Book Review: Animal Farm (Spoilers)

Title: Animal Farm

Author: George Orwell

Genre: Political satire

Publication date: August 1945

Pages: 112

Source: School reading

Rating: 5 stars out 5

Synopsis:

Animal Farm is a political allegory, based on Joseph Stalin’s betrayal of the Russian Revolution. The story revolves around a group of animals who rebel against their human owner, Mr. Jones, from the farm they live on and run it themselves with hopes of being equal, free, and happy.

Thoughts: 

You know you hated it when you had assigned reading for school because you would have to be tested, do a project, or both on it.  Looking back, that was my 13 year old self complaining.  Animal Farm has to be one of the best books I ever read and I have so much respect for George Orwell as an author.  The book is a short read spanning only a hundred pages, however, it brings a lot to the table, by giving you an interesting take on how history can be reenacted in creative ways.

I had no knowledge of Communism and Russian history, prior to reading this book; however,the plot is relatively easy to grasp even with very small knowledge during that time period.  The book is an allegory of the Russian Revolution and each of the characters symbolizes a group or one specific person during that time. Mr. Jones symbolizes the last Russian Czar, Nicholas II, who is eventually overthrown. The pigs represent the communist government: Old Major is Karl Marx, Snowball is Vladimir Lenin, and Napolean is Joseph Stalin.  Napolean’s dogs represent the Soviet police force. Most of the other farm animals like Boxer, Clover, Benjamin, and the chickens are depicted as the working class whom are gradually taken advantage of as the story progresses.

The main message in Animal Farm is that power cannot be divided equally. There will never be equality for all. Once power is obtained it is always abused, and power causes all to think as the leader does. Equality does not exist, because it is impossible for everyone to be equal. Individual thoughts ceased to exist once the pigs became the authority. No one ever questioned Napolean’s authority; his word was the law. “‘If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.'” The animal’s stupidity allowed the pigs to take advantage of them.  The animals believed every explanation that Squealer gave, no matter how unrealistic. Agreeing with the leader and never questioning his orders creates a false reality.  The animals thought that they were better off because the pigs kept telling them they were. But, in reality they had the same amount of food as they had had under human rule, and they also had to word twice as hard.  Although, Orwell depicts Communism in this novel, I believe that the message was for society as a whole.  He wants people to learn to think for themselves and to question what is forced upon them. They must also have faith in their own ideas and work together as a whole.

Looking back, I would have to say Boxer is the most sympathetic character throughout the whole book and I couldn’t help but feel sad for him.  He epitomizes all the qualities of the working class who are being taken care advantage of: loyalty, dedication, and a large capacity for labor.  He, like many of the other animals, suffer from  naivety and being too trustful, thinking that Napolean has their best intentions, failing to recognize the most blatant forms of corruption by the pigs.  Boxer was probably far more exploited by the pigs than when Mr. Jones was still in charge.  He was loyal, never complained, and literally worked himself to death.  His pitiful death, represents the extent of the pig’s betrayal.   And as much as I probably dislike Napolean, Squealer is the one hated the most. His name fits him well- since after all he squeals,  A LOT. Squealer is cunning and has no morals whatsoever. Squealer’s lack of conscience and unwavering loyalty to Napolean, with his rhetorical skills , makes him the perfect propagandist for any tyranny.

Overall, this was a very well-written book and probably Orwell’s best work in my opinion.  Prior to reading the actual content and just looking at the title, I thought the book was just going to be about animals, a wordy one at that, without pictures.  However, I was very wrong and I am amazed at how much I loved this book after reading it.  Orwell wrote a great critique of how socialist ideals are corrupted by powerful people and how the uneducated masses are exploited.  Aside from Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Animal Farm is by far my favorite allegorical novel–simple enough to be understood by the dumbest among us (and I mean myself), but well-written enough to capture the attention of someone who is far more refined and intellectual.

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