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Animal Farm - George Orwell

Oct 08, 1999 1706 Words
Animal Farm George Orwell 128 Pages George Orwell, the pen name of Eric Blair, was born in Bengal in 1903. He was educated at Eton School in England, and then served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. He returned to Europe and became a writer of novels and essays. Much of his work was political, and although he had a hatred of Communism, he was a socialist. Orwell died at the age of forty-seven of a lung problem, leaving behind several unfinished works. Animal Farm is a parody of the Communist revolution in Russia, and as a result its themes are the evils of totalitarianism and selfishness, and also the importance of hard work. Animal Farm tells the story of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, but from a viewpoint slightly more comical: that of a farm in England. The story begins in a barn, where a boar on the farm named Old Major has gathered the other animals to tell them of a dream he had, a dream of a world in which humans do not rule over other animals. Old Major encourages the animals of the farm to revolt against Mr. Jones, the owner of the farm. Not long after, he dies, but the animals keep his ideas of Animalism (which is essentially Communism) alive and the pigs, who are the most clever animals on the farm, begin to plan a revolution. One day, the workers on the farm forget to feed the animals, and so some of the more powerful horses break down the door to the barn where the feed is stored, and the animals enjoy a feast. When Mr. Jones learns of this, however, he immediately orders all of the animals to be punished appropriately. As they are being whipped and beaten, the animals suddenly turn on the workers. The humans, who had no way of anticipating such an attack, are scared off of the farm. When the animals realize what has happened, they go back to the main barn to discuss the recent events. Two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, assume control of the farm, and the animals immediately declare the farmhouse to be a sort of museum, in which no animal should enter. The pigs then reveal that they had been learning how to read and write for the entire time in which the revolution was being planned, and the animals agree on seven basic rules, which they called the Seven Commandments. The Seven Commandments consist of the following: ? Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. ? Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. ? No animal shall wear clothes. ? No animal shall sleep in a bed. ? No animal shall drink alcohol. ? No animal shall kill any other animal. ? All animals are equal. The animals then proceed to the hay fields, where they make it their goal to get the harvest done faster than the humans ever could. Each animal does his or her share of the harvest, relative to his or her strength and size. Boxer, one of two carthorses on the farm and certainly the strongest animal, does most of the work, and the animals are able to finish the harvest in two days less time than the humans normally took. Within the first year of the animals’ revolution on the farm (which they had proceeded to name “Animal Farm”), news had spread to the neighboring areas, and Snowball and Napoleon send out groups of pigeons to spread the principles of Animalism. Not long after, however, one of these flights of birds spy a group of humans, led by Jones, coming down the path leading to Animal Farm. The pigs, which had been prepared for such a situation, get everyone to their posts, and Snowball sends out a group of pigeons to harass the humans as the other animals get ready for a larger attack. Then, the geese and sheep, led by Snowball, peck and ram the legs of the humans. Snowball orders this group to retreat, however, and the humans, thinking that the animals are retreating, begin to shout with joy. As they move further into the farm, the rest of the animals, including the three horses, come out of their hiding places, and successfully fight the humans off. Over the next few months, the animals hold weekly meetings to discuss events on the farm. At these meetings, Snowball and Napoleon rarely agree on anything, so when Snowball brings up the idea of building a windmill to provide the farm with electricity, Napoleon immediately argues against the idea. His argument is that, although electricity would be nice, the animals need to concentrate more on necessities such as food than luxuries such as a windmill. When the time to vote on the windmill comes, the animals assemble in the barn and listen to the arguments from both Snowball and Napoleon. After the arguments, Napoleon makes a strange noise, and nine fearsome dogs charge straight for Snowball. They chase the pig across the entire farm, and he barely escapes the jaws of the dogs. The mystery of where the dogs came from is soon resolved: Napoleon had taken them aside as pups to teach them. With Snowball gone, there is no one but Napoleon in command of the farm. Despite his arguments to the contrary while Snowball was around, Napoleon orders the building of the windmill to commence. The animals work like slaves for the entire year, since they have to build the windmill in addition to the other chores around the farm. Napoleon then reveals to the animals that he has made an agreement with a human, Mr. Whymper, to sell products from the farm in order to raise money for equipment necessary for the windmill’s operation. By the time the winter comes, the windmill is half-built, and the hardest work is done. Unfortunately, the animals wake up one day to see the entire structure in ruins. Napoleon is called out, and after a careful inspection, he finds that Snowball is responsible for the destruction. The animals, intent on making their work easier, begin to rebuild the windmill. Squealer, a pig who Napoleon has assigned as a messenger, then tells the animals that the pigs have found a collection of papers written by Snowball about a secret alliance that he had with Jones and the other humans. At first the animals find this hard to believe, but Squealer is able to convince them that Snowball had been on Jones’s side from the beginning. At the same time, Napoleon is negotiating a deal with a neighboring farm owner, Mr. Pilkington, through Whymper. The deal is for a pile of lumber which was found on Animal Farm, but which the animals do not need. The animals are pleased to learn that Pilkington plans to buy the timber, because the other farmer near Animal Farm, Mr. Frederick, is both hated and feared by the animals. The next autumn, the windmill is finished, just in time for the harvest. Later on, Napoleon reveals that he actually sold the timber to Frederick, despite the hatred the animals felt for him. According to Squealer, the horror stories about Frederick’s farm had been exaggerated. A pigeon was send to Frederick’s farm ordered to apologize for the cruel statements the animals had made, but nevertheless Frederick organizes an attack on Animal Farm. Since many of the men have guns, the animals are afraid to defend the farm. The humans stop around the windmill, and for a moment the animals feel safe, since the windmill walls are very thick and sturdy. Only then do they realize that the humans were planning to use dynamite to blow it up. When the smoke clears, the animals’ courage returns to them and they drive Frederick and his men off of the farm. Boxer, however, is injured, and because he is so powerful, the animals are unable to get any work done on the new windmill without him. Soon, however, he heals, and work begins. Unfortunately, the work gets the better of Boxer, and he collapses. Napoleon decides that a human veterinarian would do a better job of curing Boxer than any animal could, and so Boxer is carried away in a truck. As the truck is leaving, however, the animals see that the letters on the side read “Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler.” Not long after, Squealer announces that Boxer is dead. One night, a loud noise is heard coming from the farmhouse, and when the animals go to inspect, they find that the pigs have taken residence there and are drinking a case of whiskey. Clover, one of the horses, goes to the barn to see what the commandment regarding alcohol reads, and finds that it says “No animal shall drink alcohol in excess.” The next day, while the animals are working, Clover comes rushing into the fields telling the other animals to follow her. When they do, they see Squealer walking on his hind legs. Then, the door to the farmhouse swings open and Napoleon comes out, also on his hind legs and with a whip in his hand. Afterwards, the animals do not find it strange that they are being whipped while working, except for Clover, who again looks at the Commandments. She finds that the seventh reads “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” That evening, some carts approach the farmhouse, and the animals see a procession of humans entering. Fearful but curious, they look into the window and see the humans and pigs sitting at a large table, with Napoleon at the head. Mr. Pilkington makes a toast to the prosperity of Animal Farm, and as the animals are walking away, a loud shout comes from the farmhouse, and they go back to see what happened. There they find that Napoleon and Pilkington had both played an ace of spades in a game of poker. It is at this point that “The creatures outside look from pig to man and man to pig; but already it is impossible to say which is which.”

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