-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.
-The animals, under the leadership of the pigs, begin to prepare for the Rebellion. Two of the pigs, Snowball and Napolean, 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:
-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.
-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.
- 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.
-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.
- 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.
-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
-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.
Characters - Symbolism
A still from the 1955 animated version of Orwell's Animal Farm.
Soon after the revolt of the animals, Napoleon takes nine puppies from their mothers to "educate" them. The puppies end up being his personal bodyguards and secret police force. He grows increasingly removed from the other animals, dining alone and being addressed as "our Leader, Comrade Napoleon." Like Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader who had negotiated with England while making a secret deal with Hitler, Napoleon negotiates with one of Jones's neighbors, Mr. Pilkington, while making a secret agreement with Mr. Frederick, another one of Jones's neighbors. Stalin had a reputation for arranging the death of anyone who stood in his way. After Napoleon chases his former friend Snowball off the farm, he has countless animals killed who confess to being Snowball's allies. Near the end of the novel, he stands on two legs, just like the men he had previously denounced, and announces that Animal Farm's name will revert back to Manor Farm. His name is reminiscent of the historical Napoleon, who became the all-powerful, autocratic Emperor of the French. Like his French counterpart, Napoleon seems to embody the idea that with power comes corruption.
A "prize Middle White boar," Old Major calls the animals together in the novel's opening scene to explain to them his vision of a world ruled by animals. Although quite old for a pig, he is described as "still a majestic-looking pig." He concludes his speech by teaching of the animals the song, Beasts of England. It becomes the rallying cry of the Rebellion. Three nights after the meeting he dies in his sleep. He represents Karl Marx, the German political philosopher who wrote, with Friedrich Engels, the Communist Manifesto (1848) that called the workers of the world to unite against the ruling classes.
Mr. Pilkington is a neighbor of Mr. Jones who runs the farm called Foxwood. His farm is overgrown with woodland, for he enjoys hunting and fishing over farming. In Orwell's allegory, Pilkington represents England.
The sheep function as a group and, therefore, have no individual names. They are taught to bleat the latest slogan for hours at a time: first, "four legs good, two legs bad," later, "four legs good, two legs better." They are the "yes-men" in every society who blindly repeat party slogans without knowing what they are saying.
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A "young boar" who, with Napoleon and Squealer, helps to codify Old Major's ideas into the commandments of Animalism. Orwell describes him as "quicker in speech and more inventive" than Napoleon. He is the one who organizes the animals into various committees: "the Egg Production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails League for the cows, … the Whiter Wool Movement for the sheep, and various others…." He also plans the defense of the farm against the humans which proves useful when Jones and his friends try to retake the farm. Snowball shows his expert use of military strategy during the attack—which becomes known as the Battle of the Cowshed—and is later awarded a medal. Snowball also comes up with the idea of building a windmill to produce electricity. He represents the historical figure of Leon Trotsky. Like Trotsky, who was exiled from Russia by his former partner Stalin, Snowball is eventually run off the farm by Napoleon. After he is gone, Napoleon uses him as a scapegoat, blaming him for everything that goes wrong on the farm. In an allegory of the bloody purge trials that took place in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, the animals confess to scheming in various ways with Snowball for the downfall of the other pigs. Whoever confesses is slaughtered.
"A small, fat pig" known for being a smooth talker, Squealer reportedly "could turn black into white." He is the propaganda chief for the pigs, the equivalent of the Soviet party newspaper Pravda (which means "Truth" in Russian) in Orwell's allegory. Squealer has an explanation for everything, including why the pigs need to drink the milk the cows produce, why the commandments of Animalism seem different, and why the "ambulance" called to take Boxer to the hospital has a sign for a horse slaughterer on its side. By the story's end, he is so fat that his eyes are mere slits. Always on the look out for a new slogan, he teaches the sheep a new song to explain why the pigs are suddenly walking on their hind legs. Like any good propaganda boss, he is able to not only explain the present, he is also an expert at rewriting the past. He makes the animals believe, for example, that Snowball never had received the order of "Animal Hero, First Class." But, of course, he had.
An attorney, Mr. Whymper handles negotiations between the pigs and the outside world. He represents an intermediary between warring countries who is only too happy to do what is expedient without thinking about whether it is right
A "large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar," Napoleon becomes the leader of the animals after Snowball is chased off the farm. He, Snowball, and Squealer are the ones who organize the thoughts proclaimed by Old Major into the principles of Animalism.
Benjamin, a donkey, is "the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered." He is a sad cynic who believes that whatever the animals do, conditions on the farm will remain equally as bad. Although he usually refuses to read, he is the one who reads the side of the truck that comes to take Boxer away and realizes it belongs to the horse slaughterer. Benjamin is moved to action, but he is too late to save his friend. Benjamin represents the cynical intellectual who refuses to get involved in politics and so fails to affect meaningful change. His cynicism is much like Orwell's own attitude toward life.
One of the two cart-horses on the farm, Boxer's biggest triumph is his work on the windmill. Despite his strength, he is sensitive to the feelings of others. During the Battle of the Cowshed, when he accidentally stuns a stable-boy with blows
A "stout, motherly mare," Clover is one of the two cart-horses on the farm, and one of Boxer's closest friends. She tries to lead the other animals to see events as they really are but is often frustrated in her attempts. She questions the change in the fourth commandment of Animalism, yet she accepts Squealer's explanation of why it seems different. When Benjamin sounds the alarm that Boxer is being taken to the horse slaughterer, Clover runs after the van but is unable to stop it. Like Boxer, she represents the working class, particularly those who should realize they are being exploited but do not because of their own laziness or apathy.
Mr. Frederick is a neighbor of Mr. Jones who runs the farm called Pinchfield. His farm is better run than Pilkington's, but he is always involved in law suits. In Orwell's allegory, Frederick represents Germany and its leader, Adolf Hitler. Like Hitler, Frederick is treacherous, and after signing an agreement with Napoleon he attacks Animal Farm, destroying the animals' windmill.
Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, gets the animals thinking about revolution when he gets drunk and is unable to perform all of the chores around the farm. When, in his drunkenness, he stays overnight away from the farm, and neither he nor his men feed the farm animals, the animals revolt and chase the humans out of the farm. Jones tries to retake the farm but is unsuccessful. He vanishes "to another part of the country" and dies there in "an inebriates' home." With his common surname Jones could be any farmer, and his farm any farm. In Orwell's political allegory, he represents Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, before the communists took over the government.
Described only as "a poet," Minimus composes a poem in honor of Napoleon, and a patriotic song that replaces Beasts of England. Minimus represents artists who are used by totalitarian states for propaganda purposes.
A vain white mare whose main concerns when Old Major calls for a Rebellion are having sugar lumps to chew and ribbons for her mane. She eventually flees the farm to work for humans. She represents those whose lust for material things blinds them to the importance of freedom.
A tame raven who belongs to Mr. Jones, Moses represents organized religion. He is tolerated by the pigs because he takes the animals' minds off their troubles by preaching to them about a happy land called the Sugarcandy Mountain.
A white goat (named after an actual animal that Orwell kept at his farm), Muriel reads better than most of the other animals and is called on to read the Commandments for them
The Societal Tendency Toward Class Stratification
Animal Farm offers commentary on the development of class tyranny and the human tendency to maintain and reestablish class structures even in societies that allegedly stand for total equality. The novella illustrates how classes that are initially unified in the face of a common enemy, as the animals are against the humans, may become internally divided when that enemy is eliminated. The expulsion of Mr. Jones creates a power vacuum, and it is only so long before the next oppressor assumes totalitarian control. The natural division between intellectual and physical labor quickly comes to express itself as a new set of class divisions, with the “brainworkers” (as the pigs claim to be) using their superior intelligence to manipulate society to their own benefit. Orwell never clarifies in Animal Farm whether this negative state of affairs constitutes an inherent aspect of society or merely an outcome contingent on the integrity of a society’s intelligentsia. In either case, the novella points to the force of this tendency toward class stratification in many communities and the threat that it poses to democracy and freedom.
The Danger of a Naïve Working Class
One of the novella’s most impressive accomplishments is its portrayal not just of the figures in power but also of the oppressed people themselves. Animal Farm is not told from the perspective of any particular character, though occasionally it does slip into Clover’s consciousness. Rather, the story is told from the perspective of the common animals as a whole. Gullible, loyal, and hardworking, these animals give Orwell a chance to sketch how situations of oppression arise not only from the motives and tactics of the oppressors but also from the naïveté of the oppressed, who are not necessarily in a position to be better educated or informed. When presented with a dilemma, Boxer prefers not to puzzle out the implications of various possible actions but instead to repeat to himself, “Napoleon is always right.” Animal Farm demonstrates how the inability or unwillingness to question authority condemns the working class to suffer the full extent of the ruling class’s oppression.