Animal Farm Essay, Research Paper
The novel is set in Hertfordshire, where Orwell lived, wrote, tended his
garden, and kept poultry. Though the setting is the South of England, it is not
stressed in the story, but serves only as a background. The farm lends a perfect
rural, pastoral, and nostalgic backdrop for Old Major’s dream.
Table of Contents
Old Major – An old boar that dreams of a better life and incites the animals to
overthrow man. He is the inspiring force behind the Rebellion and founding of
Snowball – A young, intelligent, persuasive, and important boar known for his
oratory skills. He is expelled by Napoleon.
Napoleon – An ambitious, power-hungry, ruthless and eminent boar who
stoops to any level to gain his goal.
Boxer – A big, powerful, honest, and devoted carthorse who does not have
many brains but always comes forward whenever any hand work is needed.
Clover – A motherly mare who is truly concerned about the welfare of the
animals. She has a good shoulder to cry on and is a source of strength and
confidence, especially to Boxer.
Benjamin – A cynical, skeptical donkey who believes everything remains the
same with nothing ever changing.
Moses – A timid raven who entertains the animals with tales of ‘a land of
promises and better life on Sugarcandy Mountain.’
Mollie – A vain, unconcerned frivolous mare caring only for her own finery,
pleasure, and comforts.
Squealer – A pig who is Napoleon’s henchman and a very effective
Jones – The irresponsible farm-owner who is overthrown by the animals.
Frederick – A tough, shrewd businessman involved in lawsuits and the owner of a small but well-kept farm.
Pilkington – An easy-going gentleman farmer who wastes most of his time in
fishing and hunting.
Whymper – A not-so important solicitor who acts as a medium between
humans and animals (especially Napoleon)
Table of Contents
The conflict in Animal Farm is really between Marxist Socialism (Old Major)
and Russian Communism (Napoleon) as represented by the two attitudes
expressed by the two different groups in the novel.
Protagonist: The protagonist is the group of common animals searching for a
utopian world and largely represented by characters like Old Major and
Snowball and supported by the ‘proletariat’.
Antagonist: The antagonist is the combination of all the forces acting against
such an idealistic world, largely represented by the power-hungry Napoleon
and his henchman, Squealer.
Climax: The ultimate climax is reached when Napoleon changes Animal
Farm into a republic and elects himself President, assuring the maintenance of
his seized power. The result of Napoleon’s victory over the masses is that the
pigs start walking on their hind legs and acting totally like humans. It is an
indication that Animal Farm has really returned to the status of Manor Farm.
Outcome: The story ends in tragedy for the common animals are helpless
against the power of Napoleon. Even in Utopia, totalitarianism leads to ruin.
Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, has not been a very responsible farmer.
Of late, he has taken to drinking and tends to neglect his farming chores. His
careless attitude makes Old Major, the Berkshire boar, incite the animals to
rise up against Jones. The boar calls for a meeting to explain his dream for the
farm animals. Although Old Major does not narrate the dream, he does
explain the ill treatment given to them by man and the dreary and deplorable
life they are leading on the farm. He also inspires the animals with his song
‘Beasts of England.’
The inspired animals seize their very first opportunity to oust Mr. Jones and
rename the farm as “Animal Farm”. They inscribe their laws, seven
commandments, on the barn-wall. Napoleon and Snowball vie with each other
for leadership. Although the two boars do not see eye to eye, they come
together to banish their common enemy, Jones and his men, in The Battle of
After the battle, the rivalry between the two contenders comes out in the open.
Snowball’s plan of building the windmill is declared as ‘nonsense’ by
Napoleon. He also chases Snowball off of the farm with the help of his fire
dogs. He then puts forth the windmill project as his own.
The pigs from the ruling class are non-productive and live off the labor of the
other animals. They change the commandments to suit their own desires.
Squealer, Napoleon’s henchman, tells the other animals that the rules must be
changed to prevent Jones from returning to control the farm. They are
terrorized into confessing whatever the authorities want and say that they have
been scheming with Snowball as his agents. Napoleon’s reign of terror is
severe and takes a toll of several animals. He snatches every chance to further
his own personality. He even negotiates ‘trade’ with his human neighbors after
setting them against each other.
Frederick, a neighboring farmer, launches an attack, called the Battle of
Windmill, against the animals. During the fighting, the Windmill is blown off.
Reconstruction of the Windmill brings about prosperity, but not for all the
animals; the pigs are the only beneficiaries. Ironically, the pigs now resemble
the humans that they hated. They carry whips and walk upright on their hind
legs. The only rule that now exists is, “All animals are equal, but some
animals are more equal than others.” The novel ends with Napoleon
entertaining his human neighbors, and it is impossible to distinguish the pigs
from the men.
The major theme of the novel is the sad triumph of evil over good. The
animals try to create a utopia, a paradise where society brings out and
develops the best in a being. Unfortunately, the animals that gain control of
Animal Farm begin to act in a manner similar to the humans that they had
kicked off the farm. At the end of the novel, the pigs cannot be distinguished
from the humans.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is another theme of
Animal Farm. When the animals seize control of the farm, the leaders are
corrupted by their power. Allegorically, Orwell is exposing the perversion of
Marxist Socialism by Communism. In the novel, he is emphasizing the
suppression, oppression, and frustration of the good, well meaning, and
benevolent animals, just as Communism suppresses man.
Table of Contents
The mood varies from the comic to the tragic, with the overall mood being
one of tension. The whole story is filled with irony and bitter sarcasm
In the opening chapter of the book, Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is shown as a
careless, irresponsible farm owner who cares more for a glass of beer than for
his animals and the farm. He is often drunk, and his ensuing negligence causes
the farm animals to protest and rebel against him.
One night, Old Major, the prize Middle White Boar, wishes to share a strange
dream with all the animals. Since the two-year old boar is greatly respected by
all, the animals are willing to forego an hour’s sleep to listen to Old Major’s
tale. Before the animals assemble, the stout, majestic Old Major makes
himself comfortable on his bed of straw. As the animals enter the barn, each is
described. First to come are the three dogs, Bluebell, Jessie, and Picher. Then
the pigs arrive and settle down in front of the platform. Clover, the stout,
motherly mare, who is nearing middle age, finds her place. Benjamin, the
cynical donkey, who is the oldest animal and the worst tempered, grumps as
he settles down. Boxer, who is an enormous and optimistic horse, Mollie, who
is the foolish, pretty white mare, Moses, who is the tame raven, and the cat are
all present. The hens perch on the windowsills, and the pigeons flutter up to
Major’s intentions are noble. He shows concern for the welfare and destiny of
the animals and inspires them to rebel against the human beings for their own
good. Without ever telling his dream, he diverts the animals’ attention to his
song, ‘Beasts of England’. He encourages them to gather in perfect unity and
warns them to avoid the habits of men.
The first chapter clearly establishes the point of view of the entire novel. The
story is told by an observing narrator who is outside the action of the story. He
appears to be an average being who is unbiased; therefore, he can be trusted
and believed. He also tells the story in a direct and concise manner, which is
very effective. This point-of-view also helps Orwell successfully express the
wishes, expectations, obedience, unity, and even protest of the animals.
The chapter also begins to establish the personalities of the animals, who act
like animals and think and talk like human beings. True to animal behavior,
Boxer and Clover trot like horses, and the cat selfishly looks after its own
needs in a typically feline way. In contrast, Old Major, talking like a man,
appears to be a polished statesman, more human than boar. He convinces the
animals that they are poorly treated and deserve better. He describes instance
of man’s repeated cruelty to them. He then paints a picture of a happy future,
when humans have been removed and the animals rule themselves. The
groundwork for an animal farm and its rules of behavior are established in Old
Major’s speech. He specifically points out which human vices must be
avoided by the animals when they rule the farm. Old Major’s philosophy is overly simplistic. He is convinced that humans are
bad and animals are good. He also believes the good life is one ruled by
animals in an easy-going, pastoral setting, as described in the song ‘Beasts of
England.’ The fact that the other animals accept his philosophy is seen when
they join in the singing and repeat the song five times, waking Farmer Jones
from his drunken sleep in the process.
Old Major’s speech also sets the slowly rising action of the plot in motion. It
suggests the idea of animal freedom and hints that a leader is needed for the
animal rebellion. Unfortunately for the animals, the leader who emerges is a
tyrant and the animal’s plight goes from bad to worse by the end of the novel.
It is important to notice how Orwell positively describes the animals in the
chapter. The fat Old Major is “still a majestic looking pig, with a wise and
benevolent appearance.” The stout Clover is described as a “motherly mare
that had never got her figure back after her fourth foal.”
It is also important to notice that politically, Old Major represents a blend of
Marx and Lenin, the leaders of Communism in Russia. It was Marx, like Old
Major, who had a ’strange dream’ about the “proletariats’ overthrowing of the
bourgeoisie” to end capitalistic tyranny. ‘Beasts of England’, the animal
anthem of the revolution, reflects Lenin’s idea of unity among workers.
Through Old Major, Orwell has developed the first stage of revolution, which
is an intense fight for an ideal.
The second chapter commences with the peaceful death of Old Major.
Although he is no longer physically present, Major’s inspiring speech has
brought about a changed outlook on life among the animals. They are
convinced that an animal rebellion will take place in the unknown future and
prepare for it psychologically. The work of organizing and teaching naturally
falls upon the most intelligent of the animals, the Pigs. Pre-eminent among
them are two young boars called Snowball and Napoleon. Napoleon, a fierce
looking Berkshire, is not much of a talker but has a reputation for getting his
own way. Snowball, a young boar, is high-spirited, quick in speech, very
intelligent, and inventive. Squealer, a nimble, quick thinking pig, is also
introduced as a brilliant, persuasive talker who can turn black into white.
These three pigs advocate, expound, and propagate Major’s teachings, which
are called ‘Animalism’.
The rebellion is achieved much earlier, more accidentally, and more easily
than any of the animals expected. When Jones fails to feed them for a day, the
animals break into the storage shed and eat heartily. The farmer and his men
try to beat the animals away with whips, but they grow angry over this
mistreatment and fight back. Jones is quickly expelled, and the gate is locked
against him. Manor Farm now belongs to the animals. They caper in joy and
burn everything that reminds them of Farmer Jones and his cruelty. They sing
‘Beasts of England’ seven times and then sleep better than they ever have
before. The next day the animals can hardly believe they really control the
The pigs begin to teach themselves to read and write. Snowball, the best at
writing, paints over the name Manor Farm and clearly writes Animal Farm in
its place, while the animals cheer him on. Snowball and Napoleon then reduce
the principles of Animalism to ‘Seven Commandments,’ which are inscribed
on the barn wall. They are the unalterable laws by which all animals of
Animal Farm must live forever.
Snowball then asks the animals to gather the harvest more quickly than Jones
demanded. Although the cows are uneasy over the request, the animals march
to the hay field to gather the important harvest. When they return, they are
surprised to find that the milk has disappeared.
The second chapter further develops the farm animals as individuals. Mollie,
who has been spoiled by human beings and asks the stupidest of questions;
Moses, who claims to know the existence of a country called Sugarcandy
Mountain to which all animals go after death; and Boxer and Clover, faithful
disciples who lead the singing of the anthem, are all individualized. However,
it is Snowball and Major who emerge as the leaders of the animals; but they
are very different in personality. Snowball is devoted and sincere, working for
the welfare of others; as the diligent organizer on the farm, he is much like
Trotsky. On the other hand, Napoleon is power-hungry and leads with an iron
fist. He becomes a totalitarian despot, much like Stalin or Hitler. Together
they created the Seven Commandments of Animalism, based on Major’s
teachings, Marxism, and the Communist Manifesto.
The second chapter also describes Manor Farm as the perfect setting for the
utopian community that Old Major dreamed about. It is pleasant in
appearance, pastoral in appeal, and isolated enough to prevent outside
interference. Under the leadership of Napoleon and Snowball, the rebellion
quickly takes place here almost by accident, and the farm is transformed into
Animal Farm. Orwell skillfully brings out the feeling of neglect leading to
rebellion in just two paragraphs.
There is some resistance to the new way of things on Animal Farm. Mollie
symbolizes the ‘don’t care-type,’ who has no interest for reform which
interferes with personal pleasure or comfort. Moses, the raven, represents the
class who resists any change and becomes a symbol of organized religion. In
contrast, Boxer and Clover, the faithful work horses, represent the selfless,
sincere party-workers who put the cause of the party above themselves.
Although they do not have great intelligence, they are respected for their
strength, open-heartedness, dedication, and steadfastness. Like most simple
and gullible beings, they are easily persuaded and convinced.
It is important to notice the irony that begins to take shape in the second
chapter. Animal Farm should be the perfect place for a utopian society, but in
the hands of the animals it becomes a terrible place ruled by a tyrant. At first
the animals hate the farmhouse, where Jones lived with his horrible whips and
whiskey; later the animals will move into the farmhouse, and Napoleon will
walk on his hind legs and carry a whip. The animals believe that humans are
the cause of all their problems; but over time, the animals become very human
and do themselves in. The animals believe the pigs to be the best leaders, for
they talk intelligently; in truth, their talk covers their motives. Old Major’s
ideals, expressed in his speech, are noble; but in the “hands” of Napoleon,
they become evil. The Seven Commandments are supposedly unalterable, but
they are later altered by the evil leaders for their own good. The
commandments are also not really a philosophy, but mere propaganda. It is also important to notice the style of the second chapter. The quick pace