Animal Farm is a satirical allegoricalnovella written by George Orwell. The book, first published in 1944 is widelyregarded as one of the finest literary creation of the 20th century.Orwell, being a democratic socialist was strongly against the Authoritarianrule of Stalin and this book seems to be an outlet of his strong despisetowards Stalin. The book is a dystopic take on the Russian revolution and earlyyears of Stalinist era. The satire beinga critique of the Communist regime, was banned in many Communist countriesincluding Cuba, North Korea and Burma.The book is set in a Farm in England –Mayor Farm.
The owner of the farm, a certain alcoholic Mr. Jones, had reduced thefarm to poverty, leaving the animals in hunger while he himself indulged in drinkingand gambling. Old Major, a prize-winning boar, gathers the animals and instillsthe spirit of rebellion in them by highlighting the atrocities committed by MrJones and human species as whole.
He teaches the song “Beast of England” to theanimals, which becomes a symbolic representation for the freedom of animalsfrom the tyranny of Man. Although, Old Major dies, two of his disciple pigs-Napoleon and Snowball takes over the responsibility of the rebellion andsuccessfully overthrows Mr Jones from the farm and renames it as “Animal Farm”.In the meantime – Seven Commandments of the Animal Farm are painted on the barnwall, the rules to which all animals must adhere to.
Although, the rebellionwas initially a success, soon Napoleon becomes power-hungry. He appointsSquealar to convince the other animals of the superiority of the pigs andestablish the pigs’ authority in formulating policies of the farm. Afterthwarting the repeated attacks of Jones to take over farm, Napoleon, toestablish his sole dominion over the farm, chases Snowball away from the farm andmakes him the scapegoat for all the ill-happenings in the farm. He startsmurdering innocent animals who speaks against him, living in the farm manorlike humans, drinking and eating in excess and animals start to starve.
Animals, such as Boxer, the workhorse, startsputting in extra effort, to meet the growing demands of food to extent that hepays the price with his life. Meanwhile, Napoleon obscures himself from theanimal view and indulges himself with deals with humans of neighboring farm.His rule-making committee starts modifying the commandments in favor of thepigs to the extent that the animals starts forgetting the initial cause of therebellion. The pigs and the humans become all the same in the end. The characters of the novel can be easilyidentified with the main characters of the Russian revolution.
Mr. Jones can beparalled with Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who was overthrown during Bolshevikrevolution. Old Major can be compared with Lenin, the force behind the initialRussian revolution. Napoleon, the protagonist/villain can be seen as Stalin,who to amass the power of the Soviet, sent Leon Trotsky (Snowball) toexile. Boxer can be compared with The Stakhanovite movement, whose ideologieslay in over-working themselves for the greater prosperity of the nation.
Theauthor beautifully fuses in animalism and symbolism into the context of Russianrevolution through this novella. This book sets a mark in the field ofpolitical satire and have influenced future generation of authors. It has beenincluded in several lists of greatest books in English literature. A mere 112 pages read, the book portrayshow the people in power modifies the rules and language for their own benefitoverlooking the interest of the common folks. Thefinal commandment of the Animal farm was modified from “All animals are equal”to “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”, one of themost famous lines of the book, is emblematic of the changes that followed theRussian revolution.
Rather than overthrowing the capitalist class system, itreinstated another hierarchy. Although some critics may argue that rather than portrayinga clear picture of the Russian revolution, the book displays the prejudices theauthor had towards the system, the beautiful imagery, animalism, symbolism andallegory makes this book a must read. I would rate this book a solid 4.5/5