Animal Farm at a Glance
Animal Farm is George Orwell's satire on equality, where all barnyard animals live free from their human masters' tyranny. Inspired to rebel by Major, an old boar, animals on Mr. Jones' Manor Farm embrace Animalism and stage a revolution to achieve an idealistic state of justice and progress. A power-hungry pig, Napoleon, becomes a totalitarian dictator who leads the Animal Farm into "All Animals Are Equal / But Some Are More Equal Than Others" oppression.
Written by: George Orwell
Type of Work: novel
Genres: political satire; allegory
First Published: August 17, 1945
Setting: Mr. Jones' Manor Farm
Main Characters: Old Major; Snowball; Napoleon; Squealer; Boxer; Mollie; Benjamin; Moses; Jones; Frederick; Pilkington
Major Thematic Topics: animalism; mob rule; virtue; religion as a drug; distortion of reality; death; false allegiance; political corruption
Motifs: rebellion; power; communism
Major Symbols: Cold War; the barn; the windmill
The three most important aspects of Animal Farm:
- Animal Farm is an allegory, which is a story in which concrete and specific characters and situations stand for other characters and situations so as to make a point about them. The main action of Animal Farm stands for the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the early years of the Soviet Union. Animalism is really communism. Manor Farm is allegorical of Russia, and the farmer Mr. Jones is the Russian Czar. Old Major stands for either Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin, and the pig named Snowball represents the intellectual revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Napoleon stands for Stalin, while the dogs are his secret police. The horse Boxer stands in for the proletariat, or working class.
- The setting of Animal Farm is a dystopia, which is an imagined world that is far worse than our own, as opposed to a utopia, which is an ideal place or state. Other dystopian novels include Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, and Orwell's own 1984.
- The most famous line from the book is "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." This line is emblematic of the changes that George Orwell believed followed the 1917 Communist Revolution in Russia. Rather than eliminating the capitalist class system it was intended to overthrow, the revolution merely replaced it with another hierarchy. The line is also typical of Orwell's belief that those in power usually manipulate language to their own benefit.