Animal Farm summary and analysis



Animal Farm summary and analysis


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Animal Farm summary and analysis


Animal Farm Summary

Animal Farm is a satirical fable set on Manor Farm, a typical English farm. Orwell employs a third-person narrator, who reports events without commenting on them directly. The narrator describes things as the animals perceive them.


 Old Major calls a meeting of all the animals in the big barn. He announces that he may die soon and relates to them the insights he has gathered in his life. Old Major tells the animals that human beings are the sole reason that “No animal in England is free” and that “The life of an animal is misery and slavery.” Therefore the animals must take charge of their destiny by overthrowing Man in a great Rebellion. He relates his dream of rebellion.


Old Major dies soon after the meeting and the other animals prepare for the Rebellion under Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer’s leadership. One night, Mr. Jones passes out drunk, creating the perfect opportunity for the animals to rebel. They are so hungry that they break into the store-shed. When Jones and his men try to whip them into submission, the animals run them off the farm. The animals burn all reminders of their former bondage but agree to preserve the farmhouse “as a museum.” Snowball changes the name of the farm to “Animal Farm” and comes up with Seven Commandments, which are to form the basis of Animalism. They are:


1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.

2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.

3. No animal shall wear clothes.

4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.

5. No animals shall drink alcohol.

6. No animal shall kill any other animal.

7. All animals are equal.


The pigs milk the cows, and then the animals go out to begin the harvest. When they return, the milk has disappeared mysteriously. The first harvest is a great success. The animals adhere to the tenets of Animalism happily, and with good result. Each animal works according to his ability and gets a fair share of food.


Every Sunday, Snowball and Napoleon lead a meeting of all the animals in the big barn. The pigs are the most intelligent animals, so they think up resolutions for the other animals to debate. Soon after, the pigs set up a study-center for themselves in the harness-room. Snowball embarks on various campaigns for social and economic improvement. Napoleon opposes whatever Snowball does. Because most of the animals lack the intelligence to memorize the Seven Commandments, Snowball reduces them to the single maxim, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” The sheep take to chanting this at meetings.


As time goes by, the pigs increase their control over the animals and award themselves increasing privileges. They quell the animals’ questions and protests by threatening Mr. Jones’s return. During this time, Napoleon also confiscates nine newborn puppies and secludes them in a loft in order to “educate” them.


By late summer, Snowball’s and Napoleon’s pigeon-messengers have spread news of the Rebellion across half of England. Animals on other farms have begun lashing out against their human masters and singing the revolutionary song “Beasts of England.” Jones and other farmers try to recapture Animal Farm but fail. The animals celebrate their victory in what they call “The Battle of the Cowshed.”


The animals agree to let the pigs make all the resolutions. Snowball and Napoleon continue to be at odds and eventually clash over the windmill. Snowball wants to build a windmill in order to shorten the work week and provide the farm electricity, but Napoleon opposes it. Napoleon summons nine fierce dogs (the puppies he trained) to run Snowball off the farm. Napoleon announces that Sunday meetings will cease and that the pigs will make all the decisions in the animals’ best interest. At this point, Boxer takes on his own personal maxims, “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” In the spring, Napoleon announces plans to build the windmill, claiming that it was his idea all along—rewriting history.


Building the windmill forces the animals to work harder and on Sundays. Shortages begin to occur, so Napoleon opens up trade with the human world. Through Squealer, he lies that no resolutions against interaction with humans or the use of money had ever been passed. Napoleon enlists Whymper to be his intermediary, and the pigs move into the farmhouse. Squealer assures the animals that there is no resolution against this, but Clover and Muriel discovers that one of the resolutions has been changed to: “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.” Squealer convinces her that there was never a resolution against beds at all.


One night, strong winds shake the farm and the animals awake to discover the windmill destroyed. Napoleon blames Snowball and sentences the expelled pig to death.


In the winter, as conditions become worse on Animal Farm, Napoleon deceives the human world into thinking Animal Farm is prospering. He signs a contract for a quota of four hundred eggs per week, inciting a hen rebellion that results in several deaths. Around the same time, Napoleon begins negotiating with Frederick and Pilkington to sell Animal Farm’s store of timber. He also spreads propaganda against Snowball, claiming that Snowball was always a spy and a collaborator while Napoleon was the true hero of the Battle of the Cowshed, and Squealer warns against Snowball’s secret agents.


Four days later, Napoleon holds an assembly in which he makes several animals confess to treachery and then has the dogs execute them. The dogs try to get Boxer to confess but leave him alone when they cannot overpower him. Afterwards, Clover and some other animals huddle together on a hill overlooking the farm. They reminisce about Animalism’s ideals and consider how much they differ from the violence and terror of Napoleon’s reign. They sing “Beasts of England,” but Squealer informs them that the song is useless now that the Rebellion is completed and that it is now forbidden. The new anthem begins with the lyrics: “Animal Farm, Animal Farm, / Never through me shalt thou come to harm!”


Another commandment is changed to read: “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” Clover and Muriel convince themselves that the commandment has always been this way. Squealer begins reading the animals statistics regularly to convince them that production is increasing. Napoleon seldom appears in public. The animals now call him “our Leader, Comrade Napoleon.” They attribute all misfortunes to Snowball and all success and luck to Napoleon.


Napoleon continues to negotiate with the farmers and eventually decides to sell the timber to Mr. Pilkington. At last, the windmill is finished and named “Napoleon Mill.” Soon after, Napoleon announces that he will sell the timber to Frederick, quickly changing his allegiance and disavowing his earlier vilification of Frederick. Napoleon says that Pilkington and Snowball have been collaborating. Frederick pays for the timber in fake cash, and the next morning, Frederick and his men invade the farm and blow up the windmill. The animals manage to chase the humans off, though many die or are injured in what they call “The Battle of the Windmill.”


After the battle, the pigs discover a case of whisky in the farmhouse. They drink to excess and soon, Squealer reports that Napoleon is dying and, as his last action, has made the consumption of alcohol punishable by death. But Napoleon recovers quickly and then sends Whymper to procure manuals on brewing alcohol. Squealer changes another commandment to “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.”


Napoleon plans to build a schoolhouse for the thirty-one young pigs he has parented. Towards the end of the winter, Napoleon begins increasing propaganda to distract the animals from inequality and hardship. He creates special “Spontaneous Demonstrations” in which the animals march around and celebrate their triumphs.


In April, Napoleon declares the farm a Republic and is elected unanimously as President. The animals continue to work feverishly, most of all Boxer. One day, Boxer collapses while overexerting himself. Napoleon promises to send him to the veterinarian in Willingdon. A few days later, a horse-slaughterer takes Boxer away in his van. The animals are none the wiser until Benjamin reads the lettering on the side of the van. A few days later, Squealer reports that Boxer died in the hospital despite receiving the best possible care. He claims that Boxer’s last words glorified Animal Farm and Napoleon. He also claims that the van belongs to the veterinarian, who recently bought it from the horse slaughterer and had not yet managed to paint over the lettering. Napoleon promises to honor Boxer with a special banquet. But the pigs use the money from his slaughter to buy a case of whisky, which they drink on the day appointed for the banquet.


Years go by, and though Animal Farm’s population has increased, only a few animals that remember the Rebellion remain. Conditions are still harsh despite technological improvements. The pigs and dogs continue to do no manual labor, instead devoting themselves to organizational work. One day, Squealer takes the sheep out to a deserted pasture where, he says, he is teaching them a song. On the day the sheep return, the pigs walk around the yard on their hind legs as the sheep chant, “Four legs good, two legs better.” The other animals are horrified. Clover consults the barn wall again. This time Benjamin reads to her. The Seven Commandments have been replaced with a single maxim: “All animals are equal / But some animals are more equal than others.”


The pigs continue the longstanding pattern of awarding themselves more and more privileges. They buy a telephone and subscribe to magazines. They even wear Jones’s clothing. One night, Napoleon holds a conciliatory banquet for the farmers. Pilkington makes a speech in which he says he wants to emulate Animal Farm’s long work hours and low rations. Napoleon announces that the farm will be called “Manor Farm” again, the animals will call each other “Comrade” no longer, and they no longer will march ceremoniously past Old Major’s skull (a practice he denies understanding). He also declares that the farm’s flag will be plain green, devoid of the symbols of the Rebellion. As the animals peer through the windows to watch the humans and pigs play poker, they cannot distinguish between them.


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Animal Farm summary and analysis

Animal Farm



Plot Overview


Old Major, a prize-winning boar, gathers the animals of the Manor Farm for a meeting in the big barn. He tells them of a dream he has had in which all animals live together with no human beings to oppress or control them. He tells the animals that they must work toward such a paradise and teaches them a song called “Beasts of England,” in which his dream vision is lyrically described. The animals greet Major's vision with great enthusiasm. When he dies only three nights after the meeting, three younger pigs—Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer—formulate his main principles into a philosophy called Animalism. Late one night, the animals manage to defeat the farmer Mr. Jones in a battle, running him off the land. They rename the property Animal Farm and dedicate themselves to achieving Major's dream. The cart-horse Boxer devotes himself to the cause with particular zeal, committing his great strength to the prosperity of the farm and adopting as a personal maxim the affirmation “I will work harder.”


At first, Animal Farm prospers. Snowball works at teaching the animals to read, and Napoleon takes a group of young puppies to educate them in the principles of Animalism. When Mr. Jones reappears to take back his farm, the animals defeat him again, in what comes to be known as the Battle of the Cowshed, and take the farmer's abandoned gun as a token of their victory. As time passes, however, Napoleon and Snowball increasingly quibble over the future of the farm, and they begin to struggle with each other for power and influence among the other animals. Snowball concocts a scheme to build an electricity-generating windmill, but Napoleon solidly opposes the plan. At the meeting to vote on whether to take up the project, Snowball gives a passionate speech. Although Napoleon gives only a brief retort, he then makes a strange noise, and nine attack dogs—the puppies that Napoleon had confiscated in order to “educate”—burst into the barn and chase Snowball from the farm. Napoleon assumes leadership of Animal Farm and declares that there will be no more meetings. From that point on, he asserts, the pigs alone will make all of the decisions—for the good of every animal.


Napoleon now quickly changes his mind about the windmill, and the animals, especially Boxer, devote their efforts to completing it. One day, after a storm, the animals find the windmill toppled. The human farmers in the area declare smugly that the animals made the walls too thin, but Napoleon claims that Snowball returned to the farm to sabotage the windmill. He stages a great purge, during which various animals who have allegedly participated in Snowball's great conspiracy—meaning any animal who opposes Napoleon's uncontested leadership—meet instant death at the teeth of the attack dogs. With his leadership unquestioned (Boxer has taken up a second maxim, “Napoleon is always right”), Napoleon begins expanding his powers, rewriting history to make Snowball a villain. Napoleon also begins to act more and more like a human being—sleeping in a bed, drinking whisky, and engaging in trade with neighboring farmers. The original Animalist principles strictly forbade such activities, but Squealer, Napoleon's propagandist, justifies every action to the other animals, convincing them that Napoleon is a great leader and is making things better for everyone—despite the fact that the common animals are cold, hungry, and overworked.


Mr. Frederick, a neighboring farmer, cheats Napoleon in the purchase of some timber and then attacks the farm and dynamites the windmill, which had been rebuilt at great expense. After the demolition of the windmill, a pitched battle ensues, during which Boxer receives major wounds. The animals rout the farmers, but Boxer's injuries weaken him. When he later falls while working on the windmill, he senses that his time has nearly come. One day, Boxer is nowhere to be found. According to Squealer, Boxer has died in peace after having been taken to the hospital, praising the Rebellion with his last breath. In actuality, Napoleon has sold his most loyal and long-suffering worker to a glue maker in order to get money for whisky.


Years pass on Animal Farm, and the pigs become more and more like human beings—walking upright, carrying whips, and wearing clothes. Eventually, the seven principles of Animalism, known as the Seven Commandments and inscribed on the side of the barn, become reduced to a single principle reading “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Napoleon entertains a human farmer named Mr. Pilkington at a dinner and declares his intent to ally himself with the human farmers against the laboring classes of both the human and animal communities. He also changes the name of Animal Farm back to the Manor Farm, claiming that this title is the “correct” one. Looking in at the party of elites through the farmhouse window, the common animals can no longer tell which are the pigs and which are the human beings.


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Animal Farm summary and analysis

Animal Farm: Summary of the Novel


The animals of Manor Farm have always been miserable under Mr. Jones and his men. They have come to accept their difficult lives as part of the natural order of things. It is Old Major, a prize-winning boar, who shares his dreams with the other animals. He tells them that the cause of all their suffering is man. With man gone, the animals would enjoy the abundance the land provides and build a new society based on equality. He says that Jones has no concern for the animals—that he uses them until they are no longer productive. He butchers the pigs and drowns the dogs when they get old.


Old Major predicts that Jones will even sell Boxer, the horse, and the hardest and most faithful worker on the farm, to the slaughterhouse once he is no longer able to work. He encourages the animals to work for this revolution. He warns them never to become like man and to always treat each other as equals.


Three nights later, Old Major dies, and the task of preparing the animals for the revolution falls to the pigs, who are smarter than the others and who later teach themselves to read. Three young pigs, the intellectual Snowball, the domineering Napoleon and the eloquent Squealer, organize Old Major’s dream of the future into a political philosophy called Animalism.


When the drunken Mr. Jones fails to feed the animals one night, the animals drive him and his men off the farm. They change the name to “Animal Farm,” and the pigs, who seem to have assumed leadership, write the principles of Animalism, reduced to Seven Commandments, on the barn wall. These are to be the unalterable rules by which the animals will live ever after.


At first the revolution seems to be a success. All the animals – directed and supervised by the pigs – work hard to bring in the harvest. But there are indications from the beginning that the pigs treat themselves specially. They remain the supervisors, doing no physical labor, and they take extra food (mild and windfall apples) for themselves instead of sharing with the others. Meanwhile Jones, with the aid of his neighbors, tries to retake the farm. They are driven off at the “Battle of the Cowshed” by the military tactics of Snowball and the strength of Boxer. Both are decorated as heroes for their roles in the victory.


A power struggle for control of Animal Farm develops between Snowball and Napoleon, and it culminates with the building of a windmill. When the animals seem about to vote in favor of the project, Napoleon, who opposes the plan, unleashes nine dogs he has been training secretly to follow his orders without question. Snowball is chased off the farm, barely escaping the jaws of the dogs. In a turnabout, Napoleon orders that work on the windmill begin. The work is difficult, and the animals suffer in the process. When a storm blows the windmill down, Napoleon blames the exiled Snowball and condemns him as an enemy. Napoleon exploits the animals’ fear that Jones will return and their fear of his fierce dogs to consolidate his power. He uses Squealer to lie to the animals and convince them that things aren’t what they seem. As work on the second windmill begins, Napoleon and the pigs become more and more corrupt. They change the commandments, move into Jones’s house, and drink whisky. Napoleon even kills other animals who dare to stand up to his authority.


The second windmill is blown up in an attack by Frederick, after he steals wood from Animal Farm, by paying for it with counterfeit money. But Napoleon pronounces this defeat to be a great victory, and work begins on a third attempt to build a windmill. None of the promises of leisure time and comfort come true—no heat or electricity in the barn, no machines to do their hard work. In fact, life grows harder for all of the animals, except the pigs, and food is scarcer. When Boxer, the hardest worker on the farm, is hurt, Napoleon sells him to the horse slaughterer. Squealer convinces the others that Boxer died in the hospital after getting the best treatment. Old Major’s prediction about Boxer has come true, but it is Napoleon who is the villain.


In the end, the pigs completely subvert the ideals of Animalism. They are the new masters. They walk on two legs. They violate and change each of the Seven Commandments. Ultimately, these commandments are erased and replaced with only one: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In the final scene, Mr. Pilkington comes for a tour and Napoleon announces some changes. The name is changed back to “Manor Farm,” and a new level of understanding is reached between pig and man. The book ends when someone cheats in a card game. The animals, watching from outside, cannot tell the difference between the pigs and the men.


Chapter I

As Animal Farm opens, Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, is drunkenly heading to bed. The animals gather in the barn as Old Major, the prize boar, tells them that he has thought about the brutal lives that the farm animals lead under human bondage and is convinced that a rebellion must come soon, in which the animals throw off the tyranny of their human oppressors and come to live in perfect freedom and equality. Major teaches the animals "Beasts of England," a song which will become their revolutionary anthem.


Chapter II

A few days later, Major dies. The animals, under the leadership of the pigs, begin to prepare for the Rebellion. Two of the pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, elaborate Major's ideas into a complete system of thought known as Animalism. The Rebellion comes much sooner than anyone thought, and the animals break free of Jones's tyranny and drive the humans from the farm. Snowball and Napoleon paint over the name "Manor Farm" on the gate, replacing it with "Animal Farm." They also paint the basic principles of Animalism on the wall of the barn:



1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.

2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.

3. No animal shall wear clothes.

4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.

5. No animal shall drink alcohol.

6. No animal shall kill any other animal.

7. All animals are equal.


Chapter III

The farm passes through an idyllic time in which the animals work joyously together and make a great success of the harvest. The animals all attend weekly planning meetings at which the decisions for the future of the farm are made. After realizing that some of the other animals cannot read or remember the Seven Commandments, Snowball boils these commandments down to a single maxim: "Four legs good, two legs bad." But all of the milk and apples on the farm, it seems, are now to be reserved for the pigs alone.


Chapter IV

News of the Rebellion at Animal Farm begins to spread, and animals across the countryside are singing "Beasts of England." The neighboring farmers, led by Mr. Pilkington of Foxwood and Mr. Frederick of Pinchfield Farm, attempt to retake Animal Farm by force. The animals, led by Snowball, successfully fight off the invaders in what comes to be known as the Battle of the Cowshed. Snowball is decorated as an Animal Hero, First Class.


Chapter V

Snowball and Napoleon fight a number of battles over policy, culminating in the controversy over a windmill which Snowball has designed and thinks should be built on the farm. Napoleon argues that the animals need to concentrate on food production. As the debate reaches fever pitch, Napoleon calls in nine dogs which he raised to be loyal only to him. The dogs chase Snowball from the farm. Napoleon declares an end to the planning meetings Squealer, another pig who serves as Napoleon's functionary, convinces the other animals that Snowball was a criminal. A few days later, Napoleon declares that the windmill will be built after all, and Squealer explains that the idea had belonged to Napoleon from the beginning, but that Snowball had stolen the plans.


Chapter VI

The animals' workload is repeatedly increased throughout the following year as construction begins on the windmill. Napoleon announces that the farm will begin trading with the neighboring farms, which seems to violate one of the early resolutions passed by the animals, but Squealer convinces them otherwise. The pigs, moreover, have moved into the farmhouse, and it is rumored that they are sleeping in the beds. The animals check the barn wall, vaguely remembering an injunction against this—but the commandment says that "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." When the windmill is knocked down during a storm, Napoleon blames its destruction on Snowball and pronounces a death sentence on this traitor. The animals begin the laborious process of rebuilding.


Chapter VII

Rumors begin to fly that Snowball is sneaking into the farm at night, causing small bits of mischief. Moreover, it is asserted that certain of the animals on the farm are in league with Snowball. Napoleon orders a full investigation. A meeting is held in which the animals are invited to confess their connections with Snowball. All the animals that do confess are promptly ripped to pieces by Napoleon's dogs. The others are shocked at such bloodshed and try to comfort themselves by singing "Beasts of England," only to be told that the song has now been abolished.


Chapter VIII

In the days after the purges, the animals seem to recall a commandment prohibiting the killing of animals, but when they check the barn wall, they discover that it reads "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." Napoleon bargains to sell Mr. Pilkington a pile of timber. The animals do not trust Pilkington, but they prefer him to Frederick, who, it is whispered, is torturing his animals; in fact, Napoleon declares Frederick to be an enemy of the farm. But several days later it is announced that he has sold the timber to Frederick, and now Pilkington is the enemy. Frederick fools Napoleon by giving him forged banknotes for the timber and, with a group of men, attacks Animal Farm and destroys the windmill. Squealer, however, informs the animals that the battle was a victory for the animals. Shortly after, the pigs discover a case of whiskey in the basement of the farmhouse, and a raucous celebration is heard throughout the night. The next day, it is announced that Napoleon is near death. When he recovers, the animals discover that the commandment which they thought said that no animal should drink alcohol in fact reads "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess."


Chapter IX

That winter, rations are repeatedly reduced on the farm, for everyone but the pigs. The animals are kept content, however, through an ever-increasing number of formal ceremonies. An old carthorse, Boxer, who has worked tirelessly for Animal Farm, suddenly takes ill. Napoleon announces that arrangements have been made to treat Boxer in a hospital in town. However, the truck that arrives to take Boxer away belongs to a horse slaughterer, and the animals erupt in a great outcry. They are pacified by Squealer, who tells them that, in fact, the truck has been purchased by the veterinarian but has not been repainted.


Chapter X

The years pass, and the animals lead harder and harder lives, though at least no animal is lorded over by a human. Then, one day, Napoleon emerges from the house on two legs. The sheep's traditional chant of "Four legs good, two legs bad" has now, somehow, been changed to "Four legs good, two legs better." And the Seven Commandments have now all been erased from the barn wall and replaced with a single Commandment: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The pigs begin reading newspapers, wearing clothes, and carrying whips in the fields. They call for a meeting between themselves and the human owners of the surrounding farms, at which Napoleon announces that the name of Animal Farm has been changed back to Manor Farm. The other animals peek in the windows of the farmhouse as this meeting goes on and are stunned to discover that they cannot tell the difference between the men and the pigs at all.


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Animal Farm summary and analysis

George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM


Chapter 1

The animals on Manor Farm lead miserable, laborious and short lives. They are exploited and kept in servitude by Mr. Jones, once a capable farmer who had unfortunately taken to drinking due to losing money in a lawsuit. One night in March, as soon as Mr. Jones - drunk as usual - has staggered up to his bed, the animals gather in the big barn to listen to the twelve-year-old prize boar Old Major, who wants to communicate a strange dream he had the previous night and impart some of his wisdom to them. In his revolutionary speech he denounces the animals' present misery, advocates the idea of a rebellion against the tyranny of human beings, the source of all the evils in their miserable lives, leading to an eventual overthrow of the human race and finally envisages a life of freedom, equality and brotherhood without human interference.

Chapter 2 

This speech throws the animals into wildest excitement.  After Old Major dies three nights later the pigs soon assume leadership under Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer, who elaborate Old Major's teachings into a complete system of thought, to which they give the name of Animalism meant to counteract the lies put about by the tame raven  Moses, a spy and tale-bearer. In several secret meetings in the barn the principles of Animalism are expounded to the other animals. The most faithful disciples are Boxer and Clover, two cart-horses, who absorb everything they are told and pass it on to the other animals in simple arguments. Incited by the new spirit and by Mr. Jones' neglect the animals expel  the  despised farmer  and take control of Manor Farm sooner than expected one June night. After the destruction of all traces of Jones' tyrannical regime and the reproach of the white mare Mollie's persistent love of human finery the animals decide to make a tour of inspection of the whole farm and eventually decide to preserve the farmhouse as a museum that no animal must ever live in and rename the farm to Animal Farm. Snowball and Napoleon, who manage to reduce the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments,  have these rules inscribed on the wall of the barn to  form an unalterable law by which all the animals are expected to live ever after. The animals encouraged by Snowball endeavour to make it a point of honour to  to get in the harvest more quickly than Jones.

Chapter 3 

Most of the animals toil according to their capacity to get the hay in, which they eventually do more successfully than in Jones' time. Only Mollie and the cat appear rather reluctant to contribute their share of work. Although the affairs on the farm go like clockwork throughout the summer, the animals have to meet many unsuspected difficulties, but always manage to overcome them through Boxer's strength and the pigs' intelligence. On Sundays there is no work and the mornings of these are punctuated by a ceremony and a subsequent meeting, where all the resolutions are put forward and debated. The most active animals are the pigs, especially Snowball who not only busies himself with organizing numerous Animal Comittees and reading and writing classes but also manages to reduce the Seven Commandments to the single maxim "Four legs good, two legs bad", which even the less gifted animals, especially the sheep take up rather quickly. Napoleon on the other hand appears to be seldom in agreement with Snowball and prefers to educate the young. He even takes Jessie and Bluebell's puppies away and makes himself responsible for their education. The more intelligent and dominant pigs seem to be doing less of their share of the labour, however, retain more of the rare privileges, which is made overt when the pigs set aside the whole produce of milk and apples for themselves to guarantee their own well-being.

Chapter 4 

In autumn revolutionary ideas have spread  to the other animals of the district. Thus the neighbouring farmers Mr. Frederik of Pinchfield and Mr. Pilkington of Foxwood assist Mr. Jones in his attack of Animal Farm in early October, are, however, taken by surprise through the animals' superior tactics and forced to retreat. Boxer and Snowball are decorated for their bravery and it is resolved to fire the gun on October the twelfth every year to celebrate the anniversary of what comes to be termed the Battle of the Cowshed

Chapter 5 

As winter draws on, Mollie disappears and is later seen on the opposite side of Willingdon pulling a cart. In January the obvious division between Snowball and Napolean escalates. The former is an eloquent and brilliant speaker. whereas the latter wins support behind the scenes. Snowball is full of ideas on the technological improvement of the farm ensuring a life in luxury and abundance. Napoleon, however, is lacking in schemes of his own and resorts to denouncing Snowball's as useless. The whole farm is especially divided on the subject of the windmill, for which Snowball has already evolved elaborate plans to supply the farm with electricity. Napoleon , on the other hand, stresses the necessity of increasing food production to avoid starvation. Matters finally come to a head when the windmill project is put to the vote one Sunday. Snowball's eloquent speech which would obviously win the majority of the votes is suddenly interrupted by Napoleon's whimper, at which nine dogs come bounding into the barn and chase Snowball from the farm. Napoleon supported by his fierce bodyguards and Squealer, who explains and justifies his actions,  introduces a rigid regime of iron discipline. The Sunday debates are discontinued and replaced by Napoleon's reading of the orders for the week. All attempts to show disapproval are either silenced by the dogs' threats or the sheep's  tremendous bleating of "Four legs good, two legs bad." On the third Sunday after Snowball's expulsion the animals are surprised to hear that Napoleon plans to build the windmill after all. Squealer is sent out to convince the other animals that Napoleon's previous opposition to the plan had been a manoevre to get rid of Snowball, who had actually stolen the plans for the windmill from among Napoleon's papers.

Chapter 6 

Throughout the rest of the year the animals work a sixty-hour week. Napoleon introduces Sunday afternoon labour on a strictly voluntary basis, however, threatening a reduction of the rations for the reluctant. The building of the windmill proves to be a laborious and tiring process which would have little success without the energies of Boxer. In the meantime Napoleon has started to engage in trade with the neighbouring farms through the solicitor Mr. Whymper to procure some necessary items and tools that cannot be produced on the farm. Worried animals are silenced in the usual manner. The pigs suddenly move into the farmhouse and start to sleep in beds. Again some animals seem to remember a resolution against this and are comforted by Squealer's eloquent explanations. A violent November storm destroys the half-completed windmill, which is immediately blamed on Snowball. Napoleon pronounces the death sentence on Snowball and orders the animals to start rebuilding the windmill throughout winter.

Chapter 7

A bitter winter and an ensuing  food shortage causes a circulation of rumours about an immenent starvation on Animal Farm among the human neighbours. To counteract this Mr. Whymper is taken on conducted tours through the farmyard and shown bins overflowing with grain.  Soon, however, the hens are forced to surrender their eggs to pay for the grain the animals so desperately needed. Some of the hens refuse to obey and only submit to Napoleon after their rations are stopped for a few days. Snowball  increasingly serves as a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong on Animal Farm. Even his merits in the Battle of the Cowshed are denounced as an attempt to make them surrender to Mr. Jones. Boxer, who blindly believes what Napoleon says, forgets his inner qualms about this. In an assembly in the yard four dissenting pigs and the leaders of the hen rebellion are slaughtered by Napoleon's dogs and even Boxer is attacked. The animals apart from the dogs and pigs feel miserable. Boxer, who does not understand what is happening, tries to purge the sense of guilt by working even harder. Clover, however, realizes that something has gone wrong and that nobody dares to speak his mind any longer.

Chapter 8

After the executions the animals discover that the Sixth Commandment has been amended and now reads "No animal shall kill another animal without cause". Worries that their working hours have become longer are dispelled by Squealer, who presents them with figures that prove that the production of all foodstuffs has risen tremendously. Napoleon, now formally adressed as "Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon" seldom appears in public. All his orders are issued by Squealer.
In autumn the windmill is finished. The money for the necessary machinery is expected to be earned through the sale of some timber of Animal Farm. Napoleon enters complicated negotiations alternately with both Frederik of Pinchfield and Pilkington of Foxwood. Eventually the timber is sold to Frederik. The animals soon discover that they were betrayed and that the notes are forged. Moreover Frederik attacks the farm with fifteen men and blows up  the windmill with dynamite. In spite of the humans' weapons the animals succeed in putting them to flight, although some animals are killed in this Battle of the Windmill. In the ensuing celebrations of their victory the pigs  discover a case of whisky in the farmhouse and quickly become dependent on alcohol, which they are determined to start to produce on Animal Farm themselves. The pigs' addiction leads to the amendment of the Fifth Commandment which now reads "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess."

Chapter 9 

The following winter is as cold as the previous and the rations are reduced again, apart from those of the dogs and pigs, who are actually putting on weight . Again Squealer manages to convince the animals that life is far better now than it was in Jones' days. Life on Animal farm has certainly become much more dignified with loads of songs, speeches, processions and celebrations. The following April Animal Farm is proclaimed a Republic and Napoleon as the sole candidate is unanimously elected President. Moses, Jones' tame raven, who still spreads his ideas of Sugarcandy Mountain, where all good animals would one day find  rest from their labours, is allowed to return to Animal Farm. Boxer, whose ambition it is to rebuilt the windmill before he becomes too old for this strenuous work, collapses under a load of stones one day. Napoleon sells him to the knacker making the animals believe that Boxer is taken to hospital. Although Benjamin, Boxer's best friend, realizes what is happening, the animals fail to rescue their friend, whose deplorable death is announced a few days later.The pigs once again succeed in comforting the animals through Squealer and hold a memorial banquet in honour of Boxer, where they empty another case of whisky, which they have purchased with the money that was given to them by the knacker.

Chapter 10 

Many years have passed by and a new generation of animals now lives on Animal Farm. They are willing workers and good comrades, but stupid. The farm is much more prosperous now. The finished windmill is not used for generating electricitiy but milling corn that brings in  a good profit. The farm has definitely grown richer without making the animals richer - except for the pigs and dogs, who also seem to have more leisure. Squealer tries to make the other animals believe that their work is only different and has something to do with "files", "reports", "minutes" and "memoranda".One day the pigs start to walk on two legs. The Seven Commandments are replaced by the single motto "All Animals are Equal - but some Animals are more Equal". The pigs carry whips, buy wireless sets, telephones and read newspapers.To celebrate their new status the pigs hold a party and invite all the human neighbours of Animal Farm. They decide to restore its original name Manor Farm. As the other animals are not invited to this party, they look through the dining-room window and witness the hypocritical speeches Mr. Pilkington and Napoleon deliver, in which they deplore the previous misunderstandings and conclude with toasts to the prosperity of Manor Farm. In the course of a card-game both Napoleon and Pilkington cheat. In the ensuing uproar the animals realize that it is quite impossible for them to distinguish man from pig.


The Rebellion

As Old Major's speech in the barn chiefly incites the animals on Manor Farm to open revolution and plays a central role in grasping the essential message of Orwell's fable, it demands a closer inspection of its structure and meaning.

Old Major starts his address with an analysis of the animals' present situation. The animals on Manor Farm lead miserable, laborious and short lives. They are just granted as much food as will keep them above the breadline, are forced to work (e.g. the cows give milk, the hens lay eggs, the horses pull the plough, they till and fertilize the soil) and are eventually slaughtered with hideous cruelty (e.g. the porkers to give meat).  The reasons for this deplorable situation, Old Major continues, are not to be found in the order of nature, which would actually guarantee a life in  abundance for every creature, but rather in their enemy, man, who is the only creature that consumes without producing, and deliberately keeps them in a condition of servitude, subjugation and misery.  The only solution to escape the tyranny of man and achieve freedom once and for all would be a rebellion leading to the overthrow of the human race that has to be and certainly will be brought about by the subjugated animals of Manor Farm and beyond. Old Major winds up by elaborating on some warnings for the future telling them for instance never to mix with and never to forget their duty of enmity towards man, which implies never adopting his vices, never living in a house, never sleeping in a bed, never wearing any clothes. never drinking any alcohol or smoking any tobacco and never touching any money to engage in trade. Old Major shows them that all animals weak or strong, clever or simple, are brothers and that "all animals are equal"(p.7) Concluding he tells them about a dream he had the night before and reminded him of a song he had sung as a little pig but had forgotten, a song that successfully summarizes his ideas of a revolution:

Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the golden future time.

Soon or late the day is coming,
Tyrant Man shall be o'erthrown,
And the fruitful fields of England
Shall be trod by beasts alone.

Rings shall vanish from our noses,
And the  harness from our back,
Bit and spur shall rust forever,
Cruel whips no more shall crack.

Riches more than mind can picture,
Wheat and barley, oats and hay
Clover, beans, and mangel-wurzels
Shall be ours upon that day.

Bright will shine the fields of England,
Purer shall its waters be,
Sweeter yet shall blow its breezes
On the day that sets us free.

For that day we all must labour,
Though we die before it break;
Cows and horses, geese and turkeys,
All must toil for freedom's sake.

Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken well and spread my tidings
Of the golden future time.

The singing of this song throws the animals into the wildest excitement and frenzy.  A social system based on equality demands a democratic form of discovering and exercising the will of the majority of the people involved. Consequently universal suffrage is an important condition for the development of any democratic form of government. In his impressive speech Old Major immediately puts into practice the principles of a democratic government by putting the important question of whether they should regard wild creatures as their enimies or friends to the vote. He shows the other animals on the farm that they are important in shaping their own future.

Old Major's anti-human doctrine and revolutionary ideas of freedom, brotherhood and equality are later elaborated by Snowball and Napoleon into a complete system of thought, to which they give the name of Animalism. The pigs as the more intelligent animals at first try to expound the principles of Animalism to the remaining animals of Animal Farm and led by Snowball even succeed in reducing their new doctrine to Seven Commandments to meet the minds of the simpler animals, but eventually fall prey to the delusions of power and betray Old Major's noble visions by adapting and manipulating the principles of Animalism at will.

Some three years after their glorious revolution and the gradual dismantling of the original principles of Animalism the majority of the animals on Animal Farm find themselves in rather  miserable circumstances again. As many animals were born after the rebellion, which for them is just "a dim tradition, passed on by word of mouth" (p.87), there were only a few animals left who really remembered the days before the revolution. From among these creatures Clover, who still feels whenever the conditions change for the worse, is now an old and stout mare with a failing sight (p.92) and, like most of the other animals, has always been too faithful and obedient to rebel against the orders given to her by the new leading class let alone Napoleon's leadership as such. Benjamin, the donkey, actually the oldest animal on the farm, has become even more taciturn since Boxer's death. He refuses to meddle as usual, although he professes "to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or worse - hunger, hardship and disappointment being ... the unalterable law of life. "(p.89). These words clearly refer to the introduction of the Seven Commandments after their rebellion which were originally explicitly meant to "form an unalterable law by which all the animals on Animal Farm must live for ever after"(p.16) and show that Benjamin in his reserve enjoys sufficient intelligence to realize what has happened on Animal Farm but is too much of a pessimist to get involved in politics and believe in a better future: "...Life would go on as it had always gone on - that is, badly." (p.35) Life is hard and the weak will always be exploited by the powerful.

The following grid provides a casual glimpse at some of the changes Animal Farm has undergone:


Before the Rebellion

After the Rebellion

economic situation of the farm, machinery, equipment and profits

Mr. Jones and his men are idle; the farm is neglected, e.g. the buildings need roofing and the fields are full of weeds (p.12)

The farm is old-fashioned  and only has the most primitive machinery (p.33)

more prosperous and better organized; enlarged (by two fields); one finished windmill for milling corn not for generating electrical power (guarantees a better profit for the leading class); another windmill is being built (p.88)

the economic situation seems to have improved at the first sight, however, only at the expense of the less privileged, humbler masses, whose rations are reduced repeatedly to make up for the shortage of money needed to guarantee  the luxury and welfare of the pigs. (p.78).

lifestyle, share of work and level of education

all animals live in equally poor and miserable conditions of servitude, slavery and subjugation

The farm has grown richer "without making the animals themselves any richer - except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs."(p.88), whoseem comfortable and in fact are putting on weight. (p.78). The other disenfranchised  masses are  generally hungry and labour in the fields. (p.88) Instead of food they are presented with lists of figures telling them clearly how their situation has improved. (p.62). A strict two class system has evolved - the privileged pigs and their henchmen, the dogs, and the masses of animals that have been deprived of their promised rights. The pigs do not really work, they direct and supervise the others (p.18) and conceal their laziness by disguising it as brainwork and enourmous labour upon "mysterious things called 'files', 'reports', ' minutes', and 'memoranda'." (pp88f.) The education of the animals which originally starts with the pigs teaching themselves the basic skills of reading and writing (p.16) and is later passed to all the other animals in the form of reading and writing classes is eventually, as most of the animals can't get further than the letter A (pp.21f.), just reserved for the pigs' offsprings, for whom a special schoolroom for perpetuating Napoleon's ideas is erected (pp.77f)

management of the farm

is done by Jones and his men

in the beginning the animals decide on Sunday meetings, where all the necessary resolution for keeping the farm going are discussed and democratically decided. (pp.20f.) These meetings are abolished by Napoleon as an unnecessary obstacle on his way to wielding absolute power in a totalitarian regime radiating inequality, injustice and subjugation.

pigs' relationship with the other animals

the idea of enmity towards man unites the animals (classical motif of the 'metus hostilis')

the pigs, who soon take up the role of the leading class persistently reserve special privileges for themselves. These priviliges especially concern food, labour and education (see above!)

pigs' relationship with/ similarities to the humans

strictly opposed to the human species; deep hatred of mankind

they gradually adopt all the deadly vices mentioned by Old Major and the Seven Commandments (greed (trade), lust for power, violence, gluttony, alcoholism, luxury,...)

In the crucial scene towards the end of Animal Farm, when Clover is the first to see the pigs walking on their hind legs (pp.90ff.), the animals are tremendously amazed and terrified believing the world has "turned upside-down" (p.91), actually to a degree that - in spite of their "terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticizing" (p.91) - might lead them to utter "some word of protest" (p.91) if they weren't silenced by the sheep's dull and brainless bleating of the new slogan "Four legs good, two legs better", which continues until the pigs have left the scene thus making any protest useless. With the last opportunity of protest gone the animals witness the overthrow of the remaining four original commandments at the same time. Their substitute "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others" is the logical conclusion of the development of a two class system that is bound to discard Old Major's noble ideas of freedom, brotherhood and equality.


The Seven Commandments

are put forward as a constitution for the new order by the pigs in their effort to reduce the principles of Animalism originating from Old Major's visions to an unalterable universally valid and understandable law. As most of the animals in spite of special classes fail to read and memorize them let alone understand them, Snowball eventually reduces them to the single maxim "Four legs good, two legs bad." (p.22), which is supposed to contain the essential principle of Animalism and is "inscribed on the end wall of the barn, above the Seven Commandments and in bigger letters."(p.23) This maxim is certainly  simple enough for even the humblest animals and finds an especially ardent liking among the sheep who start stupidly bleating their favourite motto on any appropriate or less appropriate occasion.

As is frequently the case with short rules both the Seven Commandments and especially the final single motto fail in transporting the underlying principles and ideology properly since they only superficially pick out some of Old Major's warnings, do not explicitly mention the basic anti-human doctrine Old Major tried to purport and virtually ignore his noble aims of freedom and brotherhood. They certainly envisage a community based on equality, however, fail to guarantee equal work and equal privileges.  The shorter the rules, the less likely they convey the true underlying intentions and the more open they are to misinterpretation and manipulation as can be clearly seen in the later history of the Seven Commandments and their derivatives.

The First and the Second Commandments actually soon find their shortened, simplified, yet much catchier version in Snowball's single maxim "Four legs good, two legs bad."

In chapter VI of Animal Farm  the first of the original commandments is  manipulated: It is when the pigs suddenly move into the farmhouse, which was originally designed to be preserved as a museum only, and start to sleep in the beds there. This clearly violates the Fourth Commandment. As usual Clover thinks that somethings is wrong and asks Muriel, who is better at comprehending what she reads, to spell out the Fourth Commendment, which now reads - "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets" Clover's suspicions are, however, put into the right perspective by Squealer's irrestitible rhetorics. By appealing to Clover's common sense he actually takes advantage of her simplemindedness: " You have heard...that we pigs now sleep in the beds...You did not suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely means a place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention" (p.47) According to him the pigs need the comfort of beds to find the appropriate rest from all the brainwork they do to keep Animal Farm functioning and avoid Jones' return.   "Surely none of you wishes to see Jones back." is the sentence with which he convincingly winds up his speech, a sentence that is frequently thrown at the animals whenever any uneasyness, disturbance or suspicion concerning the current proceedings threatens to spread among the other animals (e.g. in Chapter III, when Squealer explains that all the apples and milk are meant for the use of the pigs only (p.24), when Snowball is expelled from Animal Farm in Chapter V and Squealer tries to justify his expulsion (p.38)). When the pigs have finished setting up their rigid regime of suppression with the execution of their suspected opponents in Chapter VII, Squealer finds no need to use this threat any more. Clover and most of the other animals' simplemindedness is one reason why they are manipulated and taken advantage of by the more intelligent pigs. They submit themselves to the written word (" Clover had not remembered that the Fourth Commandment mentioned sheets; but as it was there on the wall, it must have done so."(p. 47)) and to authorities in general (e.g. Boxer, who adopts the motto "Napoleon is always right " in addition to his maxim "I will work harder" (p.39)). Another reason is that the animals are really scared of the dogs who serve as their leader's fierce bodyguards. Much criticism is actually nipped in the bud by the dogs' menacing growls, e.g. when some of the pigs disapprove of Napoleon's abolition of their Sunday meetings in Chapter V (p.38), when Napoleon announces his new policy of engaging in trade with the neigbouring farms in Chapter VI (p.44). Benjamin, the donkey, is certainly clever enough and clearly possesses enough independence of mind to understand what is going on, but as usual "refuses to meddle in such matters (p.62) and " would say nothing " (p.75). He is a victim of his own - highly dangerous - attitude which makes it impossible for him to get involved in the political life of the farm.

The next commandment that is altered is the Sixth, which after the hideous slaughter of the suspected opponents of the new system in Chapter VII reads "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause" (p.62) Similarly to the amendmentment of the Fourth Commandment the last two words of the current Sixth Commandment have slipped out of the animals' minds. The animals, however, have already fallen prey to the cunning propaganda applied by the new regime through Squealer and now truly believe that "there was good reason for killing the traitors who had leagued themselves with Snowball" (p.62) and thus do not bother about this amendment any longer.

The Fifth Commandment is changed after the victorious Battle of the Windmill, when the pigs discover a case of whisky. The commandment is changed into "No animal shall drink alcohol to access." (p.75). Although Squealer, after having adjusted the commandment on the wall, is caught in an unmistakable position at the foot of it with a broken ladder, a paint-brush and an overturned pot of white paint around him, the animals, except Benjamin, are too simpleminded to grow suspicious and fail to see the obvious.

Consequently the remaining four commandments are eventually disposed of - now without any protest- when the pigs start to walk on their hind legs (p.91), appear in clothes (p.93) and replace the Seven Commandments with one single slogan "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." (p.92)

The revolution has been betrayed by the development of the new ruling class of the pigs and their major tools are the threat of applying physical violence and the control of language as a psychical threat to all the other animals, who at the pigs' final party in the farmhouse cannot tell pig from man any more. Animal Farm has become Manor Farm again.


The Characters


is a "large, rather fierce-lookingBerkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way."(p.10)

As a matter of fact the whole of Orwell's Animal Farm is dedicated to the rise of Napoleon to absolute power. The personality cult around Napoleon reminds us of his namesake, the Emperor Napoleon and also of another French despot, King Louis XIV, whose motto "L'Etat, c'est moi" is clearly shared by our antagonist. Although at the beginning he hypocritically pays lip service to Old Major's rabble-rousing ideas, as he is - like the others - inspired by deep hatred of man, and, together with Snowball and Squealer, elaborates a complete system of thought - Animalism, it is obvious that he is  completely indifferent to Old Major's ideas of equal rights and equal sacrifices  from first to last, which is already reflected in the milk episode immediately  after their victorious rebellion in Chapter II (p.17). Sharply opposed to Snowball's dedication to organizing the other animals into various different committees woking for the common cause Napoleon's obsession with the education of the young culminates when he takes Jessie and Bluebell's new-born puppies away to make himself responsible for them (p.23) Lateron when he interrupts Snowball's passionate appeal in favour of the windmill by setting these dogs at him and chasing him off the farm (p.36), it is made overt that he has secretly conditioned the dogs until the moment was ripe thus making his seizure of power a clearly premeditated object. His rudeness ( e.g. when he urinates over Snowball's windmill plans, p.34), his indifference towards the convincing arguments of his opponent Snowball (e.g. concerning the windmill and the question of defence, p.35) and his self-complacency in his reply to Snowball before he calls his dogs now also appear in a different light. In the next few years Napoleon consolidates his power by discontinuing the original Sunday meetings and debates as a remnant of democracy (p.37) and introducing  "voluntary" Sunday labour threatening a reduction of their rations to the reluctant (p.41) and stopping these completely when some hens refuse to obey his orders (p.52). Shortly afterwards he even condescends to have his adversaries hideously slaughtered  and any criticism silenced (pp.57f. + p. 65) and lateron even sacrifices Boxer to the satisfaction of one of his own newly gained vices - alcohol (pp.83ff.). With no obstacle or protest to be feared Napoleon appears on his hind legs carrying a whip (p. 91). In the course of his consolidation Napoleon has eventually adopted all seven of the deadly sins conveyed by the original Seven Commandments and furthermore aquires inummerable human vices: e. g. he keeps a harem (p.77), yields to evident gluttony (e.g. pp.78 f.) and flies into furious rages (p.97).  As Napoleon wants to wield absolute power without the others realizing it, he misses no opportunity to encourage the cult that quickly develops around him. He withdraws from the public, makes his appearances surrounded by his fierce bodyguards, inhabits separate apartments, takes his meals alone, keeps faithful servants (e.g. dogs and his most faithful henchman Squealer), has his birthday celebrated, lets the other animals call him  Leader, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold and the like, generously approves of a poem Minimus has created in his honour and causes his portrait to adorn the big barn (pp.63ff.) He has become an even more detestable because more sophisticated master than Mr. Jones.


 who features "round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements and a shrill voice", is a brilliant talker so that the other animals say thta he can "turn black into white" (p.10) This outstanding ability is taken advantage of by Napolean to pave his way to absolute power.  Squealer's job as PR or better propaganda expert is first done when he explains Napoleon's surprising change of attitude towards the concept of Snowball's windmill, which he decides to build after all, by stressing the significance of "tactics" and accusing Snowball of having stolen Napoleon's plans from among his papers (pp.40 f.) The reaction of the other animals to this explanation is certainly not pure conviction, but they are silenced by the dogs, who growl "so threateningly" that they accept it "without further questions".  In the future Squealer is usually  accompanied by several dogs to make his propaganda pronouncements to silence criticism and put the ideas of the other animals into their 'proper' perspective. Thus he defends Napoleon's decision to engage in trade (p.44), explains the amendment of the Fourth Commandment (pp.46f.),  turns the history of the Battle of the Cowshed upside down (pp.54ff.) in order to pervert the other animals' memory of Snowball, create a suitable scapegoat to direct their frustration and aggression and distract their attention from the real culprits,  pronounces the completion of their revolution after the execution of numerous dissenting animals (pp.60f), convinces the animals of their prosperity by presenting them with figures and statistics (pp.62f.), converts the distruction of the windmill into a glorious victory over Frederick (pp.72f.) and hypocritically comforts the worried animals after Boxer's death (pp.85f.) Squealer is definitely Napoleon's favourite henchmen who misses no opportunity to encourage the developing personality cult around Napoleon. In drawing his character Orwell certainly alludes to the career of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda.


is a "more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive, but... not considered to have the same depth of character." (p. 10)As a genuine revolutionary Snowball does not only pay lip service to Old Major's noble ideas, but really tries to spread them (reduction of principles, reading and writing classes) and guarantee security (e.g. his tactics in the Battle of the Cowshed, p.27 or his ideas on the defence of the farm, p.35) and welfare for everybody through the development of special committees (p.21) and the introduction of technological innovations and improvements (windmill, pp.33ff.) . Snowball's superior intellect is , however, eventually completely taken by surprise through Napoleon's reckless application of brute force and he is forced to flee from Animal Farm. In the course of the later developments on Animal Farm the other animals' memory of Snowball is deliberately perverted to create a convincing scapegoat. "Whenever anything went wrong, it became usual to attribute it to Snowball...The animals were thoroughly frightened. It seemed as though Snowball were some kind of invisible influence, pervading the air about them and menacing them with all kinds of dangers." (pp. 54f.) In historical terms Snowball clearly alludes to Trotsky, Stalin's opponent, who was expelled as well. On a more differentiated level Snowball certainly stands for all the scapegoats totalitarian regimes are used to creating to distract the attention from their own failures and shortcomings.


is a "stout motherly mare approaching middle life, who had never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal" (p.2) and -after the rebellion- together with Boxer soon becomes the pigs' most faithful disciple (p.12).  At the beginning she certainly only plays a minor role - except her discovery of Mollie's weknesses (pp.31). She becomes centrally important after the confessions and executions of Napoleon's opponents in ChapterVII, when the sad, shocked and stupefied animals huddle about her for motherly protection. It is through her emotional eyes that the reader is explicitly told what has gone wrong on Animal Farm: "As Clover looked down the hillside her eyes filled with tears. If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race. These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when Old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of anaimals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working qaccording to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak, as she had protected  the lost brood of ducklings with her foreleg on the night of Major's speech. Instead - she did not know why - they had come to a time when no one dared speck his mind, when fierce growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes." (pp.59f.) In spite of these lines - inserted as a clear praeteritio for the reader - Clover, like the majority of the animals, does not develop any "thought of rebellion or disobedience... Whatever happened she would remain faithful, work hard, carry out the orders that were given to her, and accept the leadership of Napoleon." (p.60) Clover is touchingly worried about Boxer's health and together with Benjamin warns him against  ruining it (p.81) and lovingly tries to care for him after his collapse (pp.82ff.) In the final chapter she is the first to see the pigs walking on their hind legs, to notice the new maxim that has come to substitute the Seven Commandments and Shelly and to  observe the interchanging of men's and pigs' faces at the end of Animal Farm. As Clover is usually the observer rather than an active participant, she naturally serves the purpose of a narrator in many radio dramatizations of the book.


Stands for...


Stalin, (Hitler)


Trotsky, scapegoats


Joseph Goebbels

Old Major

Marx, Lenin

The pigs

People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs"

The dogs

the Cheka - police forces organized by Lenin

Mr. Jones

the Zsar


the Orthodox Church

Boxer and Clover

faithful, strong and obedient workers for the revolution


educated and understanding middle class which refuses to meddle with politics

the sheep

the weak-willed and suggestible masses

Mr Frederick of Pinchfield

Hitler and Nazi Germany

Mr Pilkington of Foxwood

Winston Churchill and England

Historical allusions and parallels

Many aspects of the plot of George Orwell's Animal Farm offer clear allusions to Russia's history of the early 20th century. The following outline offers but a few parallels that may be easily extended by a further close reading of the book:

The miserable, laborious and short lives of the animals before the rebellion can be readily compared with the Russian population's pre-revolutionary dissatisfaction with the Tsarist regime, which eventually leads to the overthrow of the Romanovs, which equals the expulsion of Jones in Animal Farm. The Russian Revolution's philosophy was based on Marx's ideas and the Communist Manifesto , just as the animals' rebellion is inpired by Old Major and the Seven Commandments.

The Battle of the Cowshed and Jones' attempt to restore his regime on Manor Farm, now called Animal Farm, with the help of some neighbours find their parallel in the "counter-revolution" between 1918 and 1921, which was supported by both the USA and England and eventually led to the western recognition of the new regime in Russia, now called the Soviet Union.

The great enthusiasm for the new order in the Soviet Union, which even led to a minor restoration of prosperity by 1924 is paralleled in Chapter III of Animal Farm, where everyone works "according to his capacity"  to guarantee that the work of the farm goes like clockwork (p.19).

After Lenin's death the bitter rivalry between Stalin and Trotsky marked the Soviet Union's inner affairs up to 1928, when Trotsky was expelled and the first Five Year Plan, in which capital-producing industries (steelmills, plants generatic electricity) were preferred to the production of consumer goods, was introduced. In Animal Farm this is clearly alluded to by Snowball's expulsion and the subsequent decision to build the windmill after all .

As the first Five Year Plan did not prove to be as successful as expected and actually was accompanied by loads of hardship, some of the farmers or Kulaks refused cooperation and rebelled against the Soviet regime, which faought tham back ruthlessly. This is mirrored in Napoleon's reaction to the egg-rebellion, which leads to the execution of its ringleaders.

In the Thirties the Soviet Union soon discovered that they could not remain totally self-sufficient and were forced to engage in trade with the rest of Europe and the USA. Similarly Animal Farm soon enters into trade relations with the neighbouring farms "to obtain certain materials which were urgently necessary." (p.43) Both in the Soviet Union and in Animal Farm  the first privileges  and material comforts denied to the ordinary working masses begin to develop in the dominant ruling class (move into farmhouse, beds, food, alcohol) at the same time.

The Hitler Stalin non-aggression pact proved to be in vain, as Nazi Germany unexpectedly invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and destroyed much of what had already been built up. In the same way Napoleon starts to negotiate with Frederick of Pinchfield, who lateron attacks Animal Farm and blows up the windmill.

Originally the Soviet Union refused to recognize any religion and even persecuted the supporters of the traditional Orthodox Church. In 1944, however, Stalin started to take up negotiations with the various different churches so as not to alienate the support of their adherents. Moses, Jones' tame raven, with his tales of Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals go when they die, stands for the Russian Orthodox Church, which is forced to withdraw after the revolution. After the consolidation of the pigs' power he is eventually allowed to return to, and with his tales of Sugarcandy Mountain to bring comfort and solace to the subjugated animals.

The final meeting of the pigs and the human neighbours suggests the meetings of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt on Soviet soil at the time Animal Farm was written (up to 1945).


When reading Animal Farm we should always keep in mind that the book was written by an ardent democratic socialist as a political satire or allegory on totalitarianism: "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism" (Orwell, George, "Why I Write" in: Decline of the English Murder and Other Essays, Harmondsworth 1965, p.184)  As a socialist Orwell believed that left-wing ideas were the only political system  originally based on the hope of increasing the welfare of all the people, since they claim that the world can be made better by a redistribution of wealth and an increase of production without ignoring the values of freedom and justice.  Although Orwell was vehemently pro-socialist he was also definitely anti-communist, as the communist experiment in the Soviet Union had soon proved to be a failure and had developed into a tyranny betraying the noble and sublime principles of the revolution through Stalin's monstrous cruelties: "...The Russian Communists necessarily developed into a permanent ruling class, or oligarchy, recruited not by birth but by adoption. Since they could not risk the growth of opposition, they could not risk genuine criticism, and since they silenced criticism they often made avoidable mistakes; then, because they could not admit that their mistakes were their own, they had to find scapegoats, sometimes on an enormous scale." (Observer, 15th February 1948) Orwell soon came to even equate communism with fascism because of their real common aim - power, a power that is based on the spirit of sacrifice that had been spread successfully among the masses both in Nazi Germany and in Stalin's Soviet Union.

Thus Animal Farm is a satiric account of the failure of a revolution that warns us against trusting in promised Utopias disguised as simple political changes. Animal Farm is also meant to  show how revolutions may be betrayed from within, since leaders are eventually corrupted by their own lust for power - or as  the British historian Lord Acton said in the 19th century: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts completely" - and the masses are usually far too willing to be deceived and taken advantage of. Consequently the only way out of the misery can be found in proper education and in creating political awareness.

The meaning of Animal Farm is certainly much easier to detect than the literary genre that is applied. Animal Farm is often referred to as a satiric fable or political satire or political allegory. Clearly enough Orwell  portrays a world in which animals represent human characteristics showing the corruption of high ideals. Surely enough it can both be read on the literal level of the story itself and the symbolic level of the abstract purpose behind - the denunciation of absolute power and totalitarianism in the human world. And yet, strictly observed, Orwell's approach is not completely consistent especially considering that hardly any reader can quite seriously accept the idea of animals rebelling against human control. Additionally the illusion of a true fable is somewhat spoiled as not only animals appear in it.


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Animal Farm summary and analysis