This small satirical novella-parable is one of the two most famous works of George Orwell, author of the dystopian novel 1984. But if in the story of Winston Smith, a former rebel and then loyal slave of Big Brother, the action takes place in dilapidated London and its suburbs, here – on an ordinary farm. And the characters in the story are not human, but animals, even though they bear human names, uttering remarkably familiar slogans and committing quite human acts. Some think that this story, written at the end of World War II, is a harsh satire on the Soviet Union and a prediction of its further fatal fate; others think that it is a parable about universal human nature and that its action could unfold in any country and under any social system. The main thing is that there are masters, disenfranchised people and dexterous demagogues, who at a convenient opportunity themselves turn into the most evil of all tyrants.
What this book is about
When viewed in terms of plot, Animal Farm tells the story of an animal uprising against the backwoods farmer Jones. The animals, led by the free-thinking pigs, establish a kind of republic, create their own flag and anthem and even their own moral code, proclaiming the equality of all four-legged and feathered animals. They sincerely consider themselves happy and free, not noticing that they have to live starving and work even harder than they did under Jones, who hated them. Particular zeal is shown by the simple-minded horse Boxer, who keeps saying, “I’ll work even harder,” and eventually ends up in the slaughterhouse, where he is sent by the usurping pigs. More precisely, of all the leaders of the rebellion, only the boar, nicknamed Napoleon, remains on the farm, who drives out his political rivals, declaring them enemies of the people, or simply hands them over to his bodyguards, the young, vicious dogs. Moreover, he indoctrinates the simple-minded animals that everything that happens on the farm is for their benefit. In the end, Napoleon dares to rewrite the revolutionary precepts sacred to the rest of the farm’s inhabitants, which will henceforth state “four legs good, two legs even better. The pigs would dress up in human clothes, reconcile with humans, and establish a mutually beneficial trade with them. And in the end both will have a drinking party, so that the bewildered animals will watch the spectacle, unable to believe their own eyes and not understanding where there are people and where there are pigs.
The meaning of the book “Animal Farm.”
It is easy to see why this book was seen as a satire on the Soviet Union, its rejection of the politics of world revolution and its transition to a peaceful existence, and the degradation of the Soviet elite. In the cruel and cunning Napoleon one could see Stalin, in the exiled and slandered Snowball – Trotsky or some other of the enemies of the “father of nations”, in the voiceless animals – the fooled people, and in the people – the Western countries, the “bourgeois” who served as an object of hatred and envy simultaneously. In this case, George Orwell is a prophet who predicted the degradation of the Soviet elite and the collapse of the Soviet Union decades before it happened in real life.
Conspiracy theorists believe that the existence and popularity of the book points to the insidious schemes of the capitalist countries, whose rulers only thought of how they could cheat the Soviet population and “tame” the Soviet elite by making the “Reds” surrender without a fight. These same people also wholeheartedly believe in the existence of the “Dulles Plan” which was actually invented by the Soviet novelist Anatoly Ivanov, author of the heavy propaganda sagas “The Eternal Call” and “Shadows Fade at Noon”. Most likely, both were right. The plot and images of “Animal Farm” indeed reflect both real historical events and historical figures that existed in reality. And at the same time this story is deeper than just a topical propaganda, otherwise quotes from it would not have become proverbs and would not be dispersed everywhere.
An Analysis of the Book of Animal Farm
A careful analysis of the book’s content and its comparison to historical facts show that “brainwashing”, the struggle against dissenters, and the degeneration of the elites took place not only in the Soviet Union, but also in many states that stuck to totalitarian ideologies and proudly called themselves democratic. So the meaning of Animal Farm is broader than you might think at first sight, just as Gulliver’s Adventures tells us more than just about 18th-century Britain and Saltykov-Shchedrin’s A History of One City tells us more than just about tsarist Russia.
History of the book “Animal Farm”
Orwell himself wrote this book from impressions of the Spanish Civil War in which he participated. According to the writer, it was a time when he observed how fierce the “showdown” among recent comrades-in-arms in the revolutionary struggle can be, how easily undesirable people are pulverized, and how effective is the manipulation of consciousness in the twentieth century – the century of universal literacy. At the same time, he believed that in both revolutionary Spain and in Stalin’s USSR there was a distortion of socialist ideals. Orwell was also a connoisseur of British and world classical literature and was well aware of the universal form of the parable. He also had a fertile imagination, often marveling at the patience and obedience of domestic animals and sometimes fantasizing about how horses, cows and even domestic goats and pigs would behave if they could feel their inherent strength.
The Meaning of the Book’s Title, Animal Farm
So the title of this book refers the thoughtful reader to both silent cattle submissiveness and animal cunning and cruelty. People very often find these qualities in animals, less often reflecting on how inherent they are in the human race from time immemorial, which has inherited not only many “animal” vices, but in addition to them “invented” its own and even got used to find in them something praiseworthy and majestic.
The Problematics of the Book of Animal Farm
As a man of “leftist” convictions, George Orwell repeatedly pondered the astonishing phenomenon – the desire of people for freedom, which all too often turns out to be violent tyrants who surpass the intolerance and cruelty of the overthrown rulers. Moreover, people who have just extolled the triumph of liberty, equality and fraternity believe eloquent demagogues, erupt in hatred of dissenters in no time, and willingly put their necks under the new yoke. The writer tried not to believe that this is the eternal fate of the human race, although in the finale of “Animal Farm” the “liberated” animals are still slaughtered and disenfranchised. The hope for a way out of the vicious circle was the book itself.
What the book teaches
“What does history teach? – asks the proverb. – That it never teaches you anything. The same could be said of the works of many of the great satirists with whom British literature is so rich. And yet Orwell hoped that the bitter satire of his story would encourage at least some readers to throw off the blinders that not only servile animals wear.
The point of the book’s ending.
The same lessons of history give us examples of societies with great aims that end in complete moral degradation and decay. The same thing happened to the characters in Animal Farm, who learned the customs of the people they hated in no time at all. You can console yourself with the fact that only the pigs behaved in this way, while the other animals simply stared at this “feast of life” numb with amazement. But think carefully, don’t you have the qualities of Napoleon and company?