Book Reports / Book Report On George Orwell'S Animal Farm

Book Report On George Orwell'S Animal Farm

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Autor:  anton  14 March 2011
Tags:  Report,  George,  Orwells,  Animal
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Animal Farm is a book written by George Orwell – whose real name was Eric Blair – published in 1945. An all-knowing narrator in the third person tells the story of an animal revolution on a farm located somewhere in England. The plot is based on the Russian revolution and Stalin’s use of power, and Orwell uses farm animals to portray both the people of power and the common people during this time. The main characters can be pointed out as the pigs Old Major, Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer; the horses Boxer, Clover and Mollie; the goat Muriel; the raven Moses; the donkey Benjamin; the sheep; and the humans Mr. Jones, Mr. Pilkington , Mr. Frederick and Mr. Whymper. There is no clear central character in the novel, but the dictatorial Napoleon is responsible for most of the action.

The book starts with Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, stumbling drunkenly to bed after forgetting to secure his farm buildings properly. As soon as his bedroom light goes out, all farm animals except Moses, his tame raven, go to the big barn to hear Old Major, an old prize boar highly respected by the animal community. Sensing that he is about to die, he wishes to share with the rest of the animals some of the wisdom he has acquired during his lifetime. He says the plain truth is that the lives of animals are miserable, laborious, and short. They are born into the world as slaves, work incessantly from the time they can walk, being fed only enough to keep breath in their bodies, and then are slaughtered mercilessly when they are no longer useful. He notices that there is no natural reason for their poverty and misery. According to him, the human oppressors are the cause. He declares that Mr. Jones has been exploiting them for ages, taking all the products of their labor – eggs, milk, dung, foals – for himself and producing nothing of value to offer them in return. Then, he tells the dream he had had the previous night, of a world in which animals live without the tyranny of men: they are free, happy, well fed, and treated with dignity. He urges the animals to do everything they can to make this dream a reality and exhorts them to overthrow the humans. He believes that they can succeed in a rebellion if they achieve solidarity, a "perfect comradeship" of all of the animals against the humans, and if they resist the false notion spread by humans that animals and humans share common interests. Then, a brief debate arises about the status of rats as comrades. Old Major then provides a precept that will allow the animals to determine who their comrades are: creatures that walk on two legs are enemies; those with four legs or with wings are allies. He reminds his audience that the ways of man are completely corrupt. Once the humans have been defeated, the animals must never adopt any of their habits; they must not live in a house, sleep in a bed, wear clothes, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, touch money, engage in trade, or tyrannize another animal. He teaches, then, a song called "Beasts of England," which tells of the ideal animal community of his dream. The animals start singing it, until Mr. Jones, thinking that the noise was made by a fox entering into the yard, fires a shot, making them all go to sleep.

Three nights later, Old Major dies, and for three months the animals make secret preparations to carry out the rebellion. The work of teaching and organizing goes to the pigs, the cleverest of the animals, and especially to Napoleon and Snowball. Together with the persuasive Squealer, they formulate the principles of a philosophy called Animalism, which they spread among the other animals, who start calling each other "comrade." At first, many of the animals find the principles of Animalism difficult to understand, as they have grown up believing that Mr. Jones was their proper master. Yet, the pigs' most troublesome opponent proves to be Moses, the raven, who flies around spreading tales of a place called Sugarcandy Mountain, to where animals go when they die – a place of great pleasure and full of sugar. Even though many of the animals despise him, they find great appeal in the idea of Sugarcandy Mountain.

In spite of all the preparing, the rebellion occurs out of nowhere, much earlier than anyone expected. One day, Mr. Jones drinks too much and forgets to feed the animals. Unable to bear their hunger, the cows break into the store shed and the animals begin to eat. Mr. Jones and his men discover the transgression and begin to whip the cows. Spurred to anger, the animals turn on the men, attack them, and easily expel them from the farm. Astonished by their success, the animals hurry to destroy the last remaining evidence of their subservience, like chains, bits, halters and whips, and celebrate the rebellion. In the next morning, they explore the farmhouse, where they find out unbelievable luxuries. The group agrees to preserve the farmhouse as a museum, with the stipulation that no animal may ever live in it. Afterwards, the pigs reveal to the other animals that they have taught themselves how to read and write, and Snowball replaces the inscription "Manor Farm" on the front gate with the words "Animal Farm." Snowball and Napoleon reduce the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments:

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy;

2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings is a friend;

3. No animal shall wear clothes;

4. No animal shall sleep in a bed;

5. No animal shall drink alcohol;

6. No animal shall kill another animal;

7. All animals are equal.

Snowball paints the commandments on the big barn. Then, the animals decide gather the harvest, but the cows, who haven't been milked for a while, begin to complain. The pigs milk them, and the animals eye the five pails of milk desirously. Napoleon tells them not to worry about the milk. Snowball leads them to the fields to begin harvesting. Napoleon stays behind, and when they return that evening, the milk has disappeared.

The animals spend a laborious summer harvesting in the fields. Every animal participates in the work, each according to his capacity. The resulting harvest exceeds any that the farm has ever known. Only Mollie and the cat avoid their duties. The strong Boxer does most of the heavy labor, adopting "I will work harder!" as a personal motto. The entire animal community reveres his dedication and strength. Every Sunday, the animals hold a flag-raising ceremony. The flag's green background represents the fields of England, and its white hoof and horn symbolize the animals. The Sunday morning rituals also include a democratic meeting, at which the animals debate and establish new policies for the collective good. At the meetings, Snowball and Napoleon always voice the strongest opinions, but their views are always opposite.

Snowball establishes a number of committees with various goals, such as cleaning the cows' tails and re-educating the rats and rabbits. Most of these committees fail to accomplish their aims, but the classes designed to teach the farm animals how to read and write have with some success. By the end of the summer, all of the animals achieve some degree of literacy. The pigs are the most successful, while the other animals have some difficulty. When it becomes apparent that many of the animals are unable to memorize the Seven Commandments, Snowball reduces the principles to one essential maxim, which he says contains the heart of Animalism: "Four legs good, two legs bad." The sheep begin to chant it mindlessly at random times. Napoleon takes no interest in Snowball's committees. When the dogs Jessie and Bluebell give birth to puppies, he takes them into his own care, saying that the training of the young should take priority over adult education. He raises them in a loft above the harness room, out of sight of the rest of Animal Farm. Around this time, the animals discover, to their outrage, that the pigs have been taking all of the milk and apples for themselves. Squealer explains that pigs need more food in order to think well, and since they do brain work, it is everyone's best interest that they eat more. He reinforces his idea by saying that if their brains fail because of a lack of food, Mr. Jones might come back to take over the farm. This frightens the other animals, and they agree to forgo milk and apples in the interest of the collective good.

By late summer, news of Animal Farm have spread across the country. Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick, who own the neighboring farms, fear that the rebellion will spread among their own animals. However, they are rivals, which prevents them from working together against Animal Farm. They only spread rumors about the farm's inefficiency. Meanwhile, animals everywhere begin singing "Beasts of England," which they have learned from pigeons sent by Snowball, and many begin to behave rebelliously.

In early October, a flight of pigeons alerts that Mr. Jones has begun marching towards the farm with some of Pilkington's and Frederick's men. Snowball, who has studied books about the battle campaigns of Julius Caesar, prepares a defense and leads the animals. Boxer and him fight courageously, and the humans suffer a quick defeat. Only one sheep dies, receiving a hero's burial. Boxer, who believes he has unintentionally killed a stable boy in the chaos, expresses his regret at taking a life, even though it is a human one. Snowball tells him not to feel guilty, asserting that "the only good human being is a dead one." Afterwards, it’s discovered that the boy didn’t die. Snowball and Boxer each receive medals with the inscription "Animal Hero, First Class." The animals discover Mr. Jones's gun in the mud, placing it at the base of the flagstaff and agreeing to fire it twice a year: on October 12th, the anniversary of the Battle of the Cowshed – as they have dubbed their victory – and on Midsummer's Day, the anniversary of the rebellion. As usual, Mollie has avoided any risk to herself by hiding during the battle. Actually, she becomes an increasing burden on Animal Farm: she arrives late for work, accepts treats from men associated with nearby farms, and generally behaves contrary to Animalism. Eventually, she disappears, lured away by a fat, red-faced man who stroked her coat and fed her sugar. After a while, it’s found out that she is pulling his carriage, and none of the other animals ever mentions her name again.

During the cold winter months, Snowball and Napoleon's constant disagreements continue at the meetings in the big barn. Snowball proves a better speaker and debater, but Napoleon can better get support in between meetings. Snowball gives ideas to improve the farm: he studies Mr. Jones's books and eventually creates a scheme to build a windmill, with which the animals could generate electricity and automate many farming tasks, bringing them comfort. But to build the windmill would be necessary much hard work and difficulty, so Napoleon defends that the they should attend to their current needs rather than plan for a distant future. The question deeply divides the animals. When Snowball has finally completed his plans, a great meeting takes place to decide whether to take the windmill project or not. Snowball gives a passionate speech, to which Napoleon responds with an unaffecting answer. Snowball speaks further, inspiring the animals with his descriptions of the wonders of electricity. Just as the preparations to vote begin, however, Napoleon gives a strange whimper, and nine enormous dogs – the puppies Napoleon had gotten to “educate” – enter the barn, attack Snowball, and chase him off the farm. They return to Napoleon's side, and he announces that from that moment on meetings will be held only for ceremonial purposes and that all important decisions will be made by the pigs alone. Afterwards, many of the animals feel confused and disturbed. Squealer explains to them that Napoleon is making a great sacrifice in taking the leadership responsibilities upon himself and that, as the cleverest animal, he should make the decisions for the good of Animal Farm. Yet, the animals still question the expulsion of Snowball. Then, Squealer explains that he was a traitor and a criminal. Eventually, the animals come to accept this version of events, and Boxer adopts the maxim "Napoleon is always right."

Napoleon’s expulsion of Snowball and his declaration that the power to make decisions will be exercised solely by the pigs correspond to the climax of the story. From now on, the things are about to change in the farm, as the pigs will progressively take control of the other animals. Surprisingly, some time after the banishment of Snowball, the animals learn that Napoleon supports the windmill project. Squealer explains that their leader has never really opposed the proposal; he simply used his apparent opposition as a maneuver to take the wicked Snowball out of power. His words are so appealing and the growls of the dogs are so threatening that they accept his explanation without question.

For the rest of the year, the animals work hard to farm enough food for themselves and to build the windmill. The leadership cuts the rations – Squealer explains that they have simply "readjusted" them – and the animals receive less food unless they work on Sunday afternoons as well. But because they believe what the leadership tells them – that they are working for their own good now, not for Mr. Jones's – they are eager to take the extra labor. However, the windmill project presents some difficulties. The biggest trouble is breaking stones, but they solve it by learning to raise big stones and then drop them into the quarry, smashing them into usable pieces.

The animals also face other problems. The farm still needs a number of items that it can’t produce on its own, such as iron, nails, and paraffin oil. So, Napoleon announces that he has hired a human solicitor, Mr. Whymper, to assist him in conducting trade on behalf of Animal Farm. The other animals are taken aback by the idea of engaging in trade with humans, but Squealer explains that the founding principles of Animal Farm have never included any prohibition against trade and the use of money. He adds that if the animals think that they remember such laws, they must have simply fallen in the lies of the traitor Snowball. Mr. Whymper begins to pay a visit to the farm every Monday. The pigs begin living in the farmhouse, and there is a rumor that they even sleep in beds, a violation of one of the Seven Commandments. But when Clover asks Muriel to read her the appropriate commandment, the two find that it now reads "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." Squealer explains that Clover must have simply forgotten the last two words. All animals sleep in beds, he says – a pile of straw is a bed, after all. Sheets, however, as a human invention, constitute the true source of evil. He then gets the other animals to agree that the pigs need comfortable repose in order to think clearly.

Around this time, a terrible storm goes by Animal Farm, doing a lot of damage. When the animals go into the fields, they find, to their horror, that the windmill on which they have worked so hard has been destroyed. Napoleon announces that the cause of such great tragedy is Snowball, who, he says, will do anything to destroy Animal Farm. So, he passes a death sentence on Snowball, offering apples to whom gets the traitor. He then gives a passionate speech in which he convinces the animals that they must rebuild the windmill. Thus, during the winter, they struggle to rebuild it, despite of the shortage of food, which they try to hide from the human farmers so that Animal Farm isn’t seen as a failure. The humans refuse to believe that Snowball caused the destruction of the windmill and defend that its walls simply weren't thick enough. Although the animals consider this explanation false, they decide to build the walls twice as thick this time. In order to feed the animals, Napoleon gets a contract to sell four hundred eggs a week. Then, the hens rebel, since one of Old Major's original complaints about humans focused on the cruelty of egg selling. Napoleon responds by cutting their rations entirely. Nine hens die before the others give in to his demands.

Soon afterward, the animals hear that Snowball has been secretly sabotaging their efforts at night. Napoleon says that can detect Snowball's presence everywhere, and whenever something appears to go wrong by chance, Snowball receives the blame. One day, Squealer announces that Snowball has sold himself to Mr. Frederick's farm, Pinchfield, and that he has been in league with Mr. Jones from the start. Squealer recalls Snowball's attempts at the Battle of the Cowshed to have the animals defeated, which astonishes the animals. They remember Snowball's heroism and recall that he received a medal. But Napoleon and Squealer convince the others that Snowball's apparent bravery simply constituted part of his evil plans, and that Napoleon's bravery was much superior during that battle. Their description of Napoleon's heroic actions are so vivid that the animals are almost able to remember them.

One day, Napoleon gathers all animals in the yard. With his nine huge dogs growling, he forces certain animals to confess their participation in a conspiracy with Snowball and then has the dogs kill the traitors. Numerous animals die, including the hens who rebelled at the proposal to sell their eggs. The terrible bloodshed leaves the other animals choked and confused. After Napoleon leaves, Boxer says that he would never have believed that such a thing could happen on Animal Farm. He adds that the tragedy must owe to some fault in the animals themselves; thus, he commits to working even harder. Clover looks out over the farm, wondering how such a glorious rebellion could have come to its current state. Some of the animals begin to sing "Beasts of England," but Squealer appears and explains that this song may no longer be sung, because it applied only to the rebellion, and now there is no more need for rebellion. As a replacement, Squealer gives the animals a new song that expresses profound patriotism and glorifies Animal Farm, but that doesn’t inspire the animals as "Beasts of England" once did. A few days after the bloody executions, the animals discover that the commandment reading "No animal shall kill any other animal" now reads: "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." As with the previous revisions of laws, the animals blame the apparent change on their faulty memories – they must have forgotten the final two words.

The animals work even harder throughout the year to rebuild the windmill. Though they often suffer from hunger and cold, Squealer always reads statistics proving that conditions remain far superior than in the days of Mr. Jones. From his time, there is a pile of timber still lying unused on the farm, so Napoleon engages in complicated negotiations for selling it to either Mr. Frederick or Mr. Pilkington. Whichever farm is currently out of favor in the negotiations is said to be the hiding place of Snowball. Following a long time of propaganda against Mr. Frederick – during which Napoleon adopts the maxim "Death to Frederick!" –, the animals are shocked to learn that Mr. Frederick eventually becomes the buyer. Napoleon, rather than accept a check as payment, insists on receiving cash. However, soon he finds out that the money Mr. Frederick has given him for the timber is fake. He warns the animals to prepare for the worst, and, indeed, Mr. Frederick soon attacks Animal Farm with a large group of armed men. The humans start winning the battle and they plant dynamite at the base of the windmill and blow the whole structure up. Enraged, the animals attack the men, driving them away, but at a heavy cost: several animals are killed, and Boxer gets seriously injured. A patriotic flag-raising ceremony, nonetheless, cheers the animals up and restores their faith.

Not long afterward, the pigs discover whisky in the farmhouse basement. The pigs start drinking. Some of the animals find Squealer holding a paintbrush; he has fallen from a ladder leaned up against the spot where the Seven Commandments are painted on the barn. The animals fail to put two and two together, however, and when they discover that the commandment that they recall as stating "No animal shall drink alcohol" actually reads "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess," they again blame their memories.

Clover eventually heals Boxer’s hoof, but his coat doesn't seem as shiny as before and his great strength seems slightly diminished. Though no animal has yet retired on Animal Farm, it had previously been agreed that all horses could do so at the age of twelve. Boxer now nears this age, and he looks forward to a comfortable life in the pasture as a reward for his immense labors. But first he wants to do some advance in the work at the windmill. Around this time, four sows give birth to Napoleon's piglets, thirty-one in all, and Napoleon commands that a schoolhouse be built for their education, despite the farm's lack of funds. He also begins ordering events called Spontaneous Demonstrations, at which the animals march around the farm, listen to speeches, and exult in the glory of Animal Farm. When other animals complain, the sheep interrupt them with chants of "Four legs good, two legs bad!"

Animal Farm, then, becomes a republic, and Napoleon becomes president in a unanimous vote, having been the only candidate. In the same day, the leadership reveals new discoveries about Snowball's complicity with Jones at the Battle of the Cowshed. It now appears that he actually fought openly on Jones's side and cried "Long live Humanity!" when the fight started. The battle took place so long ago and seems so distant that the animals accept this new story. Around the same time, Moses returns to the farm and once again begins spreading his stories about Sugarcandy Mountain. Although the pigs officially denounce these stories, they allow Moses to live on the farm without requiring him to work.

One day, Boxer's strength fails when pulling stone for the windmill. The pigs announce that they will take Boxer to a veterinarian to recuperate, but when the cart arrives, Benjamin reads the writing on the cart's sideboards and announces that Boxer is being sent to a glue maker to be slaughtered. The animals panic and begin crying out to Boxer that he must escape, but he doesn’t have enough strength to do so. Soon Squealer announces that the doctors could not cure Boxer: he has died at the hospital. He claims to have been at the great horse's side as he died and calls it the most moving sight he has ever seen. He says that Boxer died praising the glories of Animal Farm. He also denounces the false rumors that Boxer was taken to a glue factory, saying that the hospital had simply bought the cart from a glue maker and had failed to paint over the lettering. The animals feel relieved with this piece of news, and when Napoleon gives a great speech in praise of Boxer, their pain is diminished. Not long after the speech, the farmhouse receives a delivery from the grocer, and the animals murmur among themselves that the pigs bought another box of whisky, although no one knows where they have found the money to do so.

Years pass. Many animals age and die, and few recall the days before the rebellion; only Clover, Benjamin, Moses and some pigs actually remember it. The animals complete a new windmill, which is used not for generating electricity but for milling corn, a more profitable activity. The farm seems to have grown richer, but only the pigs and dogs live comfortably because, as Squealer explains, they do a very important work filling out forms and such. The other animals largely accept this explanation, and their lives go on just like before. They never lose their sense of pride in Animal Farm or their feeling that they are different from the animals on other farms.

One day, Squealer takes the sheep off to a remote spot to teach them a new chant. Not long afterward, the animals have just finished their day's work when they find out, to their amazement, Squealer walking toward them on his hind legs. Napoleon soon appears as well, walking upright; worse, he carries a whip. Before the other animals have a chance to react to the change, the sheep begin to chant: "Four legs good, two legs better!" Clover, whose eyes are failing in her old age, asks Benjamin to read the commandments on the wall. Only the last commandment remains: "All animals are equal." However, it now carries an addition: "but some animals are more equal than others." In the days that follow, Napoleon openly begins smoking a pipe, and the pigs subscribe to human magazines, listen to the radio, use the telephone, and also wear Mr. Jones's clothes.

The book ends with the pigs inviting neighboring human farmers over to inspect Animal Farm. The farmers praise the pigs and express, in diplomatic language, their regret for past "misunderstandings." The other animals, led by Clover, watch through a window as Mr. Pilkington and Napoleon toast each other, and Mr. Pilkington declares that the humans share a problem with the pigs: "If you have your lower animals to contend with," he says, "we have our lower classes!" Mr. Pilkington notes that the pigs have found ways to make the animals work harder and on less food than any other farm in England, and that he looks forward to introducing these advances on his own farm. Napoleon replies by reassuring his human guests that the pigs never wanted anything other than to conduct business peacefully with their human neighbors. He says that the animals won’t even address one another as "comrade" anymore, or pay homage to Old Major; nor will they salute a flag with a horn and hoof upon it. All of these customs have been changed recently by decree. He even announces that Animal Farm will now be known as “Manor Farm,” which he believes is its correct and original name. After all this exchange of compliments, the pigs and farmers return to the card game, and the other animals creep away from the window. However, the sounds of a quarrel draw them back to listen. Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington have played the ace of spades simultaneously, and each accuses the other of cheating. The animals, watching through the window, realize that, as they look around the room of the farmhouse, they can no longer distinguish which of the card players are pigs and which are human beings.

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