Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)
Fiction | Historical | Classic
“Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/communist philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union.” -Goodreads
pooled ink Review:
Animal Farm is one of those deceptively simple books. A story about a bunch of talking animals on a farm? Kid stuff. Oh the animals go through tough times and set up a hierarchy within the farm? Okay interesting but still…it’s just a bunch of animals. Wake up! This is one of the most striking and horrific allegories you may ever read. Every single animal, every single decision, every single horror, every single reasoning, every single philosophy, it all is a symbol for something in history with regards to the formation of Communism and Soviet Russia (the U.S.S.R.).
Orwell writes a story that both intrigues and amuses as a story in its own right while simultaneously exposing true historical events.
Particularly in the United States of America there has traditionally been a lot of unease surrounding communism and rightly so. Marxism, its father philosophy, may have been devised with good intentions and to an extent its spawn, socialism and communism, can also be argued with good intentions but I’ve yet to see either ever succeed or ever be implemented honestly. It’s too easily twisted. Someone always wins and someone always loses. ‘Unfortunate’ is an understatement and maybe I am a bit of a cynic but as much as we all want world peace and to sit around singing Kumbaya around a camp fire loving one another it’s a reality we will never see. Human nature, what a prick. In college my English class professor drove me nuts with all her hope and visions of hugs and daisy chains. Anyway…that’s not really the point.
I implore you to read this classic novel (remember, classics usually become classics for a reason, right?). Just because the events occurred a long time ago and this book was written nearly as old doesn’t mean you should be so quick to dismiss it. History is important even if it’s hard to see why.
This became one of my favorite books the first time I read it as a 13-year old student. It takes a hard look at communism, examining its idealistic dreams and its crippling realities. Taking historical events and crafting an allegory with animals seizing the farm, Orwell writes a truly excellent novel.
(Bonus: after reading you probably won’t mind killing pigs for bacon as much. Then again, it’s bacon. When does anyone feel bad about bacon? Its flavor is worth gold.)
an excerpt from my 8th grade essay (2008):
“… The novel Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory to the 1917 Russian Revolution. The animals on Manor Farm overthrow Mr. Jones, the farmer, and attempt to rule the farm their selves but this leads to disastrous events. In this novel Orwell symbolizes many leading people from the Russian Revolution in his novel such as Old Major, an elderly and portly pig, stands for Karl Marx who both come up with a government system called socialism, or in the book Animalism. Squealer, a persuasive pig, represents the communist newspaper, Pravda. Napoleon, a cruel, Berkshire boar, represents Joseph Stalin, both of which are power hungry communists.
Old Major, the Father of ‘Animalism’ makes a speech to all the animals of Manor Farm encouraging them to rebel against Jones and begin the practice of Animalism. Karl Marx also creates a system called Marxism. These theories sparked a communist revolution. Although the philosophies of Old Major are for the benefit of everyone, creating equality among them all, there is always someone who corrupts it with their thirst for power.
In the turn of events from Old Major’s death, Squealer contravenes with Old Major’s original beliefs and philosophies, by creating excuses and false explanations to cover up any unfair actions that Napoleon does to take charge creating an unnoticed hierarchy within the farm. Pravda, which ironically means “truth” is the official communist newspaper, preaching the party line. Squealer and the Russian Media only report lies or twisted explanations by order of their leader to make the people/animals content and hard working for their leaders. All the animals say that Squealer “could turn black into white.” He was such a creative and persuasive talker that the animals only need listen to him to be comforted through any rough times on the farm.
Of course, Napoleon, who used to be in a “team” with Snowball, another leading pig, was not very quick with words but was known to get his way, giving him many advantages over Snowball although Snowball was a good talker. He decides that he needs to obtain the full capacity of leadership and dispose of Snowball, his only competition on the farm. He does this by running Snowball off Animal Farm for good with his secret guard dogs. Stalin does a similar action to Leon Trotsky, his main threat/rival except that Stalin kills Trotsky rather than just run him out of the country. Napoleon becomes more infatuated with power and in the end he dominates Animal Farm.
George Orwell uses a lot of symbolism in his fairy tale depicting an allegory to the Russian Revolution. Old Major, who symbolizes Karl Marx, creates an equality philosophy for the farm. Squealer, representing Pravda, reports to the animals the facts with a twist. Napoleon, standing for Joseph Stalin, becomes dictator of Animal Farm. …”
Purchase here: Animal Farm
Meet George Orwell!
Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.