YMMV / Animal Farm

All tropes are subjective... but some tropes are more subjective than others.

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Mollie, the only one who doesn't submit to the new tyranny and manages to escape, really the most "foolish" animal on the farm?
    • The Cat acts like she supports Napoleon, but tends to absent herself from the farm for long periods, and appears to suffer far less than the other animals. Moses the Raven is similar.
    • Considering Old Major's a boar, and pigs are pretty much VERY Always Chaotic Evil in the story, was he an exceptional revolutionary as everyone thought, or was this whole thing a ruse with pig domination being the true goal?
    • Just how evil (or good) Snowball is has been the subject of a lot of debate (fitting, since he's based off Leon Trotsky, himself a rather divisive figure). Interpretations range from him being every bit of a monster as Napoleon to a pragmatic Well-Intentioned Extremist to a genuinely good but misguided pig. It's clear that he wasn't 100% a saint, since he, like the other pigs, didn't share the apples and milk with the other animals, but that alone is too vague to determine his overall personality. He's also incredibly cold towards Boxer's remorse over killing a human boy during the Battle of the Cowpens but that can be expected in war.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Narrowly averted, as the film contains the same political allegories and violence present in the novel, and was marketed as an adult film when it was first released. Unfortunately, the BBFC reclassified the original rating of X (18 and over) to Universal, meaning that they consider it to be suitable for children.
  • Complete Monster: Napoleon, the Big Bad of this Beast Fable on the Russian Revolution, represents Josef Stalin. While he seems like a benevolent revolutionist at first, who tries to make Old Major's dream a reality, it quickly becomes clear that he is just a selfish, power-hungry tyrant, who cares not one bit about his fellow animals. He starts by rationing food exclusively for him and the other pigs. He also secretly forms his own private squadron of attack dogs, by abducting all the newborn puppies from their parents and raising them to be fully obedient to him. Later he backstabs his ally Snowball—explicitly having the dogs kill him in the 1954 Animated Adaptation—and frames him for every wrong happening on the farm, while continuing to manipulate everyone into worshiping him and mercilessly sentencing everyone to death who shows the tiniest sign of resistance. He truly hits the Moral Event Horizon when he sells the completely loyal and by far hardest-working horse Boxer to the knacker after he got sick, in order to buy himself more alcohol. He justifies his actions by having Squealer constantly alter the law, and the past, to fit them. After a few years and a whole lot of more horrendous crimes, the other animals can barely tell him and the other pigs apart from the humans, whose reign they so desperately tried to escape.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending:
    • The live-action film, made in 1999, tried to update the ending to reflect the fall of the USSR by showing a new family buying the farm and the animals vowing to do things right this time. Given the actual history of the post-Communist Russia, especially under Putin's reign, it's hard to look at this ending as anything but out of touch. And the animals are still going to be eaten.
    • The 1954 Animated Adaptation ended with the animals rebelling and overthrowing the pigs.
  • Executive Meddling: From the CIA, no less! The 1954 Animated Adaptation was secretly funded as anti-Communist propaganda. Orwell's implication that capitalism and communism was Not So Different was downplayed, Snowball (the Leon Trotsky expy) was made less heroic, and a happy ending where the animals rebelled against their pig oppressors was added on.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The ending with Napoleon proclaiming that Animal Farm is going to revert to the old name of Manor Farm, while fraternizing with the other farmer in mutual agreement, seems a little hilarious when considering modern Russia reversed a lot of Soviet names to tsarist standards as well as taking back her old tricolor flag. Also when considering this was done by members of the former communist party (Gorbachev, Yeltsin and eventually Putin).
  • It Was His Sled: The final change to the Seven Commandments is one of the most well known quotes in the book.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Napoleon. Arguably even more so than his real life counterpart.
  • Memetic Mutation: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". A image of the wall with this text and with the medalled pigs from the 1954-film have since shown up online. It's often used to mock people and groups who claim they want equality, while wanting special treatment.
  • Misaimed Fandom: As with Nineteen Eighty-Four, the book is often a favorite of conservatives, who see it as purely an attack on the evils of socialism. Orwell himself was a Democratic Socialist whose aim was to rescue socialism from Soviet totalitarianism, and the portrayal of the human farmers makes his view of conservatism clear.
    • Specifically, the point of the ending is that capitalism and Stalinism are, in Orwell's eyes, equally evil systems that oppress the lower class for the benefit of the upper one. ("The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.") And earlier on, the happiest period on the farm is the brief span between the ousting of Jones and the pigs' takeover. Orwell wasn't exactly subtle.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Napoleon comes close to crossing the line several times, but when he gives Boxer, the most loyal and hardworking of all the animals, over to the knacker's because he is injured and no longer able to work near the end of the story, he finally crosses it and at that moment, it's quite clear that Napoleon has become even worse than Farmer Jones, the animals' original oppressor — in the very first scene of the story, Old Major, the one who set this whole revolution in motion, cites man's penchant for callously slaughtering animals once their usefulness to him is at an end as one of his very worst evils.
    • Benjamin seems to agree with this, as until that point he had been apathetic towards the whole revolution thing.
    • In the animated movie, even a raven bystander who had watched Snowball's death with stoicism is horrified when Napoleon decides to execute animals via mauling.
    • Interestingly, Orwell himself stated that the turning point in the revolution comes much earlier, when the pigs take the lion's share of the milk and apples for themselves instead of sharing them equally with the other animals. That's the first time they put their own greed above their cause or their comrades, and from there on it's just a decline into more of the same, but worse.
  • Obvious Judas: In the animated film, the design of Napoleon makes it far too evident that he is or will become the bad guy, especially if you compare him with the other pigs. Part of it is that he's dark in color, which his breed (Berkshire boar) is in real life, and he's stated to be the only one on the farm.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Despite featuring talking animals, this is a high school level book.
    • Video shops often shelved the Animated Adaptation in the kids' section, despite its dark tone.
    • The simplistic-sounding title doesn't help.