An Analysis of Moses, a Religious Character in “Animal Farm”

By definition, religion is a following based on a population of believers who live in faith in a specific deity. Acting in faith, these believers uphold certain morals that their religious code dictates as “right” and detests acts that are determined to be “sinful” or “blasphemous” in accordance with their belief. This system paves the way for good moral development and basic knowledge of right and wrong. Even if a person does not believe in the deity specifically, there are certainly some good lessons in religious beliefs. The major problem with religion is how open to interpretation it is. People who are not completely aware of their beliefs can easily be manipulated on the basis of misinformation and upright lying. This example can be seen with the modern-day menaces that give religions like Christianity and Islam a poor name, such as the Westboro Baptist Church and Al-Qaeda, among others. These two groups are an example of what misinterpretation can lead to blind hate and unjustified cruelty on a “my God tells me so, so you can’t tell me different” basis. This absolutely incorrect commandeering of religion cannot go without the mention of the psychopathic dictator Joseph Stalin. During the Russian Revolution, Stalin used religion to keep his people brainwashed into thinking their work was not slavery, but a glorious effort for Moskow.

Obviously, this hijacking of religion was such a pivotal part of the Russian Revolution that English author George Orwell decided to put a character in the role of religious propagator in his allegorical fable Animal Farm. Taking place on a small English farm, a group of animals decides to become independent from their abusive farm leader, resulting in a meltdown of epic proportions. Among the themes of propaganda, betrayal, freedom, democracy, and abuse of power, Orwell embodied the aspect of religion with Moses the Raven, Moses represents Stalin’s religious department, and throughout the book, the theme of religion and faith is displayed in its inception, abuse, and finally its tolerance on both the farm and in Stalin’s “revolutionized” Russia.

To begin, Moses is a character that is introduced about a quarter of the book as a servant to Farmer Jones, the major antagonist for most of the first half of Animal Farm. In the beginning, Moses is seen as a nuisance by the farm’s impromptu revolutionaries, Snowball and Napoleon. They shooed him away, as they had seen Farmer Jones, “…feeding Moses on crusts of bread soaked in beer” (Orwell 38). Moses serves the dishonest purpose of manipulating animals with glamorous dreams of a place called Sugarcandy Mountain, an enchanting Heaven parallel to which “…all animals went when they died” (Orwell 37). This promise is driven away because Snowball and Napoleon understand that Moses is a spy for Farmer Jones. This, as a human equivalent, is how the men in the USSR first behaved. No matter your creed, you were allowed to join the revolution and work for glorious Mother Russia. However, just like the feathered farm fiend, religion will return to do evil to the USSR later.

Moses is, if anything, a persistent propagator. He returns to the farm after some time to find that the farm is much weaker. The glory of working united, teamwork, friendship, and all the other hallmark traits of a revolution has been watered down or have disappeared. Executions, and hangings of those who saw the evil of the now supreme leader Napoleon, were rampant among the once-joyous farmland. Animals, starving, broken, and nearly dead, were dragged along the grounds. Moses must have cracked a smile at how vulnerable these peasant animals were. He began his preaching again, but unlike last time, no one stopped him. In fact, “many of the animals believed him” (Orwell 119). Of course, this is representative of how religion began playing a factor in the Russian Revolution. As Stalin rose to power, he began to take people freewill by taking out the religious jingoism that people once showed and forcing them to work using that very same faithfulness. Stalin’s propaganda department had unceasingly cracked down on lazy workers, but, with the same intent, they told people that what Stalin was doing was all part of “God’s plan” for them. Soon enough, God became impeached by Stalin. Moses began glorifying Sugarcandy Mountain, and even though the pigs knew better than to believe such baloney, they still pay Moses with an allowance of a gill and beer a day” (Orwell 120). Such overwhelming support for religious propaganda struck hard on the people of the Russian Revolution, but in time, the remains of their once-beautiful effort will lay lifeless with proof that, if there is a God, he has abandoned them.

Imagine then, devastation in every quadrant of land. Not a soul, just corpses that move about to commit to their daily labor. Statues have been erected for their executioner, and they mosey past them each and every unrelenting day. Vicious guards strike them when they move too slowly. They no longer have personalities. They no longer have names. The silver lining in the clouds has far passed, and now the darkest of storms is upon them. This shocking account of life under the dictator’s rule applies to both the people in Soviet Russia and the animals on Animal Farm. Napoleon reverts back to “Manor Farm”, so there is no doubt that the Commandments have been splintered into worthless sentiments. Boxer has passed away, the hardest worker on the farm, and his body was turned to glue for profit. Everyone who remembers him, even old Moses is living lives as they always have” (Orwell 129). So, where is the religion? Did the loss of a dear friend not evoke a single liturgical word from Moses? No, no it did not. It’s likely due to the fact that Moses never cared for religion. He simply spread lies to keep the animals hoping and working. However, now that the animals have no hope, there is no need to profess sentiments over a dead horse. Perhaps this is the same feeling felt throughout Soviet Russia, as religious tolerance was introduced. The people had long forgotten their cause, and they counted their lucky stars to have lived through the confusion.

All of the animals were led to believe some bizarre ideals from Napoleon’s wrath, but religion seemed to be, as Karl Marx put it, “the opiate.” In Soviet Russia, however, the real-life devastation that the people experienced had an irreversible effect on their fate. Whether they lost their faith to the godless attitude of Stalin or gained a new bearing for their faith by surviving the ordeal, religion definitely played a large role in the progression of the revolution.

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An Analysis of Moses, a Religious Character in “Animal Farm”. (2022, Sep 28). Retrieved June 13, 2024 , from

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