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George Orwell: animal farm

The author and his times
George Orwell was a quiet, decent Englishman who passionately hated two things: inequality and political lying. Out of his hatred of inequality came a desire for a society in which class privileges would not exist. This to him was "democratic socialism." His hatred of political lying and his support for socialism led him to denounce the political lie that what was going on in the Soviet Union had anything to do with socialism. As long as people equated the Soviet Union with socialism, he felt, no one could appreciate what democratic socialism might be like.
And so, he says, he "thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages." That story was Animal Farm, and it has been translated into many other languages. Understanding Orwell's political convictions--and how they developed--will greatly enrich your reading of Animal Farm.
He was born Eric Blair--he took the name George Orwell many years later: in 1903, in India. His father was an important British civil servant in that country, which was then part of the British Empire. He retired on a modest pension and moved back to England a few years after Eric was born. Thus the family was part of the "lower upper-middle-classes," as Orwell was to say: people in the English upper classes who weren't rich, but who felt they should live as the upper classes traditionally did. That's why, when Eric was eight, the Blairs sent him away to boarding school to prepare for Eton, an exclusive prep school. Eric had a scholarship, and yet his father still ended up spending almost a quarter of his pension to send his son to that boarding school! From his parents' point of view, the sacrifice paid off: Eric won a scholarship to Eton. From the boy's point of view, it meant that in a ferociously snobbish, class-conscious world, he twice had the humiliating experience of being the poorest boy in the school. "In a world where the prime necessities were money, titled relatives, athleticism, tailor-made clothes... I was no good," he wrote years later, in a powerful essay on his school experiences called "Such, Such Were the Joys." In his first school, he was repeatedly beaten with a cane for being "no good" in various ways. And he was made to feel ashamed for "living off the bounty" of the headmaster-owner, that is, for having a scholarship. From the age of eight to eighteen, the boy learned a lot about inequality and oppression in British schools.
He graduated from Eton at eighteen, near the bottom of his class. There was no chance of a scholarship to Oxford, so Eric followed in his father's footsteps and passed the Empire's Civil Service Examination. As a member of the Imperial Police in British-ruled Burma, he was to see inequality and oppression from another point of view--from the top. The fact that he was a part of that top intensified the feelings of distance and anger that he already had toward his own class. After five years in Burma he resigned.
When he came back to Europe in 1927, he lived for more than a year in Paris, writing novels and short stories that nobody published. When his money ran out, he had to find work as a teacher, a private tutor, and even as a dishwasher. He was poor--but of his own choice. His family could have sent him the money to get back to England and find a better job than dishwashing in a Paris hotel. Perhaps he was too proud to ask for help. But there was another, deeper reason: he felt guilty for the job he had done in Burma--for having been part of an oppressive government. He saw his years of poverty as punishment--and as a way to understand the problems of the oppressed and helpless by becoming one of them.
By 1933 he had come up from the bottom enough to write a book about it: Down and Out in Paris and London. Probably to save his family embarrassment, Eric asked that the book be published under a pen name. He suggested a few to his publisher. One of them was the name of a river he loved: Orwell. The next year, "George Orwell" published Burmese Days, a sad, angry novel about his experiences there. Two more novels followed.
In 1936 came another significant experience in Orwell's life. His publisher sent him to the English coal-mining country to write about it. Here he again saw poverty close up--not the "picturesque" poverty of Paris streets and English tramps, but the dreary poverty of tough men killing themselves in the dark mines day after day, or--worse still--hungry and out of work. He wrote a powerful piece of first-hand reporting about what he saw there: The Road to Wigan Pier.
Afterwards, Orwell described himself as "pro-Socialist," yet he was often bitterly critical of British socialists. To refuse to "join" his own side, to insist instead on telling the unpleasant truth as he saw it, was to become an Orwell trademark.
In 1937, however, Orwell did join a side he believed in, and it almost cost him his life: he volunteered to fight for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War.
Fascism was rising in Europe: Mussolini had taken power in Italy, Hitler in Germany. In Spain, where a shaky democratic Republic had recently been born, a socialist government was elected, promising land reform, voting reform, and separation of Church and State. A group of right-wing generals led by Francisco Franco revolted against the Republic with their armies. The government was forced to arm factory workers to defend itself against the armies--and a long, bloody civil war began.
Three experiences were crucial for Orwell in the Spanish Civil War. The first was what he saw when he got there. In Barcelona, Orwell found an exhilarating atmosphere of "comradeship and respect," everyone addressing each other as "comrade," treating each other as equals. The same thing was true, he said, of the militia group he joined. Orwell believed he was seeing the success of socialism in action.
The second thing that marked Orwell was what happened to his fellow fighters. They were jailed and shot--not by Franco, but by their own "comrades," Communist-dominated elements of the same Republican government they were fighting for! The Communists disagreed with some of the views of the militia group Orwell belonged to; they suspected the men of being disloyal to Communist ideas. Luckily for Orwell, he was not rounded up with his fellow soldiers. He had been shot through the throat on the front lines and was shipped back to England for treatment.
The third experience that would stay with Orwell for the rest of his life was what happened when he returned to England and reported what he had seen. None of the socialists wanted to hear it; nobody believed it. He was an eyewitness? No matter. It was not the right time to say something that might hurt the Republican side.
So Orwell had seen the socialist ideal in action, and he had seen it crushed--not by its natural enemies on the Right, but by Communists on the Left. And he had seen the infuriating incapacity of the Left, even the non-Communist Left, to accept that truth. All of this was very much on his mind when, in the middle of World War II, he resigned his job on the BBC (the Army wouldn't take him because of his bad lungs) and began writing Animal Farm, in November 1943.
Once again it looked like the wrong time for a story to "expose the Soviet myth." The Soviet Union was Britain's ally in the war against Nazi Germany. And in fact four publishers would turn down Animal Farm. But what was "the Soviet myth"? Why did enlightened, humane people not want to believe ill of the Soviet Union? To see what Animal Farm is about, we must look at what happened in Russia, and what it meant for people who were in many ways Orwell's political friends.
Animal Farm was written at a very inopportune time, for everywhere, even in the United States, respect for the communist government was growing, after their valiant defeat of Nazi Germany. Later, however, Orwell's Animal Farm was caught up in a "cold war" of anti- communist sentiment and soon even encouraged this outrage, although this was not Orwell's intent. For Orwell was not a party-hardliner, nor a capitalist at heart. Really he despised all systems of government that he considered hypocritical. At Eton in England, he attained such a distaste for money that he soon became an opponent of capitalism all together.
Surprisingly, Orwell was a socialist. The reason he hated communism so much is because it was not pure socialism-- he distrusted the leaders who lived in mansions while the common folk slaved in the fields. Communism, he thought, was just another way for the elite to control the majority of peasants.

The Russian Revolution
Ideas play a part in any revolution, but the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917--the one that changed "Russia" into the "U.S.S.R."--was noteworthy for being principally inspired by one idea. It was a revolution consciously made in the name of one class (the working class, the "proletariat") and against another class (the owners, the "bourgeoisie"). The Revolution was made by men who believed with Karl Marx that the whole history of the world was the history of a struggle between classes--between oppressors and oppressed.
Marx, like other socialist thinkers of the 19th century, denounced the cruel injustices of industrial capitalist society as he saw it. He had a vision of ending "the exploitation of man by man" and establishing a classless society, in which all people would be equal. The only means to this end, he thought, was a revolution of the exploited (the proletariat) against the exploiters (the bourgeoisie), so that workers would own the means of production, such as the factories and machinery. This revolution would set up a "dictatorship of the proletariat" to do away with the old bourgeois order (the capitalist system) and eventually replace it with a classless society.
Lenin took this idea and further focused on the role of the Communist Party as the leader of the working class.
When Lenin reached Russia in 1917 a first revolution against the crumbling regime of the Czar had already taken place. The new government was democratic, but "bourgeois." Lenin victoriously headed the radical socialist (Bolshevik) revolution in October of that year. This was immediately followed by four years of bloody civil war: the Revolution's Red Army, organized and led by Leon Trotsky, had to defeat the "Whites" (Russians loyal to the Czar or just hostile to the Communists) and foreign troops, too.
At Lenin's death in 1924, there was a struggle between Joseph Stalin and Trotsky for leadership of the Communist Party and thus of the nation. In 1925, Stalin clearly gained the upper hand; in 1927, he was able to expel Trotsky from the Party. Later Trotsky was exiled, then deported, and finally assassinated in Mexico, probably by a Stalinist agent, in 1940. All this time, Stalin never stopped denouncing Trotsky as a traitor.
Power in the Soviet Union became increasingly concentrated in Stalin's hands. In the 1930s, massive arrests and a series of public trials not only eliminated all possible opposition, but loyal Bolsheviks and hundreds of thousands of other absolutely innocent Russians.
Still, people all over the world who felt the pull of Marx's ideal--an end to exploitation and oppression, as they saw it--thought of the Soviet Union as the country of the Revolution. It was hard for many people on the Left (who think of themselves as on the side of the exploited, and want major changes in society to attain social justice) to give up this loyalty. That's one reason why Orwell wrote Animal Farm.

The story takes place on a farm somewhere in England. The story is told by an all-knowing narrator in the third person. The action of this novel starts when the oldest pig, Old Major on the farm calls all animals to a secret meeting. He tells all the other animals about his dream of a revolution against the cruel Mr. Jones. Three days later Major dies, but the speech gave the more intelligent animals a new outlook on life. The pigs, who were considered the most intelligent animals, instructed the other ones. During the period of preparation two pigs could distinguish themselves, Napoleon and Snowball. Napoleon is big, and although he isn't a good speaker, he could assert himself. Napoleon is a better speaker, he has a lot of ideas and he is very vivid. Together with another pig called Squealer, who is a very good speaker, they work out the theory of "Animalism". The rebellion starts some months later, as one night Mr Jones comes home drunken, and forgets to feed the animals. They break out of the barns and run to the house, where the food is stored. As Mr Jones recognises this he takes out his shotgun, but it is to late for him, all the animals fall over him and drive him off the farm. The animals destroy all whips nose rings, reins, and all other instruments that were used to suppress them. The same day the animals celebrate their victory with an extra ration of food. The pigs have made up the seven commandments, and they have written then above the door of the big barn.
They run thus:
1.: Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2.: Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings is a friend.
3.: No animal shall wear clothes.
4.: No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5.: No animal shall drink alcohol.
6.: No animal shall kill another animal.
7.: All animals are equal.
The animals also agreed that no animal shall ever enter the farmhouse, and that no animal shall have contact with humans. This commandments are summarised in the simple phrase: "Four legs good, two legs bad". After some time Jones came back with some other men from the village to recapture the farm. The animals fight brave, and they manage to defend the farm. Snowball and Boxer received medals of honour for defending the farm so bravely. Also Napoleon who had not fought at all takes a medal. This is the reason that the two pigs, snowball and Napoleon are often arguing. As Snowball one day presented his idea to build a windmill, to produce electricity to the other animals, Napoleon calls nine strong dogs. The dogs drive off Snowball from the farm, and Napoleon explains that Snowball in fact was co-operating with Mr Jones. He also explains that Snowball in realty never had a medal of honour, that in Snowball was always trying to cover up that he was fighting at the side of Mr Jones. The animals then started with the building of the windmill, and as time went on the working-time went up, whereas the food ration went down. Although the "common" animals had not enough food, the pigs grow fatter and fatter. The pigs tell the animals that they need more food, for they are managing the whole farm. Again some time later the pigs explain to the other animals that they have to trade with the neighbour farms. The common animals are very upset , because after the revolution, there has been a resolution that no animal shall make trade with a human. But the pigs ensured that there never has been such a resolution, and that this was a evil lye by Snowball. Short after this decision the pigs moved to the farm house. The other animals remembered that there was a commandment that forbids sleeping in beds, and so they go to the big barn to look at the commandments. As they arrive there they can't believe their eyes, the 4th commandment has been changed to: "No animal shall sleep in bed with sheets". And also the other commandments were changed: "No animal shall kill another animal without reason", or "No animal shall drink alcohol in excess". Some months there is a heavy storm that destroys the windmill, that is nearly ready. Napoleon accuses Snowball of destroying the mill, and he promises a reward to the animal who gets Snowball. The rebuilding of the mill takes two years. Again Jones attacks the farm, and although the animals defend the farm the windmill is once again destroyed. The pigs decide to build the mill again, and they cut down the food ration. And some day Boxer breaks down. He is sold to a butcher, whereas Napoleon tells the pigs that Boxer was brought to a hospital where he has died. Three years later the mill was finally ready. In this time Napoleon deepens the relations with the neighbour farm, and one day Napoleon even invites the owners of this farm for an inspection. They sit inside the farmhouse and celebrate the efficiency of his farm, where the animals work very hard with the minimum of food. During this celebration all the other animals have meet at the window of the farm, and as they look inside they can't distinguish between man and animal.

As its title implies, Animal Farm is set on a farm. But Orwell uses the farm to represent a universe in miniature. It sometimes seems idyllic, peaceful, fresh, spring-like. Usually moments when it is perceived in this way contrast ironically with the real situation of the animals. The setting suggests an attitude: "this could be utopia, but..." It does not really interest Orwell in itself. Sometimes he sketches a wintry, bleak, cold decor, a perfect backdrop for hard times. Here you could think of the setting as a metaphor, a way of representing hard times.

Animal Farm concerns one of the central political experiences of our time: revolution.
On those relatively rare occasions when men and women have decided to change radically the system of government they were born under, there has been revolution. It has been on the rise in the last three hundred years of human history.
Animal Farm is also about another crucial political phenomenon of our time, one which is perhaps unique to the 20th century: the rise of the totalitarian state. Even though he's less concerned with totalitarianism in Animal Farm than in his novel 1984, Orwell does give us an imaginative analysis of totalitarian dictatorship in Animal Farm.

The story of Animal Farm is told in a simple, straightforward style. The sentences are often short and spare, with a simple subject-verb-object structure: "Old Major cleared his throat and began to sing." "It was a bitter winter."
The story follows a single line of action, calmly told, with no digressions. Orwell's style, said one critic, has "relentless simplicity" and "pathetic doggedness" of the animals themselves. There is a kind of tension in Animal Farm between the sad story the author has to tell and the lucid, almost light way he tells it.
Point of View
Orwell uses point of view in Animal Farm to create irony. Irony is a contrast or contradiction, such as between what a statement seems to say and what it really means, or between what characters expect to happen and what really happens. The story is told from the naive point of view of the lower animals, not from that of the clever pigs or an all-seeing narrator. Thus, when there's a crash one night and Squealer is found in the barn sprawled on the ground beside a broken ladder, a brush, and a pot of paint, it is "a strange incident which hardly anyone was able to understand." A few days later the animals find that the Fifth Commandment painted on the barn wall is not exactly as they remembered it; in fact there are, they can now see, two words at the end that "they had forgotten." No comment from the narrator.
This simple irony is sometimes charged with great intensity in Animal Farm. For example, when Boxer, who has literally worked himself to death for the Farm, is carted off in a van to the "hospital," and Benjamin reads out "Horse Slaughterer" on the side of the van (too late), we know, and for once at least some of the animals know, what has really happened: the sick horse has been sold for glue. No irony. But when Squealer gives his fake explanation about the vet who didn't have time to paint over the slaughterer's old sign, we are gravely informed that "The animals were enormously relieved to hear this." And two paragraphs later, at the end of the chapter, when there is a banquet (for the pigs) in Boxer's honor, we hear the sound of singing coming from the farmhouse, and the last sentence tells us that the word went round that from somewhere or other the pigs had acquired the money to buy themselves another case of whisky." Most of the animals don't make the connection between Boxer's being taken away and the pigs suddenly having more money--and the narrator doesn't seem to make the connection either. But Orwell makes sure we, the readers, don't miss it. The irony (the contrast between what the animals believe, what the narrator actually tells us, and what we know to be the truth) fills us with more anger than an open denunciation could have done.

Form and Structure
Animal Farm successfully combines the characteristics of three literary forms--the fable, the satire, and the allegory.
Animal Farm is a fable (a story usually having a moral, in which beasts talk and act like men and women). Orwell's animal characters are both animal and human. The pigs, for example, eat mash (real pig food) but with milk in it that they have grabbed and persuaded the other animals to let them keep (a human action). The dogs growl and bite the way real dogs do, but to support Napoleon's drive for political power. Orwell never forgets this delicate balance between how real animals actually behave and what human qualities his animals are supposed to represent.
Part of the fable's humorous charm lies in the simplicity with which the characters are drawn. Each animal character is a type, with one human trait, or two at most--traits usually associated with that particular kind of animal. Using animals as types is also Orwell's way of keeping his hatred and anger against exploiters under control. Instead of crying, "All political bosses are vicious pigs!" he keeps his sense of humor by reporting calmly: "In future, all questions relating to the working of the farm would be settled by a special committee of pigs." (No wonder that when a publisher who rejected the book, afraid to give offense, wanted to have some animal other than pigs representing these bosses, Orwell called it an "imbecile suggestion.")
The aspect of human life that most interested Orwell was not psychological; it was political: how people act as a group, how societies are formed and function. Clearly, Animal Farm is a story about a revolution for an ideal, and about how that ideal is increasingly betrayed until it disappears altogether from the new society after the revolution. Since Orwell attacks that new society, and since, despite the grim, bitter picture he paints of it, he attacks it with humor (the humor of the beast fable), we can also call Animal Farm a satire.
The immediate object of attack in Orwell's political satire is the society that was created in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The events narrated in Animal Farm obviously and continuously refer to events in another story, the history of the Russian Revolution. In other words, Animal Farm is not only a charming fable ("A Fairy Story," as Orwell playfully subtitles it) and a bitter political satire; it is also an allegory.
You can enjoy Animal Farm without knowing this, of course, just as you can enjoy Swift's Gulliver's Travels without realizing that it, too, is a bitter satire and in places a political allegory. But to understand the book as fully as possible, we'll want to pay attention to the historical allegory as we go along.

The novel Animal Farm is a satire on the Russian revolution, and therefore full of symbolism. General Orwell associates certain real characters with the characters of the book. Here is a list of the characters and things and their meaning:
Mr Jones: the farmer Mr Jones stands for the Russian Tsar Nicolaii the second who was forced to abdicate after the successful February-revolution. But Mr Jones also somehow stands for the moral decline of men in a capitalist or feudalist type of socierty.
Old Major: Old major on the one hand represents the workers of the Putilow factory, who started the February-revolution, and on the other hand Old Major is representing the Russian intelligentsia. But it is also possible that Orwell made Old Major a symbol for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who somehow invented the communist ideology. Another possibility is that Old Major represents Wladimir Iljitsch Lenin, the leader of the October revolution.
Napoleon: Without doubt Napoleon stands for Josef Wissarionowitsch Stalin, one of the most cruel dictators in worlds history.
Benjamin: in communist Russia, or the USSR, would be an old intellectual or professor. Someone that has a good education and that has read about similar revolutions, which have not worked. He is smart in the sense that he knows about Napoleon’s tyranny enough to keep quiet. He knows that if he speaks or acts against Napoleon he might get hurt. He knows that Napoleon would not tolerate opposition.
Benjamin is a sceptic and a pessimist we could almost say a cynic, if it were not for his loyal devotion to Boxer. He is also unlike Boxer in that he does not believe in the Revolution or in anything else, except in what he has seen and felt. He believes only that life is hard and that it will always be that way. He is the only one that knew and saw the corruption of the pigs. He is wise and his hard life made him what he is rancorous. In the end his wisdom and knowledge lets him survive through something he never believed in.
Squealer: This pig is an excellent speaker. Squealer convinces all animals to follow the revolution. Squealer convinced the animals that Napoleon was a great leader that all of the animals should defend and be proud of him, but what truly was happing was that Napoleon wasn’t actually doing anything unless breaking the animal farm rules.
Squealer is short, fat, twinkle-eyed and nimble, "a brilliant talker." He has a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail that is somehow very persuasive. They say he can turn black into white! That's just what he does, again and again: every time the pigs take more wealth and power, Squealer persuades the animals that this is absolutely necessary for the well being of all. When things are scarce, he proves that production has increased- with figures. He is also the one who makes all the changes in the Seven Commandments. In human terms he is the propaganda apparatus that spreads the "big lie" and makes people believe in it.
Snowball: Snowball is a symbol for Leo Dawidowitsch Trotzky. Trotsky participated in the revolution and he was seen as Stalin’s opponent for the leader of the Soviet Union and as a result Stalin expelled him..
Snowball together with Napoleon lead the revolution and became ‘leaders’ when the revolution succeeded. Snowball in the beginning showed that he was a more intelligent pig then Napoleon. He was a good orator, he could easily convince people he was right. Snowball was a visionary leader. He was inventive and planned to improve life for the animals, he wanted to change and improve. Snowball was the one who wrote and thought of the seven commandments. This shows us that he really wants a new and better life for the animals.
After a while, however, he gets more and more corrupt: the first sign that Snowball is not thinking of the animals but only in himself is that he agrees that the pig should get the apples and the milk. He (together with the other pigs) is taking advantage of the other animals, Snowball is becoming human.
Boxer & Clover: These three animals are a sing for the Russian working-class, which was convinced of the necessity of the Revolution. The Russian working-class then has build up the industry, which was forty years behind the western countries. Then this class that has done so much for the prosperity of Russia has been betrayed by the Communist party, or in this case the pigs. Orwell also shows up that the proles are not very intelligent.
Pigs: Orwell has chosen the pigs to represent the communist Party. Before and short after the revolution the acted like being loyal to the working-class, or common animals, but later they have became just like, the tsar family. They just exploit the working-class, an they live in luxury and abundance.
Dogs: The dogs were recruited by the pigs to protect their own power and might. The dogs were also used to evict and to intimidate political enemies within their own rows (for example: Snowball-Trotzky). So one can say that the cruel dogs stand for the army and the secret-police.
Moses: The raven Moses is a symbol for the orthodox church, that was somehow an allied of the Russian Tsar. Moses always told stories of the "Sugar Candy Mountain" where all dead animals live on. Moses tries to persuade the animals that there is no need for revolution.
Rats & Rabbits: The rats and the rabbits, who are regarded as wild animals, somehow represent the socialist movement, the so-called "Menscheviki". In the very beginning of the book the animals vote if rats and rabbits should be comrades.
Pigeons: The pigeons, who fly out each day to spread out he message of the victory, represent the "Communist World Revolution".
Farm buildings: The farm stands for the Kremlin. In the early days of the USSR there were sightseeing tours trough the Kremlin. Later it became the residence of Stalin; Windmill: The Windmill for example stands for the Russian industry, that has been build up by the working-class.
Humans: The humans stand for the capitalists, who exploit the weak.
Fredericks: Stands for Hitler. There also has been an arrangement. (allusion to Fritz)
Foxwood: Foxwood farm is representing England.
Pinchfiled: Pinchfiled symbolises Germany.

Napoleon's Pursuit for Power
Power! Power? I want it! You probably want it, most people around the world desire it. Power is what makes people work. Before I can start talking about the role power has in human nature I must define it. Mastery, authority and hegemony are expression that reflects power. They have the same meaning they are synonyms. Omnipotence, I believe, is the most closely equivalent to power. Who doesn't like a bit of power? To have authority over someone is one of the best feelings you have, people seek this, they want power at any cost.
As far as there was humans there was power. Since the beginning of the world's history there is a desperate attempt to have power. Government! The living proof of this greed is any form of Government. There has always been some sort of a government and in every government there is some sort of hierarchy.
Hence; there has always been one man with more power then the other. Brutus and his followers plot to murder Caesar is evidence that humans will do any thing to move up this hierarchy. Why do people work hard? To get a better job, to go a step further in their profession and get more power. Armament race, space race, etc. These are desperate attempt to show power over other countries.
George Orwell seeks to show this human desire. In Animal Farm, Orwell's fable, Napoleon, Snowball, Jones, Pilkington long for this nectar of gods. They constantly want to take advantage over each other they want edict over each other. Total power is most likely to occur in a dictatorship. In Animal Farm Orwell shows us that communism is a dictatorship, therefore the possibility of a tyrant, or absolute ruler, is very probable and real.
This longing for power is already evident in the first chapter. What is freedom? Freedom is when you have power over your self. The animals want this. "The work of teaching and organising fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognised as being the cleverest of animals." Already the pigs have more power over the other animals. The animals believe the pigs are more intelligent so they think that the Pigs should teach and organise. Organise? Isn't organising a sort of ruling. Yes, the pigs are ruling even before the revolution. They have power over the animals even before the revolution.
After the revolution the pigs start to rule. They give orders, they do not do the manual work they supervise. They have the power to give orders, the power to only supervise while the rest do the manual work.
Power corrupts! This is and will always be true until human nature is swept off the face of the earth. The boars get the apples and milk. "Our sole object in taking these thing is to preserve our health." Snowball manages to "...turn black into white..." and make the robbing sound euphemistic. The animals don't see the truth and are cheated. Squealer uses his ability to "...turn black into white..." for the pigs own good. He is abusing his power.
The more you get the more you want. A simple but true statement. Napoleon has power, but he still want's more of it. "But it was noticed that these two[Napoleon and Snowball] were never in agreement..." Napoleon and Snowball don't want to share their power between themselves. They want total power.
They disagree with each other, they fight against each other to show off their power. They compete against themselves.
The counter-revolution led by Jones shows us that people don't give up their power so easily. They will fight until the end to preserve it. Napoleon and Snowball again disagree with each other in the windmill affair. Napoleon uses "...four legs good, two legs bad..." to sabotage Snowball. He hires the sheep to constantly interrupt Snowball.
The most evident show off desire for power is when Napoleon uses the Dogs to chase Snowball of the farm. Napoleon isn't ready to share his power. Brutus, Stalin and many other famous leaders just weren't ready to share their power. They need and yearn for the power for themselves. "...and when he falleth, he falleth like Lucifer, never to ascend again..." Napoleon fights to the end of the book to blame everything on Snowball. With this not only does he have a scapegoat but he also eliminates any chance of loosing power. Snowball was the only one that could challenge Napoleon's power, by blaming everything that goes wrong on Snowball, Napoleon makes Snowball's reputation one of an evil and mean pig. This way the animals would hate Snowball and Napoleons power will be left unchallenged.
Total power leads to abuse. Napoleon starts to abuse of the animals. "Napoleon read out the orders for the week in a gruff soldierly style..." Gruff? Isn't all the animals supposedly equal? The rules of animalism are already started to be broken. This is a consequence of having only one leader, a unrestricted leader. Democracy is already deteriorating. "Napoleon...Squealer...and Minimus...sat on the front of the raised platform.... The rest of the animals sat facing them on the main body of the barn." The animals aren't equal anymore. Napoleon is supreme, his above them. Napoleon has acquired power, autocracy, and now nobody can affront him.
With this power he is able to make Squealer convince people to work more with lies. "This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half." Voluntary? No, not at all. Napoleon is cheating the animals in to work more for him. This happens because there is nobody to lock horns with him.
With propaganda Napoleon manages to take even more power over the animals. Napoleon then decides to sell the hens eggs. The hens did revolt against Napoleons decision but power changes people, it is like a drug it makes you want more of it every time you get some. Nobody can change Napoleons ideals.
Napoleon ordered "...the hens rations to be stopped." Napoleon does not care for anybody but him. This is an unfortunate result of power. Maybe the only opposition left to Napoleon is Boxer. He is big, stronger then all of dogs and is starting to think. Napoleon then makes the dogs attack Boxer. He knows it is a gamble and therefore orders only three dogs to attack and in a moment of chaos. "...for a few moments they appeared to go quite mad...three of them flung themselves upon Boxer." It does not work.
Power leads to lust. Napoleon drinks and produces alcohol. Napoleon alters the commandments to fit him best. Napoleon is constantly using propaganda to keep him in power. Minimus' songs, manipulation of words are all propaganda to put Napoleon in a good spot. The parades are not "spontaneous" as it is called this is all a propaganda trick. Power leads the pig to get privileges and luxury. The one candidate election is another trick to hive Napoleon more power.
Napoleon says he disagrees with religion but he lets the raven spread religious ideas because Napoleon knows that if the animals think that: if they work hard in this life they will get a good "life" after death, the "sugar candy mountain" or heaven, the animals will work hard. Napoleon uses all the money for the dogs and pigs. The animals have no privileges.
Power will always lead to corruption, abuse and manipulation. It is human nature. It has and will always exists. The more you get power the more you want it.

What the story tries to tell us
The story starts with a good intention: The animals take action against men and fight against all bad things they had to suffer.
But the animals aren't equal. There are more and less intelligent ones, and step by step, the pigs, that were the most intelligent animals, took over leadership, which leaded under Napoleon to a dictatorship. Why did it came to this point? Mostly, it was the fault of every other animal on farm. The pigs could do what they wanted to, because no animal realised what happened to their farm. At first, they didn't try hard enough to learn reading and writing, then they just followed the leaders instead of taking any actions. Even when Snowball was expelled from the farm, they took no action.
The author wants to teach us, that you should always think for yourself what is good and what is bad. But to do this, it is necessary to have a good education.. Reading and writing is important, and look at the history and learn from the bad things that happened.