Animal Farm is a novella by George Orwell about an insurrection of farm animals against the human owner of the farm (representative of Czar Nicholas II). It was published in August 1945 in England (originally named Animal Farm: A Fairy Story) and in 1946 in North America, with "A Fairy Story" being dropped from the title. According to Conservapedia, Pixar's Toy Story 3 has a lot in common with it.
Its plot is a loose allegory of the October Revolution, the rise of communism in the Russian Empire (and from 1924, the USSR), and its eventual betrayal and usurpation by Josef Stalin (represented in this book by the evil pig Napoleon) and the atrocities committed in its name. Orwell was a socialist and his novel was a critique of totalitarianism in general, subtly portraying how the revolution was consumed by sinister forces (And also displaying the inherent weaknesses in the primitive body politic that allowed such a brazen seisure of absolute power). If we were to speculate on any character in the novel based on Orwell, its probably the wise old donkey who refused to get caught up in the revolutionary bandwagon in the first place.
Many of the characters in Animal Farm in some way or another personify people of the Soviet Union under Stalin in the 1930s and 1940s, and in the case of Old Major, the original figureheads of Communism in the 19th century.
 Humans (Capitalists, Royalty)
- Mr. Jones, the drunken old farmer, represents Czar Nicolas II, who was overthrown in the February Revolution. The Return of Jones and the Battle of the Cowshed represent the October Revolution.
- Mr. Pilkington is a neighbor farmer and the owner of Foxwood, which represents the British Empire.
- Frederick is another neighboring farmer and the owner of Pinchfield. He represents Adolf Hitler, his farm being Nazi Germany. The sale of wood to Frederick represents the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (the signing of which immediately preceded World War II), and the fact that the banknotes were counterfeit represent the insincerity of the pact and the invasion of Russia by Germany in 1941.
- Mr. Whymper comes to Animal Farm weekly and deals with Napoleon, providing the pigs whiskey in exchange for various things, such as eggs and Boxer. He represents capitalists who did business with the Soviet Union.
 Pigs (Communists)
- Old Major is most easily interpreted as Karl Marx. Old Major is personified as Marx through his original prophecy of an equal animal utopia at the beginning of the book, and his character later also alludes to Vladimir Lenin, as Old Major's skull is preserved and saluted by the animals of the farm weekly after the revolution, while Lenin's body was also preserved after his death.
- Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin; he is the leader of Animal Farm and turns it into a dystopia via power and propaganda in much the same way Stalin did. He also holds general mannerisms which were attributed to Stalin: boorish, cruel, backstabbing, and corrupt with power.
- Snowball's ousting and subsequent demonisation is based on Leon Trotsky, who was banished from the Soviet Union in 1929. Snowball can also be seen as a larger personification for general enemies of the Soviet Union under Stalin.
- Squealer is a personification for the Soviet Union's use of propaganda, as he is seen several times throughout the book justifying the power abuse by the pigs, and is once caught altering the Commandments of Animal Farm, though this is lost on most of the animals there.
 Horses (Workers)
- Boxer, the horse, is the strongest animal on the farm. He represents the masses of Soviet workers who loved Stalin and the Soviet Union — dedicated to his job but slightly dimwitted and willing to take anything that Napoleon says as gospel. When Boxer is wounded by Frederick's invasion of Animal Farm and can no longer work, Napoleon sells him to be turned into glue and bonemeal, so that Napoleon can buy another case of whiskey. This represents Stalin's betrayal of the workers.
 Other animals
- The sheep of the farm are an allegory for the general public of the Soviet Union, with their bleating of the short Animalist slogan "Four legs good, two legs bad," and their increased willingness to follow whatever the leadership says; in particular, they are later taught to bleat, "Four legs good, two legs better" instead. qv. sheeple
The plot centres around a group of animals on the Manor Farm, owned by a drunk named Mr. Jones. The story starts with the boar Old Major calling a meeting in the main barn, in which he tells the other animals of a dream he had the previous night. In the dream, he sees a land where animals are no longer owned and exploited by humans. Old Major then teaches the animals a related song he remembered his youth, entitled "Beasts of England." The animals are heartened by the thought of a day when they can work for themselves rather than the humans, and after Old Major dies a few nights later, the pigs of the farm, depicted as the smartest creatures, begin to plan for the revolution, which occurs some months later.
Immediately after the revolution, the farm is renamed "Animal Farm," and seven commandments are instigated by the pigs which dictate the ruling political ideology of "Animalism". As the story develops, the pigs increasingly abuse their power over the oblivious animals. Napoleon ousts the other lead pig Snowball and takes over as head of Animal Farm. He moves into the farmhouse, sleeps in Mr. Jones's bed, drinks his alcohol, and even begins wearing his clothes, all while continually cutting rations for the animals in the farm. Several animals also die at the hands of the pigs in purges where certain animals would break down and confess to treasonous crimes.
The pigs also begin to trade with humans for supplies, and Animal Farm is understood to be "at war" with one or two of the neighbouring farms, over their alleged harbouring of Snowball - whichever farm he was supposedly hiding in was the farm Animal Farm considered enemy. In order to justify their wacky antics, the pigs alter the Seven Commandments under cover of night to fit in with their obvious breaking of them - this is revealed to the other animals when the pig Squealer is found injured with a bucket of paint at the wall of the Seven Commandments, although few of the animals were able to make sense of it.
The book ends with the pigs one day emerging from the house dressed in human clothes carrying whips. The final scene is of the animals watching Napoleon and the pigs one night in Jones's house, as they drink beer and play cards with the humans from the neighbouring farms as friends. The humans commend Napoleon on his exploitation of the animals while Napoleon accepts the human friendship, blaming any previous indiscretions on "saboteurs." He announces that the name of the farm is to be changed back to its original name of "Manor Farm" and that the animals will no longer be allowed to address each other as "comrade." All is well until a fight breaks out with both Mr. Pilkington and Napoleon playing the Ace of Spades simultaneously, leaving the animals standing outside, unable to tell the difference between either.
The novel was brought to the screen twice. First was an animated version in 1954 by the British studio Halas and Batchelor, which was secretly financed by the Central Intelligence Agency.  The second was a live-action/CGI version in 1999 for the TNT Network (later leased on home video), produced by Hallmark Entertainment, and special effects by Jim Henson's Creature Workshop.
 The Seven Commandments of Animalism
After the overthrow of the humans, the pigs reveal their work on the concept of Animalism by painting the "Seven Commandments of Animalism" on the wall of the main barn - the original rules by which the animals of Animal Farm were to live by.
- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- All animals are equal.
The sheep of the farm, being too thick to remember all of these, had their rules reduced to "Four legs good, two legs bad!" which they randomly bleated at certain intervals, which would be enough to piss anyone off.
However, with the corrupting effects of absolute power the pigs amended the Commandments to excuse their own excesses; so that:
- No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
- No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
- No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
Ultimately, Napoleon simply decides to get rid of all the Commandments in a final dictatorial move against the animals, replacing them with but one commandment:
“”All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
- Full text at Project Gutenberg Australia. Note: it probably is still under copyright in your home country (if it's not Australia). Examine your local laws before downloading.