George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is a satirical novel that has been widely recognized as a classic in the literary world. Written in 1945, the book uses animals to depict the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the early years of the Soviet Union. Orwell's insightful critique of totalitarianism, corruption, and propaganda has made the novel a timeless piece of literature that continues to captivate readers of all ages. In this blog post, we will review "Animal Farm" and explore its key themes, characters, and literary techniques. Join us as we delve into the world of the animal farm and discover what makes this book a must-read for anyone interested in politics, power, and human nature.
“Animal Farm” Review
“Animal Farm” is a story parable written by George Orwell. Observations on the political events of the beginning of the 20th century resulted in the author’s metaphorical story of life under totalitarianism. George Orwell consciously wrote it in a simple and understandable language, so that translators (especially Russians) could easily convey its true meaning to anyone, regardless from their mother tongue and skills.
The novel tells about a farm whose owner treated animals very cruelly: he almost did not feed them, forced them to work too much, and beat them with a whip. This symbolic mask hides the history of the USSR development after the 1917 revolution, from a coup for the sake of universal equality and justice to the establishment of a rigid dictatorship of state power over all spheres of public life, in which there could be no real equality or freedom of people.
The plot itself is twisted from the moment when a middle-aged boar nicknamed Old Major suggested that animals make a revolution on the farm by overthrowing the owner and his workers. After the Old Major died, the animals kicked people out of the farm. The “Manor Farm” became the “Animal Farm” where the animals began to work directly for themselves, proclaiming the seven rules that operated on its territory. In my opinion, there was the most important rule – “all animals are equal.” The role of the leaders among animals was assumed by two pigs - Snowball and Napoleon. Despite the fact that animals remembered this period as the happiest for themselves, this reign of two pigs was over. After the revolution, Napoleon captured the sole power, used his own repressive apparatus of ferocious dogs, executed dissenting animals. As a result, pigs started to drink beer, sleep in beds and change most of the rules that they proclaimed before.
“Animal Farm’ is written in a satiric and allegoric style, although this work can hardly be called allegorical. It is so transparent and unambiguous that it does not give grounds to rank the work as a fairy tale genre, because it represents the terrible truth of the present revealing the deep essence of a person who tries to hide under the guise of charity and integrity. The “Animal Farm’ is written in anti-Stalinism tone imbued with author’s attitude towards the ideology for every reader to understand Orwell’s political views. Therefore, literature can explore and suggest attitudes toward the institutions of society (Lukens, Smith, & Miller Coffel, 2013).
Internal political confrontation between people (the rich) and animals (the poor) ends with the formation of a new ideal society based on the principles of equality. The stratification within the animal world occurs gradually, but its beginnings are already visible in the very first actions of pigs (bringing them to the leading positions during general gatherings, taking milk and apples from animals). The coming to power of Napoleon is drawn both as a natural (the inhabitants of the farm are accustomed to his leadership) and as a forced process (supported by nine ferocious dogs). The reinforcement of Napoleon’s government position occurs through lies and deception: the seven commandments written on the wall of the barn are constantly changing, acquiring a new meaning for the leader; everything that happens on the farm is turned by the Squealer (Vyacheslav Molotov prototype) upside down. The story of the “Animal Farm” ends with the establishment of friendly relations with people and complete assimilation of pigs, starting to walk on two legs from the beginning, and wearing human clothing.
Prototypes of the Characters
Artistic figures of the main characters are either specific historical (Nikolai II, Stalin, Trotsky, Molotov) or generalized prototypes. A hard-working horse named Boxer symbolizes the working class, who sees the only way to improve life by everyday work. The more difficult the situation on the farm becomes, the harder the horse is harnessed to work. The Boxer faithfully believes in comrade Napoleon, from time to time doubts that the Squealer says to him, but every time he goes to build a windmill, spending both his working and personal time. The “Animal Farm” final can be called prophetic: Orwell, unwittingly, predicted the gradual formation of the capitalism in USSR and returning to it the former name of “Manor Farm” (Russian Federation to replace the vanished Russian Empire).
It should be noted that the windmill project is an analogue of industrialization in the USSR in the 20s of the 20th century. After the usurpation of power by Napoleon, Snowball is forced to leave home being a reference to Trotsky, who lost the political struggle to Stalin. The dissident stratum of society is the old donkey Benjamin – mostly silent, but occasionally opening eyes on the actions of the authorities. He is represented as a philosopher, the only animal on the farm soberly looking at the development of the revolution. He never asked for any kind of work and never shirked anything, but all he did was imbue with the spirit of the same slow stubbornness as in the time of Mr. Jones. Benjamin preferred to keep quiet about the uprising and what it brought. When animals asked him if he felt how happier it was to live after the expulsion of Jones, he only grumbled: “Donkeys have a long time. None of you have seen a dead donkey” (Orwell, 1945).
The clergy in Orwell's tale is embodied in the artistic image of Mr. Jones’ favorite animal – hand raven Moses indicating the character’s biblical derivation of the name. People, on the other hand, are secondary characters in the story, they symbolize entire countries. Mr. Jones, the old owner of the farm, personifies the Russian Empire. It was the decline of the Empire, which the author portrayed in the form of a drunkenness of Jones, which served as the impetus for the uprising.
I really liked reading “Animal Farm” not only for a satiric sense, but also for a huge number of information. Orwell talentedly describes the mechanisms how the authorities work, following the path of totalitarianism. Among the merits of the “Animal Farm” is also a detached manner of presentation, which is at the same time clearly conveying the emotions of the author. All in all, Orwell reveals the story in front of the reader, closely familiarizing him with his own political views.
Orwell, G. (1945). Animal farm. London, England: Secker and Warburg.