Off the Shelf - "Animal Farm"

by Marcus Pan

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Animal FarmShort, blunt, and to the point, Goerge Orwell's 1946 short novel Animal Farm is a study in sociology. Reminiscent of Adam's Watership Down both in form and function, Animal Farm clearly strikes home the "ultimate power corrupts ultimately" adage that we have all heard. And how many times I've heard the quote, "Life will continue as it always has…that is, badly" without knowing it's attribute? This fact of life is found here, from the mouth of a donkey.

Animal Farm is a fairy tale. While political in moral and truth in disguise, it is nonetheless a fantasy just as Grimm's fairy tales. The characters of the novel are kept two dimensional. This is done for a reason - it is the timeline, events and moral that are important here. Just like in the originals of Sleeping Beauty, Pinnochio* (probably the most prime example of a "wooden character" in more than one sense of the word) and other popular fairy tales.

There are two things that tend to remain the same in fairy tales - first, the characters are always two dimensional and undeveloped. Secondly, the morbidity aspect is strong. Just as an evil queen telling a hunter to return with the bloody heart of a young lass is common place, the corruption and death of characters within Animal Farm is not to be considered abnormal. Placed far away (and characters kept simple to keep the nastiness happening to them less traumatizing to the reader) from our own dimension, evil acts are very prevalent in order to not only show a moral but strike it like a hammer to an anvil into one's mind.

The moral of Animal Farm I've already stated. The storyline is rather simple to follow as well. A rebellion against tyranny, lead by truth and justice, is years later found to be warped back into tyranny. Again…ultimate power and the corruption it brings. At the outset of Animal Farm we find the animals wanting to be free of the farm master. Their staged rebellion to chase off Master Jones achieves this, and the pigs, being the brainier creatures, set to work organizing their new utopia free from tyranny. As time goes on, the pigs are moved to change various tenets of their utopian culture…taking the original rule of "An animal shall never kill another animal" and slightly altering it to "An animal shall never kill another animal without reason." A small change that, in effect, leads to moralistic questioning that is altered out of the society's mind by careful manipulation and good public speaking. And this is just one example of a tenet change and the back pedaling that is done. The blind following of the rest of the animal society is a prime and ugly depiction of today's world. The use of pigs as administrators and sheep as the perfectly loyal followers is brilliance.

The novel is short and quick to read. It is an ugly yet truthful depiction of sociological stupidity and ignorance as well as the administrative and governmental control that one can easily see around you today. A perfect depiction and anyone who wants a good, fantastic view of the current state of some world affairs would do well to start here.

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Buy Animal Farm

* Note that I do not in any way mean the commercialized crud that Disney is adapting. Look up the originals.

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell
Originally published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.
Copyright © 1946 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.
ISBN 0451526341

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