Study Guide

Animal Farm Foolishness and Folly

By George Orwell

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.