Animal Farm

by George Orwell

Hardcover, 1946




New York: Harcourt, [1946]. Reprint


All animals are equals but some animals are more equal than others. George Orwell's classic satire of the Russian Revolution is the account of the bold struggle, initiated by the animals, that transforms Mr. Jones's Manor Farm into Animal Farm, a wholly democratic society built on the credo that all animals are created equal. Out of their cleverness, the pigs Napoleon, Squealer, and Snowball emerge as leaders of the new community in a subtle evolution that proves disastrous. The climax is the brutal betrayal of the faithful horse Boxer, when totalitarian rule is re-established with the bloodstained postscript to the founding slogan: but some animals are more equal than others.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Smiler69
Originally published in 1945, Animal Farm set out to denounce Stalin's communist regime with an allegorical tale featuring animals which represent the figureheads of communism. The story begins with Old Major, an aging boar (Karl Marx and Lenin rolled into one) when he gathers the animals of the farm and predicts a great revolution ahead. He dies a few days later, and the revolution is sparked shortly after, when the animals drive out Mr. Jones, the original owner of Manor Farm, and take over, re-naming the property "Animal Farm". Things at first truly are utopic. Under Snowball the pig's tutelage, the animals learn to read and write. They have more food to eat, and the farm prospers as it never has before. The seven commandments of Animalism are set forth, among which "All Animals are Equal", and also what the sheep oversimplify to and continually bleat out: "Four legs good, two legs bad". But Napoleon the pig (Stalin) has his own ideas. He has no intention of sharing leadership, so he chases Snowball away in a crude display of power, then gives the pigs a privileged position while the other animals see their rations progressively reduced while the work load constantly increases. Pretty soon, it seems like they may have been better off under farmer Jones's leadership—though no one can remember those times clearly enough to make comparisons. As the pigs flout the commandments one by one, they cover their tracks by modifying the wording to suit their needs, with Squealer the pig always on hand to disseminate propaganda and create the impression that conditions for the animals are continually improving, even as all evidence points to the contrary.

What makes this one of my favourite novels of all time is the fact that, while it works brilliantly as a harsh criticism of the abuses perpetrated by Stalin and his cronies, the story also points to the universal truth that the most idealistic principles can be manipulated to justify the greatest injustices and abuses of power. Beyond all the politics though, one can't help but get attached to the characters—especially with Boxer the hard working horse, with his mottos of "I will work harder" and "Napoleon is always right", which become increasingly poignant as we see him struggle with reduced circumstances and encroaching old age. We become quickly wholly invested in the fate of these animals, while being in turns fascinated and horrified by the flagrant offences perpetrated by the pigs. A great classic which everyone should read at least once.
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LibraryThing member g0ldenboy
Animal Farm is a classic required in middle schools around the world. Weighing in at less than 140 pages, it's a quick read. Thus, I put Orwell's magnum opus 1984 down, and began this allegoric tale. I was expecting an exciting, more complex version of Charlotte's Web, with subtle themes meant to ridicule socialism. But there is nothing subtle about it.

Animal Farm begins strongly. As a wise old pig edges toward death, he stands on a stool in the black of night to profess to the rest of the farm his dream of a world where animals are free from men. This scene was portrayed deftly; I couldn't wait for Orwell to relate the personalities of the animals to the roles they would play in the newly formed society. Surprisingly, the rest of the book is bland.

Each character is modeled after a historical figure. Napoleon is Stalin, Snowball is Trotsky, Squealer is Molotov, Boxer is the proletariat man, the dogs are the secret police, and so on. Instead of a rich character study concerning the types of people who become the Stalins or Molotovs, Orwell merely slaps his satire onto a cardboard cast. Because the premise was so creative, I predicted that the rest of the book would contain the same spice and excitement. I was wrong.

I'm not saying Orwell doesn't describe animals like Squealer vividly; we see his persuasive mannerisms and speeches, just nothing deeper. In fact, Orwell grinds the reader against the pitfalls of Communist societies. I'm willing to accept the tale as a method of displaying this inevitability, I just can't tolerate repetitiveness. As others have pointed out, Animal Farm might have been better as a short story or lecture series. His idea doesn't sustain impact for long, as short as the book is.

A page on socialism could sum it all up. If you've already read such a page, you'll trudge through Animal Farm mouthing, "yeah, I get it already." However, if you're still in middle school, this book might just be what you need to imprint the idea into your brain.
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LibraryThing member DragonFreak
An old pig named Major predicted a time when the poor, abused animals of a farm with rise against their cruel owners and rule mankind. He never lived to see his vision come true, because right after that, all the other pigs, the horses, dogs, sheep, cows, hens, and cats rebelled, took control of the farm, naming it Animal Farm.

Things were going good. In fact, things were going great. The animals made their own anthem, their own flag, and their own commandments that every other animal had to live by. Among these were: All Animals are Equal, Animals Must Not Sleep in Beds or Wear Clothes, Never Drink Alcohol, and Never Kill Other Animals. This was a start to a great unity that will seemingly last forever.

If only that’s what happened. Things start to go…wrong. Traitors are among the animals, the leaders start to get too powerful, and somehow the commandments are changing, but they still seem the same. For some reason, this “perfect” society that Major predicted doesn’t seem so good…

I loved this book. It’s so much better than [1984] which I gave Four and a Half Stars. If I could go higher than Five Stars, I would give it an 8 ½. This may be a story a story about political confliction mirroring real life, but to me, it’s so much more than that. To me, it’s about the dystopian books I love so much: societies going bad. Real bad. Let me tell you why I loved it so much


This kept reminding me of [The Lord of the Flies]. Now what Golding did is use innocent boys symbolizing pure humans and using that to symbolize why we are so evil. Orwell may or may not have had that in mind when he used animals, but that’s how I interpreted it. There’s a dream of freedom that the animals have, and the revolt and succeed. And because of all the evil in the world, the society collapses, but at the same time…survives and thrives.

The first thing that went wrong is that there is a rule in the commandments that no animals shall sleep in beds. But the pigs do. Now since the pigs are so much smarter than all the other animals, they convinced them that the rule has always been: No Animals Shall Sleep in Beds With Sheets. Since all animals have beds of some sort, but not sheets, it’s alright to sleep in beds then. Nothing major, right?

Another thing that happened is that towards the end of the book where the book is even more face paced than the previously, the pigs start drinking alcohol. Wait, was that against the commandments? No, the rule is that No Animals Shall Drink to an Excess. You see the pattern? And since all the other animals are so stupid, of course, they just forgot it or missed it.

Backing up a little bit, there were to possible leaders: Napoleon and Snowball, both pigs. Snowball lost and Napoleon declared him a traitor and was a spy to their previous owner. Well, there was a slaughtering of animals, because so many things were going wrong, and a myriad of animals confessed that they did something horrible to the farm suggested by Snowball. Actually, most of them were pretty harmless, but if it was any way bad at all, they are dead. Even the dumbest of animals suddenly thought that there was a commandment that said no animal shall kill another. But no, they proved their stupidity, because the commandment actually said: No Animal Shall Kill Another Without a Reason. You see how Napoleon is changing the rules their supposed to live by?

And then, at the very end, everything changes. The pigs wear clothes and walk on two legs, and those are both against the commandments. There’s no way the other animal can possibly miss that, because the sheep constantly chant, “Two legs good, Four legs bad.” But strangely they now say, “Two legs good, Four legs Better”. And all those commandments, it just gets replaced by one single commandment: All Animals are Equal, but Some Animals are More Equal than Others. Do you see the flaw in that? You can’t be equal and no equal at the same time. The society just went bad. And at the end, the pigs and humans looked exactly alike.


And for you how read the long spoilers, that’s why I love this book. I love flaws in characters and other things. You know why? Because it’s very natural to have flaws. Very Highly Recommended. You can learn a thing or two just like I did.

Rating: Five Stars *****
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LibraryThing member protikche
A better satire on authoritarianism has perhaps not been written. Its simplicity is such that it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, though enjoyed wont be quite the right word for adults, but enjoy we do, nevertheless.

Though generally known as a satire on the Russian revolution and the ideals it finally betrayed, today it can applied to a large variety of example and instances, something that perhaps Orwell himself foresaw as well, as he remarked that it is a protest against every form of authoritarianism, whether right or left.

One need not know the history of the Russian revolution and its aftermath to understand the implications in the book and the basic foundation of the book is something we can all relate to, relate to what Kafka said about revolutions that all revolutions come and leave a bureaucracy behind. Even if the reader does not know who “Major” or “Snowball” is portrayed on, they can relate to them easily, as they can relate easily to “Boxer”, the unknown idealistic man or woman who is ultimately sacrificed as a pawn by leaders who ultimately begin to become the men they have overthrown.

In the end perhaps, it’s a dark book but in a vein that is humorous even when it’s immensely ironic.

It’s a timeless book because it deals with an idea that is inherent with human nature and that is something that has little changed in all of human history.
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LibraryThing member relah
Pigs are delicious.
LibraryThing member KGVLibrary
The cover of this book seemed easy and simple almost like a childrens picutre book. However the read itself was amazing. The text seems simple but after some deep thinking and some online research I found it was actually based on dictatorship and the troubles the people suffered under these tyrants. The text was bold and easy to read with not to many complications. Sadly it was predictable and the events came of no suprise.… (more)
LibraryThing member Phr33k
This book is set in an England where animals can talk. It starts off with a meeting of all the animals of Manor Farm coming to listen to the words of Old Major, the oldest animal on the farm, as well as the smartest of the pigs, who has a vision for the future. A vision in which all animals are free and equal, a vision where there is enough hay and apples for all, a vision, in short, of a farm without humans. Old Major tells the animals that he will not live much longer, and that they must prepare for the Revolution. Slowly the pigs (who are considered smarter than the other animals) teach the other animals about this new philosophy, which they dub Animalism. The two most faithful followers of Animalism are Boxer and Clover, the two horses, who lack intelligence, but make up for it in perseverance and memory. One day the farmhands leave their work without feeding the animals. The animals eventually become too hungry and attack the humans. The humans are chased away in the ensuing chaos, and the animals declare that they own the farm. They burn the whips and halters and knives that Mr Jones used to torment them with, and set up the Seven Commandments:
1. Whoever goes on two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes of 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 another animal.
7. All animals are equal.
This story is a metaphor for the Russian Revolution, and, in fact, for most revolutions, worldwide. As the story progresses, the pigs corrupt the fundamental aspects of Animalism, and brutally enforce their regime. In fact, the book makes a point of saying that life was better for the animals when Mr Jones was their master. The story ends with the animals looking through the windows of the farmhouse and seeing the pigs standing upright in their fine waistcoats, drinking whisky and playing cards with some humans. And in the firelight, the animals look from man to pig, and pig to man, and realise that it is impossible to tell them apart.
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LibraryThing member lucybrown
While it seems that most people read this book at school, some how I never did. The reason I actually read it is a bit interesting. Back in the '80s I went to Chapel Hill, NC to participate in a Padeia training week. Padeia is a formof instruction based on the Socratic method, and seminars on the so-called "Great Books" is a cornerstone of the program. As part of the training we participated in seminars. I had the good fortune to participate in a seminar on this book and our seminar leader was the philospher and Padeia guru Mortimer Adler.

Well, what did I think about the book. It's great. Often books like this one, allegories, fables and such leave me cold since theory and philosophy take over and the characters remain flat and little more that mouthpieces for a philosophy. This was not the case with this book. The characterization is rich, the flashes of humor, brilliant. I think at one point I actually cried.
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LibraryThing member bruneau
One written as a parody of the communist system, it actually works just as well as a contemporary parody of Corporate America. The pigs are ingrained in the corporate culture – from Wall Street to Big-Box-Marts – and there is no shortage of dumb horses working to death to support them. Certainly not the author’s intent, but an extension that makes sense to anyone who has seen how small cliques of egomaniacs have managed to plunder the companies they drove into bankruptcy. Barring an unexpected accelerated evolution of human nature, this is a classic that will forever remain relevant (and entertaining).… (more)
LibraryThing member redkit
Animal farm - the perfect allegory for the events of Soviet Russia. A short book, it highlights the difference (or lack thereof) in living conditions pre- and post- communist rule, while portraying the horrifying effects that power can have on a once clear-minded promoter of utopian ideals. Ultimately, while the animals are too short-sighted (or lacking the necessary mental stamina) to see that things are the same as, or worse than before, the reader can see the parallels that are drawn thickly and vividly, and we are left feeling as if the nature of humankind (or pig-kind?) is tragically all too prone to corruption.… (more)
LibraryThing member emvuu
Animal Farm is one of those amazing books you read at an extremely young age and can not appreciate the beauty held between its pages. I first read it at 11 entertained only by the talking animals but as I got older and held it in my hands again I realized there was so much more to it.

Orwell uniquely displays the work of politics, beaurocrats, and business savvy people within a few acres (maybe even smaller) of a farm. These animals holding their own fort, focus their parties into sections of important leaders and dominating almost and close to an aristocratic rule.

They were held together by democracy but be honest, how long would that last with a pig leader named Napolean?

I recommend this amazing work to anybody, a fan of political power or just animals in general !
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LibraryThing member beserene
Hands down, this has got to be the most depressing book ever written. It is also extraordinary, vastly important, and amazingly engaging (given its topic). What can I really say about this novel -- this "fairy story" -- that has not already been said a hundred times? If you haven't read it, do so. If the only time you read it was freshman English class and you didn't really read it then, read it again (it will take you all of two hours). The idea of inevitable tyranny is hard to face, but the novel is a good reminder for all people and all times that one must be aware -- self-aware, politically aware, educated, informed, etc. -- and that only active, aware citizens can prevent the corruption that opportunistic leaders, and society itself, will follow unless directly prevented. Though the lesson Orwell had in mind concerned the corrupted state that Communism had already reached in his time, the message resonates across eras and social systems. These are the thoughts that bring me out of the terrible mire at the end of the story. It's the kind of book that makes you think such things. Read it.… (more)
LibraryThing member ariebonn
This book is genius. When George Orwell wrote this book he might have had Stalin in mind but it applies just as much today and will continue to do so. At first I found it a little strange to read about animals talking and planning a revolution against Mr. Jones when you're expecting to read a political allegory but then it all fell into place and everything made sense. It really is what we live every day, something which you're probably better off not thinking about too much.

The different kinds of animals represent the types of people in society, there are the corrupt leaders that are in control, the people that work hard for the benefit of everyone but when it comes down to it they find that nobody is thankful for what they did, the people that are happy to follow, or kiss ass, in hopes that one day they too will be at the top, and the gullible that believe that what the leaders do is in their best interest. Every once in a while the people at the bottom decide that they had enough and a revolution takes place, but eventually it ends up just where it started from, someone needs to lead and the rest have to follow. It's scary how true it is. Read it.
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LibraryThing member katiekrug
A perfectly executed political allegory and indictment of totalitarianism, Animal Farm is also an engaging story full of insight and humor. There are purges, obligatory "spontaneous" celebrations, and a cult of personality to make Stalin proud. But in the end, it is heartbreaking to an extent I did not expect. Each character is beautifully drawn, from Napoleon, the porcine leader of the rebellion, to Benjamin, the cynical and depressive donkey. Orwell is masterful in his depiction of the transformation of a revolution into nothing more than a re-ordering of the status quo. Brilliant.… (more)
LibraryThing member RosemaryFinley
March 6, 2013

Different Species, Same Problem
By Shayla Bryant
At first glance, things seem equal after the rebellion on the Manor Farm. Old Major has been martyred and crowned a hero after sharing his prophetic dream of animalism and freedom from the yoke of labor. The pigs become intelligent, seemingly social responsible leaders and Napoleon’s star rises under the guise of benevolence. The animals all adopt the motto “all animals are equal” and the seven commandments are written. Equally on the farm begins to mean different things for different animals while little by little, the rebellion veers off course.
The most interesting part of the book is the scene the one in which Old Major sings the Beasts of Burden song for the first time. The animals one by one begin to sing along. “Even the stupidest of them had already picked up the tune and a few of the words, and as far as the clever ones, such as the pigs and dogs, they had the entire song by heart within a few minutes. As a reader, it was this reaction to Old Major’s speech from the community of animals on the farm that draw me into the storyline. As I read on, I began to empathize with the animals desire to bead down human oppression and fight for freedom.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading classic fiction like Lord of the Flies, The Great Gatsby, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I would also recommend this book to those who like reading books with an underlying social commentary about life, power, and politics. Orwell makes a political statement in a way that is genuinely entertaining. The use of animals as main characters creates a fairy-tale feeling that is pleasant for the reader. Orwell’s language is easy to read.
Though a short read, with only – pages, Animal Farm also has appeal for young adult audiences or others who enjoy social-political critique wrapped in the style of a fairy tale in which the animals talk, think, and act just like humans.
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LibraryThing member olongbourn
Simply MUST spend more time on "classics" and "literature" and the books I read as novel studies!!!!
LibraryThing member doihachiro
This story is the satire of totalitarianism.
Domestic animals wanted the ideal society, and banished the farmer.But when the strong animal started to rule others, and only fear still remained.
This oppressive control cause weak animals pain.
LibraryThing member AlCracka
Let's get this out of the way immediately: Animal Farm is not a satire of socialism as a concept. It's clearly not. That it was ever taken as such (as I was taught in middle school) is an example of exactly what it and 1984 warned against: the dissemination of an outright lie for political purposes, believed by sheep. It's the same book 1984 is: it warns against totalitarianism, the corruption of the democratic socialist ideal that George Orwell fervently believed in. It's a critique of Stalin.

Whew. Jeez. We'll never bother to have that debate again, okay?

Unfortunately, it's also not a very deep book. It's blatantly manipulative. The use of animals as stand-ins is a manipulative tactic; of course you feel for the poor dumb hard-working horse. It's a lazy allegory, too; it's not like Orwell has to write an extra sentence or two to clue us in on what role a flock of sheep might play in a story.

When you have a raven as the prophet of a false God, and then just in case you didn't get it Orwell names the Raven Moses, you are not dealing in subtlety.

1984 is Orwell's masterpiece; it's a work of vision, daring and originality. This is the kids' version. That doesn't mean it's not valuable! Read it to your kids. You don't have to talk about totalitarianism or socialism. They'll get the message they need to without any discussion at all of imagery. It's a very nice children's book. It is not for grown-ups.

And it's not about how Socialism doesn't work, jeez.
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LibraryThing member MynTop
While this book was, of course, meant for readers in a time passed, I still enjoyed it immensely. With each new chapter and each new event in the animal's lives, I found myself growing more and more horrified. It really goes to show you how easily the public can be manipulated into thinking that their leaders are doing what's best for everyone while only living to serve themselves. This was a thought provoking book as well and if you've an interest in politics, history, or the dystopian genre, I think you'd enjoy this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member vandev11
Following the death of Old Major, the chief pig on the farm, two new pigs named Snowball and Napoleon vie for control of the farm and begin decreeing many new rules. Snowball is eventually chased away and Napoleon assumes control and uses the following quotation as the law of the land: "All pigs are created equal, but some pigs are more equal than others."

"Animal Farm" is the perfect setup for a discussion of literary devices like "allegory," "irony," and "personification." The novel can also aid students in their understanding of complex political philosophies (such as Communism) and can spark debate over such interesting issues.
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LibraryThing member surreality
Plot: straightforward, with no side-plots branching off. It mostly serves as a backdrop for the character-driven story.

Characters: aside from some exceptions, characterization isn't done for individuals but for species, playing on common stereotypes. The cast is fairly large for a short novella, and yet there is plenty of time to draw the character traits. Much of it also relies on the reader recognizing who is being parodied and adding it to the picture.

Style: simple and powerful writing, with great use of symbolism. The atmosphere becomes more and more suppressing, which reflects in the vocabulary chosen.

Plus: Wonderfully implemented metaphors.

Minus: Too short, and the end is somewhat dissatisfying.

Summary: Must be read.
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LibraryThing member Cecilturtle
Communism has come and gone, yet this little novel still has a place: not only is it beautifully written in its concise, precise way, but its subject of idealism, foolery and immobilization are still very relevant. I was very much taken by the characters, the progression of the story and its conclusion. I felt - sad! - revolted and concerned in the face of so much cynicism, especially since so many years later, despite the changes in the political landscape, so much is woefully the same. A timeless fable from which we can hope to learn a lesson.… (more)
LibraryThing member john257hopper
Timeless classic that can be enjoyed at various levels: adults, especially those familiar with Soviet history, can appreciate the political allegory, while children could still appreciate this as an amusing and frightening tale of animals taking over from people. Orwell's original foreword, reproduced at the end of this edition,is also worth reading for its salutary lesson on how liberal intellectuals can sometimes fool themselves into supporting the most illeberal regimes.… (more)
LibraryThing member nordie
Read when at school as a "prescribed reading" book.

Even as a teenager I was able to understand that it was an allegorical story where the farmyard is being used to describe and comment on Communism. It gives rise to some ideas that have entered the general language e.g. "all (animals) are equal, but some are more equal than others".

As someone who grew up in the 70s and 80s, and therefore very aware of the cold war, Communism and the nuclear threat, it was easy for me to grasp the anologies. It would be interesting to see if the generations that have come after the Soviet Empire fell in the 1990s understand and appreciate the book.
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LibraryThing member jspringbrinkley
A quick read, but keeps you thinking well after you've finished the book. This message kind of self adjusts to the level of the reader. A younger or less knowledgeable reader will still be able to grasp the imagery and the basic meaning, with many layers and nuances for more advanced or more knowledgeable readers. The message remains relevant today.… (more)



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