Critique of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”
George Orwell’s Animal Farm, is generally a reflection of what class-based democratic society was during the time it was published. However, the contrasting scenarios at the start and at the end of the novel make it difficult to determine whether it is truly pro or anti-socialism. At the start of the novel, it became apparent that the story was pro-socialism as depicted by the litany of the pig, Old Major. During a meeting in which he gathered all the farm animals, he described his dream of having all animals living together in harmony without human beings controlling them. Old Major’s dream can be likened to the state of communism, which depicts that all classes in society are equal and is one of the products of socialism.
When he died three days later, three pigs, namely Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer, led a revolution that successfully overthrew the farm owner, Mr. Jones, which was another scenario that showed how the novel supported the ideas of socialism. Basically, Mr. Jones represented the elite class while the farm animals symbolized the working class that sought to achieve equality among all the classes, or in this case, all the animals. In short, at the start of the novel, the animals were able to achieve utopia and were able to live freely and prosperously. However, this premise began to change when the two pig leaders, Snowball and Napoleon started to quarrel over the leadership of the farm.
Napoleon, the main antagonist of the novel, drives Snowball away from the farm and assumes full leadership of the farm and total influence over the animals. Moreover, he declared that only the pigs would make decisions concerning all aspects of the farm as he believed that this was best for all the animals. From this point in the novel, the idea of class in society started to materialize once again. The fact that Napoleon declared himself and his fellow pigs as the superior animals over the others in the farm also meant that he established a class system in which he, along with his kind, were the elite. This was further illustrated when he ordered the animals work hard to build the electricity-generating windmill, which was a classic example of an elite class benefiting from the hard work of the lower classes or the working class. Moreover, the pigs, starting with Napoleon began associating themselves with and acting like humans, who belonged to a class higher than them.
It can then be deduced from the scenarios mentioned above that the novel supported the ideals of socialism but also depicted how these ideals can be twisted and corrupted. While the author clearly illustrated how a revolution can achieve a new order in society, he also showed how these revolts can end in betrayal. Thus, it can also be surmised that there are a variety of human factors that play a role in a society that upholds equality.
Although Napoleon was a pig, it was depicted in the novel that he eventually manifested traits and acted like a human being. This was clearly pointed out at the end of the novel when the other animals concluded that they can no longer distinguish the humans from the pigs. In addition, the pigs were also symbolic of another human error which is greed. The fact that author used the pigs as the superior beings over the other animals meant that they obtained power through greediness.
On a personal note, I generally agree with most of the author’s points in the novel. I believe that a society can be instantly changed by various human factors and the chief of which is corruption. George Orwell basically showed that even in a perfect society where all humans are equal, power can corrupt as exemplified by Napoleon in the novel. However, it is not necessarily true that the author was predicting the future in the novel. He was simply providing a possible scenario that can be prevented and controlled by humans depending of their decisions. Moreover, it is hard to apply his concepts in the modern world because there are only few communist countries. Nevertheless, his ideas in the novel should still be carefully considered because it reflects several realities in the world today.
Orwell, G. (2004). Animal Farm. 1st World Library-Literary Society.