Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review #26: Animal Farm by George Orwell

"All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others."

Brilliant. This is plain and simply brilliant.

I'm usually not one who cares two hoots about satires, parodies and the like because they're largely unimpressive and not funny at all to me. And surely, a political satire novella titled "Animal Farm" doesn't help. No harm reading it for myself, though and I encourage you to say the same thing to yourself!

Again, it's not hard to be bemused because of the title but the reason behind it is because the story centres around animals in a farm. They're tired of being treated as if they're slaves so they planned a rebellion against the humans. The animals' idea was to create a farm that is fair, free and progressive. Their idealistic dream was to have a happily ever after for all.

But hah, not quite, I'm afraid! From tyranny subjected by the humans, the Animal Farm soon turned into communism which was terrible all the same. Sounds familiar? 

This fable was published to attack The Soviet Union (USSR) under Joseph Stalin's reign. I didn't know much about Russian history but still I enjoyed it immensely. All I know was that George Orwell was poking fun and criticising the politics of that time -- though I believe he was a socialist himself.

You'll enjoy drawing parallels together like I did. From what sociological knowledge I've gathered in A Levels on Marxism, I was dancing gleefully in my mind when I figured out what Sugar Candy Mountain was (okay, it was quite obvious). It represented heaven. Sugar Candy Mountain was a place with Sunday seven days a week, abundant sugar and cake and gorgeous weather. The Pigs refuse to believe in its existence at first but then later, suspiciously allowed the idea to proliferate. It was obvious that the Pigs planned to use religion as a way to perpetuate their position and to use religion as the "opium of the masses". Religion is used on us so that we'd work hard and be good.

Pigs are the smart ones in the book, go figure -- probably the author's way of saying communists are pigs or that they're no different than pigs. The evil pig (sounds so ridiculous lol) called Napolean represented Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile, I figured that Boxer, the Horse who worked to his death, probably represented the working class. The ideology of "I'll work harder" and "Napolean is always right" is characteristic of the working class.

The thing is, it goes beyond communism for me. I don't know if this is what George Orwell is saying, but I got the chilling message that if we all practice ignorance and blindly believe the words of people/pigs like Napolean we will end up like the rest of the animals. Time and time again, there were many loose ends which the animals failed to pick up, accepting blindly the justifications made. Is that what we're doing now presently? I don't have the gall to ponder over that.

It is not a wonder why they say this book will demand you to question some things. I think that we sometimes take peace for granted You have to read it for yourself if you want to know more because you'll be at loss, wondering if you should cry or you should laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. You know what they say, sometimes great things come in small packages. ★★★★

Pages: 112 pages
Genre: Fiction, Political Satire, Classic Literature

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