The book Animal Farm was written by George Orwell. It is a political satire written to parallel communist Russia. Every event and character in the book has a parallel in history to the events and characters that make up the communist revolution. Characters in the book such as Old Major and Napoleon, parallel leaders like Lenin and Stalin. The book, like the communist revolution, contained many good and bad examples of leadership.
Animal Farm takes place on a small fictional farm in England called "Manor Farm." The animals on the farm include, dogs, a cat, ducks, pigs, horses, a donkey, and even field mice, pigeons, and a crow. On the farm the animals are hard working and severely mistreated. Clearly representing the working class, the animals of the farm are unappreciated and un-rewarded for their hard work by the human owners of the farm. The humans parallel the Russian monarchy. Lead by farmer Jones, who was a poor manager of his farm much like Czar Nicholas was a poor leader, the humans mistreat the animals.
After being mistreated for some time one of the animals takes the first step toward change. An old pig called Old Major has a dream and tells all the animals about it. His dream was of the animals running the farms of the world for themselves, without the evil presence of humans. He gives a speech to the animals of the farm about being free and working for themselves. Old Major then is like Lenin or perhaps Karl Marx. His ideas of freedom are communist in nature and they awe the animals of the farm. Old Major excites the animals with thoughts of revolution.
Eventually Old Major Dies but his speech stays implanted on the minds of the animals. The animals of the farm finally snap and attack their human oppressors. Lead predominantly by the pigs, revolution sweeps the farm and the humans are driven off. This battle clearly parallels the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II. The animals rename "Manor Farm" more appropriately "Animal Farm."
At first everything seems to go well on the farm. The two most prominent leaders of the animals begin to make rules for the animals to follow. Napoleon and Snowball, who parallel the leadership of Stalin and Trotsky, begin to take over the leadership roles on the farm. The main theme of Animal Farm starts to become evident here. It is that in every society and organization, including the army or any business in the civilian world, leaders will likely abuse their power. This happened in communist Russia when Stalin eventually fought Trotsky for control of the government. Over time Stalin gained more support and had Trotsky banished from Russia. Under Stalin the Russian people were oppressed further despite his claims of freedom and liberty for those who cooperated.
The same thing happens in Animal Farm. Napoleon and Snowball begin competing with each other over issues on the farm. Napoleon eventually forces Snowball to flee after calling him a traitor to the animal's cause. He gains influence over the other animals on the farm and begins to abuse his power. This is evident when he moves into farmer Jones' house, sleeps in his bed, and even wears his clothes. These were all things that Napoleon and the other pigs had deemed illegal for animals to do. Napoleon and the other pigs become more and more corrupt, until the pigs and humans are even eating and talking with each other. The rules that Napoleon and the pigs had help to establish were now ignored by them but still enforced on the other animals of the farm.
By the end of the book Napoleon associates with a local farmer, Mr. Pilkington, and even reinstates the name of the farm from "Animal Farm" back to "Manor Farm." The book ends with all the animals gazing in at their leaders, the pigs, and their sworn enemies, the humans, eating and laughing together. While they stare the animals notice no difference between the two species.
So, the book concludes with a sense of disappointment and abandonment that the animals feel due to their leaders actions. This is much like the feelings of the peasants in Russia some time after the revolution had swept in a new corrupt government. This story paralleled every aspect of the rise and corruption of communism.
However, Animal Farm was not just a book about communism. It was a book about leadership. It was a book that illustrated both outstanding and poor leadership. Though there were not many, there were some instances where the leaders in this book preformed well. In the beginning, when Snowball and Napoleon were not arguing with each other they were leading very well. A good example of this is right after the animals gain power. Immediately after the revolution takes place the animals are so happy they don't know what to do. Napoleon right away exhibits leadership qualities by making decisions for the other animals. "Napoleon then led them back to the store-shed and served out a double ration of corn to everybody" (page 40).
Napoleon and Snowball even worked together at first. They decided upon the rules that were to be set for the animals together. They tried their best for a short time to work as one so that they could be good leaders. Gradually though the two leaders begin to disagree. This is where Napoleon and Snowball begin to become bad leaders. Arguing and debating in front of the other animals causes confusion and miscommunication. Strong communication is needed between the leaders and the led in order to maintain order. The communication between Napoleon and Snowball eventually stops completely. By this point in the book Napoleon and Snowball stop being good leaders completely. They act in their own interest instead of in the interest of the other animals.
Once Napoleon had driven Snowball from the farm he gets worse. Napoleon completely forgets about the welfare of his fellow animals. He ignores his responsibilities as a leader and focuses on himself and just maintaining his power on the farm. Napoleon breaks all of his own rules and becomes just like his enemy the humans.