Book Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell

animal farmTitle: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Political Satire
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 95
Started: 30th August 2016
Completed: 30th August 2016
Rating: 5/5
Summary: Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges…

George Orwell is perhaps most well known for writing the classic dystopian book Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) and he made a huge impact on the English language and even thought process. For example, the term Orwellian is descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices. Other words and phrases that Orwell coined include ‘cold war’, ‘Big Brother’, ‘Room 101’, and ‘thoughtcrime’.

Animal Farm was written in 1943 but no publisher would take the novella on and so it was first published in 1945, just before the end of WWII. It reflects Orwell’s own political agendas as well as commenting on Stalin and the Soviet Union and it was unsurprisingly banned in the USSR and other communist countries after publication. It remains banned in North Korea and censored in Vietnam, and it was even banned in the UAE in 2002 for its depiction of talking pigs which is said to go against Islamic values. Animal Farm was controversial during its time and it will remain controversial.

I loved everything about Animal Farm. I honestly can’t fault it and that’s why I’ve given it a 5 out of 5 rating.

Animal Farm has an intricate plot which captivates the reader. It has everything you’d want in a normal novel or novella including action/fights, likable characters, plot twists, and even an amazing ending that leaves you wanting much more. However it’s also an incredibly clever book as it works on several different levels, one being purely entertainment and another being highly political. Obviously the book criticises Communism but specifically Communist leaders. It doesn’t criticise the workers who want fair treatment and freedom but it does condemn those who use ordinary people and manipulate them. It’s obvious from this book that Orwell believed that Communism was the same as Capitalism as the workers never see the fruits of their labour even though that’s what they’re promised. However, Communism is presented as worse than Captialism as it involves manipulation, deceit, and even murder to keep the Communist facade alive.

Orwell was just a fantastic writer and he really knew how to capture a reader with just a few phrases. In Animal Farm the commandments of Animalism (an allegoric reference to Communism) provides these lasting images as ‘All animals are equal’ becomes ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’. Orwell just had a talent for creating phrases that stick with you and become part of everyday rhetoric. It’s just amazing and it’s why he’s one of my favourite writers. His writing is also very clear. There’s no reason that anyone should get confused by Orwell’s phrasing or language choices. The allegorical nature of this book makes it easy to understand the meaning because it’s almost like a fable.

I’m going to include a few of my favourite quotes from the book:

“No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”

“Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.”

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

“Let’s face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.”

The one that sticks with me the most out of these quotes is the first one because I sometimes listen to politicians speak and you can just tell that they think that the ‘masses’ are pathetic and shouldn’t be allowed to make their own decisions. People make decisions for us every day even though we don’t agree with them whether you live in a Capitalist, Communist, or even semi-Socialist society like the UK (yes, Socialism is far more popular in the UK than Capitalism and the NHS is definitely a socialist idea.) A book like Animal Farm can be considered dangerous because it speaks to the general public and it makes you realise that so many people in this world think that humans are equal but some humans are more equal than others.

Finally, I’m going to mention the length of this book. My edition was only 95 pages long. I couldn’t believe how small it was when I first bought it and I had my doubts about how Orwell was going to condemn world governments in such a short space. My doubts were unfounded because this is just the perfect length. You can read it in one day, I read it in an hour, and than means that you experience the novella and the horrors that it presents in full. It feels like a fairy tale, and the original title of the novella was in fact Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, and the short length just emphasises Orwell’s meaning and the images that he created in this book. It’s just packed with meaning and there’s nothing to distract you in the book because it’s so short.

Please read this book. It’s fantastic and it’s very short so I urge you to read it if you can. I wish that I could have written an essay about this book for university at some point but it was never on the reading lists. It’s one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time and it made such a huge impression on me despite being a novella of only 95 pages.

I can’t say anything else about this book without it turning into an essay so I’ll just say once again that it’s an amazing book and it’s one of my new favourites.

If you’ve read Animal Farm then please let me know what you thought of it whether you loved it, hated it, or were indifferent. 


7 thoughts on “Book Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell

  1. Exactly! You’ve summed that up brilliantly 🙂
    Animal Farm should serve as a reminder to all writers that you don’t need to churn out a thousand-page saga to make serious points. And that he manages to contain so many ideas in an entertaining story which is so easy to understand… amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

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