Animal Farm: A Political Satire of A Totalitarian Society Ruled By Dictatorship
George Orwell's Animal Farm is a political satire of a totalitarian
society ruled by a mighty dictatorship, in all probability an allegory for the
events surrounding the Russian Revolution of 1917. The animals of "Manor Farm"
overthrow their human master after a long history of mistreatment. Led by the
pigs, the farm animals continue to do their work, only with more pride, knowing
that they are working for themselves, as opposed to working for humans. Little
by little, the pigs become dominant, gaining more power and advantage over the
other animals, so much so that they become as corrupt and power-hungry as their
predecessors, the humans. The theme in Animal Farm maintains that in every
society there are leaders who, if given the opportunity, will likely abuse
The book begins in the barnyard of Mr. Jones' "Manor Farm". The
animals congregate at a meeting led by the prize white boar, Major. Major
points out to the assembled animals that no animal in England is free. He
further explains that the products of their labor is stolen by man, who alone
benefits. Man, in turn, gives back to the animals the bare minimum which will
keep them from starvation while he profits from the rest. The old boar tells
them that the source of all their problems is man, and that they must remove
man from their midst to abolish tyranny and hunger.
Days later Major dies, but the hope and pride which he gave the other
animals does not die. Under the leadership of the pigs, the most intelligent
of the animals, they rebel against their human master managing to overthrow him.
After the rebellion, under the direction of Napoleon, the most outspoken pig,
and Snowball, the most eloquent pig, the animals continue to work the farm
As with all societies, the animals have laws which must be obeyed.
Their laws stated that animals shall never become like humans; cruel and
manipulative. They shall not wear clothing nor sleep in beds. Most
importantly, they are to respect one another's equality and killing another
animal is strictly forbidden.
Meanwhile, the pigs as leaders are taking bigger food rations for
themselves justifying their behavior as something necessary for the "brains" of
their animal society. At this point we begin to suspect that the pigs will
abuse their positions and power in this animal society.
Mr. Jones tries to reclaim his power but the animals prevent him from
doing so in what they call "The Battle of the Cowshed". After the battle,
Napoleon drives Snowball off the farm telling everyone that Snowball was on Mr.
Jones' side. Napoleon is further appreciated by the other animals for exposing
and removing the traitor, Snowball, from their midst. Slowly, Napoleon gets a
stronger and stronger hold over the other animals, dominating their every
The situation at "Animal Farm", the new name for "Manor Farm", really
starts to change now. Napoleon moves into Mr. Jones' house, sleeps in his bed,
and even wears his clothes. In order to make his actions appear legal, the law
had to be interpreted differently, which Napoleon arranged. In defiance of the
original laws, Napoleon befriends Mr. Pilkington, the human owner of a nearby
farm. Napoleon had such control over the other animals that they accepted such
a blatant disregard of their law about fraternizing with humans.
The book ends with the pigs sitting at a table, eating with humans.
Napoleon announces to those around the table that the name "Manor Farm" will be
reinstated. The humans and pigs converse while the other animals outside look
on. They, the lowly creatures according to the pigs and humans, look from pig
to man and from man to pig, unable to differentiate between the species.
The theme throughout Animal Farm is presented through the allegory of
corrupt pigs and the passivity of the other barnyard animals. The humans in
the story represent the Russian royal family and aristocracy, tyrants who
abused their power with no regard for the peasants who, in essence, supported
their royal lifestyle. The pigs represent the Bolshevik revolutionaries who
led the masses in rebellion against the Czar and the entire royal family.
Unfortunately, as with the pigs, power corrupted and the people were then
oppressed by their "comrades" under the new communist government. Orwell's
message about power, in the hands of a few, is corrupting and does nothing to
benefit the masses.