Animal Farm is a novel written by George Orwell in 1945. This allegorical and dystopian novel has since become a masterpiece and was included in 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005) by Time magazine. Unlike his other work '1984', Orwell has a significant political tone in this novel. In fact, many of the incidents have similarity with political events in authoritarian regimes across the world.
Animal Farm is a story of one Manor Farm in England where the animals revolt against the owner of the farm. Led by the pigs, all the animals form a regime based on equality of animals in the farm. News of the revolution is sent to others farms in the neighborhood and a revolution is tried to bring in those neighboring farms. Gradually, pigs modify all the rules that were formed after the revolution and a heavy propaganda machine convinces other animals that nothing has changed, and the changes were the required in order to sustain the rule of the animals and to avoid the farm being taken over by the humans again. Animal Farm is the story of the struggle of other animals with the changing laws and tactics of pigs to convince them that this suited the animal farm.
The great symbolism in Animal farm is apparent. Humans on the Manor Farm represent the rule of Bourgeois on Proletarians. The pigs represent the ruling class after the revolution. The Old Major resembles Karl Marx and has some elements of Lenin. Napoleon represents Stalin and Snowball's character is based on Leon Trotsky. The nine dogs that were raised by Napoleon represent the soviet secret police that used to ruthlessly suppress any voice of dissent against the soviet regime. Then there was Squealer who represented the propaganda department of the establishment used to manipulate the opinions and perceptions of the animals. The animals, except pigs, represent the common public living under the fear of government.
The events and incidents closely resemble that of the Russian revolution and the aftermath of that. The choice of pigs as ruling class was deemed offensive by many. This book along with '1984' was banned in USSR. George Orwell himself was democratic socialist but he thought the revolution is diverting from its objective. That is why he chose to write a novel about the Stalin regime. Around 1945, the sentiments of World War 2 was still high and USSR was still considered to be a friend in England. Orwell had great difficulty in finding a publisher and took him about two years to find one.
The love for the details by the author is pleasantly surprising. He has described in detail how the flag of the animal farm was designed, how the Manor Farm was rechristened to the Republic of Animal Farm, how the political opposition was purged, how the pigs became the rulers after they set out to establish equality. These incidents satirically describe events in the communist movement of Russia. I would recommend this book if you want to read a satire on the Russian communism and on Stalin’s rule.
Quotes from 'Animal Farm':
- Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.
- The animals were happy as they had never conceived it possible to be. Every mouthful of food was an acute positive pleasure, now that it was truly their own food, produced by themselves and for themselves, not doled out to them by a grudging master.
- The human beings did not hate Animal Farm any less now that it was prospering; indeed, they hated it more than ever.
- Surely, comrades, you don't want Jones back?