Animal Farm is a work well known as a novel about communism - though it is not a direct attack on the concept, as some may claim. As a devout socialist himself, George Orwell had a great amount of respect for the ideas of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, so much as they found themselves incorporated into an early but pivotal character in the work. Rather, instead of a scathing critique on their ideas, Animal Farm instead acts as a deft riposte; Orwell uses the very tenets of communism to prove why they cannot work; human nature directly undermines them, and he communicates this nature in action through, ironically, barnyard animals.
The story opens on Manor Farm, with the aged yet revered pig Old Major spreading his ideas of 'animalism' to his animal peers, speaking of a rebellion against the cruel human master Mr. Jones that operates the farm with little regard for the health or happiness of the yard. Before he is able to carry out this act, however, he passes on, leaving those that heard his message with no choice but to interpret it as they see fit. Snowball and Napoleon, two charismatic pigs, take charge and rally the barnyard animals to expel Jones and his family from the farm.
Once Jones is ousted, the animals dedicate themselves to betterment of the farm, and do quite well for themselves; Jones even comes back and is repelled yet again.
However, Napoleon and Snowball bicker over the farm's administration, which reaches a head at the proposed construction of a windmill. Nine puppies that Napoleon had previously confiscated and reared into attack dogs burst onto the scene and oust Snowball, leaving Napoleon as the sole administrator of the now-renamed Animal Farm.
However, don't think that this is the end - the story has only begun at this point. Each animal, from the vapid mare Mollie, to the hardworking yet impulsive horse Boxer, to the cynical donkey Benjamin, represents some aspect of society. Though the farm may appear to be smoothly run at first, your heart will undoubtedly break as the slowly falls apart page by page; at the lost dreams and opportunities that each animal forsakes, to the deplorable conditions that the farm devolves to, and to the outright brainwashing that Napoleon executes to the very end. At the end, the cycle is complete, and has dug deep furrows of destruction as it ran its course; society has made no progress, and at a terrible cost, because of human nature and its unquenchable lust for power.