Due to an inability to sleep, I decided that I'd spend my valuable time writing my thoughts and feelings on Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Here's the beautiful, bodacious, bountiful blurby-blurb!
"Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/ communist philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union."
My love for allegorical and Dystopian novels cannot be quenched, so Animal Farm will not be spared seeing as it is both of them. Nothing sells me quicker than a symbolic telling of a crashing society where life as we know it is unstable. *Throws money at the nearest cash register for all the Allegorical Dystopian Novels*
Let's overthrow the Farmer and set our own rules!
*SPOILERS! There has been a tragic outbreak of Spoilers, you can arm yourself against this disease by reading the book being reviewed then returning when you are safely protected. DANGER!*
Animal Farm was written in 1945, and it easily is one of the books that while classified as a Classic, was a smooth read. Only 152 pages long, it crams this power and amazing story into such a short span of pages.
My knowledge of Animal Farm before I bought it was that it was an allegory novel about farm animals who decide one day to run their farmer off the farm, and to take over it themselves. I knew that it was meant to reference towards the Russian Revolution, but I am not intensively familiar with it so there were parts where I was having to turn to forums and discussions with friends about it. In the end, I got there!
I love and hate the decision of picking a cover. If it's a new book, generally they'll only have one or two covers at most, which leads to an easy choice of which you prefer over the other (Unless they are both equally good and you like both, then the only choice is to buy both and hate yourself later) but when they are a Classic, then it leads to sometimes 5+ covers which are all equally brilliant and you just sit there in a stupor because you know you should just pick one and get over it...but you can't. But in the end, I decided upon the simple and minimalistic cover. The colour red is also one of my favourites, so it was nice to deviate from the large amounts of white covers that I have. I will admit, there are better covers out there which are more symbolic and are more artsy, but it was a quick snap decision and I went for pretty instead of symbolic. I know, I'm a complete hypocrite, throw a book at me why don't cha? (I also don't like the pigs on the cover, for some reason they freak me out...)
Quick Plot Summary:
Old Major, a giant boar about to die of old age, incites a spark of rebellion in the Farm Animals as he teaches them that Humans are parasites, often singing a revolutionary song called, 'Beasts of England'.
After Old Major dies, two young pigs by the names of Snowball and Napoleon revolt and, alongside the other animals, drive Mr Jones the farmer, out.
Now having the farm all to themselves, they begin to govern by creating Seven Commandments of Animal Farm.
- 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 most important one being the last one, the seventh. The farm runs smoothly as all the animals begin working together keeping it functioning. Snowball, one of the pigs, begins teaching the animals how to read and write after having taught himself in secret by reading books in Mr Jone's home. Napoleon, the other pig, educates a young litter of pups, the principles of Animalism.
Of course, society begins to halter as Napoleon and Snowball begin to bash heads in attempts of dominance for leadership. Snowball has the idea of building a Windmill that would lessen the workload of the animals, but is chased out by Napoleon's henchmen of dogs, and declaring himself the leader now.
Soon, big changes are made to the farm. A committee of pigs are placed above the the rest to run the farm, but the workload continues on as the animals keep to the promise of an easier lives with the Windmill.
After a violet storm, the windmill collapses due to the lack of proper building. To keep order, Napoleon uses Snowball as a scapegoat and blames him for the falling of the windmill. He uses this is an excuse to being purging the farm with his dogs, killing any animals he accuses of being in cohorts with Snowball.
Napoleon's slow transform begins to happen as more changes are made, including changing the Beasts of England anthem to instead glorify Napoleon. He begins adopting more human-life ways of living, all the while justifying it to the other animals.
When Mr Frederick attacks their farm, blasting their restored windmill to bits, the battle wages between neighbouring farms. While the animals win, most are injured in one way or another. Boxer, the workhorse, is especially wounded but tells himself and others that he is fine, and will work harder. He inevitably collapses while working on the windmill, and Napoleon sends for a van to take him to a nearby vet which can provide him better care than the farm can. As the car drives away, Benjamin, a donkey who can read, reveals that the van belongs to a Knacker and they fail in their attempt of rescue. It is later revealed that Napoleon sold Boxer for money to buy more whisky.
A few years pass, and now Pigs are beginning to resemble humans. They begin wearing clothes, and sleeping in Mr Jone's old farm home. The Seven commandments are abridged to a single phrase: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".
Napoleon holds a dinner party for the Pigs and neighbouring farmers, who he has created alliances with and does trade with, and the farm is renamed from 'Animal Farm' to 'The Manor Farm'.
A few times while reading, or after finishing a chapter, I'd just lay back and be completely in awe at how something was worded, or how certain events happened. In particular, the animal slaughtering after the windmill collapses because of "Snowball". Just the casualness of having them come up, one by one, and declare their workings with Snowball before having their throats torn out by the dogs. While it was so meant to be visualised as animals doing it, for me it like seeing humans do it to each other like they have been doing for so many years now.
George Orwell certainly has a way of making you think about life and the kind of society we live in. You need to get into the mindset of, 'Okay! Time to make myself hate society and what it does, but also how I'm a complete sheep and I join in on it too so therefore I'm just as bad as society is' kind of mood. That's what I had while reading Animal Farm.
Napoleon - He is just so *Makes grippy choking motions in the air* there has never been a character that I have despised so much as Napoleon. Sure, Voldemort and Bellatrix from Harry Potter were pretty heinous, but I still liked them as fleshed out characters. Heck, even Jack from Lord of the Flies wasn't that bad as Napoleon. All of them admitted that they were doing bad things, but kept justifying it. Napoleon thought he was doing good, helping the other animals and living life up with whisky and eventually wearing human clothes. He was so manipulative and it gave me hot flushes of anger. I just really hate Pigs. (Napoleon is also based on Joseph Stalin)
The Pigs: I don't like them. Not one bit. Only the young pigs who spoke out and complained against Napoleon's takeover, but were silenced by execution, were able to redeem some portion of the pigs, but still!
The Humans: Now I didn't really favour much in the Humans side. Mr Jones was a drunk and an abusive farmer to his animals, forgetting to feed or take care of them. Mr Frederick was a snake of a man. and Mr Whymper was at least being open minded with supplying them with such things as food and supplies, but inevitably was corrupted and started procuring alcohol and dog biscuits for them. All the humans are just 'Egh' and it took me a while to figure out all their names and their attitudes towards Animal Farm.
Other Animals: BOXER!!! BOOOOOOXXER! Ugh, he was specifically my favourite character, so that of course means he had to die. I'm just drawn to those destined for the chopping block because I give them one look and sentence them to death with one, "I like you...you're my favourite." His mistake was being naive and gullible, but oh so hard working and faithful. I want a cart-horse just so I can name it Boxer and I'll love it forever.
Mollie, the self-centered and self indulgent mare, was absolutely hysterical. I couldn't help but laugh at all her commentary and scenes, even though this book is not quite a comedy. She is such a ditz, and I love her for it.
The Sheep: Sheep gon' sheep, is what I say.
Things I liked:
- The way it was written. Good golly, was it written well. So many times did I just shake my head and marvel at the certain parts. George Orwell - Master of causing this 18 year old to gawk at the way you rearrange 26 letters over and over.
- Boxer. Always boxer. *One single manly tear*
- There are so many witty one-liners in it that I kept giggling at or declaring to myself to use more often in my daily life.
- My pure hatred at Napoleon. You have to write well to make me hate a pig named Napoleon.
- The length. It was a perfect long-enough to really grasp you, but not long enough to begin dragging out and becoming boring.
- That ending...that line I want framed in wallet size so that I can smoosh it into people's faces and tell them how brilliant it was.
Things I didn't like:
- If you're not familiar with much of the Russian Revolution or Stalin era in the Soviet Union, you might be confused at certain parts and have no clue which character is meant to represent who. (Example A: Me)
- Boxer's Death. No one will comfort me after this, and I won't let anyone. Let me mourn in peace.
- Snowball! I couldn't believe Snowball got run out of town. That hurt. Snowball was alright.
I really liked this book, and it'll go proudly on my bookshelf as one Classic book I'd highly recommend! I didn't cry, even though I should have with Boxer's death...*sad sigh*
But if Classics are more like this, I could see myself reading more and more of them!
I'm rating it an 8.5 out of 10!
(Here's my favourite quote!)
“His answer to every problem, every setback was “I will work harder!” —which he had adopted as his personal motto.”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm