I never really wanted to read Animal Farm. It seemed like such an odd book. Plus, a story with 95% of the characters as animals? Was not keen. The last book I read with a cast like that was about eleven years ago with a cat as the protagonist. And let me tell you, not even Twilight or Fifty Shades can come close to touching the atrocity of that novel.
But then my roommate recommended the novel to me and lent me his copy. When I finally saw the book, and saw how short it was, I thought “Why not? It won’t take me long.”
Animal Farm is brilliant. I don’t actually know why I doubted that fact, seeing as 1984 remains one of my favourite capital L Literary novels to this day. Despite it’s brilliance, you have to be in the mood for political satire because there really isn’t escaping it in this book.
The storyline is simple: the animals of Manor Farm decide to rise up against their human master, Mr. Jones, and run the farm themselves. Self-governace, equality among animals, everyone getting a fair share of what they make. The animals pull off the rebellion, living and working in harmony for a while.
And then things start to go wrong, as you can imagine. Equality isn’t enough for some of the animals, so they start to manipulate the situation to their advantage. And making the majority of animals feel as though everything is hunky-dory.
Is this starting to sound familiar yet?
This wasn’t so much a story as it was a political opinion piece. However, the way this story was told was simply brilliant. Because it was told simply. The characters and the setting are metaphor enough. Orwell uses this setting to tell his story. There’s no need for subtle symbolism or literary trickery when the building blocks of the story already accomplish all of this. The best example of this I can think of is that Animal Farm used to have a subtitle. The full title of this book used to be Animal Farm: A Fairy Story. This explains everything from the language to the characters. It’s almost as though the story was written for children, despite how inappropriate the content would be.
I understand, now, why this book is studied in high schools all over the world. You could write essays on almost every single scene. And because of that, there’s nothing I can really say here that hasn’t been said. Maybe you’ve even said it yourself, during high school. So what I will say is this:
There is one quote in Animal Farm that sums up the entire story, plus its themes:
All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others
A purely egalitarian society can never work. Humans are inherently greedy. And yes, you can argue that this is a generalisation, but as a whole? We are a self-centred species. And so trying to say that everyone is equal just doesn’t sit right with us. And the circular nature of this story symbolises this perfectly. That final scene was so brilliant, I stared at the final page for a full minute or so, just trying to soak up the genius.
You all need this book in your life. Even if you don’t think so, the book is less than 100 pages. I think you bibliophiles can swing that!