Animal Farm

George Orwell, who's real name was Eric Blair, was born in 1903 in Motihari, India and educated in England. 1922 he joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma but he returned to England five years later to become a writer. In 1933 he wrote his first book "Down and Out in Paris and London". At this time he became an opponent of imperialism ("Burmese Days", 1934) and supported the Socialist ideas. So he went to Spain in 1936 to fight against the Fascists ("Homage to Catalonia", 1938). He wasn't able to join the International Brigade but came to the Spanish Trotskyists. Six months later he was wounded and had to return to England because the Communists began to hunt the Trotskyists. In 1937 he wrote a book about the living conditions of unemployed coal miners in the north of England, called "The Road to Wigan Pier". His two last novels, which brought him world - wide fame, were "Animal Farm" (1945) and "Nineteen Eighty - four" (1949). George Orwell died in 1950 in London.
"Animal Farm" is an allegorical fable in which he describes the history of the Soviet Union from the Russian Revolution until the end of the 2ndWorld War.

Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, is not able to run his farm because he spends most of his time in the inn. One night, after he has come home very late and drunk, Old Major, a twelve years old pig, calls all the other animals of the farm into the barn. There he tells them, that all animals could have much better living conditions, if they removed their only enemy: man, because he is the only creature, that consumes, what the others produce without producing anything himself. Old Major is sure that there will be a rebellion one day and after that all animals will be equal, they will work for themselves without having to feed their master. Then he teaches them a song about this rebellion, called "Beasts of England".
The Seven Commandments:
    Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. No animal shall wear clothes. No animal shall sleep in a bed. No animal shall drink alcohol. No animal shall kill any other animal. All animals are equal.
Old Major dies only a few days later but the pigs, who see themselves as the cleverest of all animals, start to organise secret meetings. Two of them, the quick and inventive Snowball and Napoleon, who also tries to realise his own ideas, create the system of Animalism, which should form the new society after the rebellion. They are supported by Squealer, who is a brilliant talker and skips in discussions from side to side, always supporting the one who is in advantage.
Mr. Jones drinks more and more, he doesn't look after the farm and doesn't feed the animals for days. One day in March the pigs decide to fetch food themselves from the farm buildings. Jones and his man try to avoid this but they aren't able to and so they leave the farm. The rebellion has come sooner than expected. Under the supervision of Napoleon and Snowball everything that reminds of Mr. Jones is burnt and then they inspect the farmhouse, which they want to keep as museum, and Snowball, who has learnt to write together with the other pigs, changes the name of the farm into Animal Farm. He also writes the basic principles of Animalism, the Seven Commandments, on the wall of the barn.
In the following summer all animals work together and they have a great success. The pigs don't really work, they only supervise the others. On Sundays the animals don't have to work, there is only the hoisting of the flag (a white horn and hoof on a green background) and a meeting, where the problems of the farm are discussed. Snowball starts to organise all animals into committees and Napoleon wants them to learn reading and writing. He also takes away the whelps of the two dogs of the farm which he wants to educate himself. The Seven Commandments are reduced to the sentence "Four legs good, two legs bad".
In autumn the story about the successful rebellion has spread through the whole country and Jones wants to get his farm back with the help of the neighbours, Mr Frederick of Pinchfield Farm and especially with Mr. Pilkington from Foxwood Farm. In October they attack Animal Farm but the animals fight bravely and are able to get Mr. Jones' gun and drive away the men. After the battle the pigs decide to call it the "Battle of Cowshed" and Napoleon decorates himself with the order "Animal Hero, 1stClass".
At one of the following meetings Snowball presents plans for a windmill which shall produce electricity and so make the three - days - week possible. Napoleon is strictly against it and thinks that the defence of Animal Farm is more important while Snowball hopes that the rebellion will be successful in the whole country. So they decide to let all animals vote but soon before Napoleon calls his dogs and Snowball has to flee. One week later Napoleon presents his new ingenious plan: He wants to build a windmill.
In the next year the food production decreases because of the enormous effort the construction of the windmill requires and an old horse, called Boxer, does most of the work. There is work on Sundays for all animals except for the pigs who have their new headquarters in the farmhouse and the 4thCommandment has changed into "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets". Napoleon announces that there is trade with the outside world now and a businessman called Mr. Whymper will buy eggs and hay and sell them the material they need for the windmill.
In November the windmill is destroyed in a storm and Napoleon blames Snowball for that. Although there is nearly no more food the animals rebuild the windmill through the winter and it is said that Snowball comes at night and steals food. One day Napoleon calls the animals into the yard and there he tells them that there are some enemies among them. So four pigs, some hens, who refused to let sell their eggs, and a few other animals are killed by his dogs ("No animal shall kill another animal without cause"). After that Napoleon announces that they have reached a better society now and that the time of rebellion is over. Squealer tells nearly every day that the production has increased for many percent and there are pictures of Napoleon everywhere, some pigs make poems about him and he is always called "our Leader, Comrade Napoleon" or "Father of All Animals".
Because they need money for the machinery of the windmill the animals sell a pile of wood to Mr. Frederick but soon they find out that the banknotes they have got are forgeries. Only a few days later Frederick and his men attack Animal Farm, they kill many animals and destroy the windmill but in the end they have to flee from Napoleon's dogs. When the pigs inspect the farm after the so called "Battle of Windmill" they find Whisky in the cellar and celebrate the victory ("No animal shall drink alcohol to excess").
So the animals rebuild the windmill again despite of the enormous lack of food. In the meantime Napoleon becomes fatter, Squealer organises "Spontaneous Demonstrations" for him and he changes Animal Farm into a republic, with himself as only candidate for the president. Before the windmill can be finished Boxer becomes very ill and is brought away in a car with the words "Horse Slaughterer" written on it. But Squealer explains that the veterinary has bought it and that he has been with Boxer in his last minutes.
Years later nearly all animals who can remember the revolution are dead and the farm is now larger, the windmill ready but the animal's living conditions haven't improved. The pigs walk upright now, wear clothes, drink alcohol, there is a new slogan ("Four legs good, two legs better") and only one single Commandment has remained: "All Animals are equal, but some are more equal than others". One day a delegation of farmers comes to visit Animal Farm.

In this novel George Orwell uses the story of Animal Farm to show what the Russian Revolution or nearly all revolutions in history have brought: Even very short time after the revolution the ideals and promises are not realised, the only thing what has changed, are the names of the people, who have power and control. But the new dictatorship is not erected from one day to the other, it is a very slow process and the people don't realise it before it is too late. Typical for a totalitarian system as shown here are the existence of one enemy who is blamed for everything, the glorification of the leader or whatever he may be called and the use of some credible methods, e.g. statistics, to convince the people that the current system is the best. Nearly every character in this book has a equivalent in the history of the USSR or other European countries.
Old Major
Marx, Engels, Lenin

Mr. Pilkington
Mr. Frederick

Mr. Jones
Tsar Nicolas II

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