Animal Farm

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Animal Farm is a book written by George Orwell in 1946. The story is a satirical allegory of the Russian Revolution, particularly directed against Stalin's Russia. The story's concept of "animalism" is used by Orwell to portray a generic view of socialism, similar to that first expounded by Karl Marx (Old Major), who Orwell believed was naive in thinking that his philosophy would actually work. Orwell, although agreeing with the overall concept of equality through socialism, was critical of Marx because he didn't take into account the greed and jealousy which would eventually undermine the entire philosophy. This idea was shown through Napoleon and the other pigs, who, through persuasion and force became the dominant authority on the farm. When Napoleon outlaws the "Beasts of England" anthem, he is demonstrating the ruthlessness of a state in which the initial ideal of socialism as a way to ensure equality among animals has been heavily distorted into a force of oppression. Many of the characters of Animal Farm are representative of real life characters or organizations involved in the Russian Revolution and are listed below.

Characters

Old Major: (V.I. Lenin) A pig, and the leader of the animals before the revolution. He dies of old age before the revolt begins.

Boxer: (The proletariat) A very strong horse who is characterized by the phrase: "Napoleon is always right!" His attitude is very simplistic and uncaring, simply determining that, no matter how maniacal, the leadership on the farm is always right.

Mollie: (The czarist aristocracy) A female horse who is vain and shallow. Her low intelligence is seen in whatever she does, and she is easily led astray by flattery.

Snowball: (Leon Trotsky) A pig who struggled with Napoleon for power. Possibly the most intelligent animal on the farm, he envisioned the windmill and much of the governance structure of the farm.

Napoleon: (Joseph Stalin) Another pig whose lust for power will stop at nothing. While taking a stand against Snowball's ideas every time they come up, Napoleon rarely presents any of his own.

Squealer: (Propaganda newspaper Pravda) A porker who manages to convince, using lies, everyone on the farm to accept whatever Napoleon declares.

Farmer Jones: (Czar Nicholas II) The owner of Manor Farm before the animals revolt. A drunkard, but not a bad farmer, Jones was often negligent in caring for the animals.

Farmer Frederick: (Adolf Hitler) The owner of the neighboring Pinchfield farm.

Farmer Pilkington: (Winston Churchill) The owner of the neighboring Foxwood farm.

Mr Whymper: (George Bernard Shaw) The 'face' of Animal Farm to the outside world.


Online version

The text is now in the Public domain, and may be found at the Orwell library.

Further reading

  • Rodden, John. "Appreciating Animal Farm in the New Millennium," Modern Age Volume 45, Number 1; Winter 2003 online edition