Study Guide

Animal Farm Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

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?