George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a classic novella popularly read for both leisure and in English classes around the nation. It tells the tale of Manor Farm in England, in which a negligent farmer named Mr. Jones overworks and mistreats his animals. Eventually, the animals get fed up, and Old Major, a boar, expresses how he believes the animals should take over control. As a result of this, two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, lead a revolution and take over the farm.
With the animals in control, they set out to form their own government and rules, setting the basic principle that “all animals are equal.” Things are good, and the animals successfully defend the farm when Mr. Jones tries to take it back in the “Battle of the Cowshed.” However, over time, things become less and less equal, as Napoleon and Snowball butt heads over construction of a windmill, and Napoleon eventually drives out Snowball with force, taking complete control.
At this point, Napoleon continues to besmirch Snowball’s name and takes his ideas about the windmill to elevate his position, continually promoting propaganda in his name. The animals get to work on a windmill, however, it is knocked down by a storm. Nevertheless, they continue on and rebuild it (until it’s eventually knocked down again by a neighboring farmer). Over the years, a windmill is finally constructed and serves to make money for the farm, but things are far from a utopia. Instead, the pigs begin to resemble humans more and more, drinking alcohol and walking on two legs. The other animals learn the hard way that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
I found the ending of Animal Farm to be a bit disappointing and frustrating, as I was upset with how the pigs hypocritically betrayed all the other animals and took over control. As a reader, I could see how the pigs were fooling the animals with their propaganda, and wanted the animals to find out and put a stop to it. Nevertheless, this is likely how the reader is supposed to be left feeling, given that Animal Farm is political allegory for the U.S.S.R.’s Stalinism. It would be interesting to see a sequel that would explore the political situation in the later years of the Cold War. Overall, I’d recommend Animal Farm for anyone interested in history or politics. It’s a short read to pick up, with relatively easy language, making it widely accessible to a variety of readers.