Tim Tan Huynh

Animal Farm

  • 28 Dec 2017
  • Like any good allegory, this one is both ridiculous and relevant. Its story is bittersweetly ironic, considering the dual meaning of "revolution."

I finally read George Orwell’s novella some months back. I bought it along with Casino Royale and The Old Man and The Sea for around 15 bucks. Thematically, Animal Farm is similar to 1984, which I have previously read, years ago. I can see why the former would’ve been swept under the rug during the Second World War and then dusted off once the Cold War started. These two stories are thinly veiled criticisms of Stalinist totalitarianism, among other things.

Animal Farm is the less subtle story. I hadn’t realized that 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, but now I know that the first part of the plot follows this historical series of events and that Old Major, Snowball, and Napoleon represent Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, respectively. The moral of this fairy tale, in my view, isn’t necessarily that power corrupts; the moral is that the corruptible take and hold power, whenever and however.

One practical lesson for everybody is to not become the very thing that you dislike.

Animal Farm isn’t beautifully written, but it is entertaining to think about talking animals. The simplicity makes it suited for Orwell’s allegorical intent, and this accessibility as well as its timelessness has made this book a mainstay of high school English curriculums everywhere, except in maybe in Russia. Whether intentional or not, the plot has both a literal revolution and a symbolic one, as the ThugNotes team notes:

Even though Napoleon is the top pig for most of the book, Snowball is the most interesting character. He reminds me of an ad idea in Mad Men, and now I wonder if this idea is a reference to Animal Farm. This work of literature is so culturally ingrained that an independently-developed, estate-authorized video game has recently been announced. I’m looking forward to its release, and I’ll play as Snowball if possible.

In any case, I will (try to) avoid being corrupted by absolute power.