Hypokhâgne English Book review : « Animal Farm » by George Orwell

Hypokhâgne English Book review: Animal Farm by George Orwell


« All animals are equal but some are more equal than others »: this is the final commandment of Animal farm from chapter X that concludes and sums up Animal Farm.

What is the plot of Animal Farm ?

This fable, written by George Orwell in 1945, begins with “Old Major”’s speech. He is the oldest pig in Manor farm. He calls for a secret meeting at night and shares his dream in which animals are free and happy without any humans to control them. The animals embrace his dream through a revolution. They manage to drive out Mr Jones, their former owner, and his family, out of the farm. “Manor farm” then becomes “Animal farm”. The revolutionaries start to build a new society, based on Old Major’s Communist dream and led by the pigs, the most intelligent animals. The leaders are “Napoleon” and “Snowball” who will later exploit the other animals and take control of the farm. These names are familiar, aren’t they ?

Who are the main characters in Animal Farm ?

That’s because Napoleon, the true leader, embodies Stalin. Indeed, both Orwell’s character and the USSR dictator used the revolution for their own interests.

Snowball is the second leader of Animal Farm. He’s a great speaker and leads the animals into battle. He’s a caricature of Trotsky and, like a snowball, he will have a strong impact on the story. Even when Napoleon chases him away in order to lead alone, Snowball still has an effect on Animal Farm and undermines Napoleon’s leadership.

Old Major is the one who started the revolution and embodies Lenin.

What message is conveyed by George Orwell ?

Animal Farm is an allegorical satire of Soviet communism and the Russian Revolution. It offers the representation of a society which consumes people and profits from them, for the farm or for the benefit of its leaders. It denounces human flaws, like for example being power-hungry, which eventually make the revolution a failure. To convey this meaning, George Orwell uses a simple writing style, which makes it easy and enjoyable to read. Thanks to this, we understand the implied meanings more easily. He’s also a neutral and unobtrusive narrator (although ironical sometimes) to describe the totalitarian evolution and the increase of Napoleon’s power on the farm.

Who was George Orwell ?

Georges Orwell’s real name was Eric Blair. He was born in Motihari (India) under the British Empire in 1903. In 1922, he entered the Indian imperial police but left in 1927, disgusted by Imperialism. Thereafter, he chose to live with poor people in the streets of London and Paris (Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933). He testified of workers’ life conditions and lived with them in Liverpool, Sheffield, and Wigan (The road to Wigan Pier, 1936). In 1937, he participated in the Spanish War with international brigades as a journalist and soldier. During W.W.II, he worked for the Indian branch of the BBC and was literary editor for the Observer and Tribune. Animal Farm was published in 1945. Between 1946 and 48, Orwell was writing Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was completed at the end of 1948 and published in June 1949. He died on January 21th 1950 of tuberculosis.


Our rating of Animal Farm

We give George Orwell’s Animal Farm the rating of 8/10 !

The clear writing style, the dramatic effects and the ironical narrative tone make us able to understand the realistic and horrific rise of a totalitarian society. This is why we think George Orwell’s fable became a worldwide literary classic.


Constance CHASTAING, Pierre COLMONT, Mélanie LOISEAU, Yasmine MERABET, étudiantes et étudiant en hypokhâgne, promotion 2023-2024