This paper studies the key roles that anthropomorphism plays in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Mark Twain’s
A Dog’s Tale. In many ways, it is confusing when it comes to the difference between personification and anthropomorphism.
To avoid this, the researcher makes a comparison between these two literary devices. Then the function of anthropomorphism
is explained. Finally the purpose of anthropomorphism in the mentioned texts is made clear through textual analysis approach.
English Novel, Figures of Speech, George Orwell’s Animal Farm,
Mark Twain’s A Dog’s Tale & Anthropomorphism
Anthropomorphism is an act of giving human characteristics
to non-humans or objects (Lakoff & Johnson 33). Richard Gill
defines anthropomorphism as “seeing non-human things in
human terms”. He states that in children’s literature, animals
talk, are dressed as humans and have jobs (464).
Though anthropomorphism and personification seem to be
similar to each other, yet there is a slight difference between
them. The personified object or animal seems like it is doing
something human, here the aim is to create imagery. While
the anthropomorphized object or animal is essentially doing
something. Thus, the aim of anthropomorphism is to make an
animal or object behave and appear like it is a person
2. Function of Anthropomorphism
Anthropomorphism is used in literature for different
purposes. An obvious one is to create a wider appeal. The
story could become more interesting, non-threatening, and
acceptable to more people if this device is used. As a result
the text became more suitable to the reader and could attract
their attentions. Stories that use animals or objects as people
stay fresh in mind and one can revive old memories,
experiences and feelings when one hears them. Readers,
especially children, often learn very quickly as they read
these kinds of stories as it makes the unfamiliar appear more
familiar to a reader (Markowsky 460). For instance, the
cartoon that shows ants having big muscles and lift heavy
weights can help a child to realize that the insects are very
strong. Yet, the goal of anthropomorphism is not only to
entertain and teach children but it is also used to handle
controversial topics. Writers often use this technique as an
effective device to introduce and deal with political and
social satires. Sometimes one can talk about a frightening
issue in a story form that he cannot face directly.
3. Anthropomorphism in Orwell’s
George Orwell explores political issues in his writings. In
the essay “Why I Write” he explains “every line of serious
work I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or
indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic
socialism” (Quinn 24). Orwell was a supporter of socialism,
a concept which states that all people share equally in work
and fruits of their labor. In his preface to the Ukrainian
edition of Animal Farm he states that he became pro-socialist
because he strongly disapproved the way the poor people
1 This information was taken from www.study.com
International Journal of Literature and Arts 2016; 4(5): 68-72 69
Orwell’s Animal Farm is one of the notable examples of
anthropomorphism. The book is a symbolic tale in which the
events and characters represent events and characters in
Russian history (Quinn 53). Depicting the Russian
Revolution of 1917 as one that sprung in an inhuman,
dictatorial, and deadly government is one of Orwell’s
purpose in writing Animal Farm. Orwell inspired the idea of
writing Animal Farm from an incident when he saw a little
village boy whipping a cart-horse. He explains that we would
have no control over such animals if they became mindful
about how strong they are and how men treat them unfairly
just like ordinary people who are abused by the government
in a totalitarian state (Moran 9).
The story traces the deplorable conditions of a group of
mistreated barnyard animals who can speak and who exhibit
many human characteristics. After being extremely neglected
by their cruel human master, the animals revolt and expel Mr.
Jones and his wife from the farm (Moran 6). The oppressed
animals struggle to find freedom and power. Harold Bloom in
his Modern Critical Interpretations argued that:
In his preface to the Ukrainian edition, published in 1947,
Orwell said that he wanted to write the book in a simple
language because he wanted to tell ordinary English people,
who had enjoyed a tradition of justice and liberty for
centuries, what a totalitarian system was like. His experience
in Spain had shown him ‘how easily totalitarian propaganda
can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic
countries’ and he wrote the book to destroy the ‘Soviet myth’
that Russia was a truly socialist society (24).
According to Laraine Fergenson, most of the critical
reviews of Animal Farm prove that there is a resemblance
between certain parts of the story and the betrayed promise of
Russian Revolution. For instance, Manor Farm stands for
Russia. The humans represent the ruling class. Mr. Jones
depicts dictatorship and criticism of the last Russian emperor,
Tsar Nicholas II (109-10). The Russian people endured
serious poverty and disorder during his command.
Throughout the period of his reign, the lives of millions of
Russians worsened as the animals that lead lives of hunger
and want under Jone’s control. Eventually both Nicholas and
Jones were removed from their place of rule (Moran 57).
Old Major, the white boar who inspires the rebellion in the
first chapter, is personified by V.I. Lenin, the leader of the
Bolshevik party that takes control in the 1917 Revolution.
Both Old Major and Lenin believed in equality. The former
summarized the basic rules of Animalism, a philosophy
views that all animals are equal and must rebel against their
misery. The latter was influenced by Karl Marx’s theory of
Communism, which argues that all workers of the world live
lives of economic equality and must revolt against their
oppressors. As Old Major, Lenin died before seeing the fruit
of the Revolution. Lenin’s authority over changing Russia
into the U.S.S.R. reflects Old Major’s responsibility for
renaming Manor Farm to Animal Farm (Moran 57-58).
Major’s speech, “Only get rid of Man, and the produce of
our labor would be our own” (Orwell 3) mimics Marx’s ideas
which is about “international brotherhood of workers and a
future classless society” (Bloom 26). Marx pointed out that
the capitalist classes are against the interests of the laborers
and they treat them unfairly and that revolution is the only
way to settle this disagreement, to help the workers control
the means of production again and share the fruits of their
work equally. So, their goal could be summed up as
“overthrow of the human race” and “All men are enemies.
All animals are comrades” (Orwell 3).
Snowball is compared to Trotsky, one of the thinkers of
Marxism that became involved in various revolutionary
activities and protests. They are genius in studying
circumstances and making good plans. Similar to Trotsky,
Snowball believed that in order to get the primary goals of a
revolution, it requires a sequence of universal rebellions.
Snowball’s planning to build a windmill is equivalent to
Trotsky’s ideas about changing Marx’s ideas into action.
Trotsky, the head of Lenin’s Red Army, was eventually drive
out from the U.S.S.R. Similarly, Snowball, the leader of the
army of the animals against Jones, is expelled from the farm
by Napoleon. Like Trotsky, Snowball is blamed and accused of
being a traitor and every failure to achieve a target was
blamed. Furthermore, both of them are described as brutal and
immoral. Boxer, a dedicated and powerful cart horse, was
mournful to the fallen stable boy, whom he thinks he has killed
during the Battle of the Cowshed. He asserts tearfully, “I have
no wish to take life, not even human life”. Later, the boy, who
was only shocked, recovers and runs away. Snowball advices
him not to be emotional as “‘the only good human being is a
dead one” (Orwell 17). Equally, “Trotsky defended the killing
of the Tsar’s children, on the grounds that the murderers acted
on behalf of the proletariat” (Bloom 29).
Napoleon is equivalent to Stalin. Both had lust for power
and were uninvolved in debates and ideas. Napoleon’s dogs
resemble Stalin’s secret police in their use to defeat
opposition. Napoleon is described as having “a reputation for
getting his own way” (Orwell 6). In this, he is similar to
Stalin as both have the ability to brain wash and control
others, make propaganda, show themselves as being able to
do everything and surround themselves with bodyguards.
Napoleon pretended to assist the animals, by promising of a
comfortable life, in order to achieve power. This parallels
Stalin’s attempts in using lots of propaganda to picture
himself as a dreamer working to improve people’s live.
Generally, there is a cooperative relation between a farmer
and animals in a story, especially in children’s literature. In
Animal Farm the relation is presented as manipulative one.
This illustration of the farmer torturing the animals represent
the Russian people suffering under the Napoleon’s reign.
Through Napoleon, Orwell tried to present the modern
dictator who is inhuman and greedy to gain power. The other
animals look too human if compared to Napoleon’s cruelty.
Bloom states that, “in a review of Hitler’s Mein Kampf,
Orwell described Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin as the
quintessential modern dictators, who stayed in power for
similar reasons: ‘All three of the great dictators have
enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on
their peoples’” (30)
70 Dlnya Abdalla Mohammed Ali: Anthropomorphism in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and
Mark Twain’s A Dog’s Tale
Features of both Stalin and Hitler are combined by Orwell
to create Napoleon. To finish the windmill, the animals make
massive sacrifices because Snowball had promised them that
it makes their lives easier but later they find that it is used for
another purpose; to grind corn for trade. Napoleon
“denounced such ideas as contrary to the spirit of Animalism.
The truest happiness, he said, lay in working hard and living
frugally” (Orwell 49). This seems as an irony to the Nazi
slogan ‘Arbeit macht frei’ which means, work liberates
There was a debate between Napoleon and Snowball
regarding the building of the windmill. At the beginning,
Napoleon poked fun at Snowball’s plans, but later he used
them as his own. This corresponds with Stalin and Trotsky’s
conflict about whether agriculture or industry should take
priority in developing the Soviet Union. Eventually, both
programs were chosen by Stalin in his first five-year plan.
The struggle between Stalin and Trotsky about whether the
revolution should be extended to the other countries or they
should keep themselves to make a socialist state in Russia is
equivalent to Napoleon and Snowball’s decisions. The former
believed that the animals must get ready to keep their
leadership; the latter argues that in order to spread the news
about the revolution, more pigeons must be sent into the
Both Napoleon and Snowball take the milk and apples for
themselves instead of sharing them equally with the other
animals arguing that it is proven by science that they help
them to think well. Orwell viewed communists and fascists
as repressive and self-serving.
The tortured animals embody various types of common
people. Boxer represents the simple, working class people
who were cheated and mistreated by the empty words of the
Stalinist regime (Quinn 61). Deceiving Boxer and persuading
him to get into the wagon and taking him to the
slaughterhouse evoke “the deportations of Jews to the death-
camps, and the mobile extermination vans used to round up
and murder small groups of villagers” (Bloom 31).
Clover, a motherly mare, is simple and suffering. She
silently enquires about some of Napoleon’s decisions. At the
end of the book she realized that man and pig are similar.
Molly, a silly horse, stands for the white Russians who were
against the revolution and left the country. The dogs, that were
raised by Napoleon and were made his guard, symbolize the
secret police who keep Stalin in power. The sheep, who obey
the pigs blindly, represent those uneducated citizens who,
without contemplating, repeat propagandas. Benjamin, the
donkey, is pessimistic about the revolution and doubts the
glorious future to come. When there was a controversy over
the windmill, Benjamin was the only animal who does not take
sides, “He refused to believe either that food would become
more plentiful or that the windmill would save work. Windmill
or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone
on—that is, badly” (Orwell 20). She is always aware of every
betrayal. The flag of Animal Farm which features a hoof and
horn is clearly the hammer and sickle, the logo of the
Communist party (Bloom 27).
After driving their owner away from the farm, the animals
start their own farm with their own rules and commandments.
As a greedy leader, Napoleon wants all the power to be his,
so he fosters the animals to make Snowball leave the farm.
During Napoleon’s rule the pigs started disobeying and
changing the commandments that they and the other animals
assembled after their take over. Eventually, they start acting
and looking like humans. After that Animal Farm slowly
starts to lose power and Mr. Jones takes back over. The story
ends with Napoleon and the pig’s victory. They ruled Animal
Farm with “a worse tyranny and a far greater efficiency than
its late human owner, the dissolute Mr. Jones” (Meyers 200).
Through this, Orwell tries to show that the system that had
been created by the Russian Revolution leaders, especially
Stalin, is worse than its previous one and seems like a
warning to all English readers about the trouble of trusting
the Soviet myth.
So, one can say that Animal Farm is a satirical novel that
ridicules some of the outstanding follies of the time. It
“satirizes politicians, specifically their rhetoric, ability to
manipulate others, and insatiable lust for power” (Moran 59).
However, according to Fergenson the thematic function of
the story is “much wider than the critique of the Soviet
Union, it condemns dictatorships as they are” (112, 135).
The novel not only presents the Russian Revolution, but it
also wants readers to investigate the ways the political
leaders betray the same principles in which they apparently
believe. The book examines the ways people were abused by
certain members, after being selected to positions of great
power, under the mask of helping them. Orwell explained
that Animal Farm is “the first book in which I tried, with full
consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose
and artistic purpose into one whole” (Moran 9).
4. Anthropomorphism in Twain’s A Dog’s
Mark Twain wrote A Dog’s Tale as an objection to
vivisection, performing scientific experimentation on living
animals. Later, this was used as a policy by anti-
vivisectionists around the world.
In her latest research, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, a Stanford
English Professor and leading Mark Twain’s scholar, noted
that Twain was the most outstanding American of his day
who advocated for animal welfare. Fisher further states that,
through his works, Twain was successful in changing
American’s attention about the inhumanity and the
exploitation of animals by humans. Fisher’s Mark Twain’s
Book of Animals, which is a broad-ranging collection of
Twain’s work about animals, explores Twain’s passion and
support for animals. In his book, Animal Liberation and the
Life You Can Save, philosopher Peter Singer wrote that “For
those unaware -- as I was until I read this book -- that Mark
Twain was one of America's early animal advocates, Shelley
2 Due to the importance of this information, the researcher takes this information
from (www.animal rights history.org).
International Journal of Literature and Arts 2016; 4(5): 68-72 71
Fisher Fishkin's collection of his writings on animals will
come as a revelation. Many of these pieces are as fresh and
lively as when they were first written” (ucpress.edu).
In a letter to Twain, one of the leading anti-vivisection
activist recorded, “Your words are listened to where the
fervent representations of other men are passed by
unheard…your power to mold the thoughts of the world”
In a range of contexts Twain wrote about man’s insensitive
and cruel behavior to animals. He condemned exploiting
animals for sport or entertainment. He calls people’s concern
to the brutality of sports like cockfighting as well as the idea
of hunting for sport. Man’s Place in the Animal World is a
powerful piece of writing about an English earl’s behavior on
a buffalo hunt. A Horse’s Tale is an enthusiastic novella about
anti-bullfighting. His writings influenced people’s thinking,
expectations and caring not only about human being but also
about animals. A Dog’s Tale had struggled for animal rights
(Budd 12). Mark Twain uses a non-human narrator, a dog, to
tell the events of the story. This is done deliberately to mock
man’s cruel behavior toward animals. The story depicts a
tragic image of man’s relation with animals. It shows how a
scientist makes a research on a little puppy, blinds her and
later kills her. This shows betraying the puppy’s mother who
had saved the life of the scientists own child. In Pudd’nhead
Wilson Twain wrote, “If you pick up a starving dog and make
him prosperous, he will not bite you. It can be regarded as a
major difference between them; ‘this is the principal
difference between a dog and a man” (qtd. in Rasmussen
104). A Dog’s Tale reveals the faithfulness of animals with
their masters and the brutality of their masters as they use
animals for their own use.
When the fire set in the bed room the dog “sprang to the
floor in her fright, and in a second was half-way to the door;
but in the next-half second her mother's farewell was
sounding in her ears, and she was back on the bed again”
(Twain 3). She paused at the beginning, she was uncertain
about saving the child, but then she went back, jumped into
the fire and rescued the baby. This reveals the dog’s kindness.
Although she risked her life to save her master’s infant, yet
she was misunderstood and was beaten fiercely without any
sympathy or consideration. The puppy remembered her
mother’s speech about risking life to others without thinking
of hers, and no matter how dangerous the situation might be,
she says “…from her we learned also to be brave and prompt
in time of danger, and not to run away, but face the peril that
threatened friend or stranger, and help him the best we could
without stopping to think what the cost might be to us”
(Twain 2), it is ironic that the dog is more humane than
In this regards, David Hilbert points out that “to deny that
dogs and cats experience fear and hunger, not to mention
pleasure and pain, seem absurd” (123). Animals also possess
characteristics as emotions, fear, anguish, happiness and
hopelessness like humans.
Through Mr. Gray’s description Twain shows his view on
science, “Mr. Gray was thirty-eight, tall and slender and
handsome, a little bald in front, alert, quick in his
movements, businesslike, prompt, decided, unsentimental,
and with that kind of trim chiseled face that just seems to
glint and sparkle with frosty intellectuality!” (Twain 3).
To prove his theory, Mr Gray, without feeling concerned
takes the puppy’s innocent life for his materialistic benefit.
This reveals the hypocritical and brutal human beings who do
everything to reach their goals.
The dog’s mother is described as kind-hearted, gentle and
well-educated, “She had a kind heart and gentle ways, and
never harbored resentments for injuries done her, but put
them easily out of her mind and forgot them; and she taught
her children her kindly way” (Twain 2). The more details
twain gives to portray the mother, the more deeply he
satirizes the evil of human being. “She would say the word,
as calm as a summer's day” (Twain 1) this displays that she
was peaceful and friendly. The dog was too close with the
members of the family and she considers the home of her
master as her own, “It was such a charming home! – my new
one; …” (Twain 2).
J. R. LeMaster in The Mark Twain Encyclopedia argues
that the story is seen in another light by some critics and
readers: “as a parable about the evils of slavery, with the
animals parodying family separations, docile servitude, loss
of identity, and roles as children’s playthings and guardians”
The story does not criticize the cruelty of science alone but
it also satirizes the wickedness of slavery. Before their
separation the dog mother advised her puppy and says,
“…we were sent into this world for a wise and good purpose,
and we must do our duties without repining, take our life as
we might find it, live it for the best good of others, and never
mind about the results; they were not our affair” (Twain 2).
The mother’s philosophy reminds of the triviality of slave
dogma. Gay S. Herzberg noted that “the narrator of “A Dog's
Tale” must serve her mistress as a foot stool, the baby as a
play thing (she is always having her tail pulled) and the
family as a nursery guard. Her duties are as rigorous as those
of a plantation slave” (20). Here the dogma of man’s control
over inferior creatures is illustrated. They regard the dog as a
toy in their hands. When the innocent little puppy was
suffering the mother was helpless in saving its life. Both
were on the mercy of human characters. Her happiness seems
perfect when she has her own puppy, “By and by came my
little puppy, and then my cup was full, my happiness was
perfect” (Twain 3), but she dies of a broken heart after her
puppy is killed by her master. In fact, the story carries a far
deeper meaning which is human beings should be more
considerate about their actions toward animals.
Anthropomorphism is used for various reasons; to make
difference in people’s perceptions, raise awareness towards
insufficient systems, to explore disillusionment to political
concerns, to avoid problems during sensible times.
Orwell condemns the many forms of grim totalitarian
72 Dlnya Abdalla Mohammed Ali: Anthropomorphism in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and
Mark Twain’s A Dog’s Tale
governments as they oppress their own people and frighten
them in order to obey.
Orwell’s Animal Farm is seen as a critique of the
communist system in the former Soviet Union, in general. He
wrote the book with the motive to depict the events during
the Russian Revolution as well as to demonstrate how
animalistic the behavior of rulers like Napoleon was, without
actually using those events or people. He tries to send a
message to people against the political systems he had seen.
The animals portray both people of power and common
people. Soon after his triumph, Napoleon began to persecute
the animals worse than Mr. Jones, their previous cruel master.
Orwell believes that if people do not become more politically
aware, rulers and their wretched ideals will continue to grow.
Sometimes people use anthropomorphism with their pets
declaring that they have emotions just like people do.
Referring to pets as members of families by owners asserts
that without anthropomorphism it becomes easier for people
to treat living things inhumanely. Animals play central role in
Twain’s writings; He used animal as a vehicle to criticize
humans. His writing portrays man’s absence of emotion
toward animals. They show hostility to the practice of
experimenting on living animals. His success in using
anthropomorphism in A Dog’s Tale, with the attempt to
influence the actions and thoughts of those who treat animals
cruelly, reinforced by allowing the reader to observe and feel
life from the dog’s point of view. He makes the reader to
enter the mind of a dog and experience life on the other side
of the coin. The story fosters humanity to carefully think
about their behavior toward animals.
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