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Animal Farm

Animal Farm

animals pigs tendency political

a novel by George Orwell, published in 1945. Orwell's most famous and widely read work, Animal Farm is a political fable that partly recounts, in an allegorical mode, the aftermath of the Russian revolution, and partly illustrates a belief in the universal tendency of power to corrupt. The major characters are all animals, who have overthrown their human masters to establish a collective farm run on egalitarian lines. Before long, a hierarchical power structure re-emerges, with the pigs forming a ruling élite. Their progressive detachment from the rest of the animals has the same alienating effect as the Bolshevik Party's leading role in post-revolutionary Russia. The pigs themselves divide into two factions, led by a Stalinlike Napoleon on one side, and a Trotsky-like Snow-ball on the other. The heroic sufferings of the Soviet peoples are reflected in the dedication of Boxer the carthorse, who is killed by his Stakhanovite workload, while the idiocies of political orthodoxy are satirized in the behaviour of the sheep with their repeatedly bleated slogan ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’. By the end of the story, the pigs' regime has become more savage than the one it replaced, and the final betrayal of the revolution is expressed in the bewilderment of the starved and exhausted ‘lower’ animals: ‘The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.’ The most effective writing in the book deals with the attempts of those in power constantly to rewrite history, to redefine what is true and what is false, and to revise the first principles of their political programme. The most memorable example of this tendency in Animal Farm is the pigs' reformulation of their original ‘commandment’, ‘ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL’, to read ‘ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL/BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS’. The most controversial aspect of the writing is its tendency to simplify complex historical situations. Partly for this reason, it has been thought a text suitable for children, although Orwell was surprised to discover this, and when it was published went out to remove copies from the children's section in bookshops and place them on more appropriate shelves.

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