Summary: George Orwell’s classic satire of the Russian Revolution has become an intimate part of our contemporary culture, with its treatment of democratic, fascist, and socialist ideals through an animal fable. When the animals of Mr. Jones’s Manor Farm revolt against their human rulers, they establish the democratic Animal Farm under the credo, “All Animals Are Created Equal.” Out of their cleverness, the pigs, Napoleon, Squealer, and Snowball, emerge as leaders of the new community. In a development of insidious familiarity, the pigs begin to assume ever greater amounts of power, while other animals, especially the faithful horse Boxer, assume more of the work. The climax of the story is the brutal betrayal of Boxer, when totalitarian rule is reestablished with the bloodstained postscript to the founding slogan: “But Some Animals Are More Equal than Others.” Read more.
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Animal Farm Book Summary
Though a democratic socialist himself, Orwell was highly critical of Stalin and the brutal dictatorship imposed on the Soviet Union, and declared publicly that Animal Farm was his effort to fuse political dialogue with artistic creativity.
The novel follows a group of animals as they seek to revolt against humans and take control of their own farm.
The story begins with an old pig, Old Major, inciting the interest in the other animals by pointing out all of the problems the humans have brought to the farm, leaving the animals as second class citizens.
When he dies, two younger pigs, named Snowball and Napoleon, take charge of the movement and urge the other animals towards rebellion, evicting the farm owner (depicted as a drunk), and renaming the land “Animal Farm.”
At first the farm is prosperous, with plenty of food for all the animals, though the pigs, in their self-appointed leadership, reserve certain foodstuffs for themselves, despite their primary principle that all animals are equal.
Snowball creates a plan to build a windmill for the farm, but Napoleon uses dogs to chase him away, and assumes sole leadership.
Under Napoleon’s rule, life on the farm changes drastically, as the animals begin to be forced to work longer and harder hours, for the promise of a better life later on. He takes credit for the windmill, and attempts to blame Snowball for all misgivings and things that go wrong, and begins to rid the farm of all animals that held allegiance to Snowball, using dogs as his fighting force.
Then, a neighboring farmer attacks the farm, in an effort to bring it back under human control. The animals win, though suffer heavy casualties in the battle. After the fight, Napoleon secures his command even further, and as the years pass, he gradually assumes more and more human-like characteristics, including taking to Whisky, as the old farm owner had done.
With time, he gradually alters the original commandments of the revolution, for example, changing the phrase “All animals are equal,” to “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
At the end of the novel, Napoleon and the other pigs act exactly as the humans do, and even restore the original name to the farm.
In the final pages, Orwell writes:
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
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