Animal Farm by George Orwell is one of the two scariest books I have read. The other being another novel by the same author which I will be writing about later on. Coming back to this one. Scary. Yes. That is the word. But it isn’t a horror story. Nor a thriller. Or a murder mystery.
It is pure and simple facts. A reality that is so bare and true that it scares the hell out of me every time I read it. Published in 1945, this story can be seen playing out for real even now.
Animal Farm is the story of a farm where the animals feel suppressed by the Humans who own the farm and make them toil but don’t given them their labour’s worth of food and rest. So they decide to revolt against the owners, take over the farm and demonstrate how it should be run. With dreams of equal rights and benefits and a bright future, the set out to achieve the same.
But slowly, as seen in every society, the animals’ society too develops a social structure of the upper and the lower class. There is a gradual formation of a leadership, political games being played out, strategic alliances, a spokesperson who can charm the common animals with his deft words and interpretation of incidents (a take on how media contorts facts), alteration of facts as time goes by and everyone’s memory fades, amending laws in favour of the rich or the upper class, and slowly a situation where one begins to wonder what the true purpose of the rebellion was?
Sounds familiar? To me it sounds like a retelling of every dynasty or leadership in history, the rise and fall of civilisation, the corruption of power. Society as it is, and scarily enough, will always be.
In Animal Farm, George Orwell, shows us through the simple analogies of animals, how slowly power corrupts everyone and how there will always be a hierarchy in society. Wherever the rich has been uprooted by the poor for all the atrocities the former did, eventually when the dust settles it isn’t an upheaval that has happened but just a reversal of roles. The rich become poor and the poor become rich. There will never an equal distribution of wealth or a situation where the stronger truly protect the weak and live as equals.
Like he rightly states in this novel,
“All Animals are Equal. But Some Animals are More Equal than Others”
Just replace Animals with Men. And voila, you have the core of every conceivable civilisations’ story etched before you.
Scary? I told you so.
Do pick it up. Animal Farm is by far one of the best books ever written that is relevant across time and place.
I shall meanwhile go grab a coffee to come out of this sombre mood.
Photos: Remya Nair