English Video Lesson – 9 (Talking about the Past)

Watch these videos and see how the English People talk about the past. It’s a collection of Videos based on different situations in which people usually talk about PAST and PAST EXPERIENCES. This is a complete video lesson andpractice. I hope you like the lesson…Thanks


Write a comprehensive note on Orwell’s portrayal of characters in Animal Farm.

The Animals in This Novel, Real and Convincing
Orwell was neither a great creator, nor a great delineator, of human character. In fact, his principal weakness as a novelist lies in the sphere of characterization. The persons in his novels have not been satisfactorily or successfully been drawn.

The reason for this failure is Orwell’s incapacity to take us into the minds of his characters. He is unable to depict the inner life and the inner consciousness of the characters. As a result, his character-portrayals are superficial and therefore not quite convincing. However, the case of Animal Farm is different. The major characters in this novel are animals, and the author is under no necessity to portray their inner life because the animals are not believed to have any inner life (even though most of the actions of Napoleon are pre-meditated, thereby showing that some thinking has gone into the decisions he takes). Neither Aesop nor La Fontaine tried to depict the psychology or the working of the minds of animals. Orwell’s love of animals is well-known. He had kept a number of animals during the period of his residence in the town of Wellington and had observed their behaviour. That is one reason why he has been able successfully to portray the animals in this novel and to make them real and convincing.

A Brief Picture of the Physical Appearance of Each Character
Orwell’s technique in his delineation of the animals consists in giving us a brief visual picture of the physical appearance of each and then letting us infer their moral traits from their actions and speeches, though occasionally he brings a moral trait to our notice through his own words. He also makes use of the device of contrast to emphasize the moral traits of some of the animals. The physical appearance of the animals is indicated to us very briefly. For instance, Old Major is described as a prize boar, twelve years old, rather stout, but a majestic-looking animal with a wise and benevolent appearance. Napoleon is described as a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar who is not much of a talker but who has a reputation for getting things done in accordance with his own wishes. Snowball is a more spirited and lively pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive. Squealer, whose physical appearance receives more attention from the author, is “a small fat pig, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice.” He is a brilliant talker and when he is arguing some difficult point he skips from side to side, whisking his tail. Boxer is described as an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gives him a somewhat stupid appearance. Clover is a stout motherly mare approaching middle life, who has never quite got her figure back after the birth of her fourth foal. Mollie is a foolish, pretty white mare who walks with mincing steps and who is fond of wearing red ribbons in her white mane. Thus, by means of a visual picture of each of the animals, the animals have been individualized and differentiated from one another.
Moral Traits, Indicated Through Authorial Comments
As already pointed, Orwell occasionally specifies the moral traits of the characters through his own comments. Napoleon, as already mentioned, has a reputation forgetting things done according to his own wishes. Later in the story, we are told that Napoleon is better at canvassing support for himself behind the scenes, while Snowball is able to win over the majority of the animals to his side by his brilliant speeches. Napoleon, we are also told, is especially successful with the sheep. Boxer, we are told, is universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powers of work. Benjamin the donkey, says the author, is the worst-tempered animal on the farm. Benjamin seldom talks and, when he does, it is usually to make some cynical remark: for instance, he would say that God has given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would prefer to have no tail and no flies. Alone among the animals on the farm, Benjamin never laughs. If asked why, he would reply that he sees nothing to laugh at. Squealer, says the author, has a persuasive manner of talking and can turn black into white, meaning that he can represent a falsehood as if it were an undoubted truth. Mollie, we are told, does not get up early to attend to her work. She makes all sorts of excuses for coming to the work late. There is a cat whose behaviour is described as somewhat peculiar. Whenever there is any work to be done, she can never be found. She disappears for hours at a stretch, and then reappears at meal-times or in the evening after work is over. But she has a way of purring so affectionately that nobody can criticize her. Benjamin does not shirk work, but he never volunteers to do extra work either. These specific traits of the various animals, indicated by the author, further help us to distinguish them from one another; and these traits also make the portrayals much more interesting. We are certainly much amused by the way in which the skipping of Squealer and his whisking his tail is described, and also by the manner in which the behaviour of Benjamin, Mollie, and the cat is described by the author. The description of their physical appearance, combined with these specific traits, really imparts a vividness to the portrayals of the various animals and helps the author in making them convincing figures.
Moral Traits, Inferable From Behaviour and Talk: The Case of Major
By and large, the moral traits of the animals are allowed to emerge from the way in which they behave or talk. Major, whom we meet in the very opening chapter, and who summons all the animals to a secret meeting, is the animal who instigates his fellow-animals to rebel against Mr. Jones, the tyrannical owner of the farm. It is he who provides the motivating force behind the rebellion which he suggests. His exhortation to the animals to become united in order to struggle to overthrow Mr. Jones shows that he is a true well-wisher of the animals and also that he has a fertile mind. He gives to the animals some guidelines for their day-to-day behaviour, and he sings to them the song called “Beasts of England” which immediately becomes popular. Major symbolizes, of course. Karl Marx, the German economist who was the founder of the Communist ideology. Major occupies a distinctive position in the novel; the speech which he makes to the animals stamps him as a venerable father-figure. He wins our esteem by his passionate love of freedom and equality and by his capacity to inspire the other animals with his progressive ideas. He is able to convince the animals that man is their enemy against whom they must fight. Man symbolizes, of course, capitalism and the tyranny which the capitalists are in a position to exercise over the working-class.
The Portrayal of Napoleon
Leaving aside Major, the most important character in the book is Napoleon. Napoleon’s first action, after Mr. Jones has been driven away from the farm, is to reserve milk and apples for the exclusive use of the pigs. By this action, with which Snowball too concurs. Napoleon shows that he has already made up his mind that the pigs are to acquire a privileged position on the farm. Napoleon’s second important action is to take charge of the newly-born puppies of Jessie and Bluebell in order to rear and train them in accordance with his own secret design. In course of time, these puppies grow into fierce dogs who serve Napoleon with great devotion and through whom he is not only able to expel his rival Snowball from the farm, but through whom he also acquires a tremendous power to rule the farm in an autocratic manner. Napoleon shows his capacity for intrigue by training the sheep to bleat the slogan “Four legs good, two legs bad” loudly whenever he wants Snowball’s speeches to be interrupted so that Snowball should not be able to sway his audience. After the success of the rebellion against Mr. Jones, it becomes Napoleon’s constant endeavour to strengthen and consolidate his own position. He is now dominated by a love of power and a desire for self-aggrandisement. He confers more and more privileges upon the pigs, and he goes on becoming more and more of an autocratic ruler. He shows a good deal of cunning and cleverness in deviating from, and violating, the Seven Commandments till they are reduced to only one which reads as follows: “All Animals Are Equal But Some Are More Equal.” The absurdity of this Commandment as compared to the original wording is obvious. Napoleon has bidden a final good-bye to the ideals with which the rebellion against Mr. Jones had been launched. Napoleon’s cunning is seen also in the manner in which he makes use of Squealer to defend and justify his policies and actions. Napoleon symbolizes Stalin who, by his arbitrary and ruthless policies and actions had crushed all opposition in Russia and had emerged as a dictator with absolute powers. The massacre of animals which takes place on the farm under, Napoleon’s orders corresponds to the Great Purges of 1936-38 which had been carried out under Stalin’s orders. Napoleon is really made to live in the pages of the novel and is a truly convincing figure.
A Contrast Between Snowball and Napoleon
Snowball offers a striking contrast to Napoleon. While Napoleon is secretive, Snowball is frank and open-hearted. While Napoleon is prone to be reticent, Snowball is an eloquent orator. While Napoleon insists on the importance of agricultural production. Snowball wishes to pay greater attention to the development of scientific technology as represented by his plan to build a windmill on the farm to generate electricity. While Napoleon wants that the animals should keep themselves in a state of armed readiness to defend the farm against a possible attack, Snowball believes that pigeons should be sent to other farms to excite the animals on those farms to rise in revolt against their human masters, thus making it impossible for those human masters to attack Animal Farm. This contrast between the two leaders is based on historical facts. Napoleon, as already pointed out, represents Stalin. Snowball, on the other hand, represents Trotsky who came into conflict with Stalin and who was driven away by Stalin into exile. Stalin and Trotsky were men of opposite views, and so are Napoleon and Snowball in the story. After Snowball has been driven away from the farm, Napoleon, making use of Squealer, starts a campaign of slander and vilification against Snowball. Whenever any misfortune or hardship or a piece of bad luck is experienced by the animals on Animal Farm, Squealer, acting under Napoleon orders, gives out that Snowball is responsible for it. Every disaster on the farm is attributed by Napoleon to the machinations of Snowball who, however, is nowhere in the picture at all. Stalin, likewise, had slandered and defamed Trotsky for years after Trotsky had gone into exile. The contrast between Napoleon and Snowball helps to lend a greater vividness to the delineation of both.
A Convincing Portrayal of Squealer, the Propagandist
Squealer too has skilfully been drawn. He is an able propagandist, who can twist and distort facts to suit Napoleon’s purposes. He is an accomplished liar. His distortions of the truth are disgusting, chough very amusing at the same time. He defends Napoleon’s decision about the milk and the apples on the ground that the pigs, being brain-workers, need milk and apples to keep them in a state of good health. He defends Napoleon’s decision not to hold any more meetings of the animals for the purpose of taking collective decisions. This defence is based on the ground that Napoleon has only added to his labour by taking this step because Napoleon thinks that, if all the decisions about running the farm continue to be taken by a majority vote, the decisions might prove to be wrong and harmful. When Napoleon decides to build the windmill which he had originally opposed, Squealer explains to the other animals that Napoleon’s original opposition had really been a device to get rid of Snowball who was a dangerous character and a bad influence. Squealer describes Napoleon’s original opposition to the windmill as “tactics”; and Squealer repeats the word “tactics” several times, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail with a merry laugh. Indeed, Squealer tells all kinds of lies in a most brazen manner to support Napoleon. Squealer is meant to symbolize the servile Russian Press which always supports and justifies the policies of the Communist regime.
The Memorable Portrayal of Boxer
Among the minor animals, Boxer is perhaps the most memorable. It is amusing to find that he cannot go beyond the first four letters in his efforts to learn the alphabet. But, apart from this deficiency, he is an animal of a sterling character. His habit of working hard and his loyalty to Napoleon are remarkable. His two mottoes are “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right”. However, Boxer meets a sad fate when, on falling ill and becoming incapacitated for work, he is sold by the ruthless and ungrateful Napoleon to a horse-slaughterer.
Clover and Mollie
Some of the other animals have also been drawn with a sure touch and are made really to live before us. Clover is as faithful a follower of Napoleon as Boxer is. However, she is able to learn a little more of the alphabet than Boxer, though she is still not able to read the Seven Commandments unaided. She is as hard­working as Boxer, though she is much less strong. By her habits of hard work she resembles Boxer but she differs widely from Mollie, the white mare, who is a shirker. Another point of contrast between Clover and Mollie is that, while Clover remains faithful to the farm, Mollie defects from the farm and goes over to the human beings to serve them. Clover is as sentimental as Boxer is. She is deeply attached to Boxer, and she feels grief-stricken when Boxer falls down to the ground in the course of the performance of his duties and lies helplessly, with blood trickling from his mouth. Clover’s reactions to Napoleon’s violations of the Commandments show that she is a sensitive creature who is much distressed by the sad developments going on around her.
The Portrayal of Benjamin the Donkey
Benjamin the donkey has also been memorably drawn. His philosophy of life is that things never really change. He is inclined to be reserved, and seldom opens his heart. When asked by fellow-animals whether he is happier after the expulsion of Mr. Jones, he gives a cryptic reply which is “Donkeys live a long life. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.” At the end of the story we are told that old Benjamin is much the same as ever, except that he has become a little more gloomy and reticent after the death of Boxer to whom he had deeply been attached. He is still of the opinion that things can never become much better, or much worse than they have been before. In his opinion, hunger, hardship, and disappointment are the unalterable law of life. Benjamin symbolizes the stoical and cynical philosopher who does not believe that any real improvement or progress in human affairs is possible. However, it is somewhat surprising that Orwell should have attributed so much wisdom to an animal who has traditionally been regarded as stupid.
The Portrayal of Moses, the Raven
Moses, the raven, is described as a spy and a tale-bearer and also as a clever talker. He continually talks about a country called Sugarcandy Mountain which, he says, is situated somewhere up in the sky. Sugarcandy Mountain is depicted by Moses as a kind of paradise to which all the animals would go after their deaths. Some of the animals believe him, but the pigs are openly contemptuous of him because they regard his talk about Sugarcandy Mountain as a pure fabrication. However, even the pigs tolerate his presence on the farm. Allegorically Moses represents first the orthodox Russian Church and subsequently the Roman Catholic Church. He is relevant to the story because he symbolizes a priest through whom Stalin had tried to mend his relations with the Pope at Rome.
The White Goat, Muriel
Finally, there is a white goat by the name of Muriel who is quite an intelligent and clever animal and who learns to read even better than the dogs who are next only to the pigs in their capacity to read. Muriel is very friendly with Clover to whom she sometimes reads out the Seven Commandments which Clover herself cannot read.
The Portrayal of Human Beings
Besides the animal, there are a few human beings who also figure in the story. They are Mr. Jones, Mr. Pilkington, Mr. Frederick, and Mr. Whymper. They are all dawn briefly but convincingly. Mr. Jones represents capitalism and Czarism. Mr. Pilkington most probably symbolizes Churchill, so that his farm represents Britain and the capitalist economy of the time. Mr. Frederick symbolizes Hitler, so that Pinchfield Farm would then represent Germany with her plans to annex other Europeon countries. Mr. Whymper is a solicitor who acts as an intermediary between Animal Farm and the other farms, and who makes enough money as commission from the commercial transactions which he negotiates between the two parties.

Write a note on the elements of wit and humour in Animal Farm.

Humour Due to Incongruity
Incongruity is one of the principal sources of humour. In Animal Farm there is an abundance of humour, most of it resulting from incongruous situations. This incongruity is chiefly due to the fact that we here find animals thinking, talking, behaving, and communicating with one another just like human beings.

Incongruity here is due to the wide gulf between the reality as we know it and the author’s fancy in attributing to the animals a capacity to speak, communicate with one another, and do the work of supervising and organizing the farm as any group of human beings would do. In other words, incongruity here is due to the contrast between the facts as they are presented to us by the author and the facts as we know them. This incongruity, forming the basis of the entire story, is the cause of much of our mirth and amusement as we go through the book.

Humour and Wit in the Opening Chapter
In the very opening chapter we are face to face with an incongruous situation when an old boar named Major calls a secret meeting of all the animals on the farm and addresses, them. Although the speech of this boar, namely Major, contains much serious and weighty matter, we are greatly amused to find that the animals have assembled in order to listen to the boar whom they regard as an old and venerable member of their community. The very manner in which the author describes the arrival of some of the animals at this meeting is amusing and shows the author’s wit. For instance, a brood of ducklings, who have lost their mother, come into the bare, cheeping feebly and wandering from side to side to find some place where they would not be trodden on. Then there is the cat which, on entering the barn, looks around for the warmest place, and finally squeezes herself in-between the two cart-horses named Boxer and Clover. There the cat purrs contentedly throughout Major’s speech without listening to a word of what he says. The author’s portrayal of the character of Benjamin, the donkey, is also quite amusing. Benjamin, the oldest animal on the farm, seldom talks, and never laughs because, according to him, there is nothing to laugh at. Major’s speech instigating the animals to revolt against their master Mr. Jones is a serious affair, but the fact that the speaker is an animal addressing a group of animals continues to amuse us by its incongruity. Major appears here as a political theorist like Karl Marx. The chapter ends humorously when, on Mr. Jones’s firing his gun into the darkness in order to drive away a supposed fox, all the animals disperse hurriedly and settle down in their respective places for the night.
Wit and Humour in the Account of the Battles
The account of the animals’ rebellion against Mr. Jones and the expulsion of Mr. Jones is again humorous. Here, again, there is incongruity in the fact that the animals unitedly attack the men and drive them away from the farm. We have never heard of a situation of that kind, and therefore we are considerably amused by the spectacle of a large number of animals of various kinds attacking their master. Similarly, the Battle of the Cowshed is also a piece of humorous description. On this occasion, we are told, Snowball the pig acts as the commander of the forces of Animal Farm. The author gives evidence of his wit when he tells us that Snowball had for some time past been studying a book containing an account of Julius Caesar’s campaigns and had thus become quite a strategist. When the human beings advance towards the farm buildings, Snowball launches his first attack. Then the animals retreat somewhat, and Snowball launches his second line of attack. This time the animals are pushed back and have to flee in disorder. But this development is exactly what Snowball had intended, because a number of horses, cows, and pigs have been lying in ambush in the cowshed and because now they all suddenly emerge from the cowshed and launch an offensive against the men. In this way the animals drive away the invading human beings, and win a victory over them.
The Comic Behaviour of Mollie, the White Mare
The behaviour of Mollie, the white mare, is another source of humour. Mollie is very fond of wearing red ribbons in her white inane and chewing a lump of sugar. She avoids doing any work and makes all kinds of excuses for her coming late to work and leaving the place of work much earlier than the others do. She is in the habit of standing on the bank of a pool of water and admiring her own reflection in it. Indeed, Mollie is a kind of coquette, just like any pretty girl. Mollie’s cowardice is also an amusing fact. When the Battle of the Cowshed is being fought, Mollie flees from the scene of battle and hides herself in her stall, with her head buried in the hay.
Military Honours, Conferred on Some of the Animals
When the animals have won a victory in the Battle of the Cowshed, they institute medals to be awarded to those who have distinguished themselves in the fighting. A medal called “Animal Hero, First Class” is awarded to Snowball and to Boxer. A medal called “Animal Hero, Second Class” is conferred posthumously on a sheep who had died in the course of the fighting. The gun which had been left behind by Mr. Jones is now set up at the foot of the flagstaff, like a piece of artillery; and it is decided to fire this gun twice a year—once on Midsummer Day, the anniversary of the Rebellion: and again on the 12th October, the anniversary of the Battle of the Cowshed. All this is very amusing. The absurdity of the animals instituting medals and ceremonials makes the situation very funny.
Humour in the Animals’ Efforts to Learn to Read
The account of the efforts of the animals to learn to read is again very amusing. The pigs have learnt to read very well, and the dogs have done well too in this sphere. Muriel, the goat, can read somewhat better than even the dogs and sometimes reads to the other animals from scraps of a newspaper which she found on the rubbish heap. Clover learns the whole alphabet, but cannot put words together. Boxer cannot get beyond the letter D. Mollie refuses to learn more than the six letters which spell her own name. None of the other animals on the farm can get further than the letter A. The result is that the more stupid animals, such as the sheep, hens, and ducks are unable to learn the Seven Commandments by heart. For the benefit of such animals, Snowball reduces the Seven Commandments to a single maxim which is : “Four legs good, two legs bad.” This, according to Snowball, contains the essential principle of Animalism. All this is very amusing.
Humour Arising From Snowball’s Sophistry
But even more amusing is the sophistry employed by Snowball when birds object to the maxim announced by him because they feel that they would be excluded from the community of the animals on the basis of their being two-legged creatures. Snowball satisfies the birds with the argument that a bird’s wing should be regarded as a leg because a wing is an organ of propulsion and not of manipulation. In other words, the two wings of a bird have also to be counted as legs, and in this way a bird would qualify for the status of an animal. Another amusing development is that the sheep develop a great liking for the new maxim and, having learnt it by heart, often bleat it for hours on end. Subsequently, Napoleon makes use of the sheep to interrupt Snowball’s speeches with their loud and continuous bleating of this maxim. Napoleon’s urinating over the plans of the windmill which Snowball has drawn with a piece of chalk on the wooden floor of a shed is also an amusing situation. Napoleon is scornful of every suggestion which comes from Snowball, and so he gives a visible proof of his contempt for Snowball’s project of the windmill.
Humour Arising From Sweater’s Sophisms
Much of the humour in the novel results from Orwell’s portrayal of the character of Squealer and from the account of the manner in which Squealer defends and justifies Napoleon’s policies and actions. Squealer is, indeed, the most comic character in the story. Squealer is described as a brilliant talker who, while arguing a point, skips from side to side, whisking his tail. He has a reputation for being able to turn black into white; and we really find him turning black into white on various occasions in the course of the story. When Napoleon decides that the milk and apples produced on the farm would be reserved exclusively for the pigs, Squealer defends this decision by telling the other animals that the pigs are brain-workers who need milk and apples to maintain their health because these two items of food contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. The whole management and organization of the farm depend on the pigs, says Squealer. If the pigs fail in their duty. Mr. Jones would come back. Thus Squealer has invented an ingenious reason for Napoleon’s decision to reserve milk and apples exclusively for the pigs. Napoleon’s decision is meant, of course, as a satire on a dictator’s bringing into existence a privileged class of persons with whose help and support he can govern the country in an autocratic manner. The manner in which Squealer defends Napoleon’s decision is a satire on the way in which the servile Press in a totalitarian country supports and defends all the decisions of a dictator. When Napoleon orders the construction of a windmill to which he had originally been opposed, Squealer tells the animals that Napoleon had originally opposed the idea of the windmill only in order to drive away Snowball who was a dangerous character and a bad influence. Napoleon’s opposition to the idea of the windmill, says Squealer, was only a part of Napoleon’s “tactics”. And Squealer repeats the word “tactics” a number of times, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail as is his habit on such occasions. When Napoleon decides that he and all the other pigs would now sleep in the beds in which human beings used to sleep, Squealer defends this decision, once again showing his ingenuity. A bed, he says, merely means a place to sleep in; even a pile of straw in a stall, he says, is a bed. The Seven Commandments had forbidden the use of bed-sheets only and not of beds, he further says. The pigs, says Squealer, have removed the sheets from the beds and would sleep only between the blankets. Besides, the pigs, as the brain-workers, need more comfort than the other animals. When the rations of all the animals except the pigs have been reduced, Squealer defends this step on the ground that a strict equality in the matter of rations is not desirable. When Boxer has been slaughtered in a slaughter-house, Squealer tells a brazen lie to the animals, saying that Boxer had died in a veterinary hospital and that, while dying, Boxer had said: “Long live Comrade Napoleon!” and ”Napoleon is always right!”. Thus Squealer really succeeds in turning black into white. All his arguments are sophisms (that is, misleading and erroneous arguments).
Napoleon’s Funny Behaviour and Policies
The idea of pigs sleeping in beds is comic enough. But even more comic is the idea of the pigs wearing human clothes. Napoleon goes to the extent of wearing a hat on his head and holding a pipe in his mouth. Not only that. The pigs led by Napoleon start drinking whisky. Napoleon even decides to grow more barley on the farm and to set up a brewery to make beer. The account of the steps taken by Napoleon for self-aggrandisement is also very amusing. Napoleon orders the holding of what he calls a “Spontaneous Demonstration” to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of Animal Farm. Napoleon himself leads the procession which is flanked by his fierce dogs. At the head of the procession walks Napoleon’s black cock who serves as Napoleon’s trumpeteer. Boxer and Clover carry a green banner bearing the words: “Long Live Comrade Napoleon!” Afterwards poems written in honour of Napoleon are recited, and a speech is delivered by Squealer who gives to the animals details of the increase in the production of food on the farm. By these means, Napoleon not only adds to his own dignity but also manages to give to the animals a feeling of their own importance so that they may forget for the time being that they are not getting adequate rations for their subsistence. All this is amusing because it is a satire on the way a totalitarian government functions. The Soviet regime under Stalin always used to resort to such methods in order to keep the people contented despite shortages of food and other commodities in the country.
Napoleon, Cheated By Mr. Frederick
There is a very amusing development when Napoleon finds himself in a piquant situation. He has sold some timber to Mr. Frederick against hard cash; but it is soon discovered that the currency notes given by Mr. Frederick are forged. Napoleon feels greatly embarrassed not only because he has been cheated but because he has held an exhibition of the currency notes to impress the animals with his achievement. But it is even more amusing to find that Napoleon, in order to punish Mr. Frederick for this deception, calls a meeting of all the animals and pronounces the death-sentence upon Mr. Frederick. When captured, says Napoleon, Mr. Frederick would be boiled alive. In the event, Mr. Frederick succeeds in blowing up the windmill on Animal Farm, thus causing a heavy loss to Napoleon.
The Absurdity of Holding Snowball Responsible For Every Misfortune
The manner in which Snowball is slandered and defamed after he has been driven away from the farm is also very comic. When the windmill is brought down by a furious storm, Napoleon gives out that the windmill has been destroyed by Snowball who had crept to the windmill under cover of the darkness and had destroyed it. Subsequently, every misfortune and every difficulty experienced by the animals on the farm is attributed by Napoleon to Snowball, even though Snowball is nowhere in the picture. Napoleon gives out that Snowball steals the corn from the farm, upsets the milk pails, shatters the eggs, tramples upon the seed-beds, cuts off the bark from the fruit trees, etc. etc. Whenever anything goes wrong on the farm, Snowball is held responsible. All this is a satire on the working of the Soviet regime which always manages to find an alibi for its failures.
The Irony in the Deviations from the Seven Commandments
It is a most amusing spectacle to find the pigs, led by Napoleon and Squealer, walking on their hind legs and holding whips in their trotters. The manner in which all the Commandments have been distorted and discarded constitutes a major part of the comedy. One Commandment forbade drinking alcohol. But it is altered to read that drinking alcohol to excess was forbidden. Another Commandment forbade the killing of animals by animals, but this Commandment is altered to read that the killing of animals by animals without cause was forbidden. The slogan “Four legs good, two legs bad” is now reversed, so as to read: Four legs good, two legs better.” The Seventh Commandment is now altered to read as follows: “All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal.” Not only that. The pigs now want a telephone and have begun to subscribe to newspapers and magazines. With human beings, Napoleon has already established trading relations. The absurdity and preposterousness of all these developments are highly amusing. There is irony in all the deviations from the Seven Commandments. The irony lies in the contrast between what the animals had looked forward to and what Napoleon has actually done on the farm.
Comic Irony in the Final Episode
We have yet another example of ironic humour in the final episode. Man was regarded by the animals as their chief enemy. But now Napoleon has established friendly relations with all the neighbouring human beings. The habits and ways of human beings have already been adopted in defiance of Major’s directive. Not only that. The name “Manor Farm” is restored. The animals have to work for longer hours for less rations so that they should not feel that they are being pampered. The pigs now begin to resemble human beings, so that it is difficult for the animals to distinguish between the pigs and the human beings. All this is a satire on the way Stalin went back to the autocratic methods of the Czar who had been overthrown by the revolutionaries. The Bolshevists had aroused great hopes in the hearts of the people, but Stalin betrayed all the ideals and principles of the Russian Revolution of October, 1917.

Account for the popularity of Animal Farm.

The Appeal of “Animal Farm” as a Children’s Story
Animal Farm is regarded as one of the best literary works produced during the first half of the present century. This was the book which brought both fame and money to Orwell whose previous works had not aroused the enthusiasm or the admiration which they deserved. Animal Farm acquired an enormous reputation and popularity. Its popularity is due to several reasons.

In the first place, this book can be read as a straight animal story. Of course, as an animal story, it appeals largely to children and teenagers, though the grown-up people are also attracted by an animal story to some extent because the childish element survives in grown-up people also. The story of pigs, horses, cows, pigeons, etc. having the capacity to talk, to read, to manage their own affairs just like human beings would naturally arouse the curiosity of the children and arouse a good deal of their interest. Animal stones have been popular ever since the time of the ancient Greek author Aesop who was probably the founder of this genre. There are a number of situitions in which the animals behave just like human beings, and this capacity of the animals to act intelligently or cunningly and to take decisions is bound to appeal to the child-mind. The animals are seen harvesting hay, building a windmill, and carrying out other tasks on the farm. The animals are capable of going on strike just as human labourers do. For instance, the hens begin to smash their eggs by laying them on the rafters from where these eggs fall down to the floor. The hens do this in protest against a certain decision taken by their ruler, Napoleon.

The Great Appeal of the Political Message of the Book
But there is a good deal of weighty matter in Animal Farm to appeal to the adult or mature minds. At one level, this book is certainly a children’s story; but at another level it is a book with a serious political import, meant for advanced readers. Animal Farm is an allegory in which the various kinds of animals symbolize various classes of human society, in which certain particular animals represent certain historical personalities, and in which certain happenings symbolize certain historical events. Orwell wrote this book primarily, not as a children’s story, but as a vehicle for the expression of his political views and convictions in a disguised form. The rise of totalitarianism in various countries (Italy, Germany, Russia) had greatly disturbed Orwell’s mind during the nineteen-thirties and forties. He was a man of firm socialistic ideas. It had distressed him particularly to see what was happening in Russia. He felt strongly that Stalin had betrayed the ideals of the Russian Revolution of October, 1917 and that, under Stalin’s regime, the original revolutionary ideals of equality, comradeship, and economic justice had completely been shelved and that a system of government had been established which could be described as “oligarchical collectivism”. In order to expose Stalin’s betrayal of the Russian Revolution and also in order to expose the various stages of any revolution, Orwell wrote Animal Farm. Every revolution, according to him eventually leads to the re-establishment of a dictatorial regime. His exposure of the betrayal of the Russian Revolution and of every other revolution took the form of an allegorical satire. We here find the animals driving away their tyrannical master Mr. Jones from the farm and establishing a free and democratic system of government of their own. But in course of time one particular class of animals, namely the pigs, acquires a position of importance and begins to enjoy certain privileges which are denied to the other animals. One of the pigs by the name of Napoleon manages, partly by deceit and partly by force, to become the dictator of the farm. The pigs now direct and supervise the work which is entirely done by the other animals; while Napoleon goes on, step by step, to discard the principles which had inspired the animals to rebel against Mr. Jones. Ultimately we find the pigs living almost like human beings and developing all the habits and vices of human beings, while the leader, Napoleon, emerges as the undisputed and unchallenged dictator who administers the farm in complete disregard of the ideals of equality, comradeship, and social and economic justice. This, according to Orwell, is the ultimate fate of most revolutions. Now the political ideas and the political message implicit in this animal story had a tremendous appeal for the readers when the book first appeared, because the world had actually witnesses the injustices, the persecutions, and the cruelties which had been practised by the various dictators to keep themselves in power. It is true that many people including the intellectuals had at that time begun to admire Stalin for the heroic manner in which the Russian armies had fought against the invading German forces, but Orwell found it impossible to glorify Stalin. Stalin’s successful conduct of the war against the Germans was no doubt worthy of admiration, but Orwell could not ignore the methods which Stalin had originally employed to consolidate his power. Orwell could not shut his eyes to the Great Purge Trials held by Stalin during 1936-38. Even today the allegorical significance of Animal Farm has a great value for us. The essentials of the Communist regime in Russia today are the same as they were during the time of Stalin. The same barbarities have not, of course, been repeated ; but Russia still continues to be a country in which the basic freedoms are denied to human beings, in which there are all kinds of restrictions and restrains upon the citizens, in which the bureaucracy and the leadership enjoy certain privileges which are denied to the common people, in which there is no free access to news and information, in which secrecy shrouds many of the policies and actions of the government, and in which the citizens are almost the slaves of the State. For those who love freedom, Animal Farm has still a great interest and appeal.
The Appeal of the Characterization in this Book
The popularity of this book is also due to the success of its characterization. The characters who really matter and who chiefly engage our attention are the animals among whom Napoleon, Snowball, Squealer, Boxer, and Benjamin are the most prominent. Now, each of these characters has been individualized so that we can easily distinguish one from the other. Between Napoleon and Snowball there is a striking contrast, as there actually was between Stalin and Trotsky whom the two pigs respectively symbolize. Napoleon has a certain depth of character, which is lacking in Snowball. Snowball has a more lively mind than Napoleon has. Snowball works openly and speaks candidly; while Napoleon is secretive and works behind the scenes. Napoleon adopts devious methods to consolidate his power, and does not shrink from the use of brutal force in order to have his way. It is because of his utter unscrupulousness and ruthlessness that Napoleon succeeds in driving away Snowball from the farm, just as Stalin had succeeded in driving away Trotsky into exile. Squealer is the cunning and ingenious propagandist who defends and justifies all Napoleon’s policies and actions. Boxer symbolizes the toiling and suffering proletariat. The portrayal of Boxer cannot fail to move the hearts of both children and adults to a deep pity. Benjamin the donkey symbolizes the cynical philosopher who believes that things can never improve and that, no matter what changes take place, life on the earth will go on as it has always done, that is, badly. All these characters have been made actually to live before our eyes. The characterization is most vivid. Even the minor characters such as Mollie, the vain white mare, and Muriel the white goat who can read as well as the dogs are as real as the actual persons whom we meet in the course of our lives. All these animals have been made perfectly convincing, and that is no small achievement.
An Interesting Plot with Dramatic Situations
Animal Farm has a very interesting plot, and that is another reason for the popularity of the book. An interesting plot is the first demand which every reader makes upon a novel. In Animal Farm we move from chapter to chapter, waiting expectantly for what will happen next. Our curiosity and suspense are aroused at every step. There are a number of dramatic situations which hold our attention and stir further curiosity. There is for instance, the united assault by the animals upon Mr. Jones and his men, leading to the expulsion of Mr. Jones from the farm. We now wonder what will happen next. Then there is the Battle of the Cowshed which the animals win against Mr. Jones and his men chiefly because of the superior strategy employed by Snowball who is on this occasion the commander of the forces fighting to repel the attack by Mr. Jones. One of the most exciting and shocking incidents is the expulsion of Snowball from the farm by Napoleon’s fierce dogs. Later in the story, the Battle of the Windmill is fought. On this occasion, the animals no doubt suffer a big loss because the windmill has been blown up with explosives by Mr. Frederick’s men, but the animals do succeed in driving away Mr. Frederick and his men from the farm and are thus able to retain their independence. These, and some other, situations in the story are very exciting.
The Appeal of the Pathetic Situations in the Story
A few situations in the book are deeply moving. A pathetic situation always adds to the interest of a story because sympathy and pity are among the most common feelings of mankind. The massacre of the innocent animals under the orders of Napoleon on charges of treason is a deeply tragic situation. The animals who are put to death on this occasion are first made to confess the crimes for which they receive this punishment but which they have not actually committed. At the end of this scene, there is a pile of corpses lying at Napoleon’s feet, and the air is thick with the smell of blood. This massacre is intended to bring to our minds the tragic fate of all those Russians who were hauled up for trial before the Russian courts to answer the charges of treason against them, who were forced to confess the crimes which they had never committed, and who were then executed under the orders of the courts which, of course, acted under the direct command of Stalin. Even more moving is the sad fate which Boxer meets. Boxer has been a very hard-working animal whose role in the fighting and whose contribution to the construction of the windmill are most conspicuous. Boxer has, in addition, been very loyal and devoted to Napoleon. In fact, his two mottoes (“I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right”) show how industrious and how attached to Napoleon he has always been. But, when he has grown old and falls ill on account of sheer exhaustion, he is sold to a knacker to be slaughtered instead of being treated for his ailment. Nothing shows the callousness and inhumanity of the Russian Communist leaders more clearly than the manner in which Boxer is treated by Napoleon and Squealer. Poor Boxer! The fate of Boxer is perhaps the most poignant situation in the whole novel.
An Abundance of Wit, Humour, and Gaiety
But if there is plenty of pathos to add to the interest of Animal Farm, there is an abundance of humour and wit in it also, further to add to the book’s interest and popularity. Animal Farm has undoubtedly its sombre and tragic side; but it is a book abounding in gaiety and sheer fun. The funny situations in the book make us laugh heartily. There is, for instance, the whole behaviour of Mollie to amuse us. Mollie is not interested in work at all. She stands on the bank of a pool, admiring her reflection in the water. She is a vain mare, fond of wearing ribbons in her mane. When fighting breaks out, she runs to her stall and buries her face in the hay, while the other animals are risking their lives for the honour of the farm. Squealer greatly amuses us when he skips from side to side, whisking his tail and speaking in a persuasive manner in order to convince his listeners about the rightness of Napoleon’s decisions and policies. The pigs walking on their hind legs would be a most amusing spectacle, too. We would hardly be able to restrain our laughter when we see Napoleon walking on his hind legs, with a hat on his head and a pipe in his mouth. The manner in which Moses talks about Sugarcandy Mountain is another comic element in the story. The final episode when Mr. Pilkington and Napoleon make speeches and propose toasts to the prosperity of Animal Farm, and when the two leaders play an ace of spades simultaneously, is perhaps the climax of comedy in this book.
The Enticing Beauties of the Farm
Yet another reason for the popularity of this book is Orwell’s loving and convincing descriptions of the farm. Orwell has described the changing seasons of sowing, reaping, and storing for the winter, the arduous toil in the fields; and he has described the orchard, the cowshed, the barn, the farmhouse, etc. in a most realistic manner. Animal Farm becomes a real farm which we feel we are actually visiting. In describing the workings of this farm, Orwell throughout plays fair. To run the farm, Napoleon needs to buy oil, nails, strings, and iron for the horses’ shoes. But while acknowledging necessities, Orwell always returns to the enticing beauties of the farm. There is a scene near the end of the book, when some of the animals including Clover, are described as looking at the distant view of the farm:
The long pasture stretching down to the main road, the hay field, the spinney, the drinking pool, the ploughed fields where the young wheat was thick and green,………
It is a lovely piece of description.
The Simplicity and Economy of the Style
Animal Farm owes its popularity and its high reputation also to the style in which it is written. Orwell’s style in this book is characterized by an absolute simplicity and a striking economy. It is a style of utter and perfect simplicity. Good prose, said Orwell, is like a window pane; and the style of Animal Farm fulfils this condition. It is a style marked by a perfect clarity and transparency. In this style, the meaning is allowed to choose the word. In addition to simplicity, there is the quality of brevity in this style. Brevity, as we know, is the soul of wit. Here much is conveyed through little. A wealth of meaning lies hidden in this slim volume, though the meaning is easily discoverable. The style is concise and terse, besides being simple and straightforward. There is not the least obscurity or vagueness anywhere. This book has also contributed a famous maxim to the English language, a maxim which is now often quoted to show that the concept of equality in human society, as in the animal community, is a myth devoid of all meaning. That maxim is: “All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal.” Furthermore, Animal Farm has a compact structure. It has a well-knit story with a tight structure, free from all surplusage and superfluity.