‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell, an allegorical novel, tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human masters to create a society of equality and freedom.
However, as the story progresses, it is clear that certain things are easy said than done.
‘Spoiler-free’ Summary of Animal Farm
The story of “Animal Farm” opens with the Old Major, a prize-winning boar, in Manor Farm, calls for a secret meeting at night. He shares his dream in which animals are free and happy without any humans to control them. The animals embrace his dream and he motivates them to aspire to attain that dream. Soon after the death of Old Major, the pigs, smarter animals on the farm, works to achieve freedom.
One fine day, the rebellion breaks out and the animals, fed up with Farmer Jones, drive him and his family out of the farm. Also, they rename the property as Animal Farm.
Life at the Animal Farm seems to be flourishing under the leadership of Snowball, a selfless young pig. He works day and night to idealize the dream of Old Major. They prepare seven rules “7 commandments” called animalism for a life of equality among the animals. With a vision of a promising future ahead: less work, better education, and more food, the animals work hard. Meetings are held to get the general opinion of the animals.
As the story progresses, the seasons change so does the situation in Animal Farm. Troubles start to brew in the animal farm. Soon corrupted the nature of power starts to take its toll, as some of the animals become a victim of it. Snowball is blamed for treachery and overthrown by Napoleon. What happens further deliberates the theme and the intention of the author.
Animal Farm Plot Summary
Spoiler alert: important details of the novel are revealed below.
“Animal Farm” opens with the meeting of the frustrated animals of Manor Farm, gathered at the big barn. Old Major, an old pig tells them of his dream where animals are free from the human masters. They are free and lead a happy life as there is no human to exploit them. Further, he tells the animal to work towards such a life and teaches them a song called “Beasts of England.”
The Old Major dies and the pigs under the guidance of Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer formulate a philosophy called Animalism. Soon a revolt provokes and the animals manage to defeat the farmer and kick him off the land. The animals rename the property Animal Farm and devote themselves to achieving Major’s dream. Especially, Boxer, cart-horse embraces it with great zeal and vows to work harder.
Animal Farm prospers following the guidance of Snowball. In the meanwhile, Mr. Jones reappears to take back his farm but the animals defeat him again. It is recognized as the Battle of the Cowshed.
As time passes, Napoleon and Snowball get into a disagreement and they often struggle with each other for power and influence among the other animals. Meanwhile, Snowball devises a plan to build an electricity-generating windmill that could be more profitable and reduce the work of the animals. Napoleon solidly opposes the plan and they call for a meeting to vote on the project. During the meeting, Napoleon makes the puppies, now the grown-up dogs to chase Snowball out of the Farm.
Further, he declares him to be a traitor and assumes himself as the leader of Animal Farm. Further, he declares that there will be no more meetings and the pigs alone will make all of the decisions for the good of every animal.
Napoleon, in the absence of Snowball, claims the idea of the windmill to be his. For a year, the animals, especially Boxer work sincerely to build the windmill. Unfortunately, after a storm, the animals find the windmill to be collapsed and Napoleon uses the opportunity and accuses snowball as a reason behind it.
More than that, Napoleon uses this opportunity to wash out those animals that seem to be questioning or disheartened by Napoleon’s power. Despite all that’s happening around, Boxer ardently believes in Napoleon, and takes up a new maxim “Napoleon is always right.”
As the season changes in Animal Farm, Napoleon begins to expand his powers. He ensures to picture Snowball as a villain in the minds of the animals. He too starts to behave more and more like a human being forgoing the principles of Animalism, like sleeping in a bed, drinking whisky, and engaging in trade with neighboring farmers. Squealer, Napoleon’s propagandist, justifies every action and convinces the other animals that Napoleon is a great leader and is making things better for everyone. But in fact, the common animals were cold, hungry, and overworked.
Mr. Frederick makes a deal with Napoleon for some timber and then he cheats on him by giving him a fake check. Then he attacks the farm and dynamites the windmill. A battle between the farmers and the animals soon follows in which the animals defeat the humans. Boxer is wounded in the battle, yet he continues to work in rebuilding the windmill.
One day Boxer falls while trying to build the windmill and Napoleon promises to take him to the doctor. But in reality, he sends him to the glue factory in order to get money for whiskey. When the animals start to question Boxer, Squealer convinces the animals that Boxer has died in peace, praising the Rebellion with his last breath.
Years go by, and the pigs become increasingly human: walking upright, carrying whips, and wearing clothes. Moreover, Napoleon invites a human farmer named Mr. Pilkington, and they form an alley for selling and exchanging goods, despite the protest from humans and animals. He also changes the name of Animal Farm back to the Manor Farm. Eventually, the rules of Animalism, the seven principles, are abridged and have only one thing written upon it “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
The final image of the novel – Napoleon inviting some farmers over to the farmhouse – expresses the animals’ realization that they can’t tell the difference between the two. The pigs also have started walking on two legs and become as cruel and oppressive as human farmers.