What I Liked
The Historical Significance and How Well It's Done Anyone can write a story arising from bitterness towards the current political state, but George Orwell is really good at simplifying it and making the absolute mess that was Stalin's rise to power look just as ridiculous and inconceivable as it actually was. I like to think that this goes along with the kind of foreign policy that I endorse -- get rid of your villain, but not before you know what you're going to do the day he's gone.
The Use Of Irony In telling the stories of pigs and hoses, George Orwell also tells the story of the Soviet Union--and I doubt many other people could talk about Joseph Stalin with such indifference, a style that looks at the characters and people in a fresh new way. Effectively: "your freedom's a lie. Ah, well." The animals' ignorance to the downfall of their own farm, as well, seems less a tribute to human unawareness and stupidity that arises in newly freed people and more a testament to unaware disbelief. I think this novel is as much of a middle finger to the idea of, "it couldn't possibly" as it is to Joseph Stalin.
Its Overall Simplicity There's a reason this book is so short--and it's doubtful that the amount of pages is a direct consequence of Orwell getting lazy. Unlike expanded and diluted allegories, some of which are so expanded and diluted that their message is lost to uncaring readers, Animal Farm is a direct message. The characters effectively let their revolution be unsuccessful. Possibly, the reason why Orwell's work is so well known is the fact that he makes it so obvious.
The Details I would have equally appreciated an essay entitled "wake up, idiots!" But I am also rather fond of the handy little details. The flag, "Beasts of England," the exact words of Squealer's propaganda, and the listable steps by which a totalitarian society was created are among Orwell's best. Yes, it's obvious overall, and the message is easy to interpret, but the small links to history and details that reveal themselves after close examination makes the chapters only get more and more interesting as they are reread and reread.
The Fact That It's Terrifying The idea of hopeful communist reform twisted into something unrecognizable is scary enough on its own. But the suspiciously easy way our antagonist, Napoleon (a.k.a, Joseph Stalin), establishes his power is enough to haunt the reader the whole book onwards. Among the most unsettling passages, the last paragraph, "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creature outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to tell which was which." In the end, the hopeful revolutionaries had become their own enemies, and this reality was to be so for as far as the animals could see into an overcast eternity before them. The beginning of Terror Rule, in the middle of the novel, with brutal public executions, is a jarring and painful turn, a realization of absolute doom for the society the animals hoped to build, and, if you aren't already well-versed in history, unsuspected as well.
Things That Could Use Improvement
Maybe don't bore me with such a long preface next time?