“That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion! I do not know when that Rebellion will come, it might be in a week or in a hundred years, but I know, as surely as I see this straw beneath my feet, that sooner or later justice will be done.”
It was a rather unassuming night when they all gathered to hear old Major recount his dream. He saw a beautiful world- one where they all would be the masters of their own destiny and be free from the tyranny of those in power. Though old Major passed away soon after, he had lit the spark of revolution.
No, this is not a history tale that we are reciting; this is the context in which George Orwell’s Animal Farm is set! As old Major (who is a pig) inspires his fellow farm animals to strive for freedom, he sets in motion events that are both humorous yet ironical. The animals plot a rebellion against their master, Jones, and succeed in driving him out of Manor Farm which they proudly rename Animal Farm. Following this, they spell out on the walls, The Seven Commandments of Animalism that all the farm animals must adhere to.
Though their new way of living starts off on the right foot, the pigs soon get corrupted by power and greed, and start taking advantage of their position and betraying the trust of the other animals. The pigs start behaving like their former masters: walking on their hind legs, sleeping in beds, gambling and drinking. As the novel comes to an end, the other animals watch, as they cannot even differentiate the pigs from the humans who ran the farm.
Written in an extremely elegant yet simple style, the author uses the turbulence faced by the animals as a metaphor for the Russian Revolution of 1917. It shows how a people’s fight for freedom can so rapidly mutate into a power play as madness ensues. Orwell ingeniously plants lies, illiteracy and even a head hunt in the novel to explain the subjugation, propaganda and elaborate excuses that led to the rise of the Soviet dictatorship.
However, this novel goes beyond addressing the Russian Revolution; it speaks to all revolts there have been and will ever be. It suggests that an uprising is futile, that things will remain how they have always been. All simply remains constant. Whether one sides with George Orwell’s argument or not, they will find this book to be a brilliant politically minded piece that is an irrevocable page turner, easily read in one sitting.