A mass is dissatisfied with there present situation, wherein they are slaves to a master who feeds them enough to keep them alive, and makes them work as much as they can take without dying. Among-st the population, a visionary, with benevolence in his heart, rises and spreads his vision and makes his dream a dream everybody shares. It is the dream of a better society, where there is happiness abound and freedom the source of pride and joy. A rebellion is brought to turn this vision into reality. Everybody sings songs of equality and brotherhood, and a constitution is set. Thereby begins the journey towards becoming civilized. The rebels pick up work from where the master left it and adjusts themselves to suit the need of the society. Those with influence and brain get to the front of the things and lead others achieve better living standards. Everybody is happy.
But things don’t always remain happy, do they?
So gradually, this feeling of happiness gives way to a general feeling of just “contentment”. Rations are reduced and workload is more than ever. Joviality is gone, but complacency exists. Freedom, it seems, is worth more than grain. The leaders now start taking up their roles even more seriously, almost violently. Moving speeches are made first, to quieten the mass. When these moving speeches aren’t moving enough for the mass to lie down quietly, phantoms from the past are used to scare them into submission (“Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?”). When even that stops working, fear of life is thrown in next in the equation. The oppressed starts getting hints now. When finally the policymakers start acting the way the governing body (us humans) before the rebellion did, then does the mass realize that they are back to where they started.
Does this sound familiar? This is what happens in our classrooms, our colonies, villages, cities, country and the world! This is what people before us witnessed, as is lodged in various historic accounts, and this is what our children will stand spectators to.
And this is the plot of the Animal Farm. It is fantastic how George Orwell packs this large a punch in a very small novel. He brings out the various characters we see in our society, contributing their drop to the ocean of rebellion and what follows, in the shape of different animals who look perfect for each one of their roles. The book leaves you bewildered and gives words to what you see around you. It is gripping, it makes you curse the pigs and ask those inferior animals to speak up as you read through the book. The Mass in question being the group of animals serving Mr. Jones of the Manor Farm, initially.
Borrowing from Edward R. Murrow, A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. And so, even after throwing off man from the Manor Farm, the animals get themselves into an even worse arrangement, under the pigs. This work of George Orwell, needless to say, has a timeless appeal, and that is why it is still on most of the Must Read lists even after more than 60 years of being published.
The writing brings out the selfish nature of the world to the fore. Now everybody soaks different things from a book, what I understood was, if someone is following you, it is just because he can’t lead, not because he does not want to. Take the highest authority out of question, the next up on the rung will rise to power, loudly or stealthily, but rise they will!
One of the side effects the book had on me is, it changed the way I look at pigs now. Till now they were stupid animals, doing nothing but getting themselves dirty in mud. But now the image of a fat mean boar walking on two legs with a cigar between its teeth is a full length scary movie in itself.