Modern Understanding of Animal Farm by George Orwell
When in high school the head of English lit. deemed it a wiser or safer choice to go with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and Laurie Lee's 'Cider With Rosie' than Orwell's classic. What a regrettable decision that was; because it was not until 20 years after graduation that I finally got to read this seminal work. A work that has such profound possibilities to shape the minds of readers both young and old alike that I wonder if we shouldn't be prescribing books like that in our schools instead of Shakespeare? To call a work 'seminal' or to say that it is worthy of actually making a 'prescribed reading' list is no mean feat and there are really comparatively few books worthy of such adoration; this though is surely one of them. Whether you agree with the books political or moral standpoint or not is an irrelevancy that should have no bearing on your desire to read or prescribe this book.
In being desirous of understanding this text, it is firstly important to understand just what we are presented with here, for this book is NOT an overtly political or subversive anti-communist thesis (despite what Orwell may have originally intended). What it is in fact, is a precise, poignant, cutting and very astute examination of human nature; the motives, desires and inner reflections of humanity and the internal struggles we all face. What I found most impressive about this work was that as a critique of humanity and the complexities of hierarchical societies it is an examination that resounds as strongly now as it did in 1946. Especially in the wake of 11/9 and the measures that have been introduced to 'protect' and 'guard' the people by various governments around the globe, not to mentions how far from the truth we have been lead by the 'news' media.
When one considers the impact the media had in back in the '70s, in bringing the terror of Vietnam home to the news-stands and the enormous social and political repercussions that spread outwards from that; who would have thought that a mere quarter of a century later the public would have gradually succumb to the acceptance of what before was seemingly unacceptable... sound familiar? Animal Farm, where "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Animal Farm tells the story of a workers revolution betrayed. It uses the personification of animals to tell the story which is based upon the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Although Orwell himself was a devout socialist, the book is fueled by his desire to deconstruct the Soviet Communist myth, and warn against innocence in any political system. Major (Karl Marx), the prize middle white boar, foretells a time of animal utopia. His vision is encapsulated into seven commandments under which all animals shall live.
The animals revolt against the owner of the farm, Mr. Jones (Czar Nicholas) in order to realize their dream of justice and equality, which they label Animalism (Marxism). For a time Animalism nears fruition until two pigs Napoleon (Stalin) and Snowball (Trotsky) struggle for the direction of the farm. From there, Animal Farm descends into a totalitarian state with each of the seven commandments being modified to justify the pigs' violence and greed. The ending is brilliant (tease line).
Even with the information of this short summary, Animal Farm is a brilliant story and a perfect read. Everyone need read this book. Everyone will glean something from it.
On one level it is a great and engrossing fairy tale. A real page-turner with eye opening concepts. On another level it's an allegory of the Bolshevik Revolution with each animal representing the participants. Read it on any level you desire - just read it. Then read it again. On every level, George Orwell's, Animal Farm is as relevant today as it was when it was published at the end of World War II. The message is a universal one.