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The tone of Animal Farm is initially playful and lighthearted, but it becomes bitter as the story unfolds. The story begins with a tone suggesting the reader is embarking on a superficially silly story about ridiculous humans and talking animals. The description of both the humans and animals suggests a bemused, detached attitude toward the story. Orwell anthropomorphizes the animals, which is to say he not only gives them the ability to speak, but gives them human qualities and concerns. For example, Clover the horse “never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal” (Chapter 1). The concern with physical appearance makes Clover seem like a foolish woman.
However, as Napoleon’s regime worsens, chilling notes creep in. This bitterness is all the more striking because it is embedded in an otherwise playful story. The progression from playfulness to disturbing bitterness warns readers that however cozy life seems, society can easily collapse into horror and bloodshed. At the same time, by making a silly, playful, fun story out of the horrifying events of Stalin’s Terror, the novella also makes fun of Stalin, suggesting that ultimately the Soviet dictator is as laughable as a talking pig.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Animal Farm!