Animal Farm George Orwell
Summary of Animal Farm by George Orwell
One night, all the animals at Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm assemble in a barn to hear old Major, a pig, describe a dream he had about a world where all animals live free from the tyranny of their human masters. old Major dies soon after the meeting, but the animals — inspired by his philosophy of Animalism — plot a rebellion against Jones. Two pigs, Snowball and
Napoleon, prove themselves important figures and planners of this dangerous enterprise. When Jones forgets to feed the animals, the revolution occurs, and Jones and his men are chased off the farm. Manor Farm is renamed Animal Farm, and the Seven Commandments of Animalism are painted on the barn wall.
Initially, the rebellion is a success: The animals complete the harvest and meet every Sunday to debate farm policy. The pigs, because of their intelligence, become the supervisors of the farm. Napoleon, however, proves to be a power-hungry leader who steals the cows’ milk and a number of apples to feed himself and the other pigs. He also enlists the services of Squealer, a pig with the ability to persuade the other animals that the pigs are always moral and correct in their decisions.
Later that fall, Jones and his men return to Animal Farm and attempt to retake it. Thanks to the tactics of Snowball, the animals defeat Jones in what thereafter becomes known as The Battle of the Cowshed. Winter arrives, and Mollie, a vain horse concerned only with ribbons and sugar, is lured off the farm by another human. Snowball begins drawing plans for a windmill, which will provide electricity and thereby give the animals more leisure time, but Napoleon vehemently opposes such a plan on the grounds that building the windmill will allow them less time for producing food. On the Sunday that the pigs offer the windmill to the animals for a vote, Napoleon summons a pack of ferocious dogs, who chase Snowball off the farm forever. Napoleon announces that there will be no further debates; he also tells them that the windmill will be built after all and lies that it was his own idea, stolen by Snowball. For the rest of the novel, Napoleon uses Snowball as a scapegoat on whom he blames all of the animals’ hardships.
Much of the next year is spent building the windmill. Boxer, an incredibly strong horse, proves himself to be the most valuable animal in this endeavor. Jones, meanwhile, forsakes the farm and moves to another part of the county. Contrary to the principles of Animalism, Napoleon hires a solicitor and begins trading with neighboring farms. When a storm topples the half-finished windmill, Napoleon predictably blames Snowball and orders the animals to begin rebuilding it.
Napoleon’s lust for power increases to the point where he becomes a totalitarian dictator, forcing “confessions” from innocent animals and having the dogs kill them in front of the entire farm. He and the pigs move into Jones’ house and begin sleeping in beds (which Squealer excuses with his brand of twisted logic). The animals receive less and less food, while the pigs grow fatter. After the windmill is completed in August, Napoleon sells a pile of timber to Jones; Frederick, a neighboring farmer who pays for it with forged banknotes. Frederick and his men attack the farm and explode the windmill but are eventually defeated. As more of the Seven Commandments of Animalism are broken by the pigs, the language of the Commandments is revised: For example, after the pigs become drunk one night, the Commandment, “No animals shall drink alcohol” is changed to, “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.”
Boxer again offers his strength to help build a new windmill, but when he collapses, exhausted, Napoleon sells the devoted horse to a knacker (a glue-boiler). Squealer tells the indignant animals that Boxer was actually taken to a veterinarian and died a peaceful death in a hospital — a tale the animals believe.
Years pass and Animal Farm expands its boundaries after Napoleon purchases two fields from another neighboring farmer, Pilkington. Life for all the animals (except the pigs) is harsh. Eventually, the pigs begin walking on their hind legs and take on many other qualities of their former human oppressors. The Seven Commandments are reduced to a single law: “All Animals Are Equal / But Some Are More Equal Than Others.” The novel ends with Pilkington sharing drinks with the pigs in Jones’ house. Napoleon changes the name of the farm back to Manor Farm and quarrels with Pilkington during a card game in which both of them try to play the ace of spades. As other animals watch the scene from outside the window, they cannot tell the pigs from the humans.
Analysis and Roles of All characters in Animal Farm George Orwell
Roles Characters Analysis of Napoleon in Animal Farm George Orwell
From the very beginning of the novella, Napoleon emerges as an utterly corrupt opportunist. Though always present at the early meetings of the new state, Napoleon never makes a single contribution to the revolution—not to the formulation of its ideology, not to the bloody struggle that it necessitates, not to the new society’s initial attempts to establish itself. He never shows interest in the strength of Animal Farm itself, only in the strength of his power over it. Thus, the only project he undertakes with enthusiasm is the training of a litter of puppies. He doesn’t educate them for their own good or for the good of all, however, but rather for his own good: they become his own private army or secret police, a violent means by which he imposes his will on others.
Although he is most directly modeled on the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Napoleon represents, in a more general sense, the political tyrants that have emerged throughout human history and with particular frequency during the twentieth century. His namesake is not any communist leader but the early-eighteenth-century French general Napoleon, who betrayed the democratic principles on which he rode to power, arguably becoming as great a despot as the aristocrats whom he supplanted. It is a testament to Orwell’s acute political intelligence and to the universality of his fable that Napoleon can easily stand for any of the great dictators and political schemers in world history, even those who arose after Animal Farm was written. In the behavior of Napoleon and his henchmen, one can detect the lying and bullying tactics of totalitarian leaders such as Josip Tito, Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot, Augusto Pinochet, and Slobodan Milosevic treated in sharply critical terms.
Roles Characters Analysis of Old Major in Animal Farm George Orwell
A wise and persuasive pig, old Major inspires the rebellion with his rhetorical skill and ability to get the other animals to share his indignation. When he announces that he wishes to share the contents of his strange dream with his companions, all the animals comply, demonstrating the great respect they have for such an important (that is, “major”) figure. His speech about the tyranny of man is notable for its methodical enumeration of man’s wrongs against the animals. Listing all of man’s crimes, old Major rouses the other animals into planning the rebellion. His leading them in singing “Beasts of England” is another demonstration of his rhetorical skills, for after he teaches the animals the song about a world untainted by human hands, the animals sing it five times in succession.
The flaw in old Major’s thinking is that he places total blame on man for all the animals’ ills. According to him, once they “Remove Man from the scene,” then “the root cause of hunger and overwork” will be abolished forever. Clearly, old Major believes that Man is capable only of doing harm and that animals are capable only of doing good. Such one-dimensional thinking that ignores the desire for power inherent in all living things can only result in its being disproved. Also ironic is old Major’s admonition to the animals: “Remember also that in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him.” This warning is ignored by Napoleon and the other pigs, who, by the novel’s end, completely resemble their human masters.
Roles Characters Analysis of SNOWBALL (A PIG) in Animal Farm George Orwell
SNOWBALL (A PIG)
We meet Snowball when the pigs decide to spread Old Major’s message through the farm. He’s “a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive, but was not considered to have the same depth of character” (2.2). In other words, the animals are fooled by Snowball’s appearance: because he’s friendly and lively, they assume that he’s a ditz. (
After Napoleon’s dogs chase off Snowball, you might feel a little sorry for the pig. You might even start to think of him as a great and noble hero. Unfortunately, you’re probably wrong. Sure, Snowball took an active part in the rebellion and helped set up the Seven Commandments, but he also reduced the commandments to the simplistic line “four legs good, two legs bad” (3.9).
Easy to remember? Yes. But it’s also kind of meaningless—and the sheep can be trained to bleat it over Snowball’s speeches. Plus, when the other animals aren’t too happy that the pigs take all the milk, Snowball insists that they need it for all their brainwork. He may not be around when the pigs turn Animal Farm into a dictatorship, but he goes along with the first steps before he gets elbowed out. If he’d hung around, who knows? Maybe he’d be the one getting drunk on Mr. Jones’s whiskey.
The Great Divide
After Snowball heads the victorious Battle of Cowshed,
with him and Napoleon. We learn that Snowball is a much better public speaker, and that he “often won over the majority by his brilliant speeches, but Napoleon was better at canvassing support for himself in between times” (5.8). In other words, Snowball isn’t bringing the game—or rather, Napoleon is playing a different game.
And then there’s the issue of the Windmill. This is Snowball’s pet project; he thinks it’s vital to the future success of Animal Farm. Plus, Snowball wants the Rebellion to spread; he wants to send out “more and more pigeons to stir up rebellion among the animals on other farms” (5.12). Like Old Major, Snowball is kind of a dreamer: he imagines greater technical achievements on the farm and a revolution that can spread all the way across England. Not Napoleon. All Napoleon wants to do is consolidate the power he’s already gained.
The problem is, Snowball isn’t mean. He might be a little , but he’s at heart an idealist. When he and Napoleon both make speeches to the crowd, Snowball is much more charismatic, and as he finishes, “there was no doubt as to which way the vote would go” (5.13).
But no one counted on the dogs. Napoleon lets out his private army, and they chase Snowball off the farm. Napoleon spreads lies and rumors, making Snowball into a symbol of the enemy within—the guy who only seems like he’s on your side.
And all he wanted was a windmill. (And some milk.)
Leon “Snowball” Trotsky
, the leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution. But he’s really more like Leon Trotsky, Lenin’s second-in-command. Let’s look at the similarities:
Trotsky helped win the Revolution. After the Russian Revolution, Trotsky served as the People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs. During the Russian Civil War—a fight between the Red Army of communists and the White Army of anti-communists—Trotsky helped lead the Red Army to victory. In
Animal Farm , Snowball leads the animals to victory in the Battle of Cowshed.
Trotsky wanted to spread the Communist Revolution to the rest of the world. Hey, that’s just what Snowball wants to do! But not Stalin / Napoleon: he wants to consolidate his power on Animal Farm.
Trotsky was elbowed out of the Communist Party . After Lenin’s death, Trotsky’s political party criticized the hierarchical and close nature of Stalin’s Communist Party. In response, Stalin kicked him out of the Communist Party and then exiled him from Russia.
Wondering what happens to Snowball after he disappears through hole in the hedge? Well, Trotsky ended up in Mexico, until, in 1940, Stalin send KGB agent Ramón Mercader to assassinate him. So, we have a pretty good idea of what’s in store for poor Snowball.
Roles Characters Analysis of Boxer in Animal Farm George Orwell
The male of the two horses on the farm. He is “an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhat stupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first-rate intelligence, but he was universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powers of work” (26). Boxer has a special affinity for Benjamin. With his determination to be a good public servant and his penchant for hard work, Boxer becomes Napoleon’s greatest supporter. He works tirelessly for the cause of Animal Farm, operating under his personal maxims, “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” The only time Boxer doubts propaganda is when Squealer tries to rewrite the story of Snowball’s valor at the Battle of the Cowshed, a “treachery” for which he is nearly executed. But Boxer recants his doubts when he learns that the altered story of the battle is directly from Napoleon. After Boxer is injured while defending the farm in the Battle of the Windmill, Napoleon sends him to be slaughtered for profit. The pigs use the money from the slaughter to buy themselves a case of whisky. Boxer is not pugnacious despite his name, but he is as strong as his name implies. In this way, Boxer is a painfully ironic character. He is strong enough to kill another animal, even a human, with a single blow from his hoof, and the dogs cannot manage to overpower him in Chapter VII. Still, Boxer lacks the intelligence and the nerve to sense that he is being used. Boxer represents the peasant or working class, a faction of humanity with a great combined strength
enough to overthrow a manipulative governmentbut which is uneducated enough to take propaganda to heart and believe unconditionally in the government’s cause
Roles Characters Analysis of SQUEALER (A PIG) in Animal Farm George Orwell
SQUEALER (A PIG)
Squealer. Do you get it? He squeals. A lot.
Or, as the narrator puts it, he’s “a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white” (2.2). He’s the one-pig PR outfit of Napoleon’s regime, with a quick mind, nimble tongue, and absolutely no morals whatsoever.
(Click the character infographic to download.)
Squealer makes his debut appearance when he justifies the fact that the pigs have hoarded milk and apples for themselves. He claims that these foods “contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of the pig. We pigs are brainworkers” (3.14).
Okay, sure, But then later, when Napoleon eliminates the public meetings, Squealer is sent to explain the decision to the other animals. He tells them:
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? (5.19)
Hm. Maybe it’s just us, but the logic seems a little backwards here. The animals can’t make their own decisions, because… they might make the wrong decisions? That doesn’t sound quite right. It’s hard to know, though, because Squealer says it in such a roundabout way and almost forces the animals to agree. After all, it would be bad if the animals made the wrong decision. But the point of communism (or democracy, for that matter), is that people get to make the decisions they make, whether good or bad.
Squealer also knows how to play on gut instinct and prejudices, like explaining away any grumbling by saying, “Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?” (5.21). Meanwhile, Squealer’s entire job seems to be to the hide the fact that Jones is coming back—as a pig named Napoleon. He justifies the windmill; spreads rumors about Snowball; constantly changes the Seven Commandments; squashes the revolutionary song “Beasts of England”; and even manages to explain the confusion with Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington as Napoleon just being clever.
And then there’s his excuse about Boxer: after Benjamin tells the animals that Boxer has been placed in a knacker’s (horse slaughter’s) van, Squealer tells them that the vehicle only
used to be a knacker’s van. It now belongs to a doctor . He even has a whole elaborate story about his experience at Boxer’s deathbed: “It was the most affecting sight I have ever seen” (9.25).
Squealer and Stalin
Napoleon is obviously Stalin, and Snowball is pretty obviously Trotsky, but Squealer… is a little less obvious. Some people think he’s supposed to be Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin’s Prime Minister in the 1930s, who issued a lot of the death warrants during the Great Purge and basically sucked up to Stalin wherever possible.
Squealer is also a more general allegorical figure for propaganda. Stalin’s propaganda team used (and abused) language and images to keep the public calm and keep their control. Squealer’s arguments even sound a little like those in Pravda, a daily paper that was the Soviet Party’s official voice in the 1930s.
Either way, what is obvious is that Orwell meant Squealer to be hypocrisy embodied. He’s so selfish and power-hungry that twist reality to suit his interests—or the interests of whoever he’s trying to please. We think this last image does a nice job of summing him up: “Squealer was so fat that he could with difficulty see out of his eyes” (10.2).
Roles Characters Analysis of Clover in Animal Farm George Orwell
A horse. Clover is a gentle, motherly, and powerful mare, who supports the revolution, but becomes dismayed by the direction it takes under Napoleon. Yet she has neither the will nor the personality to resist the pigs. She becomes a witness to the corruption of the revolution as it turns into a totalitarian state, though she only vaguely understands that something has gone wrong. Clover symbolizes the female working class and peasants of the Soviet Union.
Roles Characters Analysis of Benjamin in Animal Farm George Orwell
As horses are known for their strength, donkeys are known for their stubbornness, and Benjamin stubbornly refuses to become enthusiastic about the rebellion. While all of his comrades delight in the prospect of a new, animal-governed world, Benjamin only remarks, “Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.” While this reply puzzles the animals, the reader understands Benjamin’s cynical yet not-unfounded point: In the initial moments of the rebellion, Animal Farm may seem a paradise, but in time it may come to be another form of the same tyranny at which they rebelled. Of course, Benjamin is proven right by the novel’s end, and the only thing that he knows for sure — “Life would go on as it had always gone on — that is, badly” — proves to be a definitive remark about the animals’ lives. Although pessimistic, he is a realist.
Roles Characters Analysis of THE NINE DOGS in Animal Farm George Orwell
THE NINE DOGS
Look, we know the dogs are brutal and vicious, but can you really blame them? Napoleon raises them specifically to be his own little private army: he takes them from their parents as puppies, says that he’ll “make himself responsible for their education,” and then raises them in isolation from the rest of the farm (3.12). No wonder they become little monsters.
They’re first unleashed on Animal Farm right after Snowball has wowed everyone with his speech. But Snowball doesn’t get to bask in his glory for long: Napoleon lets out a whistle, and “there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs, wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn” (5.14).
From this point on, the dogs are the pigs’ bodyguards—they intimidate and threaten the other animals to make sure that the pigs get their way in exchange for treats and cushy beds up at the farmhouse. That’s not all: “It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him [Napoleon] in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr. Jones” (5.15). The narrator is already foreshadowing the novel’s end—the pigs are going to be just as bad as the humans.
The Dogs and Stalin’s Russia
This one’s easy: dogs are symbols for the NKVD, Stalin’s freaky and powerful secret police force. During the “purges,” the secret police helped Stalin round up everyone who was perceived as a threat and then carried out their exiles or executions. Like the nine dogs, they were the violent force that allowed Stalin to remain in power.
It’s just like they say: there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.
Roles Characters Analysis of Moses in Animal Farm George Orwell
With his tales of the “promised land” to which all animals retire after death, Moses is the novel’s “religious” figure. Like his biblical counterpart, Moses offers his listeners descriptions of a place — Sugarcandy Mountain — where they can live free from oppression and hunger. At first, the pigs find him irksome, since they want the animals to believe that Animal Farm is a paradise and fear that the animals will be prompted by Moses’ tales to seek a better place. However, as conditions on the farm worsen, the pigs allow Moses to stay because his tales offer the animals the promise of rest after a weary, toilsome life. As Karl Marx famously stated, “Religion is the opium of the people,” and Moses’ tales of Sugarcandy Mountain likewise serve as an opiate to the animals’ misery.
Roles Characters Analysis of Mollie in Animal Farm George Orwell
– The vain, flighty mare who pulls Mr. Jones’s carriage. Mollie craves the attention of human beings and loves being groomed and pampered. She has a difficult time with her new life on Animal Farm, as she misses wearing ribbons in her mane and eating sugar cubes. She represents the petit bourgeoisie that fled from Russia a few years after the Russian Revolution.
Roles Characters Analysis of MR. AND MRS. JONES (HUMANS) in Animal Farm George Orwell
MR. AND MRS. JONES (HUMANS)
Animal Farm : “Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes” (1.1).
Mr. Jones is drunk, cruel, and an awful leader. When he’s run off the farm, it seems like it’s mostly his own durn fault. (Truth: we might have cheered.)
The Joneses are stand-ins for the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and his wife, Alexandra. Nicholas II wasn’t a drunk—at least, not that we know of—but he was an unpopular leader who was out of touch with his people and maybe not that interested in ruling them, anyway. It didn’t help his popularity that he let Russia get dragged into World War I—and then did a bad job of managing it.
In February 1917, workers began to strike in Moscow. Nicholas sent the military in to suppress the people, but—
—the military men refused to fire. Many of them actually joined the protestors. Eventually, Nicholas, his wife, and all their kids were packed off to the town of Ekaterinburg, and the Bolshevik party took over. (The story has a gruesome twist: eventually, Nicholas and his family, along with a few of their servants, were executed in the basement of their house.)
Mr. Jones may not be a tsar, but he has all of Nicholas II’s incompetence and negligence: first, he comes back drunk from the Red Lion pub and forgets to feed the animals, and then he tries to whip the animals into submission. It doesn’t work. They kick Jones out and, with the pigs at the head, tear through the farmhouse, destroying “the last traces of Jones’s hated reign” (2.13)—just like the post-Revolution destruction of cultural objects.
Luckily, Jones doesn’t suffer Nicholas’s bloody fate. Instead, he spends most of his time in the Red Lion “complaining to anyone who would listen of the monstrous injustice he had suffered in being turned out of his property by a pack of good-for-nothing animals” (4.2). The other men aren’t exactly sympathetic, but they are afraid that their own animals will catch the rebellion—that’s why they help him at the Battle of the Cowshed.
This Battle tells us that Jones isn’t just a symbol for old Nick; he’s also a symbol for bosses in general. He represents an entire way of thinking—everything that the Bolsheviks aimed to overthrow in 1917. That’s why he’s such an effective tool of propaganda for the pigs. Whenever Squealer has to justify a hard decision, he asks the other animals, “Surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?” (3.14).
And what can they say to that?
Roles Characters Analysis of BLUEBELL, JESSIE, AND PINCHER (THREE DOGS)
in Animal Farm George Orwell
BLUEBELL, JESSIE, AND PINCHER (THREE DOGS)
The three dogs are mostly around to have the nine puppies that Napoleon turns into his private army. (Well, that’s the point of two of them, anyway.)
What’s weird is that the dogs, who have teeth and strength and all that good stuff (as demonstrated by the nine dogs), don’t make any attempt to rebel against the manipulative pigs. Why? They’re not aware of their own strength—plus, they also seem to have a somewhat overdeveloped sense of loyalty.
Hm. This seems to be a universal problem on Animal Farm.
Roles Characters Analysis of Mr. Frederick in Animal Farm George Orwell
Mr. Frederick – The tough, shrewd operator of Pinchfield, a neighboring farm. Based on Adolf Hitler, the ruler of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, Mr. Frederick proves an untrustworthy neighbor.
Roles Characters Analysis of Mr. Pilkington in Animal Farm George Orwell
Mr. Pilkington – The easygoing gentleman farmer who runs Foxwood, a neighboring farm. Mr. Frederick’s bitter enemy, Mr. Pilkington represents the capitalist governments of England and the United States.
Roles Characters Analysis of. Mr. Whymper Animal Farm George Orwell
Mr. Whymper – The human solicitor whom Napoleon hires to represent Animal Farm in human society. Mr. Whymper’s entry into the Animal Farm community initiates contact between Animal Farm and human society, alarming the common animals.
Roles Characters Analysis of. Jessie and Bluebell Animal Farm George Orwell
Jessie and Bluebell – Two dogs, each of whom gives birth early in the novel. Napoleon takes the puppies in order to “educate” them.
Minimus – The poet pig who writes verse about Napoleon and pens the banal patriotic song “Animal Farm, Animal Farm” to replace the earlier idealistic hymn “Beasts of England,” which Old Major passes on to the others.
Animal Farm is filled with songs, poems, and slogans, including Major’s stirring “Beasts of England,” Minimus’s ode to Napoleon, the sheep’s chants, and Minimus’s revised anthem, “Animal Farm, Animal Farm.” All of these songs serve as propaganda, one of the major conduits of social control. By making the working-class animals speak the same words at the same time, the pigs evoke an atmosphere of grandeur and nobility associated with the recited text’s subject matter. The songs also erode the animals’ sense of individuality and keep them focused on the tasks by which they will purportedly achieve freedom.
As Animal Farm shifts gears from its early revolutionary fervor to a phase of consolidation of power in the hands of the few, national rituals become an ever more common part of the farm’s social life. Military awards, large parades, and new songs all proliferate as the state attempts to reinforce the loyalty of the animals. The increasing frequency of the rituals bespeaks the extent to which the working class in the novella becomes ever more reliant on the ruling class to define their group identity and values.
Animal Farm, known at the beginning and the end of the novel as the Manor Farm, symbolizes Russia and the Soviet Union under Communist Party rule. But more generally, Animal Farm stands for any human society, be it capitalist, socialist, fascist, or communist. It possesses the internal structure of a nation, with a government (the pigs), a police force or army (the dogs), a working class (the other animals), and state holidays and rituals. Its location amid a number of hostile neighboring farms supports its symbolism as a political entity with diplomatic concerns.
The barn at Animal Farm, on whose outside walls the pigs paint the Seven Commandments and, later, their revisions, represents the collective memory of a modern nation. The many scenes in which the ruling-class pigs alter the principles of Animalism and in which the working-class animals puzzle over but accept these changes represent the way an institution in power can revise a community’s concept of history to bolster its control. If the working class believes history to lie on the side of their oppressors, they are less likely to question oppressive practices. Moreover, the oppressors, by revising their nation’s conception of its origins and development, gain control of the nation’s very identity, and the oppressed soon come to depend upon the authorities for their communal sense of self.
anipulation of the other animals for their own gain. Despite the immediacy of the need for food and warmth, the pigs exploit Boxer and the other common animals by making them undertake backbreaking labor to build the windmill, which will ultimately earn the pigs more money and thus increase their power. The pigs’ declaration that Snowball is responsible for the windmill’s first collapse constitutes psychological manipulation, as it prevents the common animals from doubting the pigs’ abilities and unites them against a supposed enemy. The ultimate conversion of the windmill to commercial use is one more sign of the pigs’ betrayal of their fellow animals. From an allegorical point of view, the windmill represents the enormous modernization projects undertaken in Soviet Russia after the Russian Revolution.
List and Analysis of all The themes in Animal Farm by George Orwell
Analysis of The themes of Apathy and Acceptance In Animal Farm by George Orwell
Apathy and Acceptance
In the beginning of Animal Farm, the idea of freedom rouses the animals as if from a long slumber. Immediately following Major’s death, the animals begin preparing themselves for the Rebellion; just the idea of revolution is enough to motivate them, since they do not expect it to happen in their lifetimes. By the book’s end, the animals have become as apathetic as Benjamin always was. Despite the many hardships and injustices they face, the animals’ pride as well as Napoleon’s propaganda keep them invested in the “greater good” and the illusion of freedom. If Benjamin is the harbinger of apathy, Boxer is its antithesis. Strong not only in body but also in spirit, Boxer will make any sacrifice for the benefit of Animal Farm. With Boxer’s eventual betrayal by the leaders he served so unconditionally, Orwell lays bare another type of apathy—theirs. Far from truly considering Boxer a loyal comrade, the pigs treat him as apathetically as they would a mere object. Symbolically, they even make a profit by having him turned into literal objects—glue and bone meal.
Boxer’s enthusiasm does not give him an advantage, but the other animals’ eventual apathy gives them a defense mechanism against the painful reality of their lives. It is no coincidence that Animal Farm’s most apathetic and cynical animal, Benjamin, is one of those that survives the longest. Benjamin’s emotional detachment from situations, whether they are good or bad, keeps him from being disappointed. In his apathy and cynicism, Benjamin represents the stereotypical “gloomy” Russian and also the perennially pessimistic Orwell himself.
Analysis of The themes of False Allegiance In Animal Farm by George Orwell
A final noteworthy (and again, satiric) theme is the way in which people proclaim their allegiance to each other, only to betray their true intentions at a later time. Directly related to the idea that the rulers of the rebellion (the pigs) eventually betray the ideals for which they presumably fought, this theme is dramatized in a number of relationships involving the novel’s human characters. Pilkington and
Jones; Frederick, for example, only listen to Jones in the Red Lion because they secretly hope to gain something from their neighbor’s misery. Similarly, Frederick’s buying the firewood from Napoleon seems to form an alliance that is shattered when the pig learns of Frederick’s forged banknotes. The novel’s final scene demonstrates that, despite all the friendly talk and flattery that passes between Pilkington and Napoleon, each is still trying to cheat the other (as seen when both play the ace of spades simultaneously). Of course, only one of the two is
technically cheating, but Orwell does not indicate which one because such a fact is unimportant: The “friendly” game of cards is a facade that hides each ruler’s desire to destroy the other.
Thus, as Swift used fantastic places to explore the themes of political corruption in the eighteenth century, so Orwell does with his own fantastic setting to satirize the twentieth. According to Orwell, rulers such as Napoleon will continue to grow in number — and in power — unless people become more politically aware and more wary of these leader’s “noble” ideals.
Analysis of The themes of POWER
In Animal Farm by George Orwell
POWER: CONTROL OVER THE INTELLECTUALLY INFERIOR
American conservative William F. Buckley once said that (Somewhat ironic, coming from a guy who went to Yale and then founded an
intellectually rigorous journal .) But our point is, Orwell might have agreed: in
Animal Farm pigs take control because they’re the smartest animals on the farm and then turn right around and start abusing that power.
But you can’t just blame the
. The pigs would never have succeeded if they other animals hadn’t blindly gone along with it. Moral of the story: you don’t need to go to Yale, but you do need to form some opinions of your own.
Analysis of The themes of Tyrants
In Animal Farm by George Orwell
Broadly speaking, Animal Farm satirizes politicians, specifically their rhetoric, ability to manipulate others, and insatiable lust for power. Despite his seemingly altruistic motives,
Napoleon is presented as the epitome of a power-hungry individual who masks all of his actions with the excuse that they are done for the betterment of the farm. His stealing the milk and apples, for example, is explained by the lie that these foods have nutrients essential to pigs, who need these nutrients to carry on their managerial work. His running
Snowball off the farm is explained by the lie that Snowball was actually a traitor, working for Jones — and that the farm will fare better without him. Each time that Napoleon and the other pigs wish to break one of the Seven Commandments, they legitimize their transgressions by changing the Commandment’s original language. Whenever the farm suffers a setback, Napoleon blames Snowball’s treachery — which the reader, of course, knows is untrue. Napoleon’s walking on two legs, wearing a derby hat, and toasting Pilkington reflect the degree to which he (and the other pigs) completely disregard the plights of the other animals in favor of satisfying their own cravings for power. Thus, the dominant theme of
Animal Farm is the tendency for those who espouse the most virtuous ideas to become the worst enemies of the people whose lives they are claiming to improve.
Analysis of The themes of Exploitation and the Need for Human Rights In Animal Farm by George Orwell
Exploitation and the Need for Human Rights
Exploitation is the issue around which the animals unite. Initially, the animals do not realize Jones is exploiting them. For this reason, Old Major’s speech is a revelation of momentous proportions. Major explains to the animals that they are enslaved and exploited and that Man is to blame. He teaches them not only what exploitation means, but also the fact that it is not inevitable. Orwell suggests that exploitation is, in fact, bound to happen when one class of society has an advantage over another. The opposite of exploitation, according to Major, is the state of being “rich and free.” Major’s ideas about animal rights symbolize the importance—and scarcity—of human rights in an oppressive regime. Gaining freedom does not necessarily lead people also to become rich, but it is better to be poor and free than poor and exploited.
All the animals on Animal Farm are exploited under Napoleon’s control, save the pigs. Even the dogs, which work closely with the pigs, are exploited. The dogs face perhaps even a worse form of exploitation than the other animals, because they are made into agents of intimidation and death. Whereas Napoleon exploits the other animals’ physical strength and their ignorance, he exploits the dogs’ viciousness and turns them into villains against their parents’ wishes.
Boxer’s life is a particularly sad example of exploitation because he exploits himself, believing wholeheartedly in Napoleon’s goodness. In the end, Napoleon turns the tables and exploits Boxer, having him slaughtered for profit. By the end of the novel, we see clearly how the animals participate in their own exploitation. They are beginning to build a schoolhouse for the thirty-one young pigs Napoleon has fathered (perhaps an oblique reference to the “Thirty Tyrants” of ancient Greece). That schoolhouse will never benefit the animals that build it; rather, it will be used to educate the pigs and indoctrinate them into the cycle of exploiting others. Throughout the novel, Orwell shows us how the lack of human rights results in total helplessness. However, though it underscores the need for human rights, the novel does not suggest how to achieve them. After all, once the animals expel Jones and gain rights for themselves, the pigs take those rights away and the cycle of exploitation continues with new players.
Analysis of The themes of Class Warfare In Animal Farm by George Orwell
One of the main tenets of Animalism is that all animals are equal. But quite quickly the pigs begin to refer to themselves as “mindworkers” to distinguish themselves from the other animals, who are physical laborers. Over time, this sense of separation takes hold: the pigs begin to discourage their children from playing with the children of the other animals, and then establish themselves as absolute rulers of the “lesser” menial laborers. Animal Farm shows how differences in education and occupation lead to the development of class, which leads inevitably to class warfare, in which one class seeks to dominate the other. Animal Farm suggests that the “mindworking” class will almost always prevail in this struggle.
Animal Farm doesn’t just focus on the upper classes, however. In fact, it focuses more closely on the oppressed working class. The farm animals work so hard that they have no time to learn or educate themselves or think deeply about their world. Instead, they’re taught that work is their contribution to society, their way to freedom. Boxer believes that “I will work harder” is the answer to every problem, though he never perceives that the pigs exploit his effort. Benjamin occupies the other extreme: he recognizes what’s going on, but his cynicism stops him from taking action against the pigs. In the end, Animal Farm implies that whether because of ignorance, inaction, or fear, the working class allows itself to be dominated by the “mindworkers.”
Analysis of The themes of Violence and Terror as Means of Control
In Animal Farm by George Orwell
Violence and Terror as Means of Control
In Animal Farm, Orwell criticizes the ways that dictators use violence and terror to frighten their populaces into submission. Violence is one of the yokes from which the animals wish to free themselves when they prepare for the Rebellion. Not only does Jones overwork the animals and steal the products of their labor, but he can whip or slaughter them at his discretion. Once the pigs gain control of the animals, they, like Jones, discover how useful violence and terror can be. They use this knowledge to their full advantage. The foremost example of violence and terror in the novel is the pattern of public executions. The executions can be said to represent both the Red Terror and the Great Purge, but they stand more broadly for the abuse of power. For example, they are also similar to the Taliban’s public executions in Kabul’s soccer stadium in modern Afghanistan.
Capital punishment for criminals is a hotly debated issue. Killing suspected criminals, as Napoleon does, is quite another issue. The executions perhaps best symbolize the Moscow Trials, which were show trials that Stalin arranged to instill fear in the Soviet people. To witnesses at the time, the accused traitors’ confessions seemed to be given freely. In fact, they were coerced. Napoleon likely coerces confessions from many of the animals that he executes. Orwell’s use of the allegory genre serves him well in the execution scene. Execution with weapons is a violent and horrifying act, but many people have become desensitized to it. Orwell’s allegorical executioners, the dogs that kill cruelly, portray the bloody and inescapably animalistic side of execution.
Terror comes also in threats and propaganda. Each time the animals dare to question an aspect of Napoleon’s regime, Squealer threatens them with Jones’s return. This is doubly threatening to the animals because it would mean another battle that, if lost, would result in a return to their former lifestyle of submission. Jones’s return is such a serious threat that it quashes the animals’ curiosity without fail. The other major example of fear tactics in the novel is the threat of Snowball and his collaborators. Napoleon is able to vilify Snowball in the latter’s absence and to make the animals believe that his return, like Jones’s, is imminent. Snowball is a worse threat than Jones, because Jones is at least safely out of Animal Farm. Snowball is “proved” to be not only lurking along Animal Farm’s borders but infiltrating the farm. Napoleon’s public investigation of Snowball’s whereabouts cements the animals’ fear of Snowball’s influence. In modern language, Snowball is pegged as the terrorist responsible for the infringements on the rights and liberties instigated by the pigs
Analysis of The themes of RULES AND ORDER In Animal Farm by George Orwell
RULES AND ORDER
Out with the old, in with the new: in
Animal Farm , the animals get rid of an old set of rules just to find themselves oppressed by a new one. At first, new commandments and traditions are supposed to energize and unite the animals. But these rules turn out to be not so much rules as easily changed suggestions—especially because most of the animals (and don’t remember so good, either). Instead of preserving order, rules are used to deceive and abuse.
Analysis of The themes of FOOLISHNESS AND FOLLY
In Animal Farm by George Orwell
FOOLISHNESS AND FOLLY
Talk about blaming the victim: it sounds a lot like Orwell is faulting the lower-class animals for not being smart enough to realize what’s going on. Either they fail to recognize their oppression, or they ignore it because they want to wear ribbons in their hair ( Mollie). But you could also see the pigs as having follies of their own. A drunk pig stumbling around on two legs? Sounds pretty foolish to us.
Analysis of The themes of The Soviet Union under Stalinism
In Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Soviet Union under Stalinism
Animal Farm is a satire of totalitarian governments in their many guises. But Orwell composed the book for a more specific purpose: to serve as a cautionary tale about Stalinism. It was for this reason that he faced such difficulty in getting the book published; by the time Animal Farm was ready to meet its readers, the Allies were cooperating with the Soviet Union. The allegorical characters of the novel represent specific historical figures and different factions of Imperial Russian and Soviet society. These include Karl Marx (Major), Vladimir Lenin (Major), Leon Trotsky (Snowball), Joseph Stalin (Napoleon ), Adolf Hitler (Frederick ), the Allies (Pilkington ), the peasants (Boxer), the elite (Mollie), and the church (Moses ).
The resemblance of some of the novel’s events to events in Soviet history is indubitable. For example, Snowball’s and Napoleon’s power struggle is a direct allegory of Trotsky’s and Stalin’s. Frederick’s trade agreement with Napoleon, and his subsequent breaking of the agreement, represents the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact that preceded World War II. The following Battle of the Windmill represents World War II itself.
Despite his fairy-tale clarity in satirizing some historical events, Orwell is less specific about others. For example, the executions in Chapter VII conflate the Red Terror with the Great Purge. The executions themselves bear resemblance to both events, although their details connect them more to the Moscow Trials than to the Red Terror. Squealer’s subsequent announcement that the executions have ended the Rebellion connects them to the period of the Red Terror, however. Orwell leaves some ambiguity in the identities of the Rebellion and the Battle of the Cowshed. These ambiguities help the reader focus on the overall satire of Stalinism and the broader warning about the evils of totalitarian government.
Analysis of The themes of DREAMS, HOPES, AND PLANS
In Animal Farm by George Orwell
DREAMS, HOPES, AND PLANS
Do you dream of a world full of pillows in which you can lie around eating Doritos and listening to drone music all day? Keep dreaming.
Animal Farm may be a specific criticism of one dream—the dream of a communist Russia—but it’s also a criticism of utopian ideals in general. The problem is people. No matter how great your manifesto, it can only be put into action by people—flawed, selfish, stupid, and vain people.
Analysis of The themes of Language as Power In Animal Farm by George Orwell
Language as Power
Animal Farm shows how the minority in power uses vague language, propaganda, and misinformation to control the thoughts and beliefs of the majority in the lower classes. The pigs, especially Squealer, become extremely sophisticated and effective in their attempts to rewrite the rules of Animal Farm and Animalism. They even revise the farm’s entire history in order to mislead the other animals into believing exactly what they say. By the end of the novel, the animals on the farm believe Snowball fought against them at the Battle of the Cowshed even though they saw him fight with them. They believe life on the farm has improved even though they have less food than ever, and that Napoleon has their best interests at heart even though he kills those who disagree with him. As the only literate animals on the farm, the pigs maintain a monopoly on information that they use to build and hold their power.
Brief Biography of George Orwell
Eric Blair was born and spent his youth in India. He was educated at Eton in England. From 1922-27 he served in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. Through his autobiographical work about poverty in London (Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933), his experiences in colonial Burma (Burmese Days , 1934) and in the Spanish Civil War (Homage to Catalonia , 1938), and the plight of unemployed coal miners in England (The Road to Wigan Pier , 1937), Blair (who wrote under the name George Orwell) exposed and critiqued the human tendency to oppress others politically, economically, and physically. Orwell particularly hated totalitarianism, and his most famous novels, Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949), are profound condemnations of totalitarian regimes. Orwell died at the age of 47 after failing to treat a lung ailment.