Book Reviews, Books

In Review – Animal Farm by George Orwell – A Tragic Fairy Tale

animal-farm-cover-imageAnimal Farm by George Orwell
Published by: Secker and Warburg
Genres: Historical Fiction, Satire
Pages: 122
Format: Paperback
My Review in 15 Words: A Chilling Tale about oppressed becoming the oppressor

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About the Book:

"All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others."

One night on an English farm, Major the boar recounts his vision of a utopia where his fellow creatures own the land along with the means of production and are no longer the slaves of humans.

Before long his dream comes true, and for a short while all animals really are equal. But the clever pigs educate themselves and soon learn how to extend their own power, inevitably at the expense of the rest of the community.

This well-loved tale is, of course, a satire on the Soviet Communist system that still remains a powerful warning despite the changes in world politics since "Animal Farm" was first published.

My Thoughts

This is going to be my rambling about Animal Farm by Orwell. Because seriously, I find myself incapable of reviewing a novel of such depth and darkness.

On the face of it, it’s a simple, short novel revolving around an animal farm.

Is it really?

It is famously known that George Orwell wrote this novel as a satire on Stalin – reflecting upon the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the subsequent rise of the Stalinist Soviet Regime.

We all have heard that power corrupts – and this is very vividly and effectively portrayed in Orwell’s novel.

Animal Farm tells a story of a farm run by Mr. Jones. However, during his ownership, the animals feel oppressed and neglected. An incident at the farm leads to animals rebelling against Mr. Jones ousting him from the farm.

The animals now attempt to run the farm themselves – EQUALLY – on the basis of a Utopian sort of communism. The pigs, who are more intelligent and idle, finalize 7 commandments which ensure equality and prosperity for all the animals.

Snowball and Napoleon, the pigs, start managing the farm with the help of other animals. Snowball takes a greater interest in the farm management while Napoleon remains aloof towards the improvements Snowball has suggested in the farm. During the initial years of the now communist Animal Farm, the only work Napolean shows interest in – is the training of a litter of puppies.

Soon it becomes clear that Napoleon and Snowball’s ideologies are different. The discussions between these two often result in arguments. During one such argument, some dogs attack Snowball. We later get to know that these dogs are the same puppies Napoleon was training, but instead brainwashed into becoming his loyal soldiers.

Napoleon starts managing (read: ruling) the farm with his cunning and shrewd second in command – Squealer.

Here, starts the story of manipulation, brainwash and persecution of the animals.

The pigs start to modify the commandments to suit their best interests. Through terror and propaganda, the pigs establish their rule in the farm, under the leadership of Napoleon. Responsible for the propaganda is Napolean’s second in command – Squealer.

Squealer successfully manages to convince the animals that pigs are doing a big favor to all the animals by managing the farm, and eating apples and drinking the milk. Thus, having a right for a bigger share. He convincingly changes, the most important commandment from “all animals are equal” to “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” – to suit pigs.

Squealer manages to skew the memories of animals. He carefully plants the seed of doubts pertaining to the past events. He also manipulates them into thinking they are in a much better state in Napolean’s rule than they ever were.  And when everything else fails, he uses the threat of ” Jones returning” to silence the animals.

In the end, we see, pigs walking on two legs and carrying whips like the human. Thus, completely failing the rebellion for the betterment and equality of all animals.

The story is known to be an analysis of the Soviet Union. In a more general sense, Napolean represents the political tyrants that have emerged throughout human history.

This chilling fable of power turning the pigs from “comrades” to ruthless dictators is hard-hitting and direct. The horrific fact is that even though it was written in 1945, it is still relevant today.

What’s more, the novel ends with a  quote so true that it is capable of giving us chills.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which”.

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