George Orwell was borne in 1903 in the Indian province of Bengal. His father was employed by the British civil service, in the Opium Department. After his first birth day, his mother brought him back to England, and he only saw his father for three months of the next eleven years. After finishing prep school at Eton, he did not have dreams to attend university, so he went to work for the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. In 1928, he resigned, disillusioned by the tactics that were used to maintain order, and he began to write for the new Adelphi. Some of his earliest essays, such as “Shooting an Elephant” were based on real life experience he had while working for the police. He wrote the essays under the name George Orwell. He volunteered to fight with the republicans in the Spanish Civil War. He was wounded in the neck in May, 1937, and left Spain a month later to avoid arrest. In 1940, he started writing book reviews for the New English Weekly, and then he published Animal Farm in 1944, an allegory written in critic of the Stalinist regime. Five years later, in 1949, he wrote 1984, which would be his most famous novel (Biography of George Orwell, 2003).
On January 21st 1950, Orwell died of tuberculosis.
In April, 1996, the New York Times reviewed Animal Farm on its fiftieth anniversary. Remembering that it came out as a “plain, an assuming book, small and thin, with warped covers and cheap paper, that was part of everybody’s library in the years after the war,” (Danto). The review further noted that the book found resistance in academia. In those days the left found socialism still attractive that it did not want to hear anything that would sully it.
A comparable study carried out by the New York state Council’s Committee on Defense against Censorship identified Animal Farm to be high on its list of “problem books” reason being Orwell was a communist (Danto, 1996).
According to the Washington post, as illusive as Animal Farm was, the universal truths that it presented about political revolution, selfishness, and the basic inability of the people to share with one another go back as far as Cain and Abel’s fatal argument in the days after Eden and go as far forward in time as the basic inability of the American government to find a happy medium behind providing all things for all people and encouraging human responsibility through out the socio economic spectrum.
The story begins when Old Major assembles the animals one night to communicate to them his strange dream. He sermonizes about the low state of animals at the hands of humans, a life of hard work for which there is no reward except bare rations and a stall; since man consumes without producing. In the dream Old Major predicts a future when man will be vanquished and animals will reign in freedom (Danto, 1996).
The main character is motivated to act when he witnesses the injustices man does to the animals. This inspires Old Major to act especially after the dream (Biography of George Orwell, 2003).
The main problem is the harassment that animals on the farm are subjected to by their keeper; Mr. Jones. The animals are over worked without good food and when they get sick they do not have proper medication. When they die they are buried or sold to meat factories (Biography of George Orwell, 2003).
Old Major, a distinguished boar is the hero of the story. He is shares and motivates other animals to work towards his dream. However death thwarts him, and the succession regime betrayed the dream motivated by greed and selfishness (Danto, 1996).
The animals build the wind mill. Since the material used to build the windmill is insufficient the project fails. The regime that was supposed to provide the material spread propaganda and blame Snowball for sneaky sabotage (Danto, 1996).
He sets the dogs on Snowball to run him off the farm. The dogs are also turned on any animal who questions the regime purging any dissidents violently (Danto, 1996).
The animals rebuild the wind mill, but Mr. Fredrick, a nearby farmer, destroys it with dynamite. A battle emerges between animals and humans and the animals win but Boxer sustains serious injuries (Danto, 1996).
The story climaxes with the pigs (the elite) adapting human qualities and lifestyle. The bliss was temporary and equality was marred. First the pigs quietly take the daily milk for themselves. They commandeer windfall apples. It seems natural that they should work at organizing and planning and not laboring. (Danto, 1996) They walk on two legs, put on clothes and wield whips against the other animals (Danto, 1996). They host a dinner with Mr. Pilkington and an alliance is formed between the elite of the Animals’ Farm and humans.
The animals do not achieve the ideal society that Old Major dreamed. Instead, the new regime is merely interested in power because they start to behave like humans.
The difference in the beginning of the story and the end is that at the beginning animals have higher expectations and hope unlike the end of the story when they are very hopeless and dissatisfied with the pig regime.
The themes of the book are numerous; the tendency of people to separate themselves into social classes is well portrayed in the story. Even though the animals are unified by their common enemy in Farmer Jones, in the beginning of the story, the unity is quickly dispersed once the animals gain independence.
Power is a tool of oppression power in the book is used by the elite to oppress the poor and those that are in opposition or perceived to be in opposition to the regime.
The only Pabbis objection in the book Animal Farm is its presence on the NCTE’s list of pre packaged book challenge response.
Biography of George Orwell (2003). Web. Retrieved 19 February 2012 from http://www.george-
Danto, A. (1996). “Animal Farm” at 50. New York Times 14 April 1996. Web. Retrieved 19 February
2012 from http://partners.nytimes.com/library/books/072098orwell-animal.html