Study Guide

Animal Farm Quotes

By George Orwell

  • Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

    Chapter 1
    Old Major (a pig)

    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 En
    gland, 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. (1.19)

    Here's the song based on Old Major's dream. It sounds pretty great, doesn't it? No one forcing you to go to work; no silly rings in your nose. (This is even better when a bunch of adorably awkward boys are singing it.)

    "Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free. What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion! I do not know when that Rebellion will come, it might be in a week or in a hundred years, but I know, as surely as I see this straw beneath my feet, that sooner or later justice will be done. Fix your eyes on that, comrades, throughout the short remainder of your lives! And above all, pass on this message of mine to those who come after you, so that future generations shall carry on the struggle until it is victorious. (1.11)

    Unfortunately, as soon as they overthrow the tyranny of human beings, a new tyranny arises: the tyranny of pigs. This is… pretty depressing, actually. It's kind of like realizing that growing up doesn't actually mean you get to eat as many jelly doughnuts as you want; it means that you have to go to work every day to earn the money to buy those jelly doughnuts. (And then get fat.)

    "Comrades, you have heard already about the strange dream that I had last night. But I will come to the dream later. I have something else to say first. I do not think, comrades, that I shall be with you for many months longer, and before I die, I feel it my duty to pass on to you such wisdom as I have acquired. I have had a long life, I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, and I think I may say that I understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living. It is about this that I wish to speak to you." (1.6)

    Hm. We're not sure, but we think there's a difference between acquired wisdom and random dream, right? "Wisdom" might tell Old Major that human—ahem, animal—nature is selfish and lazy; a "dream" might convince him that a communist utopia will work anyway.

    Chapter 3
    Benjamin (a donkey)

    Old Benjamin, the donkey, seemed quite unchanged since the Rebellion. He did his work in the same slow obstinate way as he had done it in Jones's time, never shirking and never volunteering for extra work either. About the Rebellion and its results he would express no opinion. When asked whether he was not happier now that Jones was gone, he would say only "Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey," and the others had to be content with this cryptic answer. (3.4)

    Benjamin seems convinced that nothing is going to change—and with good reason: donkeys live 30 to 50 years, while pigs and sheep usually max out at 15. (Horses can make it about twice as long.) Try telling a 140-year-old how excited you are about your new gluten-free diet and watch her roll her eyes.

    Snowball (a pig)

    The flag was green, Snowball explained, to represent the green fields of England, while the hoof and horn signified the future Republic of the Animals which would arise when the human race had been finally overthrown. (3.5)

    Notice that Snowball is a forward-thinking dude (er, pig). Instead of patting himself on the back for achieving rebellion on Animal Farm, he dreams about spreading it all over England.

    Chapter 5
    Benjamin (a donkey)

    Benjamin was the only animal who did not side with either faction. He refused to believe either that food would become more plentiful or that the windmill would save work. Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on– that is, badly. (5.11)

    Question: Benjamin comes off as a Debbie Downer, but is he right? Or is Orwell saying it's just as bad to have no hope as to have too much hope?

    Chapter 6

    All that year the animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything that they did was for the benefit of themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings. (6.1)

    So far, it actually seems like the dream is going pretty well. Sure, in our utopia no one would have to work—but a utopia where no one worked would cease being a utopia pretty fast.

    Chapter 10
    Benjamin (a donkey)

    Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse-hunger, hardship, and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life. (10.6)

    If it's true that things can't even be much better or worse, then why is Orwell even bothering to write Animal Farm? Does he agree with Benjamin? Or are we supposed to think that capitalism is still better than communism, no matter how bad it is? (This is where things get tricky.)

    Years passed. The seasons came and went, the short animal lives fled by. A time came when there was no one who remembered the old days before the Rebellion, except Clover, Benjamin, Moses the raven, and a number of the pigs. (10.1)

    Ouch. The subtext here is that the animals are now living the dream that their parents dreamed—but no one is around to realize how different the reality actually is. Well, no one who cares, anyway.

    Napoleon (a pig)

    "Gentlemen," concluded Napoleon, "I will give you the same toast as before, but in a different form. Fill your glasses to the brim. Gentlemen, here is my toast: To the prosperity of The Manor Farm! " (10.32)

    Aaaand, we're back. Animal Farm is dead; long live Manor Farm! We're left wondering: is it time for another rebellion? Or are the animals too beaten down or two manipulated to realize that there's anything to rebel against?

  • Pride

    Chapter 1

    And then, after a few preliminary tries, the whole farm burst out into "Beasts of England" in tremendous unison. The cows lowed it, the dogs whined it, the sheep bleated it, the horses whinnied it, the ducks quacked it. They were so delighted with the song that they sang it right through five times in succession, and might have continued singing it all night if they had not been interrupted. (1.20)

    Oh, we get it. The animals just like to hear themselves sing. J/K! They're just all delighted to be doing something together, and they're really taking pride in this new vision of animal harmony that Old Major has given them.

    Chapter 2
    Snowball (a pig)

    "Now, comrades," cried Snowball, throwing down the paint-brush, "to the hayfield! Let us make it a point of honour to get in the harvest more quickly than Jones and his men could do." (2.24)

    When pride is helping you get the harvest in quickly (or get good grades, or put on pants every morning instead of going to the grocery store in your sweatpants ahem), it's all good. When it's making you vandalize your rival school? Maybe not so good.

    Chapter 3

    All through that summer the work of the farm went like clockwork. The animals were happy as they had never conceived it possible to be. Every mouthful of food was an acute positive pleasure, now that it was truly their own food, produced by themselves and for themselves, not doled out to them by a grudging master. With the worthless parasitical human beings gone, there was more for everyone to eat. There was more leisure too, inexperienced though the animals were. (3.3)

    So far, so good. When you have to buy your clothes with your very own paycheck, you tend to take better care of them; when you work hard for yourself, you tend to be happier about it.

    Chapter 4

    The animals decided unanimously to create a military decoration, "Animal Hero, First Class," which was conferred there and then on Snowball and Boxer. It consisted of a brass medal (they were really some old horse-brasses which had been found in the harness-room), to be worn on Sundays and holidays. There was also "Animal Hero, Second Class," which was conferred posthumously on the dead sheep. (4.16)

    We're on shakier territory with taking pride in violent military action and sacrifice, but it still seem to be working for a common good: if the animals take pride in their shared goal of running a working farm, then they don't mind a few dead sheep here or there. (Less bleating.)

    Chapter 7

    The animals huddled about Clover, not speaking. The knoll where they were lying gave them a wide prospect across the countryside. Most of Animal Farm was within their view—the long pasture stretching down to the main road, the hayfield, the spinney, the drinking pool, the ploughed fields where the young wheat was thick and green, and the red roofs of the farm buildings with the smoke curling from the chimneys. It was a clear spring evening. The grass and the bursting hedges were gilded by the level rays of the sun. Never had the farm—and with a kind of surprise they remembered that it was their own farm, every inch of it their own property—appeared to the animals so desirable a place. (7.30)

    We're going to go out on a limb and guess that very few of you reading this are homeowners, but take it from old Shmoop: when you have to buy your own toilet, you take a lot more pride in scrubbing the bowl.

    Chapter 8
    Napoleon (a pig)

    "Impossible!" cried Napoleon. "We have built the walls far too thick for that. They could not knock it down in a week. Courage, comrades!" (8.19)

    Aaaand, somtimes pride just ends up sounding dumb. Or false. Napoleon is way more concerned with how the walls look (thick) than with whether or not they're built strongly. That's the problem with pride: if you focus too much on what you look like, it just becomes vanity.

    In the autumn, by a tremendous, exhausting effort—for the harvest had to be gathered at almost the same time– the windmill was finished. The machinery had still to be installed, and Whymper was negotiating the purchase of it, but the structure was completed. In the teeth of every difficulty, in spite of inexperience, of primitive implements, of bad luck and of Snowball's treachery, the work had been finished punctually to the very day! Tired out but proud, the animals walked round and round their masterpiece, which appeared even more beautiful in their eyes than when it had been built the first time. Moreover, the walls were twice as thick as before. Nothing short of explosives would lay them low this time! And when they thought of how they had laboured, what discouragements they had overcome, and the enormous difference that would be made in their lives when the sails were turning and the dynamos running—when they thought of all this, their tiredness forsook them and they gambolled round and round the windmill, uttering cries of triumph. (8.10)

    Aw. This is actually kind of sad. The poor animals are so proud of their windmill, and it's just going to be destroyed. But while it lasts, it gives them one more reason for them to take pride in their collectivity.

    Chapter 9

    But if there were hardships to be borne, they were partly offset by the fact that life nowadays had a greater dignity than it had had before. There were more songs, more speeches, more processions. Napoleon had commanded that once a week there should be held something called a Spontaneous Demonstration, the object of which was to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of Animal Farm. At the appointed time the animals would leave their work and march round the precincts of the farm in military formation, with the pigs leading, then the horses, then the cows, then the sheep, and then the poultry. ...by and large the animals enjoyed these celebrations. They found it comforting to be reminded that, after all, they were truly their own masters and that the work they did was for their own benefit. So that, what with the songs, the processions, Squealer's lists of figures, the thunder of the gun, the crowing of the cockerel, and the fluttering of the flag, they were able to forget that their bellies were empty, at least part of the time. (9.6)

    Clever Napoleon. The farm is going to ruin, but Napoleon cheers everyone up with a pep rally. Our football team might be ranked last in the state, but by golly they're our football team!

    Chapter 10
    Napoleon (a pig)

    There was enthusiastic cheering and stamping of feet. Napoleon was so gratified that he left his place and came round the table to clink his mug against Mr. Pilkington's before emptying it. (10.28)

    "Gratified" is just a fancy word for pride. Napoleon is proud of the fact that these human farmers are accepting him as one of their own. Unfortunately, "one of their own" means that he's a conniving, tyrannical overlord. So, you know, good luck with that.

    It might be that their lives were hard and that not all of their hopes had been fulfilled; but they were conscious that they were not as other animals. If they went hungry, it was not from feeding tyrannical human beings; if they worked hard, at least they worked for themselves. No creature among them went upon two legs. No creature called any other creature "Master." All animals were equal. (10.7)

    If this were actually true, it would be—well, fine. Maybe not ideal, but fine. The problem is, it's not true. The animals proud of an illusion: the illusion of autonomy. In fact, they're just as enslaved as they were before. (Shhh, don't tell Napoleon we know. He might sic the dogs on us.)

  • Religion

    Chapter 1

    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. (1.19)

    Hm. This sounds a lot like some version of paradise. It's no Sugarcandy Mountain, but it is a vision of peaceful harmony and leisure. Is Old Major's dream just another form of religion?

    All the animals were now present except Moses, the tame raven, who slept on a perch behind the back door. When Major saw that they had all made themselves comfortable and were waiting attentively, he cleared his throat and began: (1.5)

    Orwell starts us off with a bang: the raven is "tame" and absent when Old Major lays out his dream. Notice the emphasis on "tame"—as though religion is just a subset of the corrupt power structure that Mr. Jones heads.

    Chapter 2
    Mr. and Mrs. Jones (humans)

    Mrs. Jones looked out of the bedroom window, saw what was happening, hurriedly flung a few possessions into a carpet bag, and slipped out of the farm by another way. Moses sprang off his perch and flapped after her, croaking loudly. (2.12)

    Without the Joneses around to feed him bread and beer, Moses has no reason to stay on the farm. It's not like the pigs are going to let him get away with lying to the animals and getting fed for doing nothing. Right? Well. Not at first.

    Moses (a raven)

    The pigs had an even harder struggle to counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven. Moses, who was Mr. Jones's especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker. He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges. The animals hated Moses because he told tales and did no work, but some of them believed in Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place. (2.8)

    Lump sugar and linseed cake? We want to go to there! But seriously: why are the pigs trying to convince the animals otherwise? Even if it's not true, there's no harm in believing it—right? Or is there?

    After this they went back to the farm buildings, where Snowball and Napoleon sent for a ladder which they caused to be set against the end wall of the big barn. They explained that by their studies of the past three months the pigs had succeeded in reducing the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments. These Seven Commandments would now be inscribed on the wall; they would form an unalterable law by which all the animals on Animal Farm must live for ever after. (2.21)

    Just add another three commandments, and you'll get all the way up to ten. Ten Commandments, and one Rule: animalism is looking more and more like a religion every day.

    These three had elaborated Old Major's teachings into a complete system of thought, to which they gave the name of Animalism. Several nights a week, after Mr. Jones was asleep, they held secret meetings in the barn and expounded the principles of Animalism to the others. (2.3)

    Secret meetings, an "ism" name—yep. Sounds a lot like a religion to us. All it needs is a charismatic leader, and… oh. It has that, too.

    Now, as it turned out, the Rebellion was achieved much earlier and more easily than anyone had expected. In past years Mr. Jones, although a hard master, had been a capable farmer, but of late he had fallen on evil days. He had become much disheartened after losing money in a lawsuit, and had taken to drinking more than was good for him. For whole days at a time he would lounge in his Windsor chair in the kitchen, reading the newspapers, drinking, and occasionally feeding Moses on crusts of bread soaked in beer. (2.10)

    LOL, Orwell. We're pretty sure—like 99% sure—that the "crusts of bread" and "beer" are a little dig at the Christian rite of communion, when (according to Orthodox tradition) bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. From this perspective, the sacred meal is just a crust of bread soaked in beer. Nice.

    Chapter 3
    Snowball (a pig)

    After much thought Snowball declared that the Seven Commandments could in effect be reduced to a single maxim, namely: "Four legs good, two legs bad." This, he said, contained the essential principle of Animalism. (3.9)

    Like with political philosophies, we're pretty sure that reduction of a religion into six words is—well, not wrong, but probably not really getting at the subtleties of theological thought. (Although, to be fair, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" seems to work pretty well for a lot of religions. Too bad it's eleven words.)

    Chapter 8

    Friend of fatherless!
    Fountain of happiness!
    Lord of the swill-bucket! Oh, how my soul is on
    Fire when I gaze at thy
    Calm and commanding eye,
    Like the sun in the sky,
    Comrade Napoleon!
    Thou are the giver of
    All that thy creatures love,
    Full belly twice a day, clean straw to roll upon;
    Every beast great or small
    Sleeps at peace in his stall,
    Thou watchest over all,
    Comrade Napoleon!
    Had I a sucking-pig,
    Ere he had grown as big
    Even as a pint bottle or as a rolling-pin,
    He should have learned to be
    Faithful and true to thee,
    Yes, his first squeak should be
    "Comrade Napoleon!" (8.5)

    Every religious leader needs a song, right? Quick Brain Snack: Stalin's department of propaganda commissioned a lot of paintings of Stalin that drew on the conventions of Russian Christian iconography—paintings that glorified a saint. In other words, they made Stalin out to be a religious figure. Looks to us like the same thing is happening here.

    Chapter 9
    Moses (a raven)

    In the middle of the summer Moses the raven suddenly reappeared on the farm, after an absence of several years. He was quite unchanged, still did no work, and talked in the same strain as ever about Sugarcandy Mountain. He would perch on a stump, flap his black wings, and talk by the hour to anyone who would listen. "Up there, comrades," he would say solemnly, pointing to the sky with his large beak– "up there, just on the other side of that dark cloud that you can see– there it lies, Sugarcandy Mountain, that happy country where we poor animals shall rest for ever from our labours!" He even claimed to have been there on one of his higher flights, and to have seen the everlasting fields of clover and the linseed cake and lump sugar growing on the hedges. Many of the animals believed him. Their lives now, they reasoned, were hungry and laborious; was it not right and just that a better world should exist somewhere else? A thing that was difficult to determine was the attitude of the pigs towards Moses. They all declared contemptuously that his stories about Sugarcandy Mountain were lies, and yet they allowed him to remain on the farm, not working, with an allowance of a gill of beer a day. (9.8)

    Weird. The pigs are still convinced that Moses is lying—but they also get why Jones kept him around. Turns out, it's fairly useful to have a talking raven convincing all your oppressed laborers that paradise is waiting for them on the other side if they just keep working hard enough. (You know, kind of like college is waiting for you after high school.)

  • Power: Leadership and Corruption

    Chapter 1
    Mr. and Mrs. Jones (humans)

    Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes. With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs. Jones was already snoring. (1.1)

    We don't know if Mr. Jones became a drunk before or after becoming the leader of the farm, but we definitely get the idea that he's not up to his job.

    Chapter 3

    The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others. With their superior knowledge it was natural that they should assume the leadership. (3.2)

    Well, obviously. Check out how Orwell's narrator uses the pig's language—"natural" and "superior"—but gets in his own dig with "actually work." The animals might not get it, but we do.

    Chapter 5

    At last the day came when Snowball's plans were completed. At the Meeting on the following Sunday the question of whether or not to begin work on the windmill was to be put to the vote. When the animals had assembled in the big barn, Snowball stood up and, though occasionally interrupted by bleating from the sheep, set forth his reasons for advocating the building of the windmill. Then Napoleon stood up to reply. He said very quietly that the windmill was nonsense and that he advised nobody to vote for it, and promptly sat down again; he had spoken for barely thirty seconds, and seemed almost indifferent as to the effect he produced. At this Snowball sprang to his feet, and shouting down the sheep, who had begun bleating again, broke into a passionate appeal in favour of the windmill. Until now the animals had been about equally divided in their sympathies, but in a moment Snowball's eloquence had carried them away. In glowing sentences he painted a picture of Animal Farm as it might be when sordid labour was lifted from the animals' backs. His imagination had now run far beyond chaff-cutters and turnip-slicers. Electricity, he said, could operate threshing machines, ploughs, harrows, rollers, and reapers and binders, besides supplying every stall with its own electric light, hot and cold water, and an electric heater. By the time he had finished speaking, there was no doubt as to which way the vote would go. But just at this moment Napoleon stood up and, casting a peculiar sidelong look at Snowball, uttered a high-pitched whimper of a kind no one had ever heard him utter before. (5.13)

    Who needs to speak eloquently when you have a pack of attack dogs? Napoleon isn't willing to get his power honestly—if you can even call manipulating a pack of farm animals "honest." He's going to get it by brute force. Great.

    Chapter 6

    It was about this time that the pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse and took up their residence there...It was absolutely necessary, he said, that the pigs, who were the brains of the farm, should have a quiet place to work in. It was also more suited to the dignity of the Leader (for of late he had taken to speaking of Napoleon under the title of "Leader") to live in a house than in a mere sty. Nevertheless, some of the animals were disturbed when they heard that the pigs not only took their meals in the kitchen and used the drawing-room as a recreation room, but also slept in the beds. (6.10)

    The pigs are just so exhausted from doing all the brainwork that they need to sleep in beds. You can't get the sleep you need in a pile of hay, right? Can you imagine what their SAT scores would look like after a night in barnyard?

    Napoleon (a pig)

    Throughout the spring and summer they worked a sixty-hour week, and in August Napoleon announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half. (6.2)

    Apparently, power means that you get to redefine language so that "strictly voluntary" means "in order to eat." Pretty soon, he's going to be saying that Boxer had a "negative patient care outcome" or that the new tax is a "revenue enhancement."

    Chapter 7
    Napoleon (a pig)

    Nevertheless, towards the end of January it became obvious that it would be necessary to procure some more grain from somewhere. In these days Napoleon rarely appeared in public, but spent all his time in the farmhouse, which was guarded at each door by fierce-looking dogs. When he did emerge, it was in a ceremonial manner, with an escort of six dogs who closely surrounded him and growled if anyone came too near. Frequently he did not even appear on Sunday mornings, but issued his orders through one of the other pigs, usually Squealer. (7.5)

    Napoleon later derives power from his own prestige—by separating himself from the rest of the animals, he heightens his importance.

    Chapter 9

    In April, Animal Farm was proclaimed a Republic, and it became necessary to elect a President. There was only one candidate, Napoleon, who was elected unanimously. (9.7)

    Hm. An election with only one candidate who's elected unanimously—it sounds like this Animal Farm republic is looking a lot more like a dictatorship.

    Chapter 10

    Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. (10.35)

    Before you start blaming the pigs for being evil and patting yourself on the back for all the bacon you get, notice that when the pigs are at their absolute worst, they… look the most like humans. Ouch.

    But the luxuries of which Snowball had once taught the animals to dream, the stalls with electric light and hot and cold water, and the three-day week, were no longer talked about. Napoleon had denounced such ideas as contrary to the spirit of Animalism. The truest happiness, he said, lay in working hard and living frugally. (10.4)

    Working hard and living frugally—unless you're a pig. It's a lot easier to tell other people that they should be giving up their iPads and Starbucks lattes when you've just bought yourself a $2000 Italian espresso machine.

    Mr. Whymper

    Today he and his friends had visited Animal Farm and inspected every inch of it with their own eyes, and what did they find? Not only the most up-to-date methods, but a discipline and an orderliness which should be an example to all farmers everywhere. He believed that he was right in saying that the lower animals on Animal Farm did more work and received less food than any animals in the county. (10.25)

    This is a neat little example of something called free indirect discourse—it might sound like the narrator's talking (the "he believed"), but it's really the narrator talking in Mr. Whymper's voice. And look what he's saying: the animals are working harder for more food than on any other farm. What a great example!

  • Violence

    Chapter 1
    Old Major (a pig)

    "And even the miserable lives we lead are not allowed to reach their natural span. For myself I do not grumble, for I am one of the lucky ones. I am twelve years old and have had over four hundred children. Such is the natural life of a pig. But no animal escapes the cruel knife in the end. You young porkers who are sitting in front of me, every one of you will scream your lives out at the block within a year. To that horror we all must come—cows, pigs, hens, sheep, everyone. Even the horses and the dogs have no better fate. You, Boxer, the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds. As for the dogs, when they grow old and toothless, Jones ties a brick round their necks and drowns them in the nearest pond." (1.10)

    Um. Suddenly that BLT we were planning on having for lunch doesn't sound so appealing. (To be fair, we never drown our old dogs—we just take them to a vet to be put down… oh. Hm.)

    Chapter 4
    Boxer (a horse)

    "He is dead," said Boxer sorrowfully. "I had no intention of doing that. I forgot that I was wearing iron shoes. Who will believe that I did not do this on purpose?" (4.10)

    At least some of the violence is accidental: Boxer didn't mean to kill the stable-boy. But who's going to believe him? (Also—it's easy to believe that Boxer didn't mean to kill a boy; it's a lot harder to believe that Tsar Nicholas II and his kids weren't executed on purpose. That's kind of the definition of an execution.)

    Without halting for an instant, Snowball flung his fifteen stone against Jones's legs. Jones was hurled into a pile of dung and his gun flew out of his hands. But the most terrifying spectacle of all was Boxer, rearing up on his hind legs and striking out with his great iron-shod hoofs like a stallion. His very first blow took a stable-lad from Foxwood on the skull and stretched him lifeless in the mud. At the sight, several men dropped their sticks and tried to run. Panic overtook them, and the next moment all the animals together were chasing them round and round the yard. They were gored, kicked, bitten, trampled on. There was not an animal on the farm that did not take vengeance on them after his own fashion. Even the cat suddenly leapt off a roof onto a cowman's shoulders and sank her claws in his neck, at which he yelled horribly. (4.8)

    Yikes. No wonder the pigs start oppressing the animals almost immediately; Boxer sounds pretty scary. But, really, all the animals do—the only weapons humans have, really, is their brains. (Although, sheesh, what did the cowman ever do to the cat?)

    Chapter 5
    Snowball (a pig)

    He was running as only a pig can run, but the dogs were close on his heels. Suddenly he slipped and it seemed certain that they had him. Then he was up again, running faster than ever, then the dogs were gaining on him again. One of them all but closed his jaws on Snowball's tail, but Snowball whisked it free just in time. Then he put on an extra spurt and, with a few inches to spare, slipped through a hole in the hedge and was seen no more. (5.14)

    Apparently pigs can run fast? Who knew. Anyway, this is the first instance of animal-on-animal violence—but it's just about the last animal-on-pig violence we see, since pigs quickly make themselves bulletproof with their escort of attack dogs. Hey, if you can't beat them… hire some dogs to do it for you.

    Chapter 7

    To the amazement of everybody, three of them [the dogs] flung themselves upon Boxer. Boxer saw them coming and put out his great hoof, caught a dog in mid-air, and pinned him to the ground. The dog shrieked for mercy and the other two fled with their tails between their legs. Boxer looked at Napoleon to know whether he should crush the dog to death or let it go. Napoleon appeared to change countenance, and sharply ordered Boxer to let the dog go, whereat Boxer lifted his hoof, and the dog slunk away, bruised and howling. (7.24)

    After the dogs get a taste for blood during the first of the show trials, they turn on Boxer—but Boxer quickly puts a stop to that. So why doesn't he put a stop to Napoleon, too? Why does he let all this violence happen?

    And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon's feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones. (7.26)

    Well, here's your descriptive horror: Orwell doesn't linger on the action, but he lingers on the result—the visual (pile of bodies) and olfactory (the smell of blood). Gross.

    Napoleon (a pig)

    When they had finished their confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded whether any other animal had anything to confess. (7.25)

    Yikes. You would have thought Orwell would spend a little longer with this, but instead he just tosses it out there: "the dogs promptly tore their throats out." It's as though he wants us to experience this violence as shocking—and shockingly matter-of-fact.

    Chapter 8

    This time they did not heed the cruel pellets that swept over them like hail. It was a savage, bitter battle. The men fired again and again, and, when the animals got to close quarters, lashed out with their sticks and their heavy boots. A cow, three sheep, and two geese were killed, and nearly everyone was wounded. Even Napoleon, who was directing operations from the rear, had the tip of his tail chipped by a pellet. But the men did not go unscathed either. Three of them had their heads broken by blows from Boxer's hoofs; another was gored in the belly by a cow's horn; another had his trousers nearly torn off by Jessie and Bluebell. (8.23)

    Compared to being gored, having our pants pulled off doesn't sound so bad. Still, this is a brutal, bloody battle. The animals win—but it's not much of a victory.

    They had won, but they were weary and bleeding. Slowly they began to limp back towards the farm. The sight of their dead comrades stretched upon the grass moved some of them to tears. (8.24)

    Why only some of them? Are they just so used to violence and destruction that these dead bodies don't both them—as if they've been playing too much Halo?

    Mr. Frederick

    Moreover, terrible stories were leaking out from Pinchfield about the cruelties that Frederick practiced upon his animals. He had flogged an old horse to death, he starved his cows, he had killed a dog by throwing it into the furnace, he amused himself in the evenings by making cocks fight with splinters of razor-blade tied to their spurs. The animals' blood boiled with rage when they heard of these things being done to their comrades, and sometimes they clamoured to be allowed to go out in a body and attack Pinchfield Farm, drive out the humans, and set the animals free. (8.8)

    Um. Is it just us, or are Frederick's cruelties almost exactly like what the pigs do to the animals? (Okay, we don't remember any razorblades, but there is the whole starving the hens and ripping out the throats of the pigs business.)

  • Cunning and Cleverness

    Chapter 2

    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?

    Chapter 3

    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.)

    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?

    Snowball (a pig)

    "A bird's wing, comrades," he said, "is an organ of propulsion and not of manipulation. It should therefore be regarded as a leg. The distinguishing mark of man is the HAND, the instrument with which he does all his mischief." (3.10)

    The birds are a little worried about the whole "four legs good, two legs bad" thing, because of their two-legged situation, but Snowball is clever enough to sort that out: wings are actually legs. In principle. Whew! But we see a problem: if a rule has to be explained, then it can't really be that simple, right? And doesn't it become a little too open to manipulation and revision? (Orwell's answer: yes.)

    Chapter 5
    Boxer (a horse)

    In spite of the shock that Snowball's expulsion had given them, the animals were dismayed by this announcement. Several of them would have protested if they could have found the right arguments. Even Boxer was vaguely troubled. He set his ears back, shook his forelock several times, and tried hard to marshal his thoughts; but in the end he could not think of anything to say. (5.17)

    In the land of the dumb, the half-brained man (pig) is king: the pigs may not be mechanical (or agricultural) geniuses, but they're smarter than the rest of the animals. And, in the end, that's all that matters. So stay in school, Shmoopers!

    Snowball (a pig)

    Within a few weeks Snowball's plans for the windmill were fully worked out. The mechanical details came mostly from three books which had belonged to Mr. Jones– 'One Thousand Useful Things to Do About the House', 'Every Man His Own Bricklayer', and 'Electricity for Beginners'. Snowball used as his study a shed which had once been used for incubators and had a smooth wooden floor, suitable for drawing on. He was closeted there for hours at a time. With his books held open by a stone, and with a piece of chalk gripped between the knuckles of his trotter, he would move rapidly to and fro, drawing in line after line and uttering little whimpers of excitement. Gradually the plans grew into a complicated mass of cranks and cog-wheels, covering more than half the floor, which the other animals found completely unintelligible but very impressive. All of them came to look at Snowball's drawings at least once a day. Even the hens and ducks came, and were at pains not to tread on the chalk marks. (5.10)

    Oh boy. We've tried to replace our pipes with a similar set of books, and, guys, just take it from us: hire a plumber. Being clever enough to google "how to build a windmill" doesn't really give you the practical know-how to actually do it.

    Chapter 7

    Now when Squealer described the scene so graphically, it seemed to the animals that they did remember it. At any rate, they remembered that at the critical moment of the battle Snowball had turned to flee. (7.18)

    Boy, we're lucky that none of our politicians ever try to rewrite the past, right? Right?? Luckily we have recording devices to make it just a little bit harder.

    Chapter 8
    Boxer (a horse)

    "What victory?" said Boxer. His knees were bleeding, he had lost a shoe and split his hoof, and a dozen pellets had lodged themselves in his hind leg.

    "What victory, comrade? Have we not driven the enemy off our soil— the sacred soil of Animal Farm?"

    "But they have destroyed the windmill. And we had worked on it for two years!"

    "What matter? We will build another windmill. We will build six windmills if we feel like it. You do not appreciate, comrade, the mighty thing that we have done. The enemy was in occupation of this very ground that we stand upon. And now— thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon— we have won every inch of it back again!"

    "Then we have won back what we had before," said Boxer.

    "That is our victory," said Squealer. (8.26-8.33)

    Squealer can make black into white, and he can also make "not being utterly destroyed" into "victory." But we still think that having to take our shoes off at the airport means that the terrorists have already won.

    Chapter 9
    Squealer (a pig)

    Here Squealer's demeanour suddenly changed. He fell silent for a moment, and his little eyes darted suspicious glances from side to side before he proceeded. (9.27)

    Uh oh. We're pretty sure this is a sign that it's about to get clever up in here—and indeed, it does. Squealer manages to convince everyone that Boxer was just carted off to the vet, rather than to the glue boiler. Nice. We could use that kind of skill next time we break curfew.

    Chapter 10

    Sometimes the older ones among them racked their dim memories and tried to determine whether in the early days of the Rebellion, when Jones's expulsion was still recent, things had been better or worse than now. They could not remember. There was nothing with which they could compare their present lives: they had nothing to go upon except Squealer's lists of figures, which invariably demonstrated that everything was getting better and better. The animals found the problem insoluble; in any case, they had little time for speculating on such things now. (10.6)

    If Squealer is clever enough to come up with figures that make everything look great, it's too bad that he can't figure out how to actually make things better. (To be fair, it probably doesn't take much to fool these animals.)

  • Rules and Order

    Chapter 2

    The pigs now revealed that during the past three months they had taught themselves to read and write from an old spelling book which had belonged to Mr. Jones's children and which had been thrown on the rubbish heap. Napoleon sent for pots of black and white paint and led the way down to the five-barred gate that gave on to the main road. Then Snowball (for it was Snowball who was best at writing) took a brush between the two knuckles of his trotter, painted out MANOR FARM from the top bar of the gate and in its place painted ANIMAL FARM. This was to be the name of the farm from now onwards. After this they went back to the farm buildings, where Snowball and Napoleon sent for a ladder which they caused to be set against the end wall of the big barn. They explained that by their studies of the past three months the pigs had succeeded in reducing the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments. These Seven Commandments would now be inscribed on the wall; they would form an unalterable law by which all the animals on Animal Farm must live for ever after. With some difficulty (for it is not easy for a pig to balance himself on a ladder) Snowball climbed up and set to work, with Squealer a few rungs below him holding the paint-pot. The Commandments were written on the tarred wall in great white letters that could be read thirty yards away. They ran thus: (2.21)

    So far, this seems fairly solid. The pigs learn to read; good work. They study Animalism; fair enough. And they come up with rules; we like rules. Maybe this is going to work out, after all! (Um, okay, we're a little troubled by the whole secrecy part of it, but… fingers crossed?)

    THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS
    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. (2.22)

    We can't get behind these rules 100%, but they seem fairly solid, considering the animals' experience with humans. After having Mr. Jones as a master, we'd feel pretty leery of humans, too.

    Chapter 3

    On Sundays there was no work. Breakfast was an hour later than usual, and after breakfast there was a ceremony which was observed every week without fail. First came the hoisting of the flag. Snowball had found in the harness-room an old green tablecloth of Mrs. Jones's and had painted on it a hoof and a horn in white. This was run up the flagstaff in the farmhouse garden every Sunday morning...After the hoisting of the flag all the animals trooped into the big barn for a general assembly which was known as the Meeting. Here the work of the coming week was planned out and resolutions were put forward and debated. (3.5)

    Oh, fun! We love ceremonies. The pigs get one thing right: people like having regular rituals to bind them together, whether we're talking religious celebrations, club meetings, baseball games, or pep rallies. (Okay, fine, we just like getting out of class early for that last one.)

    Chapter 6
    Clover (a horse)

    Boxer passed it off as usual with "Napoleon is always right!", but Clover, who thought she remembered a definite ruling against beds, went to the end of the barn and tried to puzzle out the Seven Commandments which were inscribed there. Finding herself unable to read more than individual letters, she fetched Muriel […]

    "Muriel," she said, "read me the Fourth Commandment. Does it not say something about never sleeping in a bed?" […]

    With some difficulty Muriel spelt it out... "It says, 'No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets,"' she announced finally. (6.10-6.13)

    Luckily, we're much better at reading that Muriel, so we can flip back to the beginning of the book (Chapter 2, if you're wondering) and double check. And there it is—#4, "No animal shall sleep in a bed." Hm. Looks like the rules are changing on us.

    Chapter 7
    Squealer (a pig)

    They had just finished singing it for the third time when Squealer, attended by two dogs, approached them with the air of having something important to say. He announced that, by a special decree of Comrade Napoleon, "Beasts of England" had been abolished. From now onwards it was forbidden to sing it. (7.32)

    Frankly, keeping up with the pigs' rules is harder than remembering what we're supposed to eat. (Eggs—no. Wait, yes! Eat a Mediterranean diet—no, eat a Japanese diet! Red meat will kill you; wait, nope, it actually will only kill you if you have a certain gene. Yeesh.)

    Chapter 8
    Benjamin (a donkey)

    A few days later, when the terror caused by the executions had died down, some of the animals remembered– or thought they remembered– that the Sixth Commandment decreed "No animal shall kill any other animal." And though no one cared to mention it in the hearing of the pigs or the dogs, it was felt that the killings which had taken place did not square with this. Clover asked Benjamin to read her the Sixth Commandment, and when Benjamin, as usual, said that he refused to meddle in such matters, she fetched Muriel. Muriel read the Commandment for her. It ran: "No animal shall kill any other animal WITHOUT CAUSE." (8.1)

    We could let the "sleep in a bed with sheets" revision slide, but this one? This one seems a bit less harmless. In fact, it seems downright harmful. Pretty soon, the commandments are going to be as complicated as… well, the U.S. Constitution.

    Chapter 9

    For the time being, the young pigs were given their instruction by Napoleon himself in the farmhouse kitchen. They took their exercise in the garden, and were discouraged from playing with the other young animals. About this time, too, it was laid down as a rule that when a pig and any other animal met on the path, the other animal must stand aside: and also that all pigs, of whatever degree, were to have the privilege of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sundays. (9.4)

    Animal Farm is looking a lot less like Marx's vision of a classless society (see "Old Major" for more on that) and a lot more like, well, a new version of the old Russian aristocracy, complete with rules about status and rank.

    Chapter 10
    Napoleon (a pig)

    He had only one criticism, he said, to make of Mr. Pilkington's excellent and neighbourly speech. Mr. Pilkington had referred throughout to "Animal Farm." He could not of course know-for he, Napoleon, was only now for the first time announcing it-that the name "Animal Farm" had been abolished. Henceforward the farm was to be known as "The Manor Farm" – which, he believed, was its correct and original name. (10.31)

    You know what? We give up trying to keep track of Napoleon's rules, and we're just going to curl up on the couch with some Cherry Garcia and Real Housewives of Kennebunkport. Unless Napoleon's going to take away our ice cream, too.

    He did not believe, he said, that any of the old suspicions still lingered, but certain changes had been made recently in the routine of the farm which should have the effect of promoting confidence stiff further. Hitherto the animals on the farm had had a rather foolish custom of addressing one another as "Comrade." This was to be suppressed. There had also been a very strange custom, whose origin was unknown, of marching every Sunday morning past a boar's skull which was nailed to a post in the garden. This, too, would be suppressed, and the skull had already been buried. His visitors might have observed, too, the green flag which flew from the masthead. If so, they would perhaps have noted that the white hoof and horn with which it had previously been marked had now been removed. It would be a plain green flag from now onwards. (10.30)

    Napoleon is backpedaling so fast that we're feeling a draft. Here, he tells the neighboring humans that he's dismantling every Animal Farm tradition: no more comrade, no more veneration of Old Major, and no more sickle-and-hammer—we mean, hoof-and-horn.

    It was a pig walking on his hind legs. (10.10)

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wasn't this, like, rule number 1? Let's flip back through some pages: yep. It was literally rule #1. What's happened to the Seven Commandments?

    Clover (a horse)

    "My sight is failing," she said finally. "Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?"

    For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:

    ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS (10.17, 10.18, 10.19)

    Quick answer: no, they are not. First the rule about beds is changed and then the rule about not killing animals and now, finally, the seven commandments themselves are gone, leaving just one commandment. But it's no Golden Rule—more like a brass rule. A tarnished brass rule.

  • Lies and Deceit

    Chapter 2

    All the other male pigs on the farm were porkers. The best known among them was a small fat pig named Squealer, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white. (2.2)

    Squealer is a one-pig propaganda machine: he takes the unpleasant realities (no food, pigs sleeping in beds) and turns them into delicious lies (lots of food; piggies resting their brains to better help you). Also, we kind of wish we could win arguments by swishing our tails.

    Chapter 3
    Squealer (a pig)

    "Comrades!" he cried. "You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." (3.14)

    Dear Shmoopers, it's so hard to have to eat all of this delicious chocolate cake. We really wish you could have it. But we need it, because otherwise we simply don't have the energy to Shmoop Animal Farm. It's for your benefit, really. Trust us.

    Chapter 5
    Squealer (a pig)

    "Comrades," he said, "I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills– Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?" (5.19)

    Gee, Squealer paints a dire picture. Like, maybe if they'd decided to follow Snowball, they'd … have a windmill. That would just be terrible.

    Chapter 7

    Presently the tumult died down. The four pigs waited, trembling, with guilt written on every line of their countenances. Napoleon now called upon them to confess their crimes. They were the same four pigs as had protested when Napoleon abolished the Sunday Meetings. Without any further prompting they confessed that they had been secretly in touch with Snowball ever since his expulsion, that they had collaborated with him in destroying the windmill, and that they had entered into an agreement with him to hand over Animal Farm to Mr. Frederick. They added that Snowball had privately admitted to them that he had been Jones's secret agent for years past. When they had finished their confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded whether any other animal had anything to confess. (7.25)

    Um, it might be just us, but watching animals confess and then get their throats torn out doesn't seem like the best way to inspire a feeling of confidence and sharing. Luckily, Napoleon is just as happy to force a false confession as he is to wait for a real one.

    Napoleon was well aware of the bad results that might follow if the real facts of the food situation were known, and he decided to make use of Mr. Whymper to spread a contrary impression. Hitherto the animals had had little or no contact with Whymper on his weekly visits: now, however, a few selected animals, mostly sheep, were instructed to remark casually in his hearing that rations had been increased. In addition, Napoleon ordered the almost empty bins in the store-shed to be filled nearly to the brim with sand, which was then covered up with what remained of the grain and meal. On some suitable pretext Whymper was led through the store-shed and allowed to catch a glimpse of the bins. He was deceived, and continued to report to the outside world that there was no food shortage on Animal Farm. (7.4)

    Clever, clever. Napoleon can't actually get the land to produce food, so he makes it up. (Well, there's always the option of sharing the milk and apples with the rest of the animals, but we're guessing that's not going to fly.)

    Squealer (a pig)

    "That was part of the arrangement!" cried Squealer. "Jones's shot only grazed him. I could show you this in his own writing, if you were able to read it. The plot was for Snowball, at the critical moment, to give the signal for flight and leave the field to the enemy. And he very nearly succeeded– I will even say, comrades, he WOULD have succeeded if it had not been for our heroic Leader, Comrade Napoleon. Do you not remember how, just at the moment when Jones and his men had got inside the yard, Snowball suddenly turned and fled, and many animals followed him? And do you not remember, too, that it was just at that moment, when panic was spreading and all seemed lost, that Comrade Napoleon sprang forward with a cry of 'Death to Humanity!' and sank his teeth in Jones's leg? Surely you remember THAT, comrades?" exclaimed Squealer, frisking from side to side. (7.17)

    Hm. It sure is convenient for Squealer's lies that most of the animals can't read. (And that there aren't any smartphone cameras around.) Without the ability to read, the animals are basically willing victims.

    Chapter 8

    Two days later the animals were called together for a special meeting in the barn. They were struck dumb with surprise when Napoleon announced that he had sold the pile of timber to Frederick. Tomorrow Frederick's wagons would arrive and begin carting it away. Throughout the whole period of his seeming friendship with Pilkington, Napoleon had really been in secret agreement with Frederick. (8.11)

    At least Napoleon isn't just deceiving the animals. He's fooling—or at least trying to fool—the humans, as well. Unfortunately for this little piggy, Mr. Frederick has a few tricks of his own.

    Chapter 9
    Squealer (a pig)

    It had come to his knowledge, he said, that a foolish and wicked rumour had been circulated at the time of Boxer's removal. Some of the animals had noticed that the van which took Boxer away was marked "Horse Slaughterer," and had actually jumped to the conclusion that Boxer was being sent to the knacker's. It was almost unbelievable, said Squealer, that any animal could be so stupid. Surely, he cried indignantly, whisking his tail and skipping from side to side, surely they knew their beloved Leader, Comrade Napoleon, better than that? But the explanation was really very simple. The van had previously been the property of the knacker, and had been bought by the veterinary surgeon, who had not yet painted the old name out. That was how the mistake had arisen. (9.28)

    How ironic: the one time the animals are actually being smart—by noticing that the van is painted with "Horse Slaughterer"—Squealer actually tries to convince them that they're being stupid. Apparently, he succeeds.

    Chapter 10
    Napoleon (a pig)

    Like all of Napoleon's speeches, it was short and to the point. He too, he said, was happy that the period of misunderstanding was at an end. For a long time there had been rumours-circulated, he had reason to think, by some malignant enemy-that there was something subversive and even revolutionary in the outlook of himself and his colleagues. They had been credited with attempting to stir up rebellion among the animals on neighbouring farms. Nothing could be further from the truth! Their sole wish, now and in the past, was to live at peace and in normal business relations with their neighbours. This farm which he had the honour to control, he added, was a co-operative enterprise. The title-deeds, which were in his own possession, were owned by the pigs jointly. (10.29)

    Napoleon is telling the farm animals one thing—that all animals are equal; that everyone is working together—and he's telling the humans another thing: that the pigs are co-owners of the farm. And you know what? These lies seem to be working out pretty well for him.

    But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. (10.34)

    Our question: does this mean that one of them is playing fair? And if so, who? Or are they actually both cheating? Knowing Orwell, that last one seems most likely.

  • Foolishness and Folly

    Chapter 2
    Mollie (a horse)

    The stupidest questions of all were asked by Mollie, the white mare. The very first question she asked Snowball was: "Will there still be sugar after the Rebellion?"

    "No," said Snowball firmly. "We have no means of making sugar on this farm. Besides, you do not need sugar. You will have all the oats and hay you want."

    "And shall I still be allowed to wear ribbons in my mane?" asked Mollie.

    "Comrade," said Snowball, "those ribbons that you are so devoted to are the badge of slavery. Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than ribbons?"

    Mollie agreed, but she did not sound very convinced. (2.3-2.7)

    Okay, we get that "sugar" and "ribbons" don't sound like something to get worked up about. But try substituting "hot Cheetos" for "sugar" and "iPhones" for ribbons. Are you getting a little uncomfortable, now? If we told you that your PlayStation was a badge of slavery

    Chapter 3
    Mollie (a horse)

    Mollie refused to learn any but the six letters which spelt her own name. She would form these very neatly out of pieces of twig, and would then decorate them with a flower or two and walk round them admiring them. (3.8)

    We know we're dumping on Mollie a little bit, but don't blame us: blame Orwell. Mollie basically symbolizes every foolish, vain bourgeoisie idiot who's more concerned with how the Revolution is going to help him than how he can help the Revolution.

    The Sheep

    When they had once got it by heart, the sheep developed a great liking for this maxim, and often as they lay in the field they would all start bleating "Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!" and keep it up for hours on end, never growing tired of it. (3.11)

    It sure is nice when your propaganda machine is so dumb that it basically runs itself. Who needs reasons or explanations when your sheeple are happy to lie around bleating the latest soundbite?

    Chapter 5
    Mollie (a horse)

    As winter drew on, Mollie became more and more troublesome. She was late for work every morning and excused herself by saying that she had overslept, and she complained of mysterious pains, although her appetite was excellent. On every kind of pretext she would run away from work and go to the drinking pool, where she would stand foolishly gazing at her own reflection in the water (5.1).

    You know what they say: you can lead a bourgeoisie mare to water, but you can't make her stop staring at her reflection to drink.

    Chapter 7
    Clover (a horse)

    Instead– she did not know why– they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes. There was no thought of rebellion or disobedience in her mind. She knew that, even as things were, they were far better off than they had been in the days of Jones, and that before all else it was needful to prevent the return of the human beings. Whatever happened she would remain faithful, work hard, carry out the orders that were given to her, and accept the leadership of Napoleon. (7.30)

    We feel bad calling Clover foolish, because she's not empty-headed and vain like Mollie—but she really is just as dumb. If it weren't for her stubborn, foolish loyalty, would Napoleon have been able to get away with all his blood-thirsty rebellion? (In other words: do the rejects actually enable the mean girls?)

    Chapter 8
    Squealer (a pig)

    But in the morning a deep silence hung over the farmhouse. Not a pig appeared to be stirring. It was nearly nine o'clock when Squealer made his appearance, walking slowly and dejectedly, his eyes dull, his tail hanging limply behind him, and with every appearance of being seriously ill. He called the animals together and told them that he had a terrible piece of news to impart. Comrade Napoleon was dying! (8.37)

    Put away the mourning gear: Napoleon isn't actually dying. He's just foolish enough to think that having a little hangover means he's got one hoof in the grave. (On second though, we totally sympathize. Let that be a lesson, Shmoopers.)

    Napoleon (a pig)

    Napoleon called the animals together immediately and in a terrible voice pronounced the death sentence upon Frederick. When captured, he said, Frederick should be boiled alive. At the same time he warned them that after this treacherous deed the worst was to be expected. Frederick and his men might make their long-expected attack at any moment. Sentinels were placed at all the approaches to the farm. In addition, four pigeons were sent to Foxwood with a conciliatory message, which it was hoped might re-establish good relations with Pilkington. (8.16)

    Who's laughing now? Napoleon thought he was getting one over on Pilkington, but it looks like the playa got played. The animals might not see through him, but we sure do.

    "Impossible!" cried Napoleon. "We have built the walls far too thick for that. They could not knock it down in a week. Courage, comrades!" (8.19)

    Quick Brain Snack: this is a little jab at Soviet construction, which was often more about speed and size than, you know, quality and longevity. Foolish? At least a major miscalculation of priorities.

    Napoleon was now never spoken of simply as "Napoleon." He was always referred to in formal style as "our Leader, Comrade Napoleon," and this pigs liked to invent for him such titles as Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold, Ducklings' Friend, and the like. In his speeches, Squealer would talk with the tears rolling down his cheeks of Napoleon's wisdom the goodness of his heart, and the deep love he bore to all animals everywhere, even and especially the unhappy animals who still lived in ignorance and slavery on other farms. It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, "Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days"; or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, "Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!" (8.4)

    "Thanks to Shmoop, how excellent Animal Farm is! Thanks to Shmoop, how well I have scored on my exam!" (Okay, maybe we'll keep credit for the last one.) But you get the point. The animals are so taken in by Napoleon's self-congratulations that they actually praise him for how the water tastes and how many eggs they lay. And, unless he's secretly become a rooster, we're pretty sure he has nothing to do with eggs.

    Chapter 9
    Benjamin (a donkey)

    "Fools! Fools!" shouted Benjamin, prancing round them and stamping the earth with his small hoofs. "Fools! Do you not see what is written on the side of that van?" (9.19)

    Well, they do… they just can't read. But being illiterate doesn't exactly mean that they're foolish. In fact, we're thinking Benjamin might be the real fool here: he's known all along that the Revolution is going nowhere good, but he can't be bothered to do anything about it.

  • Power: Control over the Intellectually Inferior

    Chapter 3

    The birds did not understand Snowball's long words, but they accepted his explanation, and all the humbler animals set to work to learn the new maxim by heart. FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end wall of the barn, above the Seven Commandments and in bigger letters (3.10, 3.11)

    Big words bad, small words good: it's easier to understand rules when they're simple, but simple rules tend to gloss over the complexities of human society. Like, "don't tell lies" is all well and good—right up until your best friend asks if you like her haircut.

    Chapter 5

    At the Meetings Snowball often won over the majority by his brilliant speeches, but Napoleon was better at canvassing support for himself in between times. He was especially successful with the sheep. Of late the sheep had taken to bleating "Four legs good, two legs bad" both in and out of season, and they often interrupted the Meeting with this. It was noticed that they were especially liable to break into "Four legs good, two legs bad" at crucial moments in Snowball's speeches. (5.8)

    "It was noticed"—LOL, Orwell. In other words, Napoleon has trained the sheep to ignore Snowball's clever and probably half-decent ideas to bleat his simplistic slogan over and over. They probably watch a lot of cable news.

    At last the day came when Snowball's plans were completed. At the Meeting on the following Sunday the question of whether or not to begin work on the windmill was to be put to the vote. When the animals had assembled in the big barn, Snowball stood up and, though occasionally interrupted by bleating from the sheep, set forth his reasons for advocating the building of the windmill. Then Napoleon stood up to reply. He said very quietly that the windmill was nonsense and that he advised nobody to vote for it, and promptly sat down again; he had spoken for barely thirty seconds, and seemed almost indifferent as to the effect he produced. At this Snowball sprang to his feet, and shouting down the sheep, who had begun bleating again, broke into a passionate appeal in favour of the windmill. (5.13)

    Brain Snack: this is almost literally what happened during the Party Congress in 1927: when opposition leaders tried to speak in front of the Communist Party, Stalin's supporters shouted them down. Just like sheep.

    Some of the pigs themselves, however, were more articulate. Four young porkers in the front row uttered shrill squeals of disapproval, and all four of them sprang to their feet and began speaking at once. But suddenly the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again. Then the sheep broke out into a tremendous bleating of "Four legs good, two legs bad!" which went on for nearly a quarter of an hour and put an end to any chance of discussion. (5.17)

    We can't say we've ever tried, but it does seem like having a rational political conversation with sheep would be difficult. Kind of like talking politics with you crazy step-uncle. (We know you've got one.)

    Chapter 6

    Once again the animals were conscious of a vague uneasiness. Never to have any dealings with human beings, never to engage in trade, never to make use of money– had not these been among the earliest resolutions passed at that first triumphant Meeting after Jones was expelled? All the animals remembered passing such resolutions: or at least they thought that they remembered it. The four young pigs who had protested when Napoleon abolished the Meetings raised their voices timidly, but they were promptly silenced by a tremendous growling from the dogs. Then, as usual, the sheep broke into "Four legs good, two legs bad!" and the momentary awkwardness was smoothed over. (6.7)

    The animals aren't clever or smart enough to remember the early revolution confidently, so it's easy for Napoleon to twist the situation around. Ha. We'd like to see him try that in a crowd full of smartphone camera users.

    Chapter 7

    Frightened though they were, some of the animals might possibly have protested, but at this moment the sheep set up their usual bleating of "Four legs good, two legs bad," which went on for several minutes and put an end to the discussion. (7.36)

    We get the feeling Orwell would have liked the word "sheeple," even if it tends to be used by slightly kooky conspiracy nuts.

    Clover (a horse)

    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. (7.30)

    "If she could have spoken"—but she can't. She doesn't have the words. In other news, stay in school, Shmoopers.

    Boxer (a horse)

    I do not understand it. I would not have believed that such things could happen on our farm. It must be due to some fault in ourselves. The solution, as I see it, is to work harder. From now onwards I shall get up a full hour earlier in the mornings. (7.28)

    Poor Boxer. We feel sorry for him, but we also want to tell him not to be such a dummy. He's strong enough to overthrow the humans; he'd be strong enough to kick some pig butt, too. Unfortunately, once he gets an idea in his head—like, that he's better off after the revolution—he can't get it out.

    Chapter 10
    The Sheep

    But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of- 

    "Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!" 

    It went on for five minutes without stopping. And by the time the sheep had quieted down, the chance to utter any protest had passed, for the pigs had marched back into the farmhouse. (10.13, 10.14, 10.15)

    Second verse, same as the first. This is the end of Animal Farm and the return of Manor Farm. We'd like to blame the pigs—but we can't help feeling the sheep are partly to blame, too. And we think Orwell probably agrees with us.

    Squealer (a pig)

    One day in early summer Squealer ordered the sheep to follow him, and led them out to a piece of waste ground at the other end of the farm, which had become overgrown with birch saplings. The sheep spent the whole day there browsing at the leaves under Squealer's supervision. In the evening he returned to the farmhouse himself, but, as it was warm weather, told the sheep to stay where they were. It ended by their remaining there for a whole week, during which time the other animals saw nothing of them. Squealer was with them for the greater part of every day. He was, he said, teaching them to sing a new song, for which privacy was needed. (10.8)

    Not a new song—a new motto. After bleating "four legs good, two legs bad" over and over, no wonder it takes them a whole week to learn a new phrase—even if only one word is different.