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ANIMAL FARM - GEORGE ORWELL

Based on the novel, with illustrations from the cartoon.
by

Veronica Moro

on 26 April 2015

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Transcript of ANIMAL FARM - GEORGE ORWELL

ANIMAL FARM -
GEORGE ORWELL

"Animal Farm" is an
allegorical, satirical and dystopic novel
by George Orwell, published in England on 17 August 1945. The story is meant to be told as if it were a
childish fairytale
, but the
hidden symbology
beneath it suggests that the story must be read through an
adult's point of view.

The book reflects events leading up to the
Russian Revolution
in 1917 and then on into the Stalin era in the Soviet Union.

Orwell, a
democratic socialist
, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, an attitude that was critically shaped by his experiences during the spanish civil war, in which he fought.
He believed the Soviet Union had become a
brutal dictatorship
, built upon a cult of personality and enforced by a
reign of terror.
PLOT SUMMARY: THE RISE OF ANIMALISM
Old Major, an old farm pig, gathers the animals of the Manor Farm for a meeting in the barn. He tells them of a
dream
he had in which
all animals live together with no human beings to oppress or control them
. He tells the animals that they must work towards such paradise. When he dies only three nights after the meeting, three younger pigs (Snowball, Napoleon and Squealer)
formulate his main principles into a philosophy called
Animalism
. Late one night, the animals manage to defeat the farmer-oppressor Mr. Jones in a battle, running him off the land. They rename the property Animal Farm and dedicate themselves to achieving
Major's dream.
Old Major, explaining his dream to the others
PLOT SUMMARY: THE FIGHT FOR POWER
At first, Animal Farm prospers. As time passes, however, Napoleon and Snowball increasingly fight over the future of the farm, and they begin to struggle with each other for
power and influence among the other animals
. Snowball designs a scheme to build an electricity-generating
windmill
, but Napoleon opposes the plan. At the meeting to vote on whether to take up the project,
Napoleon chases Snowball from the farm, assuming leadership of Animal
Farm and declaring that there will be
no more meetings
. From that point on, the pigs alone will make all of the decisions,
"for the good of every animal"
.
Napoleon now quickly changes his mind about the windmill, and the animals devote their efforts to completing it.
Snowball illustrates his windmill project
Napoleon orders his dogs to chase Snowball away
PLOT SUMMARY: NAPOLEON, THE DICTATOR
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION....
One day, after a storm, the animals find the windmill destroyed. Napoleon claims that Snowball returned to the farm to sabotage the windmill. In fact,
Napoleon accuses Snowball for conspiring against the farm and 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
) meets instant death at the teeth of Napoleon's dogs. With his leadership unquestioned, Napoleon begins
expanding his powers,
rewriting history to make snowball a villain. He also begins to act
more and more like a human being
(sleeping in a bed, drinking whisky, and engaging in trades with neighboring farmers). The original Animalis principles strictly forbade such activities, but
Squealer, Napoleon's propagandist, changes the 7 commandments adapting them to Napoleon's behavior.
Napoleon purging the innocent animals
Squealer modifies the commandments
PLOT SUMMARY: THE FALL OF ANIMALISM
Years passed on, and the pigs became more and more like
humans
(walking on two legs, carrying whips, wearing clothes.) Eventually, the 7 principles of Animalism, known as the 7 Commandments, inscribed on the side of the barn, became reduces to a single principle reading
"all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others",
Napoleon one night holds a dinner with his fellow pigs and some human farmers, and
declares his intent to ally himself with the humans against the laboring classes of both the human and animal communities
. He also changes the name of "Animal Farm" back to "Manor Farm", claiming that this title is the "correct" one. Looking in at the party of elites through the farmhouse window,
the common animals can no longer tell which are the pigs and which are the humans.
Animalism is officially defeated
Pigs or....Humans?
SCENES FROM THE CARTOON:
COMPARISONS: MR. JONES/ TSAR NICHOLAS II
OLD MAJOR/ KARL MARX-LENIN
NAPOLEON / STALIN
SNOWBALL/ TROTSKY
SQUEALER/ NEWSPAPER "PRAVDA"
BOXER/ ALEKSEJ STACHANOV
MOLLIE/ RUSSIAN ARISTOCRACY
MOSES/RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
THE DOGS/ THE POLITICAL POLICE
THE SHEEP/ THE MASSES
THE CHICKENS/ UKRAINIAN KULAKS
Mr. Jones represents
Tsar Nicholas II
, and is the cause of the Rebellion of the animals as the Tsar was the cause of the Russian Revolution. He is brutal, gets often drunk and doesn't take care of his animals. After the animals evict him, Jones represents the
specter of a possible return to the past
. In fact, Orwell shows how pigs punish some animals accusing them of being "agents" of Jones. Stalin did the same, killing many people (usually opponents within the party)
using the accusation of being "agents of international fascism", in order to avoid reactions of popular indignation
. In the end, just like the Tzar, Jones does not return to his farm, and spends his time getting drunk at the "Red Lion".
Old Major is an old pig respected by all the other animals and considered very wise. He represents both
Karl Marx
and
Lenin
, as
he introduces the fundamental theories and ideals on which the revolution must be based on: Animalism
. The Marxist theory he expresses argues that the work of an animal produces more value than is necessary for its maintenance, and that
the surplus is stolen by men
(this is precisely the Marxian theory of Value)
Napoleon represents
Stalin
. However, he possesses characteristics in common with many dictators throughout history. Despite
not having moral values
, he has the qualities that makes him stand out from the other pigs. Compared to the idealism of the Old Major and Snowball, Napoleon is an
opportunist and a despot
,
whose cruel determination compensates for a lack of intelligence
. He takes his name from Napoleon Bonaparte.
Snowball represents
Lev Trotsky
. He is a
sincere revolutionist
, who is sidelined by a more cruel opponent. Napoleon chases Snowball away from the farm and steals his plans for the windmill, pouring the blame for every negative event that happens later on at the farm on him, accusing him of returning at night to sabotage the windmill.
Just like Stalin did when he evicted Trotsky, Napoleon later on manipulates historic documentation to make Snowball look like the villain.
Squealer is
Napoleon's propagandist
. A parallel can be established between him and the
Russian newspaper Pravda
:
he represents the vast media machine that presented the government's version of events in the Soviet Union
, as well as in other dictatorships.
He provides the illusion that help workers endure the harsh existence and exploitation operated by the pigs
. Its purpose is precisely to cloud their understanding and awareness of the facts, so as to prevent any threat to the supreme power of the pigs. Its main strategy is to install fear for the return of Jones, thus pushing them to accept all of Napoleon's tyrannies.
Boxer is a horse whose work is vital to the survival of the farm.
His philosophy is based on the dignity of work
, and this is exploited by anyone who governments the farm, contributing indirectly to the exploitation of other animals. He effectively
describes the stereotype in reality by the miner
Aleksej Stachanov
.
Mollie is a young and pretty horse;
she is totally uninterested to the revolution
and is very vain: she likes to wear colorful bows and eat sugary treats, which are the
symbol of the human oppression
. At the beginning of the Animal Revolution, the other animals prohibit her to possess such symbols, so she flees from the farm to another one where she is allowed to eat as much treats as she wants.
Mollie represents the
Russian Aristocracy
, who lived a very wealthy and comfortable life under Tzar Nicholas II and left Russia after the Russian Revolution.
Moses is
Napoleon's domestic raven
which narrates to the other animals of the eternal life that awaits them after death on the
"Mountain of Sugar Candy",
a sort of heaven for animals.
He represents the
Russian Orthodox Church
, who provides illusion and justification for the exploitation of the soviet workers.
Dogs and Sheep are treated as groups,
not as individuals
. They represent two important groups in the farm and in the Soviet dictatorship. The first are the
political police
and the squads that
repress opposition
through fear and intimidation, the second are
the masses
that are easily manipulated
.
Napoleon obliges the chickens to hand over the eggs they have laid. They try to oppose, but Napoleon suspense their rations of food; after five days and the death of nine chickens, they surrender and deliver their eggs.
The event represents the murder of
Ukrainian kulaks
who opposed to the collectivization
.
THEMES:
1. THE CORRUPTION OF SOCIALIST IDEALS IN THE SOVIET UNION
Animal Farm is most famous as a stinging critique of the history and rhetoric of the Russian Revolution. Retelling the story of the development of Soviet communism in the form of
animal fable
, Animal Farm allegorises the rise to power of the dictator Joseph Stalin. In the novella,
the overthrow of the human oppressor Mr. Jones by a
democratic coalition of animals
quickly gives way to the consolidation of power among the pigs.
Much like the Soviet ruling class, the pigs establish themselves as the ruling class in the new society.
2. THE TENDENCY TOWARDS CLASS STRATIFICATION
Animal Farm offers commentary on the development of class tyranny and the human tendency to maintain and
reestablish class structures

even in societies that stand for total equality
. The novel illustrates how classes that are initially unified against a common enemy, as the animals are against the humans,
may become internally divided when that enemy is eliminated
. The natural division between intellectual and physical labor quickly comes to express itself as a
new set of class divisions
, with the
"brainworkers"
(as the pig claim to be) using their superior intelligence to
manipulate society to their own benefit
.
3. THE DANGER OF A NAIVE WORKING CLASS
One of the novel's most impressive accomplishments is its portrayal not just of the figures in power, but also of the oppressed people themselves.
"Animal Farm" is told from the perspective of the common animals as a whole.
When presented with a dilemma, Boxer prefers not to question himself if an order he receives form the pigs is right or wrong, but instead repeats to himself:
"Napoleon is always right."
The novel demonstrates how the
inability or unwillingness to question authority condemns the working class to suffer the full extent of the ruling class's oppression.
4. Animalism= Communism
The flag of the Animal factory portrays a horn and a paw crossed together, an obvious parody of the hammer and sickle
The pigs adapt Old Major's ideals into a
"complete system of thought",
which they formally name Animalism, an allegoric reference to
Communism.
Soon after, Napoleon and Squealer partake in activities associated with the humans (drinking alcohol, sleeping in beds, trading etc..) which were
explicitly prohibited by the 7 Commandments.
THE ORIGINAL COMMANDMENTS ARE:
1. WHATEVER GOES UPON TWO LEGS IS AN ENEMY.
2. WHATEVER GOES UPON FOUR LEGS, OR HAS WINGS, IS A FRIEND.
3. NO ANIMAL SHALL WEAR CLOTHES.
4. NO ANIMAL SHALL SLEEP IN A BED.
5. NO ANIMAL SHALL DRINK ALCOHOL
6. NO ANIMAL SHALL KILL ANY OTHER ANIMAL.
7. ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL.
Later, Napoleon and his pigs secretly revise some commandments to clear themselves of accusations of law-breaking. The changes commandments are as follows:
4. NO ANIMAL SHALL SLEEP IN A BED
WITH SHEETS
5. NO ANIMAL SHALL DRINK ALCOHOL
TO EXCESS
6. NO ANIMAL SHALL KILL ANY OTHER ANIMAL
WITHOUT CAUSE
Eventually, these are replaced with the maxims:
"ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS"
and
"FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BETTER!"
THIS IS AN

IRONIC TWIST

TO THE

ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF THE 7 COMMANDMENTS, WHICH WERE SUPPOSED TO

KEEP ORDER WITHIN ANIMAL FARM BY UNITING THE ANIMALS

TOGETHER AGAINST THE HUMANS AND

PREVENTING ANIMALS FROM FOLLOWING THE HUMAN'S EVIL HABITS.
THE REFERENCE TO THE HISTORICAL EVENTS:
1. The Revolution of the animals and the expulsion of Mr. Jones represent the
Russian Revolution
of 1917 and the
overthrow of the Tzar.
2. The refusal of the hens to deliver their eggs is the
opposition of the Ukrainian kulaks to collectivization.
3. The conflict between Snowball and Napoleon regarding the extension of the revolution to other farms is the conflict between Trotsky, who wanted to export the Revolution outside Russia (
the Permanent Revolution
) and Stalin, which supported the
"Theory of socialism in one country".
4. The various re-buildings of the windmill represent
industrialization initiated by Stalin in 1928 with the "5-year Plans"
-Poster of the "5-year plans"
5. The sale of timber to Frederick represents the
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939
; the betrayal of Frederick, who pays the pigs with counterfeit money and then attacks their farm, represents Hitler's betrayal, who attacked Russia in 1941 launching
"Operation Barbarossa"
. The subsequent "Battle of the Windmill" won by the animals, portrays the
Battle of Stalingrad.
6. The final dinner between the pigs and the humans is an allegory of the
Tehran Conference.
7. The gradual corruption of the pigs and the distortion of the commandments represent the drift towards
Stalin's tyrannical despotism
.
-Tehran Conference, 1943.
From left to right: Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill.
-DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE NOVEL
AND THE CARTOON
The cartoon is overall faithful to the book, although a
few characters have been minimized or cut out
, such as Mollie, Moses, Clover and the Cat. In addition,
the ending has been drastically modified from the original story:
whilst the animals in the book do not have the strength nor the power to defeat the pigs and are continuously exploited
(this version reflects what really happened in Russia)
the animals in the cartoon reunite to overcome and evict the oppressors. We must keep in mind that the cartoon was designed for children; this is why the ending was fitted to become a sort of
"happy ending",
resulting in a more positive perspective on the events of the story.
THE END!
- VERONICA MORO, 5F
2015
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