Eric Blair was born in India in a small town along the border of Nepal, during the early nineteen-hundreds. His ingenious political satire, Animal Farm, published under the pen name "George Orwell", is one of his most popular works, justifiably so. Orwell’s writing takes the shape of a creative and intuitive, dystopic story, involving the creatures of the Manor Farm, run by a tyrannical farmer, Mr. Jones. This becomes apparent within the first few pages of the novel, as does the fact that Orwell intends to paint a verbal picture far beyond that of ordinary farm life. Animal Farm is a satirical look at the Russian Revolution and its players, portrayed through the lives of animals in a society controlled by the presumably intellectually superior of their own, the pigs.

Each of Orwell’s animal characters play a key role in the novel, as do their human counterparts. Probably the most important of the animals on the Manor Farm, as well as the most short-lived, is Old Major, the pig used to represent a prominent political philosopher of Orwell’s time. The animals fall into social classes outlined in the Marxist theory capitulated by Karl Marx, the philosopher Old Major exemplifies. The old, wise pig spreads his theories and ideas of a society more fair to them, a society run not by the tyrannical human, Mr. Jones, but by themselves! The radical idea Old Major proposes soon results in the ousting of Mr. Jones, and paves the way for the rest of the story. After the death of their leader, Old Major, the animals turn to the remainder of the pigs, Snowball and Napoleon in particular. Being that the majority of the animals are lacking education, and in some cases it seems, common sense, they rely completely on the pigs to tell them what to do and when to do it. There are numerous little songs throughout the story, bleated by the sheep, such as "Four legs good, two legs bad!", which indicate just how mind-numbingly fatuous the rest of the animals on the farm are in comparison to the scheming, power-hungry pigs. The other characters that stand out from the larger portion of the Animal Farm population, are Boxer, a work horse who represents the working class Russians, and the various other creatures who are intelligent, and yet, very easily dissuaded. Orwell does a remarkable job in describing the characters and the personalities, and relating them back to the players of the Revolution. Even if the reader begins the novel with little knowledge of the Russian Revolution, the novel is still very enlightening, an extremely worthwhile read.

Napoleon (i.e.: Russian dictator, Josef Stalin), the conniving and subversive leader of the animals, is the villain of the story. He appears at first to be the lesser of two evils, the other being Mr. Jones. However, as the story goes on the opposite becomes true. A plot of unscrupulous activity unravels as Snowball, Napoleon’s "competition", is run off. This in effect, is the turning point of the story. Conditions on the farm grow steadily worse until, inevitably, the animals begin to question Napoleon’s leadership. However, Squealer the pig, a fairly minor character in the novel used to represent the propaganda spread during the Russian Revolution, soon silences any concern that arises.

Animal farm is an excellent novel in terms of humor as well as reality. The reader might benefit from a brief review of the major facts of the Revolution before they commence reading, or even afterwards. The time necessary to do so would be very well spent. Orwell’s intelligent outlook on the Revolution as well as the actual conditions animals face on a farm provides an easy, yet intellectually stimulating read.