Marshmallow found a copy of George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm during her summer break and chose it for her first review of August 2019.
Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that are about animals that act and talk like humans, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): The animals on Manor Farm gather to listen to the last speech made by Major, an old boar who is about to die. Major says in his speech that man is the real enemy and that if they overthrow the farmer then they can be free. He says that man does not produce anything like milk and eggs, but humans are still the top of the food chain. Three nights later Major passes away.
Soon after, three pigs named Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer start a rebellion against humans, like Major said. They succeed and eventually overthrow the farmer Jones and his wife. The farmer runs away and leaves the farm to the animals. The animals rename the farm Animal Farm. But Jones does not want to give away the farm. He goes back to the farm to regain the farm. The humans lose and the animals remain the owners of the farm for the time being.
Before the fight, the animals establish a kind of law called The Seven Commandments.
The 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 any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.
These rules will eventually change and change for the worst.
Animal Farm is a happy place until the leaders start getting corrupted by greed for power and eventually turn against each other. Snowball proposes that they build a windmill to get electricity. Napoleon is against the idea. The two comrades turn against each other. Napoleon trains a few dogs to use as bodyguards and he frightens Snowball away with them. Then he eventually says that he had agreed with the windmill plan the whole time and that he was really just pretending to disagree. Napoleon also says that it turns out the Snowball was allies with the evil farmer Jones. They start to build the windmill. Once they finish the windmill, after a lot of tiresome work, the windmill breaks and Snowball is blamed for the destruction of the windmill.
This is only page 47; the book has 95 pages total. A lot more happens but I think this is enough to give you a taste of what is to come.
Marshmallow’s review: This book is an allegory about how people treat each other when they have too much power. It reminded me of Aesop’s fables where the main characters are animals acting like humans. But this is a much more political story than The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
“It is the history of a revolution that went wrong—and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine.”
wrote Orwell in the original blurb for the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945.from the back cover.
As in fables you learn lessons from the story. It seems that pretty much anybody can be corrupted by power. Of course, the silence and cooperation of the farm animals who are all scared of being the next victim of Napoleon’s dogs allow his corruption to grow.
This book is quite pessimistic and does not have a happy end. But maybe we can learn from it some things. All in all I appreciated reading it and will likely read it again.
Marshmallow’s rating: 95%