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Animal Farm is a short political fable by George Orwell. It is based on Joseph Stalin's betrayal of the Russian Revolution. Orwell wrote it because he wished to destroy what he called the "Soviet myth". Like Nineteen Eighty-Four, the story is one of the most famous political allegories in the world. It is about a group of animals who rebel against the humans who run 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. It was written during World War II and published in 1945. Although rejected by several publishers, when published it became a best-seller. Today it is widely accepted as a classic.
Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005). it also featured at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels. It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996, and is included in the Great Books of the Western World selection.
Plot summary[change | change source]
The animals of the Manor Farm lived badly. Their farmer Mr. Jones, a mean and drunken man, exploited them. One day Old Major, the pig who led the animals, called a meeting of all the animals. Old Major told them about a dream he had the previous night. He had dreamed about an old song called, 'Beasts of England', which started a resistance against the human beings. When Old Major sang the song most other animals 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". 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, cruel dogs that made Snowball run away bleeding. From that day Napoleon was the real dictator of the farm; he sent his dogs to eat up any animal that didn't agree with him. If something went wrong (like when the windmill they'd worked so hard on was wrecked), Napoleon blamed it on Snowball. According to Napoleon, Snowball 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 no pity on anybody. He and the pigs were like Mr. Jones - they exploited the other animals, and they took advantage of the foolishness of some animals. 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 replaced the old maxim with a new one: “Four legs good, two legs better”. Nothing was changed and resistance seemed to be useless.
Inspiration[change | change source]
Orwell, who was a socialist, wrote the introduction of the 1947 Ukrainian translation of Animal Farm. There he said he got the idea from seeing a young boy whipping a large cart horse. 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)".
Characters in the book[change | change source]
Pigs[change | change source]
- Old Major – A prize-winning pig. He is the one who inspires all the animals to rebel against the humans. The character is based on Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, the communist leader of the Russian Revolution.
- 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.
- 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, but also has some characteristics taken from Lenin. He is later framed of doing false crimes, and is banned from the farm.
- 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.
- 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 – A loyal and dedicated cart-horse. He is quite gullible. He and his companion Clover represent the working class during the Russian Revolution. Gets weak towards end and gets sent to the slaughter house by Napoleon who fooled the other animals into believing that he is getting sent to the hospital.
- 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 them, take care of them, and he whips them. He is based on Tsar Nicholas II.
- 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.
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. He is also a very loyal friend of Boxer and him and Clover look after Boxer.
- 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]
Maxim[change | change source]
"Four legs good, two legs bad." which later changed to " Four legs good, two legs better." "All animals are equal" which later changed to "All Animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."
The original Seven Commandments[change | change source]
- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- All animals are equal.
References[change | change source]
- "Animal Farm (novel by Orwell) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". britannica.com. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- "BBC - History - Historic Figures: George Orwell (1903 - 1950)". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- "George Orwell: Preface to the Ukrainian Edition of 'Animal Farm: A Fairy Story'". orwell.ru. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- "Literary Encyclopedia: Animal Farm". litencyc.com. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- Grossman, Lev & Lacayo Richard (16 October 2005). All-Time 100 Novels. TIME magazine. 
- "Preface to the Ukrainian Edition of Animal Farm - Written by George Orwell - Charles' George Orwell Links". netcharles.com. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- "Ideas and Trends - Orwell's 2-Legged Message - NYTimes.com". query.nytimes.com. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- Christopher Hitchens (2002) Why Orwell Matters, Basic Books, p. 186f
- John Rodden, "Introduction", in: John Rodden (ed.), Understanding Animal Farm, Westport/London (1999), p. 5f.
- "The Fall of Mister Jones and the Russian Revolution of 1917". Shmoop University. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- "SparkNotes " Literature Study Guides " Animal Farm " Chapter VIII". SparkNotes LLC. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- "The Scheming Frederick and how Hitler Broke the Non-Aggression Pact". Shmoop University. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
Other websites[change | change source]
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Animal Farm|
- "Animal Farm by George Orwell". Retrieved 2008-05-22.