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Animal Farm Book Summary

A Fairy Story

by George Orwell

Animal Farm

A Fairy Story

George Orwell


Animal Farm, a satirical novella by George Orwell, tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where animals can be equal, free, and happy. However, their dream soon turns into a dystopian nightmare as the pigs, led by the cunning Napoleon, seize power and establish a totalitarian regime even more oppressive than their previous human masters.

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Author & Writing Background

George Orwell, pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, and a passionate belief in democratic socialism. Orwell is best known for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, both of which have become classics of 20th-century literature.

Key Takeaways

The Rebellion

The animals of Manor Farm, inspired by the teachings of Old Major, a wise boar, rebel against their human farmer, Mr. Jones, and take control of the farm, renaming it Animal Farm. They establish the Seven Commandments of Animalism, which emphasize equality and animal liberation.

The Rise of the Pigs

The pigs, being the most intelligent animals, gradually take leadership roles. Napoleon and Snowball, two ambitious pigs, engage in a power struggle, with Napoleon eventually emerging as the supreme leader after driving Snowball off the farm.

Animalism Betrayed

Napoleon and his inner circle of pigs begin to exploit the other animals, breaking the Seven Commandments and establishing a totalitarian regime. They live in luxury while the other animals toil tirelessly, their lives becoming increasingly difficult.

Propaganda and Control

Napoleon uses propaganda and manipulation to control the animals. Squealer, his mouthpiece, justifies Napoleon’s actions and rewrites history to suit the pigs’ interests. The animals are kept in fear and ignorance.

The Collapse of Equality

The ideals of Animalism are completely abandoned as the pigs begin to walk on two legs, wear clothes, and trade with humans. The Seven Commandments are reduced to a single phrase: ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.‘

Loss of Individuality

The animals lose their individuality and become mere cogs in the machine of the farm. Boxer, a hardworking and loyal horse, represents the tragic fate of many animals who are exploited until they are no longer useful and then discarded.

A Dystopian Society

Animal Farm becomes a dystopia where the animals are worse off than they were under Mr. Jones. The pigs have become the new oppressors, mirroring the human tyrants they once rebelled against.

Satire and Allegory

The novella serves as a satire of the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union. The characters and events represent historical figures and events, highlighting the dangers of totalitarianism and the corruption of power.

FAQ about Animal Farm

What is the main theme of Animal Farm?

The main theme of Animal Farm is the corrupting nature of power and the dangers of totalitarianism. Orwell shows how even well-intentioned revolutions can be subverted and lead to oppression and tyranny.

Who are the main characters in Animal Farm?

The main characters in Animal Farm are Napoleon, the power-hungry pig who becomes the leader; Snowball, Napoleon’s rival who is eventually chased off the farm; Boxer, the strong and loyal horse who represents the working class; and Squealer, the pig who serves as Napoleon’s propagandist.

What is the significance of the Seven Commandments?

The Seven Commandments represent the ideals of Animalism, the philosophy of animal liberation. However, the pigs gradually break and alter the commandments to justify their own corrupt rule, demonstrating the hypocrisy and manipulation inherent in totalitarian regimes.

Animal Farm Quotes

  • All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
  • Four legs good, two legs bad.
  • Man is the only creature that consumes without producing.