by George Orwell
Animal Farm Cunning and Cleverness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
This was early in March. During the next three months there was much secret activity. Major's speech had given to the more intelligent animals on the farm a completely new outlook on life. They did not know when the Rebellion predicted by Major would take place, they had no reason for thinking that it would be within their own lifetime, but they saw clearly that it was their duty to prepare for it. The work of teaching and organising the others fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognised as being the cleverest of the animals. (2.2)
This is really subtle—so subtle that we almost can't tell where Orwell is going with it. Is that "naturally" supposed to ironic, implying that the pigs actually took control rather than naturally getting it? Is that "generally recognized" meant to imply that the pigs aren't so smart—they just use the power of seeming smart?
Sometimes the work was hard; the implements had been designed for human beings and not for animals, and it was a great drawback that no animal was able to use any tool that involved standing on his hind legs. But the pigs were so clever that they could think of a way round every difficulty. (3.2)
Since this cleverness mostly consists of the pigs bossing the animals around, we're not sold on it. But it seems to work, at least at first: the harvest is bigger than it ever has been before. So far, so good. Right?
The pigs had set aside the harness-room as a headquarters for themselves. Here, in the evenings, they studied blacksmithing, carpentering, and other necessary arts from books which they had brought out of the farmhouse. Snowball also busied himself with organising the other animals into what he called Animal Committees. He was indefatigable at this. He formed the Egg Production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails League for the cows, the Wild Comrades' Re-education Committee (the object of this was to tame the rats and rabbits), the Whiter Wool Movement for the sheep, and various others, besides instituting classes in reading and writing. On the whole, these projects were a failure. The attempt to tame the wild creatures, for instance, broke down almost immediately. They continued to behave very much as before, and when treated with generosity, simply took advantage of it. (3.6)
Here's another tricky passage: it seems like the pigs really might start out with good intentions. They're trying to learn "necessary" arts and Snowball is super into helping the animals improve themselves. So, what goes wrong? (Aside from that fact that having someone else try to improve you is super annoying.)