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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Animal Farm: A Book Review by Ann R. Villanueva

ANIMAL FARM. By George Orwell. Harcourt, Brace and Company. Inc. New York, U.S.A. xxx. 1946. 118 p.

This 1946 book “Animal Farm’ by George Orwell under Harcourt, Brace and Company. Inc., New York, U.S.A., is hard-bound, with a separate covering which front has a black over-all background and the back has a white background. Up front, the words “Animal Farm” are written in all capital letters, using red-black colors alternately, in a white background that settles against such cover’s black. Then the author’s name is written in all-black caps under the title. At the back, a background of the author is featured. The front and back flaps have the brief summary of the story.

The author is “an English critic, essayist, and novelist who writes regularly for the London Observer and The New Statesman and Nation. He is a frequent contributor to Cyril Connolly’s monthly magazine Horizon, and his London letters have appeared in this country in Partisan Review. Born in Bengal of an Anglo-Indian family, Orwell was a rebellious scholar at Eton, served five years in Burma as a member of the Indian Imperial Police, fought on the Loyalist side in the Spanish Civil War and was severely wounded.”

There is no introduction, no bibliography, nor a note before the actual story. After the page that bears the title, author, and publisher, comes another page with the title on it, then Chapter 1.

"Animal Farm" is a story about animals in a farm that talk and act like humans. They hold secret meetings that was started by a boar named old Major, who died shortly. He taught the farm animals a song called “Beasts of England” and this furthermore made them proceed to do the rebellion against Mr.Jones and his men, eventually driving these humans out of the farm, leaving everything in it to the animals. Then it is a pig named Napoleon who takes over in being the animals’ leader. They painted “Animal Farm” over “Manor Farm.” These animals create a law:
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 any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

As I was reading this book, I assumed that George Orwell seemed to have a soft spot for animals. Perhaps in his personal private life he was fond of them, or may even have some as pets. Whatever really goes on in a writer’s mind nobody outside really knows exactly for sure, but we can always guess and draw possible assumptions and then conclusions.

Here, the animals have a rebellion against the humans running the farm. They claim to be mistreated, overworked, and underfed by these humans. They finally succeed in taking over, and then they run this farm by themselves.

Upon reading this book, I first thought that such animals are cute, having human-like features. But reading along, there are parts that are violent and bloody, those of the actual encounters between the animals and humans. In its entirety, towards the end of this book, I have concluded that, either the writer was fond of animals, or the story has symbolism, similar to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.”

In further research, I found out that, indeed, there is Symbolism / Interpretation in this story, that it “is a satire of the Russian revolution, and therefore full of symbolism. Generally, Orwell associates certain real characters with the characters of the book…” This makes this book valuable especially to those who can relate to its symbolism/interpretation.


  1. thanks for explaning the story in short way

  2. Hi Ann. Animal Farm is required reading for my 3rd year students for Lit class. They all love the book, and love the old cartoon as well. Furthermore, they read the book at about the same time as I teach the Industrial Revolution (towards the end where they take up Karl Marx and the rise of Socialism) for Humanities, so that the learning of both is enhanced. :)

    It was a pleasure meeting you over at Loretos

  3. Hi Carlo. It is nice to know that your students love, and learn from, the story. Indeed, Animal farm is great.

    Nice meeting you at Loretos...

  4. Animal farm dipicts the reality of the authority of the rulers once they capture the leadership and it really apts the present cociety where ever in the world.

  5. Yes, this story can be viewed from such angle. Thanks for this comment...


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