George Orwell's Animal Farm is a political satire of a
totalitarian society ruled by a mighty dictatorship, in all
probability an allegory for the events surrounding the
Russian Revolution of 1917. The animals of "Manor Farm"
overthrow their human master after a long history of
mistreatment. Led by the pigs, the farm animals continue to
do their work, only with more pride, knowing that they are
working for themselves, as opposed to working for humans.
Little by little, the pigs become dominant, gaining more
power and advantage over the other animals, so much so
that they become as corrupt and power-hungry as their
predecessors, the humans. The theme in Animal Farm
maintains that in every society there are leaders who, if
given the opportunity, will likely abuse their power.
The book begins in the barnyard of Mr. Jones' "Manor
Farm". The animals congregate at a meeting led by the prize
white boar, Major. Major points out to the assembled
animals that no animal in England is free. He further
explains that the products of their labor is stolen by man,
who alone benefits. Man, in turn, gives back to the animals
the bare minimum which will keep them from starvation while
he profits from the rest. The old boar tells them that the
source of all their problems is man, and that they must
remove man from their midst to abolish tyranny and hunger.
Days later Major dies, but the hope and pride which
he gave the other animals does not die. Under the
leadership of the pigs, the most intelligent of the animals,
they rebel against their human master managing to overthrow
him. After the rebellion, under the direction of Napoleon,
the most outspoken pig, and Snowball, the most eloquent pig,
the animals continue to work the farm successfully.
As with all societies, the animals have laws which
must be obeyed. Their laws stated that animals shall never
become like humans; cruel and manipulative. They shall not
wear clothing nor sleep in beds. Most importantly, they are
to respect one another's equality and killing another animal
is strictly forbidden.
Meanwhile, the pigs as leaders are taking bigger
food rations for themselves justifying their behavior as
something necessary for the "brains" of their animal
society. At this point we begin to suspect that the pigs
will abuse their positions and power in this animal society.
Mr. Jones tries to reclaim his power but the animals
prevent him from doing so in what they call "The Battle of
the Cowshed". After the battle, Napoleon drives Snowball
off the farm telling everyone that Snowball was on Mr.
Jones' side. Napoleon is further appreciated by the other
animals for exposing and removing the traitor, Snowball,
from their midst. Slowly, Napoleon gets a stronger and
stronger hold over the other animals, dominating their
The situation at "Animal Farm", the new name for
"Manor Farm", really starts to change now. Napoleon moves
into Mr. Jones' house, sleeps in his bed, and even wears his
clothes. In order to make his actions appear legal, the law
had to be interpreted differently, which Napoleon arranged.
In defiance of the original laws, Napoleon befriends Mr.
Pilkington, the human owner of a nearby farm. Napoleon had
such control over the other animals that they accepted such
a blatant disregard of their law about fraternizing with
The book ends with the pigs sitting at a table,
eating with humans. Napoleon announces to those around the
table that the name "Manor Farm" will be reinstated. The
humans and pigs converse while the other animals outside
look on. They, the lowly creatures according to the pigs
and humans, look from pig to man and from man to pig, unable
to differentiate between the species.
The theme throughout Animal Farm is presented
through the allegory of corrupt pigs and the passivity of
the other barnyard animals. The humans in the story
represent the Russian royal family and aristocracy, tyrants
who abused their power with no regard for the peasants who,
in essence, supported their royal lifestyle. The pigs
represent the Bolshevik revolutionaries who led the masses
in rebellion against the Czar and the entire royal family.
Unfortunately, as with the pigs, power corrupted and the
people were then oppressed by their "comrades" under the new
communist government. Orwell's message about power, in the
hands of a few, is corrupting and does nothing to benefit
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