George Orwell’s classic novella has been sat on my shelf for some time now, but I can finally say I have read it:
Animal Farm is the most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories. Its account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama. Orwell is one of the very few modern satirists comparable to Jonathan Swift in power, artistry, and moral authority; in animal farm his spare prose and the logic of his dark comedy brilliantly highlight his stark message.
The story follows an uprising on a farm where the animals, convinced that they would be better off without the rule of humans, decide to overthrow and run the farm under their own commandments. The list include the necessity for all animals to not aspire to be like the humans, and that all animals are equal, summarised as “4 legs good, 2 legs bad”.
As the story develops, the pigs, who are the most intelligent animal, begin to make decisions in regards to the farm, and by propaganda, convince the animals to patriotically accept the long work hours and reduced rations as a better alternative to human rule – all the while the pigs don’t work and get increased food.
The book is an allegory for a political state known at the time of Orwell, namely the Soviet Revolution. The inability for true equality and the consequences of the new order making a good comparison, and is strikingly important even today. The methods employed politically being perhaps similar no matter the political system adopted by any given country.
Overall the story is quite bleak, with the feeling of deception and hopelessness throughout. An important read for everyone, and one some are fortunate to read during their education.
I have discussed before the ideas held by Orwell in contrast to Huxley (see Brave New World and 1984 reviews), but nonetheless I feel that this is an important read. I’m not aware of any modern equivalents tackling our own political systems in the west.
Certainly a book to consider if you have no read already – it something I think everyone should read for the importance of the message within.