In this study guide we will help you analyse the novel Animal Farm (1945) by George Orwell. You can also find detailed summaries of both the entire novel and its individual chapters, as well as inspiration for interpreting the text and putting it into perspective. This study guide is based on the Penguin Books edition of the novel from 2008.
Bitte beachten Sie, dass wir auch eine Analyse in Deutsch für den übersetzten Text Farm der Tiere anbieten.
Referenzbuch: Penguin Books, 2008.
Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950) was a British journalist, literary critic and author. He is most well-known under his pseudonym George Orwell.
Orwell had an eventful life. In his youth he was a law enforcement officer in Burma (today known as Myanmar), which was part of the British Empire at the time. Later on he participated in the Spanish Civil War and was heavily wounded by a shot in the neck. During the Second World War, Orwell was declared unfit for military service, but he still played an active part on the home front, covering the war from a journalist’s perspective.
Orwell was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1947. In 1950 he died of this disease, only 46 years old.
Today, Orwell is considered one of the most influential British authors of the 20th century, and both his novels, non-fiction books and essays remain popular. Most people regard the science-fiction novel Nineteen Eighty-Four as his masterpiece, and many still consider it highly relevant for understanding the political realities of the modern world.
Animal Farm is also one of Orwell’s important works, however, and in many ways it covers the same themes as the later Nineteen Eighty-Four - especially in its descriptions of the way people in power use propaganda, threats and manipulation to keep citizens under control.
Excerpt from the study guide:
At the end, the story skips several years ahead as we are shown the future of Animal Farm. Though the windmill is finally completed and the farm has grown larger and more prosperous, the balance of power has not changed at all. If anything, the pigs and dogs have even more complete control than before (pp. 85-87).
In a clear betrayal of earlier principles, the pigs start to walk on their hind legs - and they even begin to carry whips, the fundamental symbol of human oppression. Even here, the other animals prove unable to resist, drowned out by the voices of the sheep. They discover that the Seven Commandments have been reduced to just one core principle: “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS” (p. 90). This scene may be viewed as the climax of the story, as it is the final revelation that the pigs have been trying to act like human beings all along, and that all their original principles have been reversed.
The novel’s final scenes are focused on the visit from the human delegation and the first official meeting between pigs and humans. Unknown to the two parties, the other animals are observing this event. At the meeting, Napoleon makes a speech where it becomes completely obvious that he never cared about creating a free society, but was only interested in gaining power for himself, and in oppressing the other animals into a situation where they will willingly work for the pigs because they believe that they are better off than they were before. As the meeting ends in conflict, the observing animals note that it has become impossible to tell pigs and humans apart (p. 95).
Because the pigs have essentially turned into humans, it becomes clear that the animals are exactly where they started - working on a farm under oppressive human control, without having anything to say in the matter. The glorious principles of their revolution are revealed as an illusion, as they have simply replaced an old master (Mr. Jones) with a new, equally cruel one (Napoleon).
The ending remains open, as it is unclear how or whether the other animals will react to the new information about their leader. One might optimistically hope that they finally find the courage to oppose Napoleon’s rule when they see his final betrayal and transformation, but on the other hand their behaviour throughout most of the story might hint that they will passively accept the new conditions, just as they have passively accepted everything else. Furthermore, by allying himself with the humans, Napoleon has made himself even stronger and therefore made it even harder for the animals to fight against him.