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Because the book is an allegory that describes the Soviet Union, you might choose the political discussion that the book comprises as the overwhelming theme. You can look at the way that the leadership starts as an idealistic group but quickly changes to be concerned only with consolidating their power and privilege at the expense of the governed. You might also write an essay drawing out the connections between the animals in the story and the real-life people they represented.
The most common and strongest theme in the book, in my mind, is the flaws and problems that were present in the formation of and consolidation of the Soviet Union. Orwell does a fantastic job of satirizing the various episodes in that history, and writing an essay about them could be very straightforward.
Animal Farm is a parody of the Bolshevic revolution. The characters represent real personages who played out the establishment of Soviet Russia. For example, Mr Jones the farmer represents Tsar Nicholas, and Napoleon the pig, represents Lenin etc. The theme that is present throughout the whole book is "That power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." This is bourne out by the initially meek animals rebelling against the cruel farmer, and establ;ishing a utopian-like society. Gradually however, the benignly established rules are warped and altered until the new leaders of the Animal Farm are in fact worse than the old one.
If you'd like your research to be focused on literature as opposed to political history, you might choose a theme relating to corruption, as suggested above.
One major conflict in Animal Farm is found in the difference between a "will to power" and a "will to freedom". Both of these drives lead to revolution. Yet, although these two aims seem to be identical before the uprising of the animals, they develop to be very distinct if not opposite to one another as the book progresses.
The conflict then is not strictly found in the failure of the revolution, but in the nature of that revolution: The will to power leads to corruption becuase "power corrupts". If you can find a way to articulte the conflict between the "will to power" and the "will to freedom", there is a rich well to draw from as you do your research:
Successful 20th Century Revolutions: India/Gandhi & USA's Civil Rights Movement/MLK
Contemporary Novels of Disutopia: The Handmaid's Tale; Oryx and Crake; Waiting for the Barbarians
Socially Progressive Literature: "Howl"; On the Road
Academic Literature: Pedagogy of the Oppressed
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