An Analysis of Animal Farm by George Orwell

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1 Library facts

Author: George Orwell (pseudonym of Eric Blair)
Title: Animal Farm
Publisher: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics
Date of publication: 1989
Year of first publication: 1945

2 Summary

The story describes the history of the Russian Revolution in 1917, but in another time and with other characters. There are many parallels between these two events.

Mr. Jones, the drunken, inefficient owner of Manor Farm, was one day expelled from his property by the starving, rebellious farm-animals. They started to run the farm by themselves under the leadership of the pigs. The revolution was the final result of a system of thoughts named "Animalism". After the take-over, the pigs made up "The Seven Commandments", based on Animalism. Every animal had to live by these rules. Thanks to the organising abilities of the pigs the farm was ran successfully. Most animals were very happy with the results of the revolution, although they had to work harder than before.

The leaders of the farm are the brilliant Snowball and the persevering Napoleon. But there arose a rivalry between them. At an election to decide which of them is the real leader Snowball was driven away by the dogs that Napoleon has secretly trained. Napoleon starts to terrorise the farm animals with the help of the dogs and Squealer, his smooth spokesman. Under his command the Seven Commandments are changed again and again to suit the position of the ruling pigs. Whenever anything goes wrong, Napoleon would throw the guild on Snowball. Napoleon comes to terms with the human masters of the farms in the neighbourhood, who had given up the hope that Animal Farm would destroy itself.

The only hope and pride remaining to the animals was that they were the only farm run by animals. That made the shock even bigger when one day the pigs acted so humanly that there was no difference between them and the humans.

Perspective

The story is told by an omniscient narrator. This is very important for the story. The narrator sometimes even gives flash-forwards. Because of the way the book is written, you can tell from the start that the "Animal Farm" won't keep on existing the way it does at the start.

Because the animals are talking to each other about the things that are happening at the moment and because the pigs have Squealer, their propaganda maker telling the farm animals what ¡s going on, the story mostly exists of speeches and dialogs.

Characters

The Animals

Old Major
Old Major is the wise old pig whose stirring speech to the animals helps set the Rebellion in motion although he dies before it actually begins. His role compares with that of Karl Marx, whose ideas set the Communist Revolution in motion.

Napoleon
Napoleon is a "large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way." And so he does. Instead of debating with Snowball he sets his dogs on him and continues to increase his personal power and privileges from that time on. What counts for him is power, not ideas. Note his name; think of the other Napoleon (Bonaparte) who took over the French Revolution and turned it into a personal empire. Napoleon's character also suggests that of Stalin and other dictators as well.

Snowball
Snowball is an energetic, brilliant leader. He's the one who successfully organises the defence of the Farm (like Trotsky with the Red Army). He's an eloquent speaker with original- although not necessarily beneficial- ideas (the windmill).

Squealer
Squealer is short, fat, twinkle-eyed, nimble, and "a brilliant talker." He has a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail that is somehow very persuasive. They say he can turn black into white! That's just what he does, again and again. Every time the pigs take more wealth and power, Squealer persuades the animals that this is absolutely necessary for the well-being of all. When things are scarce, he proves that production...
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