Introduction to Animal Farm
One of the best novels for children and adults alike, Animal Farm, is stated to be an allegorical novellet by George Orwell. It was first published in the United Kingdom in 1945. Since then it has been published every year and also has been part of the middle school teaching curriculum, mesmerizing the generations. Set in the background of the animal rebellion on an animal farm, the storyline reflects the cleverness of the clever animals leading the other simpletons and guiding them to victory with the allusion of freedom and happy life. Animal farm is also known as symbolic writing for Russia during the revolution in 1917 and the Soviet nation under the communist rule, and how the common people were affected by it. The novel created ripples for attacking capitalists and the communist regime, in other words, totalitarian states and propagandist approach of the statecraft.
Summary of Animal Farm
The story begins with animals on Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm who are fed up with his maltreatment and rise to rebellion after an old pig, Old Major. The Old Major narrates to them his dream of freedom and liberating from the cruelty of men. He also coins a slogan for them that four legs are good and two legs are bad. However, he does not live long to see the revolution. Later, Snowball and Napoleon, two clever pigs, lead the animals and when Jones and his men come to teach the animals a lesson, the animals beat them out of the far, making them flee for their lives. The pigs take charge of the affairs on the farm and issue seven commandments for animals’ rights and protection.
Following the success, the animals start harvesting and cultivation, with weekly meetings to debate on the policy matters. The pigs become administrators and assign duties to all the animals. However, Napoleon, the clever and astute pig, becomes the head, who does what he wants for himself. He also resorts to propaganda against his enemies and in his own praise. Therefore, Squealer is employed for this specific task. Although Jones and his men try to win the farm back, animals fight back ferociously. This is called the Battle of the Cowshed in which they are victorious. Soon the winter takes hold of the farm, while the only mare, Mollie, also flees. Snowball, on the other hand, devises innovative plans for a windmill installation and electricity generation. However, Napoleon opposes him for such schemes. Both go against each other and soon Napoleon, the astute one, uses the dogs to chase him out of the farm. Later, Squealer and Napoleon use his escape as the source of all evils on the animal farm.
While the work on windmill and harvest continues around the year, Boxer, the strong horse, proves very useful. Jones, also, seems to lose interest in taking back the farm, while Napoleon takes full charge of the animal form. However, his lust for power increases day by day. Seeing the shortage of grain, he issues a mandate to the animals to eat less than before. All the setbacks on the farm projects are attributed to Snowball or Mollie, while the pigs enjoy life in luxury on one or the other excuse. Soon Napoleon engages himself in timber selling and doing business with the neighboring farms. Despite attacks from the neighboring form owner, the animals win once again but lose their windmill. Boxer, though, tries to gird up his loins but feels that he is now old and cannot work. Napoleon, seeing the opportunity, sells him to a knacker to be butchered and make useful things from his bones. However, animals are told that he has been sent to a vet for treatment. The pigs also take charge of the commandments and start changing them one by one to suit their purpose. Life for animals continues to become harsh. Soon they see that their motto is changed to “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” When the other animals see that the pigs have started living separate from them, they see that they have also started meeting the human beings of the neighboring farm and drinking. When the novel ends, the animals are at loss to distinguish between human beings and pigs when all of them are drinking in the barn.
Major Themes in Animal Farm
- Leadership and Corruption: Leadership and its corruption is the major theme of the novel as depicted through Napoleon and his propaganda minister, Squealer. Although in the beginning, he shares power with Snowball, the most creative one, but later, he turns to Squealer and proves devious by making Snowball run away and using every mishap to demonize him. He also starts doing what human beings are supposed to do, using his power. By the end of the novel, he proves as exploitative as Mr. Jones in the name of leadership.
- Control on Mentally Weak: The novel also shows that the people with sharp minds control the people having weak minds, or who do not want to think and work hard. The pigs, who are mentally sharp, take control of the revolution. Even among them, Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer prove leaders and compete with each other whereas the most devious and deceptive, Napoleon wins and Snowball flees to save his life. Napoleon, then, uses all the pigs to exploit other animals and enjoys life himself.
- Lies and Deceit: Animal Farm shows that politics is the game of lies and deceits. Although Old Major is sincere and his experience is honest, his successors do not prove sincere and honest like him. Napoleon, specifically, spreads so much lies and deceits about Snowball and Mollie that other animals lose the verve and memory of the revolution.
- Rules and Order: Animal Farm also shows that rules and order suit the upper class that exploits them and change them whenever the time is suitable, or whenever they do not suit them. The animals are amazed at the speed that pigs change the rules and Squealer changes the order. Even the main slogan of all animals are equal change by the end to all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.
- Foolishness and Folly: The novel, Animal Farm, shows that foolishness and folly cost dearly whether shown by an animal or a human being. Had Mr. Jones been clever and wise, he would have made arrangements to keep animal satisfied. The folly of the pigs and other animals of using only a few leaders without any check also cost them dearly.
- Dreams and Hopes: The novel also shows dreams of the animals for freedom, their subsequent hopes, and plans. Hens, horses, pigs, and other animals have various dreams. They dream of being equal to each other and even adopt the slogan of the Old Major. However, when they see the end of their revolution where pigs and human beings enjoying together, their hopes and dreams dashed to the ground.
- Cunning and Cleverness: Cunningness and cleverness in the novel are shown through the character of Napoleon and Squealer. The first one is deceptively cunning in wielding power and using it, while the second is dexterous in propaganda. Therefore, both make Snowball run away and use this power to their own end.
- Violence: The novel shows that every revolution and power usurpation involves violence. When the animals rise up to the rebellion, they resort to violence and change the status quo of Mr. Jones’ ownership. They again face violence when the neighboring people try to capture the farm. Also, when Snowball leaves the farm, there was fear of violence as the fierce dogs were chasing him.
- Propaganda: The use of propaganda to wield power has been shown through the character of Squealer. He not only paints black to white and vice versa but also distorts the very spirit of the revolution by changing the commandments one by one.
Major Characters in Animal Farm
- Napoleon: Napoleon is an important character in that he is the mainstay of the revolution following the Old Major, after his death. Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin. He comes into power along with Snowball’s support to lead the rebellion. However, he is quite clever and cunning when it comes to usurping powers. A taciturn but tactician, Napoleon leads the pigs and other animals to believe that he is the true leader after making Snowball flee and chased by fierce dogs. He is a strategist who knows the mob psychology and power of propaganda. That is why he uses Squealer for his purpose. He even uses a simpleton like Boxer and sells him to a knacker by the end and yet shows that he has sent him to a vet for treatment.
- Old Major: Old Major is another significant character on account of his importance as being the doctrinaire of the animal farm. He represents Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, who starts the animals to gain consciousness about the exploitation by humans, and how to rise up against it. His final speech shows him a dignified character who leaves the stage as soon the revolution is set in motion. Despite his absence and lack of direction by his successors, his words resonate until the end of the novel.
- Snowball: The second important leader of the pig community and animals is Snowball. Snowball represents Leon Trotsky. He is a creative, motivated as well as an intelligent person, whose ingenuity lies in developing things and preparing plans. With the help of Napoleon, he forms seven commandments, prepares the plan of a windmill, and also develops plans for its work. However, Napoleon soon realizes that Snowball could outwit him. Therefore, he makes him an outlaw. He sends dogs to chase him out of the farm on the pretext of helping enemies.
- Squealer: A very clever and eloquent fellow, Squealer joins hands with Napoleon to drive out Snowball from the animal farm and enjoy the life of luxury while leading the gullible animals. He represents Vyacheslav Molotov knowns as a protégé of Joseph Stalin. He is the cleverest one among all the pigs, the reason that he can write and read. He also writes the commandments and other rules and changes them when the time comes. However, he ensures to inform the animals about the changes and their reasons.
- Boxer: Boxer is the toughest and hard horse on the animal farm who sets examples of the blind following and hardworking people. He is also representative of Alexey Stakhanov, a hard-working and passionate role model of the lesser-known Stakhanovite movement. He is always found working very hard and getting up early than other animals. However, when he is unable to perform the duties, Napoleon and Squealer make a deal with a knacker to sell him.
- Jones: The representative of most upper-class citizens in the Soviet Union. Mr. Jones is a lazy and drunk landlord who merely seeks his own interests fulfilled, leaving others to go to dogs. The animals hate him for his cruelty and drive him out of the farm when he does not mend his ways. His repeated tries to subdue animals fail badly.
- Clover: A beautiful mare and Boxer’s friend, Clover is a kindhearted animal who sees the violations of the rules but does not take courage to explain it to others. She is the representative of the innocent animals who does not interfere in the statecraft.
- Pilkington: Owner of the other form, he feels a threat of the revolt on his own farm. Although his farm is quite small, he tries to win Jones to keep his animals away from rebellion.
- Frederick: The owner of the neighboring farm, the Pinchfield Farm, Mr. Frederick is a shrewd fellow who knows the legality of the land and issues of the landowners. He tries to purchase the animal farm from Mr. Jones, but once seeing the ferocity of the animals, backs out of his deal.
- Benjamin: The cynical donkey, Benjamin, has seen through his mind’s eyes that the situation after Mr. Jones would not change. Therefore, he always comments that life will be bad whether the farm is under Mr. Jones or Napoleon and pigs.
Writing Style of Animal Farm
Animal Farm is a very simple novelette written in a formal as well as informal style. The formal style is shown through terse and succinct prose, while informal style creeps in when the animals talk to each other or when the Old Major addresses the animal. The simplicity of language shows its tones changing according to the setting of the novel, from ironic to sarcastic and from simple to rhetorical. However, by the end of the novel, this tone becomes highly ironic.
Analysis of Literary Devices in Animal Farm
- Action: The main action of the novel comprises the rise of animals and their fall like their previous condition. However, it comprises the rising action that is the successful rebellion of the animals culminating into the establishment of the Animal Farm and then the falling action that demonstrates the deteriorating circumstances of the animals.
- Alliteration: Animal Farm shows many examples of the use of alliteration in its songs.
Cows and horses, geese and turkeys,
All must toil for freedom’s sake.
Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken well and spread my tidings
Of the golden future time. (Chapter-1)
The above lines taken from the first chapter show the use of alliteration that means the use of consonant sounds in quick succession in a line. For example, the /f/ sound is seen in 2nd line.
- Allegory: Animal Farm is an allegory in that it shows how animals bring a revolution to set up a utopia dreamed by their old teacher, Old Major, but then it proves as futile as the efforts of human beings. Therefore, it shows the setup of a state and its working as shown through the animal story and then the elite class enjoying at the expense of the lower classes.
- Antagonist: Although it seems that Snowball is the antagonist for the animals on the farm, in a real sense, it is Napoleon and Squealer, who are antagonists, for Snowball flees to save his life, while they are still there to rule the animals and are involved in subverting the very structure of the farm that the animals have dreamed to set up.
- Allusion: There are various examples of allusions given in the novel, Animal Farm. For example, Old Major represents Karl Marx, while Snowball is the allusion of Leon Trotsky, the intellectual, who was chased out of the farm. Napoleon alludes to the character of Joseph Stalin, while Squealer alludes to Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister of Hitler.
- Anaphora: The novel, Animal Farm, also shows the use of anaphora as given below.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal. (Chapter-II)
The phrase “No animal shall…” is repeated in the beginning of these three commandments, showing a good use of anaphora.
- Conflict: There are two types of conflicts in the novel, Animal Farm. The first one is the external conflict that is going on between the animals and Mr. Jones. The internal conflict goes into the minds of the different animals about the changing behavior of the pigs about eating and drinking.
- Characters: Animal Farm presents both flat as well as round characters. Old Major, Boxer, and Benjamin are flat characters who do not show any change in them throughout the storyline. However, Snowball, Squealer, and Napoleon are round characters who change with the events of the story.
- Climax: Although it seems that climax is the success of the revolution, it is not the case; actually, the climax occurs when Napoleon accuses Snowball of every problem arising on the farm.
- Fable: Animal Farm shows the type of fable in which animals take part as if they are human beings. Old Major, Napoleon, Boxer, Benjamin, and other pigs debate the revolution and take part in it as if they are human beings.
- Foreshadowing: The first example of foreshadowing in Animal Farm occurs with the entry of Mr. Jones in the very first chapter where it is shown that he “was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes,” a foreboding that something sinister is going to happen. Shortly after that, the old Major speaks to the animals to make them prepare for the revolution.
- Hyperbole: Hyperbole or exaggeration occurs when Squealer is engaged in stating things and attributing them to Snowball. Old Major is also engaged in hyperbole that all bad things are occurring due to man and that man is always the enemy of the animals.
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses.
- “At one end of the big barn, on a sort of raised platform, Major was already ensconced on his bed of straw, under a lantern which hung from a beam. He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance in spite of the fact that his tusks had never been cut.” (Chapter-I)
- There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. (Chapter-X)
Both of these passages show the use of the sense of sound, hearing, touch, and sight in an effective way.
- Metaphor: Animal Farm shows good use of various metaphors such as the entire novel is a metaphor of the Russian for that matter of the Cuban Revolution. The names also refer to different personalities in a metaphorical manner. Gun, flag, milk, cowshed and even the animal farm is a metaphor.
- Mood: The novel, Animal Farm, shows a serious mood in the beginning but it suddenly charges up when the revolution takes place and becomes cheerful and light when the animal wins. However, it turns to darkly comic when the pigs transformed into the old masters.
- Motif: Most important motifs of the novel, Animal Farm, are the corroboration of songs and chants with the idea of revolution and then the ensuing rituals such as the flag march and parades.
- Narrator: The novel, Animal Farm, has been narrated by a third-person narrator. It is also called an omniscient narrator, who happens to be the author himself, as he can see things from all perspectives.
- Protagonist: Snowball and the Old Major are two main protagonists of Animal Farm, as they lay the foundations of the revolution.
- Paradox: Animal Farm shows the use of paradox in its amusing way. The statement, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” is a paradox where to illogical concepts have been bound together.
- Rhetorical Questions: The play shows good use of rhetorical questions at several places. For example,
- “Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours?” (Chapter-I)
- “But is this simply part of the order of nature? Is it because this land of ours is so poor that it cannot afford a decent life to those who dwell upon it?” (Chapter-I)
- “Why should we care what happens after we are dead?” or “If this Rebellion is to happen anyway, what difference does it make whether we work for it or not?” (Chapter-I)
These examples show the use of rhetorical questions mostly posed by the Old Major in Animal Farm. They are not supposed to elicit answers from the animals. They are rather supposed to make them aware of the existing realities.
- Theme: It is a central idea that the novelist or the writer wants to stress upon. The novel, Animal Farm is a critique of the revolutions such as the Russian Revolution or the Cuban Revolution. It also shows violence, human nature, and the use of deception.
- Setting: The setting of the novel, Animal Farm, is the farm where the rebellion takes place and where the animals set up their own government.
- Simile: The novel, Animal Farm, shows good use of various similes.For example,
- It was decided to set the gun up at the foot of the Flagstaff, like a piece of artillery (Chapter-IV)
- The earth was like iron, and nothing could be done in the fields. (Chapter-V)
- All that year the animals worked like slaves. (Chapter-VI)
The first simile compares the gun to a piece of artillery, in the second example, the earth is compared to the hot iron, and in the third one, animals are compared to slaves.
- Symbol: Animal Farm, the barn, the windmill, and the gun are symbols of different gadgets that the animals place value to show that they have brought a revolution and that the common people are always oppressed under any type of regime.
- Verbal Irony: The novel shows verbal irony through some of its commandments such as “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” This is an irony that equality shows through its use with “more.”