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YMMV / Animal Farm

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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? Is she trading the new tyranny for the old one, or, since she chose her new life and is happy in it, are her new conditions not so oppressive? Is her new job slavery like the old regime of Manor Farm, or is she free? On that subject, why exactly did the animals choose to forget her? Did they choose to forget her because she went against Animalism, because she had the cushiest job on the whole farm when Jones was in charge, because she represented their loss of choice, or because, with what happened after she left, she might have been right and left when and while she could?
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    • 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.
    • Just how evil (or good) Snowball is has been the subject of a lot of debatenote . 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 Cowshed, but that can be expected in war, and at the time he was still bleeding from wounds inflicted from Jones' shotgun so his harshness is more than understandable.
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    • Is Benjamin simply too apathetic to warn his fellow animals about the evil and hypocrisy of the pig regime, or does he know that the only thing he'd accomplish is being the next one to end up on Napoleon's hit list?
    • Did Old Major truly want to bring about a world where all animals could live in freedom and equality, or did he know full well that the animals would simply be moving from one kind of tyranny and oppression to another, yet pushed them towards it anyway because he believed that his fellow pigs would be the ones to come out on top?note 
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    • Was Napoleon always bad, or did he start out good? If the latter, why did he make his Face–Heel Turn?
    • The book leaves implications whether Boxer was merely a loyal candidate worked to death by his ungrateful peers, or if the pigs intentionally drained him, since his one defiance against them made apparent he could be a threat to their power.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: The animated film contains the same political allegories and violence present in the novel. It was marketed as an adult film when it was first released, but the BBFC reclassified the original rating of X (18 and over) to Universal, meaning that they considered it to be appropriate for children.
  • Broken Base: The Adaptational Karma in nearly every interpretation after the original book. Some think it ignores the powerful message of the novel in favor of Disneyfication. Others think it works in terms of updating the context, as in real life, the pigs' basisnote  had been slowly destroyed with each adaptation.
  • Complete Monster: Napoleon seems like a benevolent revolutionist at first, trying to make Old Major's dream a reality, but 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, and 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. Merely in order to buy himself more alcohol, he sells the completely loyal, and extremely hard-working, horse Boxer to the knacker after he got sick. 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. Not to mention that Jones wasn't presented any more sympathetically than the pigs were, and the original book is a critique of Capitalism just as much as it is of Stalinism.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Even here this trope crops up, mostly due to Academia's use of it for teaching allegories. Much of the work is intentionally directly paralleling actual history however many a essays have devoted time trying to tie every single minor character and scene into some kind of brilliant allegorical meaning where Orwell more than likely was generalizing and having fun with his Beast Fable.
  • 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 its old tricolor flag. Also when considering this was done by members of the former communist party (Gorbachev, Yeltsin and eventually Putin).
    • In the 1999 adaptation, Patrick Stewart (Napoleon) and Kelsey Grammer (Snowball) are heated, ultimately fatal rivals fighting on the same side of a war for their oppressed species' right to survive. In X-Men: The Last Stand, their respective characters (Professor X, Beast,) are in very similar circumstances, only in a far less acrimonious relationship.
  • It Was His Sled: The final change to the Seven Commandments is one of the most well known quotes in the book.
  • Memetic Mutation: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Images 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 1984, 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. 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, which would be analogous to The Soviet Twenties. Orwell wasn't exactly subtle; there's this line from Mr. Pilkington during the meeting with the pigs at the end that sums it up nicely: "If you have your lower animals to deal with, we have our lower classes!"
  • 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. 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.
  • Narm Charm: The Grateful Duck's song in the live action version is oddly silly even though it's meant to be a brainwashing device but the way the duck sings and the lyrics (helped by the music) make it fun to listen to.
  • 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. Just in case that is too subtle, he also wears a perpetual nasty grimace.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: One that transcends the communism fable: when fighting for social change, take care that you do not become as bad, if not worse, than those you fight against.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • While the majority of the animal characters in the 1999 film were created through rather impressive animatronics, there were several, such as the rat, that were created through CGI that was incredibly poor even for the time.
    • Old Major ends up looking rather stiff and robotic, especially during his death scene.
  • Too Cool to Live: Snowball. The most educated animal on the farm and only rival to Napoleon is eventually exiled - and in the 1954 animated film murdered.
  • Unconventional Learning Experience: Intended as one for the history of the Russian Revolution, but is now more often used to teach the concept of allegory in Language/Writing class. History teachers are less enthusiastic about using it for Orwell's intended purpose because of the work's clear biases and the removal of groups and figures they feel are important. note  However it's not uncommon for English and history teachers to team up while a class is assigned this book.
  • Values Dissonance: As noted by Alternate History Hub and The Cynical Historian, Orwell's treatment of Trotsky via Snowball the pig is based on an outdated "Trotsky Myth" that he would have been a democratic and benevolent leader of the USSR as told via his writings against Stalin while he was exiled. While it's largely believed that Trotsky would have not purged as many people as Stalin, many of Stalin's harsh industrialization plans came from Trotsky himself, meaning Snowball would likely have a major Not So Different moment from Napoleon in this regard. Furthermore, an analysis of Trotsky's works on Permanent Revolution have caused historians (socialist and anti-socialist alike) to infer that he would have likely started a World War in order to spread Communism, which would have likely degraded the view of Communism in the world's eyes as opposed to Stalin managing to frame the USSR as a heroic victim and increase Communism's appeal. Thus, Orwell can be considered responsible for popularizing the Trotsky Myth thanks to Snowball and proclaiming the argument that the USSR wasn't real Communism due to Napoleon resembling a human by the end, though it's still obvious for most historians and literary scholars Stalin and Napelon strayed overtly from their orthodox ideologies.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Despite featuring talking animals, this is a high school level book. The simplistic-sounding title doesn't help. Video shops often shelved the Animated Adaptation in the kids' section, despite its dark tone and being about the not exactly kid-friendly Russian Revolution.
  • The Woobie: Boxer is a hard-working horse and never stops even when he becomes wounded and eventually collapses out of being exhausted. Looking forward to being healed and then finally being put to rest after all the work he has done, Napoleon instead sells him to the slaughterhouse, not caring about Boxer's loyalty.


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