George Orwell's classic satire of the Russian Revolution is an intimate part of our contemporary culture. Animal farm has been read and reread and quoted so often that we tend to forget who wrote the original words. It is an account of the bold struggle that transforms Mr. Jones' 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 bears an insidious familiarity. 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 ... Orwell's succinct, frightening words have been heard since 1946 as unsparingly descriptive of the fate of those who suffer totalitarian regimes. This audio edition of the masterpiece reminds us of Orwell's genius.
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.
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.
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  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
*****WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*****
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.
*****END OF SPOILERS*****
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 *****
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
This story reads like an extended Aesop's Fable with messages much more poignant than "slow and steady wins the race" while adding a biting satiric wit to it all. This is altogether a facinating allegory to the way Soviet Russia was; yet, it still remains unbelievably revelant in today's society. After all, "All animals are equal (but some animals are more equal than others)."
For my purpose as an adult hoping to get something more personal out of the novel, it falls a bit shorter. As a history buff, I did enjoy it as a political allegory about the perils of those who would take advantage of an ideology in order to craft out more power for themselves. In this case, this is carried out by the pigs who clearly represent the Communist Party of the Stalinist USSR. However, this is not a particularly novel idea in the twenty-first century, so I felt that it was less powerful to a contemporary reader than it would have been in 1945. It is, however, a good book of great historical importance, I just wouldn't put list it among the best books that I, a twenty-first century reader, have ever read.
Animal Farm can still teach us lessons about how to treat others and to avoid exploitation, prejudice and the mistreatment of out citizens. If nothing else, look at Egypt, the middle east and the bullying in our schools. The health of our society and nation start with each of us and our neighbors. It is still happening around us and we must continue to make daily decisions for peace and equality, and be vigilant about using our voices to influence our government leaders and protect our ability to make own life choices and live in a democratic nation.
It's mostly narrative, and I wasn't expecting to be captivated. That sort of style doesn't grab me. But, wow. This book is a classic for good reason. It captures human behavior with diamond sharp clarity. And for that reason, it's timeless. This book could easily be describing Saddam Hussein or, more recently, Gaddafi.
The pace and arc of the story unfolds in way that leaves no gaps, no leaps required. The ending landed in my stomach with a thump, filling me with sadness for societies caught in the dizzy madness of oppression and deception. It only takes one capable maniac to ruin the lives of many.