Study Guide

Animal Farm Religion

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Karl Marx may have said that religion was the opiate of the masses, but he also said that it was the "sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless condition." In other words, it just might be the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning—if you're an oppressed laborer, that is. So, what does Animal Farm do with this? Moses might be a manipulative liar, but his little tale about "Sugarcandy Mountain" is also the only thing that keeps the animals going after a long day of hauling hay. We don't blame them for wanting to believe it—but we can blame the pigs for using it against them.

Questions About Religion

  1. Why would Orwell choose a raven as the main proponent of religion? What associations do we have with ravens?
  2. Why call the raven Moses? It sounds like a biblical reference, i.e., Orwell beating you over the head with the club of literary significance. Yet Moses the raven doesn't do anything resembling Moses the man (leading a great big horde of people out of oppression and into freedom). What gives?
  3. What's going on with Moses and the Joneses? Is there really a connection between corrupt power and religion?

Chew on This

Orwell is suggesting that the only reason religion exists is to make people feel better about their horrible conditions.

Although they play very different roles, Moses and Napoleon derive power from and interact with the other animals in similar ways, making clear a connection between dictatorship and religion.

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