In Animal Farm, I assume purposely done by GO, the animals are also seen to have human qualities and capabilities, the capabilities and qualities that are possessed by the different animals, are stereotypically chosen almost exactly how people imagine them being. The dogs are fierce and superior, the sheep are stupid, the horses are strong and loyal, the pony, Mollie is silly and vain, and the raven is sinister and cynical. However, throughout the book, we see that the masterminds behind the majority of the major issues, the intelligent ones on the farm, are the pigs. But why did GO show the pigs as being intelligent, when we think of pigs as being greedy good-for-nothing’s? He was most probably, I believe, trying to present the pigs as the intelligent ones on the farm, in order they could take advantage of the fact that they were the intelligent ones, and use it to be as greedy as possible.
GO is ironic in the way he presents Animal Farm as ‘a fairy story’. However, this is not so, Animal Farm is lacking several major important features that a fairy story should consist of. One of these is that there is no happy ending. Fairy stories are known to end off with happy endings, (evil are punished and the good live happily ever after). However, true justice is not done in Animal Farm. The evil, in the form of the pigs, live not necessarily happy, but definitely more comfortable off, and the good, the other animals, have their rations cut down and more. I have compiled a list of several characteristics that a fairy story should consist of. I will also state which of those characteristics, Animal Farm does possess, and which of those it does not. If for whatever reason there may be doubt in your mind as to whether the characteristics I will mention are actually characteristics of the average fairy story, I will use the famous fairy story ‘The Three Little Pigs’ for reference, in order to back them up. I will firstly state the characteristics of ‘The Three Little Pigs’:
- There are talking animals.
- There is a rural setting.
- There is comedy and humour.
- There is childlike language.
- There is use of a chorus – ‘I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down.
- There are moral dimensions, whereby the two lazy pigs get their house blown down by the wolf, and need to run to the pig that wasn’t lazy. This blatantly states to those children that would read it, those who are lazy do not succeed, and those who work hard do succeed.
- Also the moral lines are consistently drawn. There is no doubt to the mind as to who the villain is and who the good are. In this case, the villain being the wolf, and the good being the three little pigs.
- And most importantly, there is a happy ending. The story ends that the villain, the wolf, ends up falling into a burning pot of hot water, and the good ones, the pigs, end up living happily ever after.
To a certain degree, I agree GO is right in stating that Animal Farm is ‘a fairy story’ as it does consist of several of the above characteristics. In Animal Farm, there are talking animals. It is also on a rural setting, hence the name ‘Animal Farm’. There is also comedy and humour, for example when the pigs vote twice. There is also childlike language, for example on pages 38-39, where firstly, there is a stage-by-stage account, there is use of short sentences, and the animals don’t know the meaning of the word ‘Tactics’, which may seem stupid to us, but to a child reading it, he/she may not know what it means either. There is also use of choruses, for example when the sheep constantly banter ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’, which was originally the concept of ‘animalism’, until as we know, Napoleon used Squealer to brainwash the animals into misinterpreting the original concept, and instead to think of it how Napoleon wanted it. It was eventually changed to ‘Four legs good, two legs better’. There is also use of chorus with ‘Death to Humanity’, which is changed to ‘Death to Pilkington’, the owner of a farm called Foxwood, which represents England; and then it is once again changed to ‘Death to Frederick’, the owner of a farm called Pinchfield, which represents Germany.
However, of those five characteristics I just mentioned, only the characteristic of childlike language is actually a necessity, whereas the three characteristics that are missing are all necessities. Before I reach those characteristics, I would just like to point out that there is one obvious feature in this book that differs to that of a fairy story. This is extreme violence. What may be running through your mind right now is, that’s not true, and there is violence in fairy stories. I will now respond by telling you however, there is one major occurrence during the book concerning violence that you would not find in fairy stories, and that is the slaughter of the innocent. For example, Boxer, the horse that is extremely loyal towards Napoleon, and works away his life for the benefit of the farm, proven by his two well-known mottos, ‘I will work harder’, and ‘Napoleon is always right’, instead of receiving the retirement that was promised to him, he was sold to a slaughter house, where he was slaughtered in order that the greedy pigs could afford another case of whisky.
Moving onto the three characteristics that are lacking from Animal Farm, (that happen to be crucial characteristics towards the construction of a fairy story. The most obvious of these three is, and I mentioned it above, but I will repeat it once again, that there is no happy ending. For example, in the case of Boxer, the best and most loyal animal on the farm, and the pigs paid him back by sending him to be slaughtered! The exact opposite has occurred to what should occur if it were to be a standard fairy story. The pigs deserve to be slaughtered, predominantly Napoleon.
Another of the basic necessities for a fairy story missing in Animal Farm is the moral dimension. Fairy stories should present the world as being morally safe, secure, peaceful, and comfortable place to exist in. However, GO does precisely on the contrary. Differing to the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs’, where it gives off the obviously correct impression that those who are lazy do not succeed, and that if you work hard you do succeed, there is absolutely no moral to be learnt.
The last expected necessity for a fairy story, missing from Animal Farm, is that the moral lines are not consistently drawn. There is severe doubt as to who the villain is, and who the good is. At the beginning of the book, Mr. Jones is viewed as the villain. Once the animals take over the farm, Mr Jones is still the villain, as are the neighbouring farmers who attempt to reclaim the farm for Mr Jones, for example at ‘The Battle of the Cowshed’. Once Napoleon takes over, from the audience point of view, which is the genuine point of view, Napoleon is now the villain, however from the animals’ disorientated and erroneous point of view, which they were deceived into believing, Snowball is now the villain, whereas we as the audience know, he always was good.
In conclusion, on the one hand, GO was correct in calling Animal Farm
‘A fairy story’ since it does consist of several, if not the majority of characteristics that are expected to be used to construct a fairy story, for example the fact that the animals can talk, there is use of childlike language, and there is use of choruses etc.
However, the characteristics missing from Animal Farm in value terms, significantly outweighs those that it does consist of. I think GO was not completely justified to call Animal Farm ‘A fairy story’.