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George Orwell

Animal Farm

Buchbesprechung von Melanie Konzett

About the author

OrwellGeorge Orwell, whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair, was born on June 26, 1903 in India. During his life he worked in lots of different professions. Most of them referred to writing or reporting. His first novel, Burmese Days, was published in 1934. In 1937 he went to Spain to fight on the side of the Republicans in the Civil War. During World War II he worked for the BBC. His most popular books are Animal Farm, which was first published in 1945 by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd. and 1984, which was written in 1949. He died on January 21, 1950, in London.


About the book

The story takes place on a farm in England in the first half of the 20th century. On this farm the animals chase away Mr. Jones, the farmer, and establish their own society, based on the rights and the equality of all animals. But after a while the system changes more and more, so that in the end it is different from the one they had wanted to establish at first.

The Main Characters

Mr. Jones the owner of Manor Farm, which later becomes Animal Farm
Old Major the old pig, which gives the animals the idea of the rebellion and the basics of Animalism
Snowball one of the two leading pigs, later driven away by Napoleon and his dogs
Napoleon the other leading pig, which becomes the totalitarian leader at the end of the story
Squealer a very clever pig, which always tells the other animals everything Napoleon wants him to tell
Mr. Pilkington, Mr. Frederick farmers who live next to Animal Farm

Plot Summary

One evening the pig Old Major gives a speech to all the other animals from Manor Farm. He tells the animals about his attitude towards men and his vision of the future, he dies a little time later. Later, after the leading animals have developed the basic ideas, called Animalism, for a new society of animals they chase away Mr. Jones and create a new society. This is based on seven commandments:

  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 another animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

The pigs are more intelligent than the other animals and so they do the thinking part. The pigs try to teach all the animals to read, but they are not very successful. And so the pigs are later able to change the commandments without the knowledge of the other animals. At this time the animals live and work together peacefully. After some time they attack the farmers (Mr. Jones, Mr. Pilkington, Mr. Frederick and their men). This and some other events lead to a feeling of brotherhood among the animals. Then Napoleon drives away Snowball with the help of some big dogs. Now the situation changes, the society becomes focussed on Napoleon. He organises the farm by giving orders and decrees to the other animals. Squealer "explains" the new things to the other animals, which are not so intelligent, so that they think everything Napoleon says or does is right. To achieve this the ruling pig also changes the seven commandments. Napoleon and his followers change more and more. They twist the basic ideas of the rebellion and in the end they are just like men. They walk on two legs and oppress the other animals.

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.


My opinion

I think, this story shows us a lot about our life. In the beginning the rebells have common goals and ideals, but after some time this changes. This book also tells the story of the Russian Revolution of 1918. There the same development took place in the years after the initial changes.

At first, I was very happy to read this book, because I wanted to know the story. I have read another book of George Orwell, 1984, which I liked very much, but this book is different. It touched me in a strange way. I am afraid that this will happen once more, that some intelligent, bad people will triumph.


Orwell

Quotes

  • The ordinary man is passive. Within a narrow circle (home life, and perhaps the trade unions or local politics) he feels himself master of his fate, but against major events he is as helpless as against the elements. So far from endeavoring to influence the future, he simply lies down and lets things happen to him.
  • Not to expose your true feelings to an adult seems to be instinctive from the age of seven or eight onwards.
  • Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
  • Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
  • No one can look back on his schooldays and say with truth that they were altogether unhappy.
  • Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.
  • Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.
  • All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

Links

Political Writings of George Orwell

George Orwell