book animal farm

Animal Farm is a satirical allegorical novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945.[1][2] The book tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy. Ultimately, the rebellion is betrayed, and the farm ends up in a state as bad as it was before, under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon.

According to Orwell, the fable reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union.[3][4] Orwell, a democratic socialist,[5] was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, an attitude that was critically shaped by his experiences during the May Days conflicts between the POUM and Stalinist forces during the Spanish Civil War.[6][a] The Soviet Union had become a totalitarian autocracy built upon a cult of personality while engaging in the practice of mass incarcerations and secret summary trials and executions. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as a satirical tale against Stalin ("un conte satirique contre Staline"),[7] and in his essay "Why I Write" (1946), wrote that Animal Farm was the first book in which he tried, with full consciousness of what he was doing, "to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole".[8]

The original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, but U.S. publishers dropped the subtitle when it was published in 1946, and only one of the translations during Orwell's lifetime, the Telugu version, kept it. Other titular variations include subtitles like "A Satire" and "A Contemporary Satire".[7] Orwell suggested the title Union des républiques socialistes animales for the French translation, which abbreviates to URSA, the Latin word for "bear", a symbol of Russia. It also played on the French name of the Soviet Union, Union des républiques socialistes soviétiques.[7]

Orwell wrote the book between November 1943 and February 1944, when the United Kingdom was in its wartime alliance with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, and the British intelligentsia held Stalin in high esteem, a phenomenon Orwell hated.[b] The manuscript was initially rejected by a number of British and American publishers,[9] including one of Orwell's own, Victor Gollancz, which delayed its publication. It became a great commercial success when it did appear partly because international relations were transformed as the wartime alliance gave way to the Cold War.[10]

Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005);[11] it also featured at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels,[12] and number 46 on the BBC's The Big Read poll.[13] It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996[14] and is included in the Great Books of the Western World selection.[15]

 

The poorly-run Manor Farm near Willingdon, England, is ripened for rebellion from its animal populace by neglect at the hands of the irresponsible and alcoholic farmer, Mr. Jones. One night, the exalted boar, Old Major, holds a conference, at which he calls for the overthrow of humans and teaches the animals a revolutionary song called "Beasts of England". When Old Major dies, two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, assume command and stage a revolt, driving Mr. Jones off the farm and renaming the property "Animal Farm". They adopt the Seven Commandments of Animalism, the most important of which is, "All animals are equal". The decree is painted in large letters on one side of the barn. Snowball teaches the animals to read and write, while Napoleon educates young puppies on the principles of Animalism. To commemorate the start of Animal Farm, Snowball raises a green flag with a white hoof and horn. Food is plentiful, and the farm runs smoothly. The pigs elevate themselves to positions of leadership and set aside special food items, ostensibly for their personal health. Following an unsuccessful attempt by Mr. Jones and his associates to retake the farm (later dubbed the "Battle of the Cowshed"), Snowball announces his plans to modernise the farm by building a windmill. Napoleon disputes this idea, and matters come to head, which culminate in Napoleon's dogs chasing Snowball away and Napoleon declaring himself supreme commander.

Napoleon enacts changes to the governance structure of the farm, replacing meetings with a committee of pigs who will run the farm. Through a young porker named Squealer, Napoleon claims credit for the windmill idea, claiming that Snowball was only trying to win animals to his side. The animals work harder with the promise of easier lives with the windmill. When the animals find the windmill collapsed after a violent storm, Napoleon and Squealer persuade the animals that Snowball is trying to sabotage their project, and begin to purge the farm of animals accused by Napoleon of consorting with his old rival. When some animals recall the Battle of the Cowshed, Napoleon (who was nowhere to be found during the battle) gradually smears Snowball to the point of saying he is a collaborator of Mr. Jones, even dismissing the fact that Snowball was given an award of courage while falsely representing himself as the main hero of the battle. "Beasts of England" is replaced with "Animal Farm", while an anthem glorifying Napoleon, who appears to be adopting the lifestyle of a man ("Comrade Napoleon"), is composed and sung. Napoleon then conducts a second purge, during which many animals who are alleged to be helping Snowball in plots are executed by Napoleon's dogs, which troubles the rest of the animals. Despite their hardships, the animals are easily placated by Napoleon's retort that they are better off than they were under Mr. Jones, as well as by the sheep's continual bleating of “four legs good, two legs bad”.

Mr. Frederick, a neighbouring farmer, attacks the farm, using blasting powder to blow up the restored windmill. Although the animals win the battle, they do so at great cost, as many, including Boxer the workhorse, are wounded. Although he recovers from this, Boxer eventually collapses while working on the windmill (being almost 12 years old at that point). He is taken away in a knacker's van, and a donkey called Benjamin alerts the animals of this, but Squealer quickly waves off their alarm by persuading the animals that the van had been purchased from the knacker by an animal hospital and that the previous owner's signboard had not been repainted. Squealer subsequently reports Boxer's death and honours him with a festival the following day. (However, Napoleon had in fact engineered the sale of Boxer to the knacker, allowing him and his inner circle to acquire money to buy whisky for themselves.)

Years pass, the windmill is rebuilt, and another windmill is constructed, which makes the farm a good amount of income. However, the ideals that Snowball discussed, including stalls with electric lighting, heating, and running water, are forgotten, with Napoleon advocating that the happiest animals live simple lives. Snowball has been forgotten, alongside Boxer, with "the exception of the few who knew him". Many of the animals who participated in the rebellion are dead or old. Mr. Jones is also dead, saying he "died in an inebriates' home in another part of the country". The pigs start to resemble humans, as they walk upright, carry whips, drink alcohol, and wear clothes. The Seven Commandments are abridged to just one phrase: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The maxim "Four legs good, two legs bad" is similarly changed to "Four legs good, two legs better." Other changes include the Hoof and Horn flag being replaced with a plain green banner and Old Major's skull, which was previously put on display, being reburied.

Napoleon holds a dinner party for the pigs and local farmers, with whom he celebrates a new alliance. He abolishes the practice of the revolutionary traditions and restores the name "The Manor Farm". The men and pigs start playing cards, flattering and praising each other while cheating at the game. Both Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington, one of the farmers, play the Ace of Spades at the same time and both sides begin fighting loudly over who cheated first. When the animals outside look at the pigs and men, they can no longer distinguish between the two.

Characters[edit]

Pigs[edit]

  • Old Major – An aged prize Middle White boar provides the inspiration that fuels the rebellion. He is also called Willingdon Beauty when showing. He is an allegorical combination of Karl Marx, one of the creators of communism, and Vladimir Lenin, the communist leader of the Russian Revolution and the early Soviet nation, in that he draws up the principles of the revolution. His skull being put on revered public display recalls Lenin, whose embalmed body was left in indefinite repose.[16] By the end of the book, the skull is reburied.

  • Napoleon – "A large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way".[17] An allegory of Joseph Stalin,[16] Napoleon is the leader of Animal Farm.

  • Snowball – Napoleon's rival and original head of the farm after Jones' overthrow. His life parallels that of Leon Trotsky,[16] but may also combine elements from Lenin.[18][c]

  • Squealer – A small, white, fat porker who serves as Napoleon's second-in-command and minister of propaganda, holding a position similar to that of Vyacheslav Molotov.[16]

  • Minimus – A poetic pig who writes the second and third national anthems of Animal Farm after the singing of "Beasts of England" is banned. Literary theorist John Rodden compares him to the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.[19]

  • The piglets – Hinted to be the children of Napoleon and are the first generation of animals subjugated to his idea of animal inequality.

  • The young pigs – Four pigs who complain about Napoleon's takeover of the farm but are quickly silenced and later executed, the first animals killed in Napoleon's farm purge. Probably based on the Great Purge of Grigori Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Nikolai Bukharin, and Alexei Rykov.

  • Pinkeye – A minor pig who is mentioned only once; he is the taste tester that samples Napoleon's food to make sure it is not poisoned, in response to rumours about an assassination attempt on Napoleon.

Humans[edit]

  • Mr. Jones – A heavy drinker who is the original owner of Manor Farm, a farm in disrepair with farmhands who often loaf on the job. He is an allegory of Russian Tsar Nicholas II,[20] who abdicated following the February Revolution of 1917 and was murdered, along with the rest of his family, by the Bolsheviks on 17 July 1918. The animals revolt after Jones goes on a drinking binge, returns hungover the following day and neglects them completely. Jones is married, but his wife plays no active role in the book. She seems to live with her husband's drunkenness, going to bed while he stays up drinking till late into the night. In her only other appearance, she hastily throws a few things into a travel bag and flees when she sees that the animals are revolting. Towards the end of the book, one of the farm sows wears her old Sunday dress.

  • Mr. Frederick – The tough owner of Pinchfield Farm, a small but well-kept neighbouring farm, who briefly enters into an alliance with Napoleon.[21][22][23][24] Animal Farm shares land boundaries with Pinchfield on one side and Foxwood on another, making Animal Farm a "buffer zone" between the two bickering farmers. The animals of Animal Farm are terrified of Frederick, as rumours abound of him abusing his animals and entertaining himself with cockfighting (a likely allegory for the human rights abuses of Adolf Hitler). Napoleon enters into an alliance with Frederick in order to sell surplus timber that Pilkington also sought, but is enraged to learn Frederick paid him in counterfeit money. Shortly after the swindling, Frederick and his men invade Animal Farm, killing many animals and destroying the windmill. The brief alliance and subsequent invasion may allude to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and Operation Barbarossa.[23][25][26]

  • Mr. Pilkington – The easy-going but crafty and well-to-do owner of Foxwood Farm, a large neighbouring farm overgrown with weeds. Pilkington is wealthier than Frederick and owns more land, but his farm is in need of care as opposed to Frederick's smaller but more efficiently run farm. Although on bad terms with Frederick, Pilkington is also concerned about the animal revolution that deposed Jones and worried that this could also happen to him.

  • Mr. Whymper – A man hired by Napoleon to act as the liaison between Animal Farm and human society. At first, he is used to acquire necessities that cannot be produced on the farm, such as dog biscuits and paraffin wax, but later he procures luxuries like alcohol for the pigs.

Equines[edit]

  • Boxer – A loyal, kind, dedicated, extremely strong, hard-working, and respectable cart-horse, although quite naive and gullible.[27] Boxer does a large share of the physical labour on the farm. He is shown to hold the belief that "Napoleon is always right." At one point, he had challenged Squealer's statement that Snowball was always against the welfare of the farm, earning him an attack from Napoleon's dogs. But Boxer's immense strength repels the attack, worrying the pigs that their authority can be challenged. Boxer has been compared to Alexey Stakhanov, a diligent and enthusiastic role model of the Stakhanovite movement.[28] He has been described as "faithful and strong";[29] he believes any problem can be solved if he works harder.[30] When Boxer is injured, Napoleon sells him to a local knacker to buy himself whisky, and Squealer gives a moving account, falsifying Boxer's death.

  • Mollie – A self-centred, self-indulgent, and vain young white mare who quickly leaves for another farm after the revolution, in a manner similar to those who left Russia after the fall of the Tsar.[31] She is only once mentioned again.

  • Clover – A gentle, caring mare, who shows concern especially for Boxer, who often pushes himself too hard. Clover can read all the letters of the alphabet, but cannot "put words together". She seems to catch on to the sly tricks and schemes set up by Napoleon and Squealer.

  • Benjamin – A donkey, one of the oldest, wisest animals on the farm, and one of the few who can read properly. He is sceptical, temperamental and cynical: his most frequent remark is, "Life will go on as it has always gone on – that is, badly." The academic Morris Dickstein has suggested there is "a touch of Orwell himself in this creature's timeless scepticism"[32] and indeed, friends called Orwell "Donkey George", "after his grumbling donkey Benjamin, in Animal Farm."[33]

Other animals[edit]

  • Muriel – A wise old goat who is friends with all of the animals on the farm. Similarly to Benjamin, Muriel is one of the few animals on the farm who is not a pig but can read.

  • The puppies – Offspring of Jessie and Bluebell, the puppies were taken away at birth by Napoleon and raised by him to serve as his powerful security force.

  • Moses – The Raven, "Mr. Jones's especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker."[34] Initially following Mrs. Jones into exile, he reappears several years later and resumes his role of talking but not working. He regales Animal Farm's denizens with tales of a wondrous place beyond the clouds called "Sugarcandy Mountain, that happy country where we poor animals shall rest forever from our labours!" Orwell portrays established religion as "the black raven of priestcraft – promising pie in the sky when you die, and faithfully serving whoever happens to be in power." His preaching to the animals heartens them, and Napoleon allows Moses to reside at the farm "with an allowance of a gill of beer daily", akin to how Stalin brought back the Russian Orthodox Church during the Second World War.[32]

  • The sheep – They are not given individual names or personalities. They show limited understanding of Animalism and the political atmosphere of the farm, yet nonetheless they are the voice of blind conformity[32] as they bleat their support of Napoleon's ideals with jingles during his speeches and meetings with Snowball. Their constant bleating of "four legs good, two legs bad" was used as a device to drown out any opposition or alternative views from Snowball, much as Stalin used hysterical crowds to drown out Trotsky.[35] Towards the end of the book, Squealer (the propagandist) trains the sheep to alter their slogan to "four legs good, two legs better", which they dutifully do.

  • The hens – Also unnamed, the hens are promised at the start of the revolution that they will get to keep their eggs, which are stolen from them under Mr. Jones. However, their eggs are soon taken from them under the premise of buying goods from outside Animal Farm. The hens are among the first to rebel, albeit unsuccessfully, against Napoleon.

  • The cows – Also unnamed, the cows are enticed into the revolution by promises that their milk will not be stolen but can be used to raise their own calves. Their milk is then stolen by the pigs, who learn to milk them. The milk is stirred into the pigs' mash every day, while the other animals are denied such luxuries.

  • The cat – Unnamed and never seen to carry out any work, the cat is absent for long periods and is forgiven because her excuses are so convincing and she "purred so affectionately that it was impossible not to believe in her good intentions."[36] She has no interest in the politics of the farm, and the only time she is recorded as having participated in an election, she is found to have actually "voted on both sides." [37]

 

 

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