Animal Farm: From Pig to Man
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a brilliant satire of the dystopian genre. Through the perspective of farmhouse animals, we are able to witness the development of a totalitarian regime from beginning to end, all with shocking parallels to human life. In fact, these parallels all converge on a poignant conclusion in this regard, but more on that later.
The story of Animal Farm begins with a group of farm animals coming together to listen to the wise words of Major, an aging pig. He tells them that all animals are being oppressed by the humans running the farm, that they should rise up against them to find happiness, and all four-legged animals should be treated as comrades. After Major dies, two young pigs, Snowball and Napolean, lead the animals in a revolt, and successfully drive the humans away from the farm. They then conceived the “Seven Commandments of Animalism” that would govern their happy, peaceful life away from humankind. They renamed the farm “Animal Farm”.
The animals then began living off of the land by themselves. Snowball and Napolean were the leaders, but they often argued with each other about the direction the farm should take. All of the animals tried to learn how to read, but only the pigs and a donkey named Benjamin were able to get it down perfectly. Napolean also took nine puppies from their mother to raise them himself (these details will be important later).
Animal Farm in-depth Review
Later on, Jones comes back with other workers to try and reclaim his farm. The animals were able to drive them back, but one of the sheep was killed. Snowball and Napolean disagreed again on whether or not they should but a windmill, but Snowball’s decision won out. In response, Napolean set the dogs he had been raising on Snowball, and they chased him off Animal Farm. Napolean, now facing no opposition, denounced Snowball as a traitor, and would continually use him as a scapegoat from that point on. Snowball’s imagined presence was used to incite fear among the animals.
Napolean immediately began to end any kind of democracy that was formerly in place, and began to exercise his will on the farm. He possessed the power, the intellect, and the drive, so he was free to do what he pleased. He began to work the other animals harder and harder, while at the same time granting special privileges for the pigs. He changed the original Animal Commandments to suit whatever his aims were, and claimed that they had always been the same. He even went so far as to brutally execute those who confessed to conspiring with Snowball (though, of course, none were telling the truth). Animal Farm had become chillingly similar to the very state that they rebelled against.
Napolean begins to deify himself as the leader of Animal Farm, and the pigs live a lavish life while the others work tirelessly. When Boxer, a dedicated workhorse, becomes ill, Napolean seizes the opportunity and sends him to a butcher. He trades the life of Animal Farm’s best worker just so he can buy an extra case of whiskey.
Ten years pass after this incident, and the pigs begin walking on two legs, just like the humans they swore they would condemn. The story ends with the pigs, dressed in the farmer’s clothes and living boisterously in the farmhouse, totally indistinguishable from humans.
All Animals are Equal
Although the dystopian society present in Animal Farm is centred around animals instead of people, it still exemplifies the human behaviours that lead to its development. A recurring theme in the story is the sheep, who mindlessly echo the mantra “four legs good, two legs bad!”. It’s no coincidence that the sheep blindly listen to whatever is told to them and are unable to think for themselves. What’s more, when the pigs start walking on two legs, they change their slogan to “four legs good, two legs better!”, all without any objection to what is a clear contradiction. In order for any dystopia to function, it takes sheep who will blindly accept anything as truth.
Animal Farm Ralph’s Wrap Up
Furthermore, Napolean likely planned to claim the position of the humans from the beginning. The great thing about Animal Farm is that we get to see, in real-time, the steps involved in creating a dystopia. Napolean first acquired power by raising the dogs, then he eliminated Snowball, his only opposition. He then gradually began to demand more and more from the other animals, instead of making several changes all at once. He took advantage of his superior intellect and cunning to deceive the animals into thinking he was doing good for all, when he was really only looking out for himself. Napolean’s greed is the perfect example of how the revolution itself can have noble intentions, but that can all be taken away by one individual with nefarious aims.
Read More of Ralph’s Dystopian Reviews:
List of all Dystopian Novels Ever by Ralph K Jones: