Animal Farm is quite similar to 1984 in the way that it conveys the same message – people are gullible. Tell them something enough times and they will believe you.
The tale is written in the perspective of animals. Orwell dives straight into the plot from the beginning of the book so it’s a short but compelling read. It starts with a meeting, led by an old pig named Major, between animals on a Manor Farm while the farmer is asleep. He talks to them about a dream he had about an Earth where there are no humans and about the revolution that will happen.
He tells them how the farmer does no work but gets all the proceedings that they have laboured for. He says that they are given hardly any food for all their efforts and made to live like slaves and beaten and whipped. And that is why they must rebel and become their own masters.
This pig soon dies but the seed has been planted in the mind of all the animals and they have soon chased out the farmer and taken over the farm, changing its name to Animal Farm.
It starts off with all animals being equal, working fairly and being able to eat what they have worked all day for. They write seven commandments on the wall of the barn:
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.
Over time, though, these commandments are changed and manipulated and the animals start to realise that the way of this world cannot be changed. Equality is only to be dreamt of.
What I love about this book is that even though it’s all based on fantasy – because animals don’t speak and they don’t have secret midnight meetings – it portrays the world as it is. Humans are like docile animals too. They will believe what they are told even if they know it isn’t true. The media tells us things every day and we all know that it is all exaggerations and lies but we continue to believe, to be led into this false sense of security like animals in this book until it’s too late.