Animal Farm

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Animal Farm is a short political fable by George Orwell based on Joseph Stalin's betrayal of the Russian Revolution.[1][2] Orwell wrote it because he wished to destroy what he called the "Soviet myth".[3] Like Nineteen Eighty-Four, the story is one of the most famous political allegories in the world.[4] It is about a group of animals who rebel against the humans from the farm they live on and run it themselves with hopes of being equal, free, and happy. In the end, however, the new rule becomes a cruel tyranny of its own led by the pigs. Written during World War II and published in 1945, it was not well received at first, but is widely accepted as a classic today.

Plot summary[change | change source]

The animals of the Manor Farm lived badly because their farmer Mr. Jones, a mean and always drunk man, exploits them. One day Old Major, the old pig who led the animals, called a meeting of all the animals and told them about a dream that he had had the previous night. He had dreamed about an old song called, 'Beasts of England' that started a resistance against the human beings. When Old Major sang the song every other animal started to join in. Everyone was very excited about rebelling. Old Major died a few days later and two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, started leading the preparations for the Rebellion. About three months later they revolted against Mr. Jones and they took over the farm. The purpose of the revolution was to create a fair society made only by animals, or animalism and it was based on seven commandments such as “Four legs good, two legs bad” and most importantly: "All animals are equal". They also changed the name of the farm to "Animal Farm" from Manor Farm.

Snowball, an inventive and vivacious pig and Napoleon, a big and cruel-looking pig, started to fight for leadership. In the meantime Mr. Jones was planning to attack to get the farm back but when he did the animals won the battle called "The Battle of the Cowshed" and Mr. Jones was forced to stay out of the farm. One day, when Snowball announced his plans to build a windmill, Napoleon arrived in the farm with nine big and cruel dogs that made Snowball run away bleeding. From that day Napoleon was the real dictator of the farm; if an animal didn't agree with him, he was eaten up by his dogs. If something went wrong (like when the windmill they'd worked so hard on was wrecked), Napoleon blamed it on Snowball, who, according to him, was sneaking around Animal Farm ruining everything. When Boxer, the strongest horse in the farm, lost his strength because of old age and fell while he was building a windmill, Napoleon sent him to be slaughtered. Now Napoleon had pity on nobody. He and the pigs were like Mr. Jones - they exploited the other animals, they took advantage of the foolishness of some animals and they came into contact with human beings for business although they had said it was forbidden. In the end they became like human beings, they started to walk on their hind legs and they changed the old maxim with a new one: “Four legs good, two legs better”. Nothing was changed and their resistance seemed to be useless.

Inspiration[change | change source]

Orwell, who was a socialist, wrote in the introduction of the 1947 Ukrainian translation of Animal Farm that he got the idea from seeing a young boy whipping a large cart horse.[5] He explained, "It struck me that if only such animals became aware of (knew) their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit (badly use) animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat (the poor, the lower class)".[6][3]

Characters in the book[change | change source]

There are many characters in the book who are based on real people. They are grouped into pigs, horses, humans and other animals.

Pigs[change | change source]

  • Old Major – A prize-winning pig. He inspires the rebellion against the humans. The character is based on Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, the communist leader of the Russian Revolution.[7]
  • Napoleon – A large boar who becomes the leader of Animal Farm. He is the main villain of the story. He secures his power through fear. The character is based on Joseph Stalin.[8]
  • Snowball – He is the pig who fights Napoleon for control after the rebellion. He easily wins the loyalty of most of the animals. He is mainly based on Leon Trotsky,[8] but also has some characteristics taken from Lenin.[7]
  • Squealer – He serves as Napoleon's public speaker. He twists and abuses language to excuse and justify Napoleon's actions. He is based on Vyacheslav Molotov.[8]
  • Minimus – A poet, who writes the second and third national anthems of Animal Farm, after "Beasts of England" is banned. He creates poems and songs praising Napoleon.

Horses[change | change source]

  • Boxer – Boxer is a loyal and dedicated cart-horse. He is quite gullible. He and his companion Clover represent the working class during the Russian Revolution.
  • Clover – A motherly mare approaching middle age. She is Boxer's companion, and she takes care of him. Like Boxer, she works as a cart-horse on Manor Farm. During the book she has doubts about the pigs' behaviour, but she repeatedly blames herself for not remembering correctly the commandments. She realises later the situation but is not smart enough to express herself.
  • Mollie – A foolish, pretty and vain young white mare. She likes sugar so much that when eating of sugar is banned, she smuggles some into the farm. When it is discovered, she leaves the farm to go to another farm. She is last seen being caressed by a man. The character represents the Bourgeoisie of the Russian Revolution, who were happy with their life under rule of Tsar Nicholas II and left Russia a year after the Rebellion.

Humans[change | change source]

  • Mr. Jones – The farmer of Manor Farm. The animals revolt against him because he does not feed or take care of them. He is based on Tsar Nicholas II.[9]
  • Mr. Pilkington – The farmer of Foxwood, a large neighbouring farm.
  • Mr. Frederick – The owner of Pinchfield, a small but well-kept neighbouring farm. He briefly enters into an alliance with Napoleon. He is a reference to Adolf Hitler.[10][11]

Other animals[change | change source]

  • Benjamin – An old donkey. He has the worst temper, but is also one of the smartest animals on the farm. He is thought to represent the older generation - wise enough to see through the lies, but keeps silent.
  • Moses – An old raven who occasionally visits the farm. He tells the animals stories about a heavenly place above the clouds called Sugarcandy Mountain, where he says that all animals go when they die—but only if they work hard. Moses is thought to represent the Church (or religious community) in Russia at the time.
  • Muriel – A wise old goat who is friends with all of the animals on the farm.
  • Bluebell and Jessie – A mated pair of dogs. Their children are taken away from them by Napoleon at birth and raised by Napoleon to be his bodyguards.
  • The Hens – The hens are among the first to rebel against Napoleon.
  • The Cows – Their milk is stolen by the pigs, who learn to milk them. It is stirred into the pigs' food every day while the other animals are not allowed to have any.
  • The Cat – The cat never does any work, but she is forgiven because her excuses are so convincing. She has no interest in the politics of the farm.

Animalism[change | change source]

Animalism is a system of beliefs shared by the farm animals of Manor Farm. The purpose is to ensure the farm animals behave like actual animals and not follow the footsteps of humans beings. Therefore, any human behavior is considered contrary to the spirit of Animalism.

Beasts of England[change | change source]

In the story, this song was sung by animals of England once upon a time. It is named "Beasts of England". It has a stirring tune, a cross between "Clementine" and "La Cucaracha". This song became popular among the animals of England after Old Major recited it to the farm animals of Manor Farm. It is the first national anthem of Animal Farm.

Original beliefs[change | change source]

These are the original commandments laid down by the pigs.

Maxim[change | change source]

"Four legs good, two legs bad." "All animals are equal" which later changed to "All Animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."

The Seven Commandments[change | change source]

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Animal Farm (novel by Orwell) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  2. "BBC - History - Historic Figures: George Orwell (1903 - 1950)". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "George Orwell: Preface to the Ukrainian Edition of 'Animal Farm: A Fairy Story'". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  4. "Literary Encyclopedia: Animal Farm". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  5. "Preface to the Ukrainian Edition of Animal Farm - Written by George Orwell - Charles' George Orwell Links". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  6. "Ideas and Trends - Orwell's 2-Legged Message -". Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Christopher Hitchens (2002) Why Orwell Matters, Basic Books, p. 186f
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 John Rodden, "Introduction", in: John Rodden (ed.), Understanding Animal Farm, Westport/London (1999), p. 5f.
  9. "The Fall of Mister Jones and the Russian Revolution of 1917". Shmoop University. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  10. "SparkNotes " Literature Study Guides " Animal Farm " Chapter VIII". SparkNotes LLC. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  11. "The Scheming Frederick and how Hitler Broke the Non-Aggression Pact". Shmoop University. Retrieved May 13, 2013.

Other websites[change | change source]