Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Penguin Twentieth Century Classics
Year of publication: 1989
Year of first publication: 1945
The story describes the history of the Russian Revolution in 1917, but the real people of the revolution are replaced by farm animals. There are many similarities between these two events.
Mr Jones, the drunken, inefficient owner of Manor Farm, was one day expelled from his property by the starving, rebellious farm-animals. They started to run the farm by themselves under the leadership of the pigs. The revolution was the final result of a system of thoughts named "Animalism". After the take-over, the pigs made up "The Seven Commandments", based on Animalism, by which every animal had to live. Thanks to the organising abilities of the pigs, the farm was ran successfully, so most animals were very happy with the results of the revolution, although they had to work harder than before.
The leaders of the farm are Snowball and Napoleon. But they became rivals. At an election to decide which of them should be the real leader, Snowball is driven away by the dogs that Napoleon has secretly trained.
Napoleon is a strong large boar, he sets his dogs on Snowball and continues to increase his personal power and privileges from that time on. What counts for him is power, not ideas.
Snowball is an energetic, brilliant leader. He's the one who successfully organises the defence of the Farm (like Trotsky with the Red Army). He's an eloquent speaker with original ideas (the windmill).
Old Major is the wise old pig whose speech to the animals helps set the Rebellion in motion. His role compares with that of Karl Marx, whose ideas set the Communist Revolution in motion.
He is very persuasive. They say he can turn black into white! Every time the pigs take more wealth and power, Squealer persuades the animals that this is absolutely necessary for the well-being of all. He is also the one who makes all the changes in the Seven Commandments. In human terms he is the propaganda apparatus that spreads the "big lie" and makes people believe in it.
Boxer believes in the Rebellion and in its Leader. His two favourite sayings are "Napoleon is always right" and "I will work harder." His huge size and strength and his untiring labour save the Farm again and again. He finally collapses from age and overwork, and is sold for glue.
The dogs represent the means used by a totalitarian state to terrorise its own people. Think of them as Napoleon’s secret police.
The stupid sheep keep bleating away any slogan the pigs teach them. They represent the western capitalists.
In the softest sense the drunken Farmer Jones represents the Czar. He also stands for any government that declines through its own corruption and mismanagement.
Pilkington represents Orwell's view of the allied nations in general. Especially Britain and France.
The title stands for the general place where everything takes place. The story first takes place on Jones’ farm but later on, when the farm is taken over by the animals the farm is called: animal farm.
The story is comparable with the Russian Revolution. There is a plan of taking over a farm and a rebellion start (Russian Revolution), there's an individual war too, between Napoleon (Stalin) and Snowball (Trotsky). Then Snowball is abandoned and Napoleon rules. All the animals are very hungry and are afraid or too stupid to say anything about it.
The story takes place at a farm in England first called Manor Farm, later on Animal Farm and at the end Manor Farm again. The animals turn the Manor Farm into Animal Farm after they took over the farm.
The story begins around the year of 1919 and it ends about fifteen years later. (1919 because the Russian revolution started that year)
Things that struck me while reading:
It struck me that the story about animal farm resembled very much to the Russian revolution in the year 1919. After a while I started recognizing that the storyline was entirely based on the Russian revolution. At first I did not know that Animal Farm should sort of represent the revolution but after reading the whole book I know for sure that this book was written to give an image about how the Russian revolution took place.
‘Comrades, you have heard already about the strange dream that I had last night. But I will come to the dream later. I have something else to say first. I do not think, comrades, that I shall be with you for many months longer, and before I die I feel it my duty to pass on to you such wisdom as I have acquired. I have had a long life, I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, an I think I may say that I understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living. It is about this that I wish to speak to you.'
Reason of choosing this extract: I choose this extract because this is the first time the animals talk, Old Major is the one talking in this passage. At first I didn’t really know what to expect from the book and after reading this passage I became really confused, so this is the reason why I choose this single passage.
I think this is a wonderful book, maybe it’s because I love history and this book is based on a very well known historic story. I think the Russian revolution is a great theme, at the time we had to study this theme for the course history at school I really was interested. So to now read a book with that same theme was pretty fun.
It was an easy to read book and very good to understand. If I had to grade the book I would have given it an: 8.1