Animal Farm Essay, Research Paper SETTING 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
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
involves the reader and creates a believable suspension of reason and logic,
giving the story the feel of a fairy tale that teaches that selfishness, pride, and
hypocrisy are hard to eliminate from society. Since these are timeless
weaknesses of mankind, the story becomes a timeless tale of society’s
corruption throughout history, not just in the time of Marx, Stalin, or Lenin.
The third Chapter begins with the efforts of the animals being rewarded at
harvestime. Despite the unsuitability of the implements they use, they work
hard and surmount every difficulty. Because of their superior knowledge, the
pigs do not actually do the labor, but direct and supervise. Boxer works the
hardest. He asks the cockerels to give him a ‘wake-up-call’ early each
morning, and his answer to every problem is to work harder. The harvest turns
out to be the largest that the farm has ever seen. There is no wastage and no
On Sundays, the animals do not work. After breakfast, which is an hour later
than usual, there is the raising of the flag decorated by a hoof and horn and
symbolizing the power of the animals. After the hoisting of the flag, the
animals attend a meeting where they plan the work for the next week, debate,
and resolve problems. They even vote on important issues, even though most
of the animals do not understand what they are voting for. The two leaders,
Napoleon and Snowball, do understand the issues and are very vocal in their
debates; however, they never agree, foreshadowing their later struggle for
power and control. The meeting always ends with the singing of ‘Beasts of
England.’ In the afternoon, there is time for recreation.
The pigs have set aside the harness-room as their headquarters. Untiring
Snowball keeps himself busy organizing various committees, such as the egg-
production committee and the whiter wool movement; their purpose is to
improve the farm and the animals’ lives. Not surprisingly, Napoleon is
disinterested in Snowball’s committees and even tries to undermine them; but
he agrees that education is important and supports Snowball’s reading and
writing classes. By autumn almost all the animals are literate to some extent.
When the sheep, hens and ducks (the slower animals) are unable to learn the
Seven Commandments, Snowball reduces them to a single maxim that states
‘four legs good, two legs bad’. When the birds object, he states that wings
should be regarded as legs. The birds quietly accept his explanation.
The mystery of the ‘disappeared milk’ is solved, for it has been seized by the
pigs and mixed into their mush. Squealer justifies the action by stating that
milk and apples contain substances absolutely necessary for a pig’s diet.
This chapter shows the animals at harvest time, several months after the
animals seized the farm in March. By working together, they are successful,
and the harvest is plentiful and completed in less time than ever before. It also
shows the animals’ efforts at organizing themselves. The meetings and
committees shown in this chapter are reflective of the collective farms in the
earlier stages of the Russian Revolution. In a very human way, Snowball forms committees to improve the animals’
lives, but Napoleon tries to undermine his efforts. Their power struggle has a
semblance to the one between Trotsky and Stalin after the death of Lenin. The
classes of reading and writing are more successful, and most of the animals
become literate to some degree. They are also granted the privilege of voting,
even though most of the animals do not understand what they are voting for.
The pigs, aware of the ignorance of the other animals, begin to establish
themselves as the ruling class and seize special privileges. They steal the milk
and the apples for their own good and take over the harness house as their
headquarters. Squealer tries to justify the actions of the pigs through
propaganda. The over simplification of the Seven Commandments to ‘Four
legs good, two legs bad’ betrays the tricks of the power-mongers who divert
the attention of the gullible to achieve their own selfish ends. The sheep, who
are slow by nature, particularly like the simplicity of the new slogan and
repeat it often.
It is important to notice that this chapter develops the rising action of the plot;
but there is much foreshadowing of the later action in the novel. Orwell makes
it clear that Napoleon is stronger than Snowball and will seek ultimate power
on the farm. His rule will be tyrannical, and the animals will suffer under his
control, much like they suffered under Jones.
The news of what has happened on Animal Farm spreads over half the
country. A flight of pigeons tells the story of the Rebellion and teaches the
song, ‘Beasts of England’ to other animals. The neighboring farmers talk with
exaggeration about what has happened to Manor Farm, but fail to unify
themselves into a cohesive group. Mr. Pilkington spends his time fishing and
hunting, and Mr. Frederick is always busy with his lawsuits. Farmer Jones is
seen in the taproom, complaining and grumbling to anyone who cares to listen
to his tale of woe and injustice.
Early in October, a flight of pigeons announce the approach of Jones, with his
gun. He has with him a battalion of half a dozen men, all armed with sticks.
They have come to recapture the farm. This action is not unexpected, and the
animals are prepared. Snowball give orders, and the animals are soon at their
assigned posts. When the farmers are close, Snowball launches his first attack.
Murriel, Benjamin, and all the sheep rush, prod, and lash out at the farmers.
Pigeons and geese rush at and peck them, but it is all in vain. The animals are
not strong enough, and the animals, signaled by Snowball, take flight.
The men shout in triumph and chase the animals as they leave. This is just the
moment Snowball has been waiting for. As soon as they are inside the Yard,
three horses, three cows, and the pigs emerge and cut them off. Snowball
dashed for Jones, who fires his gun. Snowball is injured, and a sheep is killed.
Snowball retaliates and hurls Jones into a pile of dung. The panic-stricken
men are kicked, bitten, and trampled. All the men fled except the stable boy,
who has been unintentionally injured by Boxer. The vain Mollie is found
hiding in the manger.
A celebration of their victory begins immediately and spontaneously. The flag
is hoisted and the ‘Beasts of England’ is sung a number of times. The dead are
given a solemn funeral, and the heroes are conferred with honors and medals.
Snowball and Boxer are named ‘Animal Hero first Class’; the dead sheep is
named ‘Animal Hero Second Class.’
After a discussion, the fight is called the Battle of Cowshed. Mr. Jones’ gun is
to be fired twice a year, once on October 12, the anniversary of the ‘Battle of
Cowshed’ and once on Midsummer Day, the anniversary of the Rebellion.
The Battle of Cowshed described in this chapter is told in an amusing way.
There is much more detail about the animals’ strategy, discipline, and success
here than there was about the initial rebellion, which was unplanned and
accidental. Orwell tells how the animals are prepared for this human attack,
fight nobly, and lure the enemy into a trap. They act almost like a trained
army, without regard to individual safety. The battle of Cowshed reflects the
troubles Russia had with Germany in 1918; warfare was averted only by the
signing of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk.. Use of propaganda by both humans and animals is seen in this chapter.
Snowball and Napoleon incite the animals to fight, calling the men tyrannous.
Farmers malign the animals by spreading rumors of their imagined excesses,
like cannibalism, torture, lawlessness, and immorality. In Russia, the same
kind of propaganda was used; and the special demonstrations, celebrations,
and conferring of medals clearly is a satire on Russian behavior.
The selfishness of human beings is clearly shown in the chapter. Even though
the neighboring farmers come to Jones’ aid in the battle, their purposes are not
pure. Both the men from Foxwood, representing England, and the men from
Pinchfield, representing Germany, are concerned about what they will gain
from the fight. They want to turn Jones’ misfortunes to their own advantage.
Orwell is equally critical of the animals. Napoleon is most interested in
gaining power from the battle, as from every situation. Most of the animals
join the fight without any clear idea as to why; they do not understand its
purpose or meaning. Later the animal “masses” will realize that they have
been duped by their leaders, but it will be too late to take any meaningful
Chapter 5 opens with Mollie being taken to task by Clover for her
misbehavior. Unable to take the criticism, she disappears and is never seen by
the animals again. The remaining animals then get down to business. It is
decided that the Pigs should decide the farm policies, which will be ratified by
a majority vote. All might have gone well if Snowball and Napoleon could
have agreed; instead, they dispute every point and develop their own
followings. Snowball’s brilliant speeches win him the majority of support, and
his followers shout “four legs good, two legs bad” at crucial moments in his
speeches. Snowball very eruditely talks about field drains, silage, and
laborsaving devices. Napoleon has no such plans, but claims that “Snowball’s
schemes would come to nothing”. The biggest bone of contention between
them, however, is the windmill.
After a survey, Snowball declares that a windmill would help supply the farm
with electric power, which, in turn, could run fantastic machines like chaff-
cutters. As always, he is interested in improving the welfare of all the animals.
Within a few weeks Snowball works out the plans for the windmill. All the
animals come to have a look at them except Napoleon, who slyly urinates on
The farm becomes divided over the subject of the windmill. Although
Snowball agrees there are difficulties with it, he believes they could all be
overcome within a year. Napoleon, on the other hand, tries to divert attention
from the windmill question, by stressing the need for food production. He
warns that if they waste time on the windmill, everyone may starve. The
animals listen to both leaders and find themselves in agreement with the one
who is speaking at the moment. Snowball wants the issue of the Windmill to
be put to a vote, and Napoleon calls the idea nonsense. Snowball, with his
usual eloquence, is about to sway the vote in his favor when Napoleon calls
his nine enormous dogs into the barn. They attack Snowball and chase him
out, never to be seen again.
Napoleon mounts the platform and announces that the Sunday meetings will
come to an end, except for the saluting of the flag and the singing of “Beasts
of England.” He also explains that a special committee will be formed to
convey decisions to the masses. From this point forward in the book,
Napoleon becomes the undisputed leader of the animals. Every Sunday
morning, he gives his orders, and the masses file past the ‘Skill of Major’
On the third Sunday following Snowball’s expulsion, the animals are
astonished to hear Napoleon’s announcement of his plan to build a Windmill.
At the news, Squealer, who is Napoleon’s loyal propagandist, calms the
masses with his persuasive talks, and the three dogs who happen to be with
him silence every question with their menacing growls.
In this chapter, Orwell tries to portray a classic example of a dictator
corrupted by power. The rivalry between Snowball and Napoleon reaches a
crescendo. Snowball has won the support of the masses, in spite of Napoleon’s
opposition to the building of the windmill. Napoleon refuses to loose. He
brings in his vicious dogs to attack Snowball, who barely escapes with his life.
Everything happens so quickly that there is no resistance to Napoleon’s show
of power. He has planned his moves carefully. His ‘Might is Right’ belief and
his swift takeover of power are traits of a merciless dictator who stages a
successful coup. Discontinuing Sunday Meetings and group planning,
defamation of the enemy, manipulated evidences, seasoned arguments, and
Squealer’s propaganda are the results of the rise of Napoleon to the position of
an all powerful, ruthless ruler. To gain favor with his subjects, he goes
forward the popular plan of the windmill, which he earlier opposed and now
claims as his own.
It is ironic that Napoleon has begun to act worse than Farmer Jones, the leader
he so despised. Behaving like a true dictator, he surrounds himself with
bodyguards (the ferocious dogs), gives orders for the week to the animals each
Sunday, convinces the masses that Snowball was an enemy all along, and digs
up the skull of Old Major to serve as a symbol. On the satiric level,
Napoleon’s takeover is a reflection of Stalin’s rise to power in Russia.
This chapter shows how Napoleon rules the farm. At first the animals are
happy, thinking that they are doing everything for their own good. They work
hard, putting in sixty-hour weeks throughout the spring and summer. In
August Napoleon announces that there must be voluntary work on Sunday
afternoons, and the absent ones will receive half rations. In spite of the intense
labor, harvest is less successful than that of the previous year. The Windmill
also presents unexpected difficulties, but they are resolved under the
superintendence of the pigs and the noble efforts of Boxer, who lives by the
slogans of “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right”.
Napoleon announces a new policy of engaging in trade with the neighboring
farms, not for commercial purposes, but for obtaining urgent necessities. The
animals have always lived by the commandment of not human contact, and
now they feel uneasy about the violation of the commandment. Four pigs
timidly raise their voices in protest, but they are silenced by the fierce
growling of Napoleon’s dogs. The leader then says that the animals need not
contact humans because he himself has taken the responsibility of doing so.
Napoleon ends his speech with ‘Long Live Animal Farm’. After the singing of
the ‘Beasts of England’, the animals disperse and begin to grumble about
Napoleon’s new policy. As usual, Squealer, the propagandist, assures the
animals that the resolution against engaging in trade had never been official.
Every Monday, Mr. Whymper, a sly-looking man, visits the farm. He is the
first contact with the outside world, but there are rumors that Napoleon is
about to enter a definite business agreement either with Mr. Pilkington or with
Mr. Frederick. Napoleon and his pigs also take up residence in the farmhouse,
stating that they need a quiet place to do their thinking work. They also claim
that a leader needs the dignity of a house. Another of the seven
commandments is broken since they stated that “No animal shall sleep in a
bed with sheets”.
In autumn the animals are tired but pleased, for the windmill is half-built.
Only the skeptical Benjamin refuses to admire the work. In November,
progress is stopped by the weather, but Napoleon forces the animals to
continue building the windmill through the rain and cold. When a violent
storm rocks the farm buildings and the trees and knocks the windmill down,
Napoleon blames the poor weather on Snowball. He offers a reward and a title
to anyone who captures him alive, for he wants to teach the pig a lesson.
Napoleon has become dictatorial in his leadership. The animals are no longer
allowed to participate in decision making. Napoleon alone makes the rules. He
forces them to work sixty-hour weeks and then adds Sunday afternoon to their
workloads. He insists that the labor on the windmill continue in spite of the
cold and rain. He seizes the farmhouse for his own residence and begins
trading with humans on the neighboring farm. He also confers titles and
honors, expels animals who he feels are traitors, and silences dissenting
voices. When the animals complain about any of his polkas, they are quickly
quieted by the propaganda of Squealer. They are helpless to fight against
Napoleon and his refusal to follow the seven commandments.
Since they can no longer function as they choose, the animals think largely
about their own lack of comfort. They begin to compare their present life to
their past one under Farmer Jones. Ironically, there are many similarities, even
though Napoleon and Squealer constantly tell them that their present life is
much better than their past one. Of course, like most dictators, Napoleon has
tried to change their memories of the past, just as he changes the seven
commandments to suit his needs.
Napoleon works hard at keeping the animals in control, constantly assuring
them that he is making a better society for them and trying to appear like a
hero. He makes Snowball into his scapegoat and blames all bad events,
including the weather, on him. By making Snowball a fearful character,
Napoleon assures his subjects that he will protect them from this horrible
creature. Such tactics make the animals dependent on his leadership and divert
attention away from his dictatorial ways. The building and rebuilding of the
Windmill and other such plans are also Napoleon’s way of keeping the
common “man” busy and at bay so they will not have time to think about what
he is really doing. These plans are reflective of Stalin’s Five-Year Plans.
This chapter begins in the bitter winter with the animals trying their best to
rebuild the windmill, but the cold and their hunger dampen their spirits. It is
only Boxer’s never-failing cry of “I will work harder” that inspires them to
continue. January brings a true food shortage, and they often have nothing to
eat but chaff.
Napoleon hides the bitter reality that exists on the farm. He instructs the sheep
to talk about an increase in rations when Mr. Whymper is in hearing distance.
He orders empty bins to be filled to the brim with sand and then covered at the
top with grain, in order to deceive Mr.Whymper, who would then report to the
outside world about ‘no shortage’ on Animal Farm.
As the situation worsens, Napoleon hardly makes an appearance. The weekly
work orders for the animals are now given through the pigs. Squealer’s
announcement that the hens should surrender their eggs, at least 400 per week,
brings forth a terrible outcry, but the hens must obey. The dogs see to it that
Napoleon’s orders are carried out, for the eggs need to be sold in order to
survive until spring.
Snowball continues to serve as Napoleon’s scapegoat and is blamed for
everything that goes wrong on the farm. Napoleon goes so far as to claim that
Snowball “was in league with Jones and was his secret agent”. It is difficult
for the animals to accept this explanation, and even Boxer questions it.
Squealer, of course, quiets them with propaganda.
One day Napoleon calls a meeting and emerges wearing medals, which he has
awarded to himself. He arrives, escorted by his nine guard dogs. After
surveying the crowd of animals, he gives a high-pitched whimper, and the
dogs attack the crowd. They try unsuccessfully to attack Boxer, who holds one
of them under his hoof. After the tumult, the dogs appear before Napoleon
with the four pigs that had earlier raised their voices against his policies.
Napoleon then orders the four pigs to confess that they had been contriving
with Snowball to destroy the Windmill and that they had entered into a truce
with him to hand over Animal Farm to Mr. Frederick.
When Napoleon demands further confessions about Snowball, the hens say
that he appeared in their dreams and instigated them to disobey. As a result,
Napoleon orders the hens to be slaughtered. The goose confesses to having
stolen and eaten six ears of corn during last year’s harvest at Snowballs’
urging; he is murdered. The sheep confess to urinating in the drinking pool
and murdering an old ram and blame their actions on Snowball; they are all
killed instantly. By the end of the confessions, there is a pile of corpses lying
before Napoleon’s feet. His reign of terror has truly begun. Frightened and
shattered, the animals start singing ‘Beasts of England’. This anthem, which
seems to inspire the animals, is soon forbidden by Napoleon. It is replaced by
Minimus’s new song, which is bland and nationalistic.
Orwell seems to have written this chapter with Russian history in mind. The
food problems of the animals in the book parallel Russia’s economic problems
in the 1920’s and the famine thereafter. In August, 1936, the Communist Party
under Stalin tried, accused, and executed many high ranking officials on a
charge that they were Trotskyists, just as Napoleon executes the animals for
being influenced by Snowball. Trotsky himself was earlier expelled from
Russia, just as Snowball is expelled from the farm.
Napoleon has become just like Stalin or any other dictator. He hides the ugly
truth from the outside world. He makes Whymper believe that their supplies
are plentiful and all is going well on the farm. He refuses to allow any animal
to question his power and uses the dogs to keep his subjects under control. He
separates himself from the masses and appears only ceremoniously, almost
like a god. He threatens his subjects with the return of Snowball and Jones,
whom he has made into totally fearful beings. He shows his strength by
publicly executing those who betray him. The only release that the animals
have is to throw themselves more fully into their work.
The substitution of the nostalgic song of rebellion by Minimus’s mild new
song is grudgingly accepted by the animals, just as they have learned to accept
their plight in life. Their dream of equality, freedom, and democracy is
shattered; in its place, they find terror, deprivation, and totalitarianism.
In this chapter, the lives of the animals worsen. They receive just enough food
to make them work, and Napoleon takes advantage of them at every turn. But
Farmer Frederick also takes advantage of Napoleon. When he decides to sell
timber on the advice of Whymper, Frederick agrees to pay a sum of 12
pounds. Frederick wants to pay by check, but Napoleon insists on cash
payment in five-pound notes. Frederick pays up and carts away the timber.
Three days later, Napoleon learns that the notes are forged. He pronounces a
death sentence upon Frederick and wants to boil him alive.
Expressing his fear of attack from the humans, Napoleon tells the animals to
be prepared for an attack. The offensive comes while they are at breakfast.
Fifteen men with half a dozen guns open fire on the farm. Napoleon and
Boxer try their best to inspire the animals, but they find it difficult to retaliate.
Many of them are wounded and run back to the farm buildings.
The enemies capture the farm and the windmill, which Frederick blasts with a
dynamo. On seeing their windmill destroyed, the animals are incited to
retaliate with a vengeance. In the battle, two geese are killed, and many cows
and sheep are injured. Napoleon is wounded in the tail. Finally, the fierce dogs
force the men to take flight, but not until the animals have paid a heavy price.
In spite of the losses, Napoleon orders that the animals rejoice in their victory.
The flag is hoisted and tributes are paid. Napoleon makes a speech and names
the fight the ‘Battle of Windmill’.
In spite of their many troubles, the animals refuse to believe that they are not
living a utopian existence. They are constantly told by Napoleon and Squealer
that their life on Animal Farm is much better than what they had before. They
believe the propaganda, in spite of the fact that they are more hungry than
they ever had been when Farmer Jones was their owner. When they are
attacked by humans, however, they are at first too tired and hungry to react.
When Frederick destroys their windmill, which is their pride and joy, he
forces them to retaliate. They fight with a vengeance and succeed in driving
the farmers away. Napoleon, in his typical dictatorial stance, orders them to
celebrate the Battle of Windmill, which seems to be reflective of the German
invasion of Russia during World War II.
Throughout the chapter, Napoleon is portrayed as a despicable tyrant,
constantly displaying his power to his subjects. He perpetually lies to the
animals, continues to change the amendments to suit his desires, requires a
public celebration of his birthday, gives himself additional titles, and treats
himself to drinking whiskey, which is strictly forbidden. Napoleon also tries
to set farmer against farmer, but the plan backfires. He is tricked by Frederick
when he is paid for timber with counterfeit money. Napoleon vows revenge;
ironically, it is the humans that gain most of the revenge during the battle.
Chapter 9 opens with Boxer’s heel, which was bitten by the dogs, taking a
long time to heal. In spite of the injury, he refuses to take even one day off
from the work of rebuilding the windmill. He wants to see it completed before
his retirement. When the rules were originally formulated, different animals
had different ages for retirement, and a liberal pension had been decided upon
for all. To date, no animal has retired on pension.
In the autumn four sows give birth to 31 young pigs. Since Napoleon is the
only boar, he is the father to all of them and passes some special rules to
acknowledge the young pigs. Other animals must build a school for them so
they can be educated and stand aside when the pigs pass; the pigs are also to
wear green ribbons on their tails on Sundays and brew beer for their own
Winter is cold, food is even more scarce, and rations are reduced for all the
animals except the pigs and the dogs. Squealer, trying to soften the news of
less food, uses the word readjustment instead of reduction. His statistics and
oratory skills still make everyone believe him.
Rations are further reduced in February, but the pigs, as usual, are excluded
from the reduction. In fact, rumor has it that every pig is to receive a ration of
a pint of beer daily. Napoleon is to receive a full half a gallon, served to him
in the Crown Derby soup tureen. Squealer convinces the masses that the pigs
need more food and special treatment because of the important work that they
In an attempt to encourage the masses, there are more songs, speeches, and
processions. There is also a weekly Special Demonstration to celebrate the
struggles and triumphs of Animal Farm. Banners, slogans, and recitation of
poems composed to honor Napoleon honor are part of the pageant. The
animals enjoy these celebrations, where they are reminded of the fact that they
themselves are the masters, not living under the two legged.
In April, Animal Farm is declared a Republic and must elect a President. The
only candidate is Napoleon. As President, he still continues to defame
Snowball and points out that his wounding Snowball and sending him away
has saved the farm for the animals. He does allow Moses, the raven, to return
to the farm. When he talks about Sugarcandy Mountain and an afterlife, it
diverts the attention of the animals away from the cruelty of their life and
Napoleon. Boxer works harder until he falls one day and is unable to get up. Everyone
runs to his help, but the authorities take control. In the middle of the day, a
van takes him away to be killed and made into glue. The animals cry out in
horror, but their cries go unheard. When Squealer later announces Boxer’s
death in a sorrowful tone, he rationalizes why he was taken in the Knacker’s
van and promises that he died in comfort and dignity. Napoleon hypocritically
pays homage to Boxer and asks others to emulate his work ethics. The chapter
ends with the arrival of a wooden crate at the farmhouse.
Orwell’s message is loud and clear. The low tactics used by Napoleon are like
those of a totalitarian dictator who makes the masses submissive. Only the
ruling class, in this case the pigs, are exempt. For all the other animals there
are short rations and hard work. Spontaneous demonstrations and celebrations
are used by Napoleon to keep the animals occupied and diverted in their free
As Napoleon’s loyal henchman, Squealer is the chief spokesman of the ruling
class and appears before the animals much more frequently than Napoleon,
who sequesters himself for protection and leisure. Squealer continues to talk
of the dignity of labor and the glory of animal freedom. To control Napoleon’s
subjects, he constantly justifies Napoleon’s shifts in policies and raises the
horrible possibility of Jones’ return. To protect Napoleon, he uses propaganda,
inflammatory rhetoric, false statistics and faulty rationalization, rewrites the
history of Animal Farm, and amends the Commandments without any
principle of morality. The bigger the lie, the more convincing he sounds.
The reappearance of Mosses, the raven, and his acceptance by Napoleon
parallels the priests returning to Russia after the harassment and rigors of the
revolution. Stalin even writes pacifying and conciliatory letters to the Pope in
1944 and allows the Orthodox Church to conduct services in Russia. Religion,
symbolized by Moses, is permitted as long as it is harmless and does not
interfere with the plans of Napoleon or Stalin.
Boxer’s plight and the indifference of the pigs upset the animals. In spite of his
work ethics, Napoleon is glad to be rid of him, for he was too well liked by
the animals. The animals, who saw Boxer as their hero and inspiration, feel
When Napoleon declares Animal Farm a Republic and elects himself
President, the rising action reaches its climax. He has truly become worse than
Farmer Jones, creating a chosen caste of pigs, oppressing the masses, and
becoming the ultimate dictator that is in total control.
Years have passed. No one remembers the old days before the rebellion
except Clover, Benjamin, Moses, and a number of pigs. Napoleon has become
totally humanlike in his behavior. He and his ruling class of pigs now walk
upright on their hand legs, dress in clothing, carry whips, read newspapers and
magazines, and talk on the telephone. All of the original Commandments have
been forgotten; only one remains that states that all animals are equal, but
some are more equal than others, meaning the pigs. The common animals say
nothing; they have given up the habit of criticizing, complaining, or protesting
The farm is now better organized, more prosperous, and enlarged. The
windmill, though not used for electricity, has brought in a profit. The common
animals, however, do not share in the prosperity. They live a life of difficulty
and deprivation. They are hungry, sleep on straw, labor long hours, and are
troubled by cold in winter and flies in summer. But they are still convinced
that they are “free” since animals rather than humans run the farm. Because of
the constant propaganda, they do not realize that their plight is the same under
Napoleon that it was under Farmer Jones. Only Benjamin realizes that
“nothing has changed for better or worse.”
One day, while weeding turnips, the animals hear singing. Napoleon is in the
farmhouse celebrating with human beings. He then announces that he has
made peace with his human neighbors. Although still called Animal Farm, it
is really Manor Farm all over again. The animal dictatorship has degenerated
into human corruption, and at the end of the novel, pig and man are
indistinguishable. The circle is complete.
Orwell’s satire comes full circle in the last chapter of the book. When in
control, the animals turn Animal Farm into another Manor Farm rather than a
utopian society. They are unable to make a paradise on earth. Because the
common animals are good and simple and lack cunning, they are easily
deceived and manipulated. It is easy for Napoleon to seize and maintain
control. Sadly, he uses the power unwisely and becomes a despicable dictator
that imitates human beings in every way. Through Napoleon, Orwell satirizes
human nature; but his main target of criticism is man as a political animal.
Old Major is a twelve-year old Berkshire Boar who provides the political
philosophy on which Animal Farm is founded. His philosophy of Animalism
is a mixture of Marx and Lenin. Out of his philosophy come the original
animal rebellion and Seven Commandments. As an idealist and visionary, he
shows the animals how their lives are miserable, enslaved, laborious, and
unhappy under the cruelty of Farmer Jones and inspires them to revolt
sometime in the future. He wants to establish a utopian society on the farm, a
heaven on earth, where the animals live happily in equality, freedom, and
plenty. His dreams, however, are not concrete; he never has a plan for
Old Major has been a show pig for Farmer Jones. As a result, he has been
pampered and has lived a life of ease. Unlike the other farm animals, he has
not been expected to do hard labor or scratch out a meager existence for
survival. Most of the time he has been isolated in a stall filled with clean hay
and plenty of food, allowing him much time to think, theorize, and observe the
other animals at a distance. As a result, he does not have a realistic picture of
the nature of animals or humans.
Old Major dies at the end of the first chapter and is buried on the farm. After
the animal rebellion, his skull is dug up and paid weekly tributes by the
animals for a period of time. Even after the formal tributes have ceased, the
common animals speak about Old Major and consider him their hero.
Napoleon mentions him at the end of the book when Old Major’s vision is a
problem for him with the other animals.
Snowball is one of the pre-eminent pigs who is a contender for leadership of
Animal Farm. He is more vivacious, quicker in speech, and more inventive
than Napoleon. He is also much more concerned about the welfare of all the
animals. He proves that he is a good thinker, strategist, and planner. He not
only plans the ‘Battle of Cowshed’ in advance, but also fights bravely during
the battle and is acclaimed a hero and decorated after the victory.
Unfortunately, he is not considered to have the same depth of character as
Napoleon and, therefore, loses out to him.
Unlike Old Major, Snowball acts as well as thinks. He corrects Mollie’s
mistaken ideas during the discussion on Animalism, devises the flag which
symbolizes the animals’ hopes, organizes various committees and classes, and
physically changes the name of Manor Farm to Animal Farm. He also
compresses the Seven Commandments to a simple maxim: ‘Four legs good,
two legs bad’. A persuasive speaker, he is also good at debates and discussions.
Table of Contents
Like Major, he too is a dreamer, but with a difference. He dreams of a world
of practicality and machines, symbolized by the windmill, which he believes
will make life easier for all the animals. It is, in fact, the windmill, which
becomes the bone of contention between him and Napoleon. In the end,
Snowball is defeated by and sent into exile. Once off the farm, Napoleon
makes the exiled pig his scapegoat, blaming him for all the ills on the farm.
On the satiric level, Snowball is like Trotsky, who was the planner and
spokesman of the Russian Revolution.
Napoleon is a large and rather fierce-looking Berkshire Boar who is being
bred for sale by Farmer Jones. Though not much of a talker, he has the
reputation for getting his work done in his own way. He too is a thinker, but
his thinking is usually manipulative. He outwits Snowball through a power
play and quickly seizes the leadership role of Animal Farm for himself. To a
large extent, the entire novel is the story of the rise of Napoleon to the position
of an all powerful, dictatorial ruler.
Shortly after the animal rebellion, Napoleon’s true nature is seen when he
seizes the milk and the apples for his own benefit. He is not interested in
creating a utopian society for the animals; his only interest is in seizing power
for himself. He proves that he is secretive and scheming when he hides the
dogs and trains them to protect him at any price. Unlike Snowball, he does not
normally speak to the animals as a group; instead, he spreads his propaganda
individually, intimidating the animals when they are isolated.
Napoleon is obviously a plotter. He knows that he must rid the farm of
Snowball, his contender. He waits for the opportune moment and then sends
his guard dogs to attack his enemy. Once he is rid of Snowball, he quickly sets
himself up as the dictatorial ruler of Animal Farm and begins to shower
himself with special privileges. He gives himself more food than the other
animals, changes the Seven Commandments to meet his own wants and needs,
makes all pigs into a special, ruling class, presents himself with titles and
medals, and seizes the farmhouse for his own quarters. By the end of the
novel, he is even using the barley from the farm to make alcohol for his own
consumption, eating off of china dishes, wearing human clothing, walking
upright on his hind legs, reading the newspaper, and talking on the telephone.
Napoleon knows he must divert attention away from what he is doing and
uses several different tactics. He forces the animals to work harder than ever.
In addition to their normal six-day work week, he insists that they do
“voluntary” work on Sunday afternoons. He sets Snowball up as his scapegoat
and blames any ill fortune on the farm on him. He purges the farm of any
animals that cross him by holding public executions. He holds constant
ceremonies and parades in which he is presented as the benevolent ruler. He
uses Squealer to constantly spread propaganda that Napoleon is working for
the good of all the animals. At the end of the novel, he has become a total dictator who seizes whatever he
wants. On the satiric level, Napoleon is intended to be a reflection of Stalin.
Orwell states that the idea for the book came to him from the sight of a huge
carthorse driven by a little boy who was whipping it whenever it tried to turn.
“It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we
should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the
same way as the rich exploit the proletariat. Thus Boxer, representing the long
suffering Russian workers and peasants, is the hero of the tale.”
Boxer is not very intelligent. In reading classes, he could not get beyond letter
the D. But what he lacked in intelligence, he made up for with hard work. As
a big, powerful farmhorse, he represents the simple, honest, strong, and
devoted worker. His philosophy is always to work harder, and he is seen
throughout the novel doing more than his fair share. As a result, he represents
‘goodness of common man’ and becomes an inspiration to all the other animals
on the farm.
Because of his lack of intelligence and his trusting nature, Boxer accepts
everything that Napoleon and Squealer say. In fact, his life is ruled by the
slogan of “Napoleon is always right.” Even when Napoleon has his guard
dogs attack Boxer, he does not see through the leader. Though heroic and very
faithful to Napoleon all his life, when old, Boxer is sold to be made into glue
instead of being given the pension promised to all animals.
On a satiric level, Boxer is the symbol of the workers of the world who are
used by the ruling classes to advance their own goals.
Squealer is a small, fat pig with bright eyes and a happy spirit. Known to be
an exceptional speaker, he is the pig chosen by Napoleon to be his henchman
and propagandist. As the right-hand person to Napoleon, he faithfully
executes the commands of his leader. He changes the Commandments to suit
the needs of Napoleon, revises the history of Animal Farm to reflect what his
leader chooses, constantly warns the common animals that Jones is an ever
present threat, and generally keeps the masses under control. On a satiric
level, Squealer is the typical propagandist that is always attached to a
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