“As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half-century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.”
There is so much that can be said about this book so I will try my best to get all my thoughts together as concisely as possible.
“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing.”
Old Major, a pig who lives on Manor Farm, has a dream one night that all humans have ceased to exist, and that all animals are free. Because of this dream, he has a revelation that the reason for the horrible living conditions his fellow animals must endure is due to humans. He states that humans do nothing except try to control others, and are capable of contributing nothing to society. He says that if humans were abolished, animals could finally be free. He initiates a rebellion on the premise of Animalism, a new philosophy of life. Old Major dies shortly after this, but three other pigs carry out his wishes and begin the rebellion.
After the rebellion, the animals create a set of seven commandments by which they will live, the last of which is: All Animals Are Created Equal. The main idea behind Animalism is that all animals are comrades and that they are to stay far away from any principles or lifestyles adopted by humans.
One of the pigs who helped carry out the rebellion begins to get power-hungry. Bit by bit, he begins to change the principles and commandments that Animalism was founded upon, and is able to manipulate his fellow animals into believing whatever he tells them. Slowly but surely, the animals find themselves with another totalitarian ruler.
“All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Orwell uses major themes such as oppression, freedom, power, and fear. His parody of animal totalitarianism is hauntingly similar to that of Stalinist Russia — from which Animal Farm was likely based (according to Goodreads) — but it stands true for any sort of hierarchy, even today. Animal Farm really made me think about how easy it is for power to go to our heads — as it did with Jones and then later with Napoleon the pig. Orwell shows how easy it is for a power to completely take over and how easy it is to get used to something just because it becomes “normal.” In that way, this book is downright terrifying.