Every person has a book they have heard much about and have wished to read but never did. For me, such a book is The Animal Farm, which was written by George Orwell and first published on August 17th, 1945. For some reason, I have always felt intimidated by this book and decided to choose The Animal Farm for this assignment to familiarize myself with it. George Orwell is a well-renowned writer whose works depicted existential social issues that were prevalent at his time and still are. The Animal Farm is a fascinating piece of writing that has introduced me to a new point of view on society.
The Animal Farm is a work of fiction, yet it represents characters from the real world. The book’s setting is the Manor Farm owned by a farmer called Mr. Jones (Orwell 4). The first chapter starts with a meeting convened by old Major, “the prize Middle White boar” (Orwell 4). He plans to describe a strange dream he had but begins to talk to other animals, his “comrades,” about life (Orwell 4-9). Old Major claims that animals live a miserable life, and the only enemy they have is “Man,” who causes others to hunger and overwork (Orwell 7). The boar proposes that animals must rebel and get rid of Man to become free and own the products of their labor (Orwell 8). The book’s first chapter made me think of real events in history in which simple working people suffered from the tyranny of those in authority. Like many communities from the history of humankind, the animals in The Animal Farm are merely tired creatures who wish to be free and happy.
Following that, the book demonstrates that there are nonresistant people, even among those undergoing dictatorship. The old Major dies before the rebellion, but other animals prepare for the uprising, even though they do not know when it will take place (Orwell 13). However, some animals remain loyal to Mr. Jones, calling him “Master,” some are indifferent, and some do not fully comprehend revolution and liberty (Orwell 14). Personally, I have never participated in a rebellion, but such a division made me realize that every society has people with diverse opinions and different perspectives on the same matter. The Animal Farm suggests that although people want to be free, they also get used to their chains.
Furthermore, the book indicates that while an uprising can be relatively easy, constructing a new world is not. The animals put considerable effort in preparing for the rebellion, but it happened “much earlier and more easily” than expected (Orwell 15). The animals were happy for a while and even established their own laws, the Seven Commandments (Orwell 16-20). Everyone worked hard and was delighted to own what they had produced (Orwell 23). They rested on Sundays, learned to read and write, and studied such arts as blacksmithing and carpentering (Orwell 23-25). However, the leaders, Snowball and Napoleon, were never in agreement, and eventually, Napoleon took power and began changing the rules (Orwell 25, 41-42). Napoleon told the animals to praise the system, follow orders, and quit debates (Orwell 42). The animals started to work more but harvested less, while Napoleon’s management broke the Seven Commandments (Orwell 47, 50). These changes in the animals’ lives made me think of revolutions’ consequences and the significance of choosing the right people to put in charge.
I have had a lot of thoughts upon reading The Animal Farm, and it made me want to do additional research to learn more. The book paints an accurate reflection of society’s former and current state. When The Animal Farm was published, there was controversy in the international scene concerning the adoption of Communism and Capitalism ideals (Siahaan 52). According to Siahaan, Orwell’s goal was to expose Soviet Russia’s claim of achieving the socialist revolution (48). Orwell has employed The Animal Farm to symbolize society with several characters. I used to perceive rebellions as relatively positive events that oppress tyranny, but I have learned that new authorities may be worse than the previous, regardless of their promises.
The author of The Animal Farm made the book’s characters represent different social groups. The pigs, who are seen as the most intelligent and, by default, the leaders of the other animals on the farm, represent the ruling class in society (Orwell 22). Most community leaders are greedy for power and will go to any extent to acquire it, just like Napoleon kicked out Snowball and took control by force (Orwell 42). He also spread propaganda against Snowball to reduce his popularity (Orwell 43-44). To me, such actions seem similar to how some leaders spread propaganda regarding their opposition to gain power over the masses. Napoleon and his comrades are seen to be self-serving and putting their welfare first in place of the animals they should be serving (Orwell 43). Thus, The Animal Farm depicts struggles between social classes, one of which is characterized by those who gain benefits, while the other is the working class (Siahaan 44). By describing a system formed among animals, the book portrays disparities in the real world.
One of the most evident themes depicted in The Animal Farm is inequality spread by authorities. Initially, the animals were governed by a commandment that stated all animals were equal (Orwell 20). However, when the ruling class in The Animal Farm started to be greedy, this balance altered. The pigs, who took control, called themselves “brain workers” and made everyone believe that the pigs labored for the sake of community (Orwell 28). Nevertheless, the belief was supported by threats as the animals were told that their disobedience would bring Man back (Orwell 28, 44). Moreover, when younger pigs attempted to disagree with Napoleon, they were threatened by dogs, leading to some animals being “more equal than others” (Orwell 50, 100). The book made me think that once in a position of power, people begin to break their promises and pass laws that benefit them rather than the community.
To summarize, The Animal Farm is a controversial book that has made me reconsider my view of revolutions. I chose this book to challenge myself by learning why the story has been popular for many years, and I now understand that it represents society and class struggles. I do not imply that people should silently suffer dictatorship, but it is a matter that requires considerable thinking. After the rebellion, the animals lived a better life, worked and rested well, and educated themselves. However, they became discriminated against again and could not stand up for themselves. The Animal Farm made me think that people need to change their mentalities before changing structures within society.
Orwell, George. The Animal Farm. Adelaide, 1945. Open Rights Library, Web.
Siahaan, Safnidar. “Marxist’s Ideology and Revolution Analysis of George Orwell’s Novel “Animal Farm”.” Journal of the English Language Education Study Program, vol. 9, no.1, 2018, pp. 42-53.