Summer 2008 Essays

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Animal Farm, by George Orwell

                     A Literary Analysis by Rocky Reichman

      Titles usually do an accurate job of describing what a book is about. Animal Farm is certainly such a case. When I initially heard of the book’s name, it was easy to guess that the story revolved around a bunch of farm animals--hence the reciprocated title “Animal Farm.” However, it was a bit confusing to find that a book with such a title was actually a not-so-subtle satire of the Russian Communist Revolution. I had expected there to be a farm, yes. I had expected to read about animals, yes. However, I never expected “revolution” or “bloodshed” when studying the title of the book. The only way anyone could make the connection between an Animal Farm and a bloody revolution is if they either read the book already or were told so by a friend. Truly, while Animal Farm is a suitable title, it can still cause confusion.

      The theme of the book--that is, a satiric version of the Russian Communist Revolution--is very interesting. It draws the reader into the story, forcing him or her to reconsider their beliefs--in communism as well as capitalism. The beginning of the book is very exciting--anxiety grows as talk of a Revolution spread. I was glad to see the animals finally get the freedom they deserved. I was repulsed, however, at certain notions the animals entertained in the book. An example is when Major the pig said, “Man is the only real problem we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever,” (page 15). Orwell has constructed his story with strong characters that are hard to forget. I had trouble--and was even saddened--when I read the beginning of Chapter Two: “Three nights later Old Major died peacefully in his sleep,” (page 17).

      If the beginning of the book was exciting, then the rest of the story was dull. After the Revolution and initial fight with Mr. Jones when the farmer tried to recapture his farm, it all went downhill. Life was at first going well for the animals. But, the pigs and dogs became dominant. It became depressing to read page after page of how the pigs gradually took away more and more of the other animals’ rights. It started with the pigs taking all the milk for themselves. Then reserving the apples. Then they took over the “governing” of Animal Farm. Eventually, under the pig Napoleon, they had established totalitarian rule. How depressing.

      While the story does not put readers in a good mood, the characters do. To begin with, many of them are aptly named: the dictator pig Napoleon is named after the French dictator Napoleon. I dislike everything about the character Napoleon--except for his name, of course. I’m justified in my hatred, since Orwell himself tries to draw readers against Napoleon from the author’s writing itself. For example, George Orwell describes Napoleon’s reaction to his opponent’s plans in the ugliest fashion he can: “…he lifted his leg, urinated over the plans, and walked out without uttering a word,” (page 31). Napoleon is a character that I have no reverence for. However I have respect for characters like Boxer. Boxer is horse with the motto “I will work harder.” Even while on his deathbed, Boxer spoke the words, “It does not matter. I think you can finish the windmill without me,” (page 57). This is truly a respectable character: he cares more about the farm than his own health. Another character who I would like to see jailed is the pig Squealer. Squealer is a slyly persuasive pig who always fools the animals into thinking what the pigs want them to think. He is a master at inebriating the other animals with his exuberant verbosity, as when he says “I was at his bedside at the very last,” (page 59). These words were meant to convince the other animals that the pigs’ concern for the late Boxer was authentic; in reality, however, they had sold Boxer to the butcher--and for a mere case of whiskey.

      This book is certainly not for everyone. It’s recommended for the strong-willed, patriotic American. It’s also a good story for younger generations to read, in order to properly educate them in the trickeries of society and the horrors of communism. This book is not, however, recommended for the weak-willed: someone who is too easily persuaded to believe anything he reads will do great harm by reading this story.

      It’s easy to see how George Orwell could have concocted such a brilliant story. The Russian Revolution took place only years after he wrote the book in 1943 to 1944. However, despite the popularity of the subject, and despite the fact that George Orwell was the editor of Tribune when he wrote it, “no publisher would accept it [Animal Farm] at the time,” (George Orwell, a “Short Biography” by Kara Chiodo).

      There is a major connection between the story Animal Farm and George Orwell’s life: Orwell grew up in America during the first decades that followed the Russian Revolution, which gave him the inspiration and the ability he needed to produce Animal Farm, a true masterpiece and valuable piece of American literature.



Works Cited

Part One: A Short Biography. Chiodo, Kara. 17 May 2007. 9 August 1998



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