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 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 relah
Pigs are delicious.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 olongbourn
Simply MUST spend more time on "classics" and "literature" and the books I read as novel studies!!!!
LibraryThing member eesti23
This quick read was a fantastic book that I enjoyed very much. The overthrow of the farmer and his staff by the animals with a vision was well written, right down to the 'typical' characteristics of everyday animals. The story comes full circle as the pigs, who are of course as equal as all the other animals, become a little bit more equal than the others.… (more)
LibraryThing member mysteena
Written in the style of a children's tale, this satire tells us of a group of farm animals who overthrow their tyrannical farmer to try and build a better home for themselves. It's clearly a social commentary on the evils of communism, but it goes deeper than that as the society evolves into a republic. If you take it face value as a story, it's quite sad. However, taken as a commentary on mankind and our selfishness and government, it was a both thought-provoking and irritating. Would I be as stupid as a sheep, would I have the wisdom of the donkey or the unwavering loyalty of a work horse? I hope I'd never be a pig!… (more)
LibraryThing member Dawn94
There is a lot to be learned about current day society from this little classic written in 1945.
LibraryThing member WeeziesBooks
I read Animal Farm in high school as a required reading and enjoyed it; so I decided to re-read it, in light of today’s world and national events. It was first published in 1946 when the ‘great wall’ was still a reality, the war was in full force and the cold war was yet to become an everyday fear. In the society described by Orwell, the animals could talk, walk upright and live together in a utopian world. However, like today the dreams were short lived as corruption, greed and a caste system of discrimination and power corrupted and planted seeds of revolution.

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.
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LibraryThing member datrappert
I read this for the first time when I was 8 or 9 years old, and even then, when it primarily seems like a story about pigs, it works very well. At that age, even if you can't associate the characters with their historical counterparts (e.g., Stalin, Trotsky), you can still see clearly the way that power corrupts. Or, as Pete Townshend said, "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."… (more)
LibraryThing member kabouter
There already has been written a lot about this novel, so I can suffice with the fact that this is well-written, well thought out. Simply put, it is a classic and it deserves that status… A must read for everyone…
LibraryThing member kimbee
A quick read but a must read! I'm glad I didn't read it in high school because I would not have understood the meaning of the book. Even now I had to look up some characters to see who they represented during the Russian Revolution. Orwell is a genius for writing this book. Even though the book is small, there were many moments that frustrated me. Boxer was my favorite character.… (more)
LibraryThing member tbert204
I'm going back through the classics. Admittedly, I've never read them. If I have, I forgot. I started with Animal Farm.

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.
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LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
I had always thought this excellent novel about the ways and means of achieving tyranny was a commentary on Stalinist USSR, but Emma Larkin in her book Finding George Orwell in Burma says the template was the oppressive regime in Myanmar. Now with the US elections underway democrats see it as representative of the republican party. Propaganda is an essential tool and a chorus of sheep is necessary to drown out reason. Timeless political commentary.… (more)
LibraryThing member AnglersRest
The reading of Animal Farm plunged me back to senior school. My English Lit class had this as one of our O-Level reads about the same time as we covered the Russian Revolution onwards period in the history O-Level Class. Our teacher for English Lit was an enthusiastic chap who really enabled us to see beyond a series of farm animals talking. In many ways it gave a degree of concept to the political history of Russia at that time and the country it was to become. We truly have no idea of how frightening it must be to live in such a Country where there is no democracy. Where you work, live and believe what the regime tells you to if you don't the consequences are harsh and so much more.

I wonder what prompted Orwell to write such a book. I know he spent time in India although he died here in England, but I would be interested to know what his catalyst was. Perhaps the stories of what was happening at the time simply prompted his creativity or was there more to it?
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