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Animal Farm

Animal Farm

Animal Farm was first published in 1945. Animal Farm is a satire on Stalinism and the Russian revolution. Because in 1945 Russia, was an allied of England Orwell had a hard time publishing it.


The story takes place on a farm somewhere in England. The story is told by an all-knowing narrator in the third person. The action of this novel starts when the oldest pig, Old Major on the farm calls all animals to a secret meeting. He tells all the other animals about his dream of a revolution against the cruel Mr. Jones. Three days later Major dies, but the speech gave the more intelligent animals a new outlook on life. The pigs, who were considered the most intelligent animals, instructed the other ones. During the period of preparation two pigs could distinguish themselves, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon is big, and although he isn’t a good speaker, he could assert himself. Napoleon is a better speaker, he has a lot of ideas and he is very vivid. Together with another pig called Squealer, who is a very good speaker, they work out the theory of “Animalism”. The rebellion starts some months later, as one night Mr Jones comes home drunken, and forgets to feed the animals. They break out of the barns and run to the house, where the food is stored. As Mr Jones recognises this he takes out his shotgun, but it is to late for him, all the animals fall over him and drive him off the farm. The animals destroy all whips nose rings, reins, and all other instruments that were used to suppress them. The same day the animals celebrate their victory with an extra ration of food. The pigs have made up the seven commandments, and they have written then above the door of the big barn.

They run thus:

1.: Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2.: Whatever goes upon 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.

The animals also agreed that no animal shall ever enter the farmhouse, and that no animal shall have contact with humans. This commandments are summarised in the simple phrase: “Four legs good, two legs bad”. After some time Jones came back with some other men from the village to recapture the farm. The animals fight brave, and they manage to defend the farm. Snowball and Boxer received medals of honour for defending the farm so bravely. Also Napoleon who had not fought at all takes a medal. This is the reason that the two pigs, snowball and Napoleon are often arguing. As Snowball one day presented his idea to build a windmill, to produce electricity to the other animals, Napoleon calls nine strong dogs. The dogs drive off Snowball from the farm, and Napoleon explains that Snowball in fact was co-operating with Mr Jones. He also explains that Snowball in realty never had a medal of honour, that in Snowball was always trying to cover up that he was fighting at the side of Mr Jones. The animals then started with the building of the windmill, and as time went on the working-time went up, whereas the food ration went down. Although the “common” animals had not enough food, the pigs grow fatter and fatter. The pigs tell the animals that they need more food, for they are managing the whole farm. Again some time later the pigs explain to the other animals that they have to trade with the neighbour farms. The common animals are very upset , because after the revolution, there has been a resolution that no animal shall make trade with a human. But the pigs ensured that there never has been such a resolution, and that this was a evil lye by Snowball. Short after this decision the pigs moved to the farm house. The other animals remembered that there was a commandment that forbids sleeping in beds, and so they go to the big barn to look at the commandments. As they arrive there they can’t believe their eyes, the 4th commandment has been changed to: “No animal shall sleep in bed with sheets”. And also the other commandments were changed: “No animal shall kill another animal without reason”, or “No animal shall drink alcohol in excess”. Some months there is a heavy storm that destroys the windmill, that is nearly ready. Napoleon accuses Snowball of destroying the mill, and he promises a reward to the animal who gets Snowball. The rebuilding of the mill takes two years. Again Jones attacks the farm, and although the animals defend the farm the windmill is once again destroyed. The pigs decide to build the mill again, and they cut down the food ration. And some day Boxer breaks down. He is sold to a butcher, whereas Napoleon tells the pigs that Boxer was brought to a hospital where he has died. Three years later the mill was finally ready. In this time Napoleon deepens the relations with the neighbour farm, and one day Napoleon even invites the owners of this farm for an inspection. They sit inside the farmhouse and celebrate the efficiency of his farm, where the animals work very hard with the minimum of food. During this celebration all the other animals have meet at the window of the farm, and as they look inside they can’t distinguish between man and animal.

Symbolism / Interpretation:

The novel Animal Farm is a satire on the Russian revolution, and therefore full of symbolism. General Orwell associates certain real characters with the characters of the book. Here is a list of the characters and things and their meaning:
Mr Jones: the farmer Mr Jones stands for the Russian Tsar Nicolaii the second who was forced to abdicate after the successful February-revolution. But Mr Jones also somehow stands for the moral decline of men in a capitalist or feudalist type of socierty.
Old Major: Old major on the one hand represents the workers of the Putilow factory, who started the February-revolution, and on the other hand Old Major is representing the Russian intelligentsia. But it is also possible that Orwell made Old Major a symbol for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who somehow invented the communist ideology. Another possibility is that Old Major represents Wladimir Iljitsch Lenin, the leader of the October revolution.
Napoleon: Without doubt Napoleon stands for Josef Wissarionowitsch Stalin, one of the most cruel dictators in worlds history.
Squealer: This pig is an excellent speaker. Squealer convinces all animals to follow the revolution. The appearance of this pig can be compared with Goebbels, the German minister for propaganda.
Snowball: Snowball is a symbol for Leo Dawidowitsch Trotzky. In the beginning Trotzky participated in the revolution, but later was forced to go to the exile.
Boxer & Clover: These three animals are a sing for the Russian working-class, which was convinced of the necessity of the Revolution. The Russian working-class then has build up the industry, which was forty years behind the western countries. Then this class that has done so much for the prosperity of Russia has been betrayed by the Communist party, or in this case the pigs. Orwell also shows up that the proles are not very intelligent.
Pigs: Orwell has chosen the pigs to represent the communist Party. Before and short after the revolution the acted like being loyal to the working-class, or common animals, but later they have became just like, the tsar family. They just exploit the working-class, an they live in luxury and abundance.
Dogs: The dogs were recruited by the pigs to protect their own power and might. The dogs were also used to evict and to intimidate political enemies within their own rows (for example: Snowball-Trotzky). So one can say that the cruel dogs stand for the army and the secret-police.
Moses: The raven Moses is a symbol for the orthodox church, that was somehow an allied of the Russian Tsar. Moses always told stories of the “Sugar Candy Mountain” where all dead animals live on. Moses tries to persuade the animals that there is no need for revolution.
Humans: The humans stand for the capitalists, who exploit the weak.
Rats & Rabbits: The rats and the rabbits, who are regarded as wild animals, somehow represent the socialist movement, the so-called “Menscheviki”. In the very beginning of the book the animals vote if rats and rabbits should be comrades.
Pigeons: The pigeons, who fly out each day to spread out he message of the victory, represent the “Communist World Revolution”.
Beast of England: Communist Internationale
Farm buildings: The farm stabnds for the Kremlin. In the early days of the USSR there were sightseeing tours trough the Kremlin. Later it became the residence of Stalin; Windmill: The Windmill for example stands for the Russian industry, that has been build up by the working-class (Clover…)
Fredericks: Stands for Hitler. There also has been an arrangement. (allusion to Fritz)
Foxwood: Foxwood farm is representing England.
Pinchfiled: Pinchfiled symbolises Germany.
Destruction of the Windmill: This destruction is a symbol for the failure of the Five Year Plan.

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