Reflection on “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
George Orwell, one of the most influential English writers in the 20th century, often critiqued on the blatant truth about the violation of people’s freedom and the injustices against the common in his literature. Such phrases from his works such as “some animals are more equal than others” have become so popular especially in political dialogues and has shaped perception regarding the kind of society we live in. “Animal Farm” was one of his most popular novel, where he portrays a society that fully embraces totalitarian rules, much to the chagrin of those who want individual freedom. This novel brilliantly employs satire in highlighting shameless betrayal by leaders who promise positive changes in the society and pursue authoritarianism.
There were concerted efforts to bring in a revolution that would save the people but always the new leaders upon tasting power, would betray this revolution. The new leaders would start to dictate what the same people whom they were fighting to save would do, or not do. Such betrayal was the end of socialism in the 20th century. In this light, this paper will analyze one of his prized novels The Animal Farm.
Set on third person narrative, the novel begins with the Old Major (pig) gathering other animals in the Manor farm belonging to Mr. Jones. The pigs informs other animals that they had endured deplorable conditions for a long period under the leadership of human beings inspires thoughts of rebellion. Unfortunately, Old Major succumbs to old age. This leaves the animals to plan for the rebellion under Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer’s leadership and successful overthrow Mr. Jones and his family from the farm. The farm is renamed as animal farm and is governed under the new Seven Commandments under the pigs:
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animals shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.
Snowball and Napoleon lead the animal farm while Squealer is adopted as Napoleons spokes animal. As days pass by, pigs increase their control over other animals and award themselves increasing privileges. However, while Jones and other farmers try to recapture the farm, the animas succeed on defending the farm under the pigs. This leads the pigs to rule the farm autonomously. This inspires other farms to carry successful revolutions against humans.
Following this, Pigs train newly trained puppies to defend the pigs. However, on a Sunday meeting, Snowball and Napoleon clashes over Snowball’s idea to reduce the work week and build a windmill. Later, Napoleon starts spreading rumors that Snowball is working with humans and chases him away from the farm with the help of the dogs. Napoleon, along with his followers rule the Animal farm.
Furthermore, Napoleon passes the idea of building a windmill as his own, representing rewriting history. Despite this, because the other animals are not intelligent enough to remember any events, animals such as Boxer and Clover (horses) work hard for the betterment of the farm. He also starts changing the commandments, and starts working with humans for the benefits of pigs claiming that all animals are equal but some are privileged. This portrays the betrayal of the initial comradeship, and the pessimism of revolutionary movements. Orwell characterizes animals carefully to fit the roles. For example: Mr. Jones is a tyrant who represents the old corrupt order. In the real world George Orwell model 20th century dictators such as Stalin in Mr. Jones. The pigs symbolizes cunning leaders who benefit from tyrannical leadership and do not spare any chance afforded to them to exploit their advantaged position in the society. Squealer is a manipulator, while dogs are a represented as security of society exploited by the leaders and Boxer and Clover are the hardest workers but foolishly gullible.
The Animal Farm appropriately exposes how governments exploit and deny citizens of their basic rights. While the animals are united under the banner of exploitation by Mr. Jones, at the beginning, and succeed on the revolution campaign, later the new leader Napoleon turns to be worse that Mr. Jones. Napoleon employs propaganda to intimidate those who question the abuse of animal rights. Napoleon is also represented as a totalitarian, one who uses violence and terror, to silence the citizens.
Without doubt, George Orwell succeeds on highlighting the fact that the biggest political problem is not capitalism but authoritarian rules. In present context, I believe Napoleon can be compared to president Putin of Russia, who runs a totalitarian form of government.