Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Animal Farm

The story begins with, Old Major, a prize-winning boar who gathers the animals of the Manor Farm for a meeting in the barn. He tells them about a dream he had, in which humans did not opress or mistreat the animals on the Manor Farm. He tells the animals, that this dream is the ideal utopia, and leads them to accomplish this dream, and he also teaches them a song called the Beasts, in which he describes his dream.The animals are enthusiastic about Old Major's dream and are excited to begin to accomplish it. But he dies three nights after the meeting and three younger pig; Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer use Old Major's principles to come up with a plan called Animalism. Late one night, the animals manage to defeat the farmer Mr. Jones in a battle, running him off the land. They rename the property Animal Farm and dedicate themselves to achieving Major's dream. The cart-horse Boxer devotes himself completely to Old Major's dream, and has a motto of, "I will work harder."
At first, Animal Farm flourishes. Snowball works at teaching the animals to read, and Napoleon takes a group of young puppies to educate them in the principles of Animalism. When Mr. Jones reappears to take back his farm, the animals defeat him again, in what comes to be known as the Battle of the Cowshed, and take the farmer's abandoned gun as a token of their victory. As time passes, however, Napoleon and Snowball increasingly argue over the future of the farm, and they begin to struggle with each other for power and influence among the other animals. Snowball concocts a scheme to build an electricity-generating windmill, but Napoleon solidly opposes the plan. At the meeting to vote on whether to take up the project, Snowball gives a very good speech, but Napoleon attacks snowball, and takes over the farm.
Napoleon now quickly changes his mind about the windmill, and the animals, especially Boxer, devote their efforts to completing it. One day, after a storm, the animals find the windmill toppled. The human farmers in the area declare smugly that the animals made the walls too thin, but Napoleon claims that Snowball returned to the farm to sabotage the windmill. He stages a great purge, during which various animals who have allegedly participated in Snowball's great conspiracy—meaning any animal who opposes Napoleon's uncontested leadership—meet instant death at the teeth of the attack dogs. With his leadership unquestioned Napoleon begins expanding his powers, rewriting history to make Snowball a bad guy. Napoleon also begins to act more and more like a human by sleeping in a bed, drinking alcohol, and engaging in trade with neighboring farmers. The original principles of animalism did not permit that, but Napoleon did these things anyways.
Then, Mr. Frederick, a neighboring farmer, cheats Napoleon in the purchase of some timber and then attacks the farm and dynamites the windmill, which had been rebuilt at great expense. After the demolition of the windmill, a pitched battle ensues, during which Boxer receives major wounds. The animals rout the farmers, but Boxer's injuries weaken him. When he later falls while working on the windmill, he senses that his time has nearly come. One day, Boxer is nowhere to be found. According to Squealer, Boxer has died in peace after having been taken to the hospital, praising the Rebellion with his last breath. In actuality, Napoleon has sold his most loyal and long-suffering worker to a glue maker in order to get money for whisky.
Years pass on Animal Farm, and the pigs become more and more like human being; walking upright and wearing clothes. Eventually, the seven principles of Animalism and inscribed on the side of the barn, become reduced to a single principle reading “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Napoleon entertains a human farmer named Mr. Pilkington at a dinner and declares his intent to ally himself with the human farmers against the laboring classes of both the human and animal communities. He also changes the name of Animal Farm back to the Manor Farm, claiming that this title is the “correct” one. At the end of the book, they are looking through the window of the animal farm, the pigs look more like humans than pigs.
This book was very interesting and the way George Orwell compared the animals to an actual significant event in history was compelling. It helped me to understand the historical event better and this made it more interesting. This book showed that the animals slowly evolved into humans, forgetting completely about Old Major's original dream, and allowing the struggle for power and authority to get in the way of a more prosperous society. The book also demonstrated the fact that socialism fails, and that complete power corrupts all. This is portrayed in many examples through out history, from dictatorships to socialism to the Russian tsars.

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