No writer has ever been more naked in his contempt for power, or more ruthless in his critique of those who abuse it, than the Englishman born Eric Blair, better known to the world as George Orwell. In Animal Farm he restages the hypocrisies of the Russian Revolution with the principal figures played by, of all things, farm animals. By presenting atrocities in the terms of a fairy tale, he makes them fresh, restoring to readers numbed by the 20th century’s parade of disasters a sense of shock and outrage. Paradoxically, by turning Trotsky and Lenin and their followers into pigs and horses and chickens, he reveals them as all too human.
I don’t think I can add much on what have already been said about this book. It is indeed a very good book, beside one or two things that didn’t feel right to me.I believe that the analogy Orwell made between humans and animals has an obvious flaw: Almost all the miseries of the majority of human beings in reality – who are represented by the oppressed animals in the book – were caused by their fellow humans, whereas most miseries of the animals were due to their nature and that they were animals. Plus, I couldn’t ignore the notion that the animals were not equal with one another. Of course, I am not referring to the fact that some animals claimed authority over the others, but rather to the inequality due to their being of different kinds with different capabilities. I can understand that each group of animal represents a different class of people, but even with that in mind there is an intrinsic equality between people (after all they are born with the same capabilities of learning and perceiving the world around them) which was missing between the animals of the book. For example the pigs were good at learning language but horses were not. I can’t see how the pigs are responsible for this. I’m not saying that the analogy is wrong, instead it is just not strong enough. I believe that an analogy works best when it corresponds with the reality as much as possible.
Another thing that didn’t feel right was the single commandment ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS, which probably is the premise upon which the book is supposedly made. Apart from the obvious contradiction of the two sentences, which of course is relevant and apt to the theme of the book, the commandment is not very powerful and didn’t elegantly describe the totalitarianism which was at work in the farm. In short, I was expecting something more profound from Orwell, for whom I have the highest regard.
But the thing I admired most in this book was its brevity. As we see in this very book, time has a numbing effect which is clearly demonstrated in the book when the animals begin to question their own memories about certain facts as time goes by. The book being short emphasizes the contrast between the beginning and the end, which afer all is what the book is all about.
So, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the book. It has some very powerful and vivid moments, and it is relevant today as much as when it was written if not more. It is obvious that Orwell had the USSR in mind when he wrote it, but I believe if he was alive today, he would have written a much gloomier version of it, where the animals were very happy eating burgers and watching Twilight, while Napoleaon and his friends consuming them bit by bit.