Animal Farm

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Animal Farm
Author(s)
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
16+
Release Date
January 01, 1945
ISBN
0679420398
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Animal Farm is a novella by George Orwell, & is the most famous satirical allegory of Soviet totalitarianism. Published in 1946, the book reflects events leading up to & during the Stalin era. Orwell, a democratic socialist, & a member of the Independent Labour Party for many years, was a critic of Joseph Stalin, and was suspicious of Moscow-directed Stalinism after his experiences with the NKVD during the Spanish Civil War.

Orwell wrote the book following his experiences during the Spanish Civil War, which are described in another one of his books, Homage to Catalonia. He intended it to be a strong condemnation of what he saw as the Stalinist corruption of the original socialist ideals. For the preface of a Ukrainian edition he prepared in 1947, he described what gave him the idea of setting the book on a farm: "...I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, & that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat."

This Ukrainian edition was an early propaganda use of the book. It was printed to be distributed among the Soviet citizens of Ukraine who were some of the many millions of displaced persons thruout Europe at the end of WW2. The American occupation forces considered the edition to be propaganda printed on illegal presses, & handed 1,500 confiscated copies of Animal Farm over to the Soviet authorities. The politics in the book also affected Britain, with Orwell reporting that Ernest Bevin was "terrified" that it may cause embarrassment if published before the 1945 general election.

In recent years, the book has been used to compare new movements that overthrow heads of a corrupt & undemocratic government or organisation, only to eventually become corrupt & oppressive themselves as they succumb to the trappings of power & begin using violent and dictatorial methods to keep it. Such analogies have been used for many former African colonies such as Zimbabwe & the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose succeeding African-born rulers were accused of being as corrupt as, or worse than, the European colonists they supplanted.
The book also clearly ponders whether a focus of power in one person is healthy for a society. The book leaves the ending slightly ambiguous in this regard.

Perhaps the largest overriding theme in Animal Farm is the famous quote by Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Editor reviews

1 reviews

A Dismal Allegory
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
After an opportunistic revolt on an English farm proves successful, the animals who've managed to run off their human oppressors immediately establish their own society—complete with rules of conduct they initially refer to as the “seven commandments.” The rules are, of course, meant to keep the animals free, civil, and equal (or at least, as equal as can be expected given the significant physiological variations between the many species.) But over time, one particular species begins to dominate over the rest—advancing their agenda so gradually and insidiously, the other animals on the farm largely accept a slide back into the very same enslavement they'd endured under human rule. A sort of 'same oppression, different dictator' scenario results.

Orwell's message in a nutshell? Totalitarianism = Bad!

This reader feels it is with great accuracy that Orwell described this particular work as an adult fairytale. It is indeed a fairytale, in the most traditional sense. (Original brother's Grimm style, if you will.) As the forward reasonably warns, the good guys lose and bad guys win. Good overcoming evil is not the point. Rather, the intent is more a glaring illustration of the adage: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The story is packed with symbolism revolving around the Russian revolution. The pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, represent Stalin and Trotsky, respectively. The pig, Squealer, represents the Russian media. Moses the Raven symbolizes the Russian Orthodox Church. All animals outside of the pigs and dogs seem to generally represent the naive working class—with Boxer the prime example of hard-working, unquestioning loyalty.

Orwell's utilitarian writing style serves this allegorical story well. Neither pretty nor overindulgent in prose, he conveys his political and philosophical points with a concise sense of purpose. Examples of manipulative propaganda and historical revisionism are presented in a manner so simplistic, a child (of the upper elementary range) could understand.

To be clear, I'd in no way recommend visiting this tale on a child under the age of 12. >.> While they may be able to grasp it, its hard to imagine how they wouldn't come away depressed and somewhat traumatized.

Although the tale is more basic than Orwell's 1984 (lacking in the mass-surveillance and torture-based thought control predictions), it still echos many of the same concepts. It also bears similarities in flat and generally unlikeable characters. While what happens on animal farm is clearly meant to rouse a reaction in readers, it's unlikely to happen due to attachment to any of its characters. Like 1984, I found it difficult to feel compassion for either main or peripheral players, as their own flaws (complacency, selfishness, gullibility, and often outright stupidity) either caused or passively enabled the unfortunate resolution.

*Iconic takeaway quote:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
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3.8  (21)
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OMG!
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
OH MY GOD! Just... Wow! This would have been the perfect Halloween read if you ask me. That ending gave me the chills! Terrifying!
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A Great Story
I feel like if you don't have the background knowledge of the Revolution you just take it at face value. But if you know about the revolution you are able to understand the story more and all of the symbolism and you are able to have a deeper understanding of Animal Farm. I like how he found a creative way to criticize human actions. George was able to convey his feelings through his writing and i was able to know what the were.
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87 out of 100
(Updated: April 02, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Wow, this book is amazing! Another favorite book of mine from the classics genre. If you ignored to read the summary (like me hehe) then you will think that it’s about animals who are being punished, used as slaves, and pushed-around by humans. Well, there is much more to that. It is actually a fable. It not only reflects to the previous wars in our history, but what the world is right now. This book is so powerful and sends out a message to the human race.

What exactly is the message? To start off, the story takes place in a farm, the Manor Farm to be exact. It is owned by Mr. Jones and he runs the farm with the help of his animals (which he treats cruelly). There was actually a point that he forgets to feed the animals for a day (I think he was just too lazy). Anyways, one of the animals, Old Major (a pig) had a dream and convinced his fellow comrades to overthrow Mr. Jones and rebel. The animals decided that all humans were their enemy and all animals were to be treated with respect and equality. The rebel was a success, but as time passes by, a lot of things changes, especially with the pigs. The rest of the animals were afraid to speak out what they desired and they let themselves be pushed to work in the labor.

To me, that is one of the message that Orwell is trying to give his audience; to make your voice heard and to not be afraid to speak up for others when they are right. Other lessons that I learned from this book are: to choose wisely, not believe in rumors, to strive your best, be confident with your goals and so much more. I will not say my reasons because I would just spoil the book for you. If you read it, you’ll understand what I mean, I promise.

Besides the message, you could totally see that as you read further in the book, there are a lot of character changes and development. Plus, Animal Farm is full of surprises. I was unaware of the events that would happen next and that’s one of the few things I look for in a book. I love making predictions, but most of the time (for this book) I was wrong and it left me surprised and amazed!

This book is really strong and I definitely recommend it to anyone. Even if it is less than 200 pgs. it’s filled with events that will tempt you to keep turning the page. Animal Farm is an easy read and took me only 4 days to read it (I could’ve read it in a more faster pace but I was watching the Olympics haha!) Clap clap clap for George Orwell!
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Four Legs Good Two Legs Baaaad!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Michael Williams

Readers of this book might not know this, but Animal Farm is very political.  George Orwell was going to write it about Russian Communism, but he couldnt use the real names or people so he used animals.


Animal Farm is a short book about animals that are overworked and underfed by an abusive owner and his workers.  So they decide to take over the farm.  After the revolt, they write the rules of Animal Farm on the barn.  Soon after a pig named Napoleon wants all the power but another pig named Snowball is in his way.  Napoleon then runs Snowball out of Animal Farm and takes the total power.  He starts to change the rules, but will the other animals notice?  How far will Napoleon go to keep total power?


I think Animal Farm was a great book because it taught a lesson to the reader and showed how easy it is to manipulate the public.  George Orwell did a great job with this book.  This is a classic I think everyone will enjoy.

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BAD
Overall rating 
 
1.0
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1.0
Characters 
 
0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by moonymaster

I read this book for school and it was a hard read to say the least. From what I actually remember it was pretty bad. I have a feeling when I am older and more mature and I finally decide to re-read this book I am going to love it and understand the philosophy behind it and all the metaphors that I missed the first time. But until that fateful day occurs, I am going to stick to the claim that I ... 
ABSOLUTELY AND COMPLETELY HATED THIS BOOK WITH ALL OF MY HEART


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Alright...for school
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Tessa

This book was ok, if you're in school and have a teacher to explain everything, the motives behind the animals, and the place where is fits and relates to in history. this book seemed to go on for quite sometime without much action. I would have preferred it to be more surface action instead of hidden turmoil. but sometimes you cant argue with authors that have a big place in history. he probably thought the book got his message across and therefore it would suffice for the public. try and find all the meanings behind this book and then it will become better to read.

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Funny
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Cowgirl

If you rent this book from the library, once you get it you might think that it dose not look very exciting. It is a older book. However, once I got into it, I really enjoyed it! The story was about a farm and all of the animals decided to take over it. They ran the humans of the land, and controlled it from then and throughout the story. Read the book to find out what works out and what doesn't in the story. Will some of the animals that seemed good turn out to be bad?
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Rebelling Animals
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Megan

What would you do if you hated your "Master"? Overthrow him, of course! This is exactly what the animals on Manor Farm do. Once their Rebellion succeeds, they rename the farm 'Animal Farm' and begin their own form of rules. After awhile, the pigs set up a totalitarian form of rule, and eventually begin to be just like humans. Full of symbolism, this book won't fail to please.
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Animal Farm
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by lilponyrider

This book is about a farm with animals which talk about a rebellion. This rebellion soon happens and the farmer gets kicked out of the farm. Throughout the book it goes through the leaders and what they did with their power. This book it kinda explain the american history because they have battles which they remember, a flag, and song, and many other things.

I thought that this book was very good. It was explaining what power did to people or in this case animals. I thought about the book after everytime I read it. It was a very good book. I would recommend this book to people who like to think about the book.
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A wonderful Allegory!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Matt Hill

Animal Farm is a political novel and an allegory of the Russian Revolution. George Orwell wrote this novel to be seen in two different lights: as a children's story, and a narrative of the Russian Revolution. The animals take over the farm from the abusive humans, and run it on their own for a while, led by the pigs, being the most intelligent animals. But, the animals later they realize that they have been tricked; the Pigs have slowly and slowly taken over the rule of the farm, gradually becoming more and more like the humans they struggled to over-throw. An excellent read, especially in you know anything about the Russian Revolution! Read George Orwell's classic novel today!
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