At first glance, the title Animal Farm does not seem to reveal much about the novel’s plot. Readers might even interpret it as a pleonasm, as the typical farm contains animals and it seems odd to further highlight this fact.
However, it soon becomes clear that the title Animal Farm is significant because this is a story of a farm run by animals, which is a strong twist on the reader’s expectations.
In the context of the story itself, Animal Farm becomes the official name given to the Manor Farm after its liberation (p. 15), a change all the animals witness and appreciate, because it becomes a clear symbol of their Rebellion and their newfound freedom. It also contains a promise of a new future free of humans, similar to what is described in Old Major’s song ‘Beasts of England’ (p. 7-8).
Because of this significance, it also comes across as the ultimate betrayal when Napoleon changes the name of the farm back to the Manor Farm at the end of the story (p. 94), giving up all pretence of revolutionary goals and a new age of free animals, and instead choosing to run the farm just as strictly as the humans did.
As a final note, it is interesting to consider that the novel’s original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story. Some versions of the book have kept this subtitle, but in others it has been removed by the publisher because it was considered too ‘childish’. The additional subtitle makes it even more clear that the story is intended as an allegory – as fairy stories are typically allegories of real-life situations.
The story begins in a traditional way, with the exposition first briefly presenting the setting of the Manor Farm and then systematically introducing many of the characters involved. Curiously, Napoleon and Snowball - arguably the main characters of the story - are not introduced by name at this point, though most of the other animals are. This could be seen as reflecting the plot of the story, in which the power of the pigs is only revealed gradually as time goes by.
Old Major’s prophecy serves to set the story’s plot in motion, providing a sketch of what seems to be the main conflict (animals vs. humans) and presenting the rules that the animals must live b...