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Animal Farm Essay, Research Paper


The novel is set in Hertfordshire, where Orwell lived, wrote, tended his

garden, and kept poultry. Though the setting is the South of England, it is not

stressed in the story, but serves only as a background. The farm lends a perfect

rural, pastoral, and nostalgic backdrop for Old Major’s dream.

Table of Contents


Old Major – An old boar that dreams of a better life and incites the animals to

overthrow man. He is the inspiring force behind the Rebellion and founding of

Animal Farm.

Snowball – A young, intelligent, persuasive, and important boar known for his

oratory skills. He is expelled by Napoleon.

Napoleon – An ambitious, power-hungry, ruthless and eminent boar who

stoops to any level to gain his goal.

Boxer – A big, powerful, honest, and devoted carthorse who does not have

many brains but always comes forward whenever any hand work is needed.

Clover – A motherly mare who is truly concerned about the welfare of the

animals. She has a good shoulder to cry on and is a source of strength and

confidence, especially to Boxer.

Benjamin – A cynical, skeptical donkey who believes everything remains the

same with nothing ever changing.

Moses – A timid raven who entertains the animals with tales of ‘a land of

promises and better life on Sugarcandy Mountain.’

Mollie – A vain, unconcerned frivolous mare caring only for her own finery,

pleasure, and comforts.

Squealer – A pig who is Napoleon’s henchman and a very effective


Jones – The irresponsible farm-owner who is overthrown by the animals.

Frederick – A tough, shrewd businessman involved in lawsuits and the owner of a small but well-kept farm.

Pilkington – An easy-going gentleman farmer who wastes most of his time in

fishing and hunting.

Whymper – A not-so important solicitor who acts as a medium between

humans and animals (especially Napoleon)

Table of Contents


The conflict in Animal Farm is really between Marxist Socialism (Old Major)

and Russian Communism (Napoleon) as represented by the two attitudes

expressed by the two different groups in the novel.

Protagonist: The protagonist is the group of common animals searching for a

utopian world and largely represented by characters like Old Major and

Snowball and supported by the ‘proletariat’.

Antagonist: The antagonist is the combination of all the forces acting against

such an idealistic world, largely represented by the power-hungry Napoleon

and his henchman, Squealer.

Climax: The ultimate climax is reached when Napoleon changes Animal

Farm into a republic and elects himself President, assuring the maintenance of

his seized power. The result of Napoleon’s victory over the masses is that the

pigs start walking on their hind legs and acting totally like humans. It is an

indication that Animal Farm has really returned to the status of Manor Farm.

Outcome: The story ends in tragedy for the common animals are helpless

against the power of Napoleon. Even in Utopia, totalitarianism leads to ruin.

PLOT (Synopsis)

Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, has not been a very responsible farmer.

Of late, he has taken to drinking and tends to neglect his farming chores. His

careless attitude makes Old Major, the Berkshire boar, incite the animals to

rise up against Jones. The boar calls for a meeting to explain his dream for the

farm animals. Although Old Major does not narrate the dream, he does

explain the ill treatment given to them by man and the dreary and deplorable

life they are leading on the farm. He also inspires the animals with his song

‘Beasts of England.’

The inspired animals seize their very first opportunity to oust Mr. Jones and

rename the farm as “Animal Farm”. They inscribe their laws, seven

commandments, on the barn-wall. Napoleon and Snowball vie with each other

for leadership. Although the two boars do not see eye to eye, they come

together to banish their common enemy, Jones and his men, in The Battle of


After the battle, the rivalry between the two contenders comes out in the open.

Snowball’s plan of building the windmill is declared as ‘nonsense’ by

Napoleon. He also chases Snowball off of the farm with the help of his fire

dogs. He then puts forth the windmill project as his own.

The pigs from the ruling class are non-productive and live off the labor of the

other animals. They change the commandments to suit their own desires.

Squealer, Napoleon’s henchman, tells the other animals that the rules must be

changed to prevent Jones from returning to control the farm. They are

terrorized into confessing whatever the authorities want and say that they have

been scheming with Snowball as his agents. Napoleon’s reign of terror is

severe and takes a toll of several animals. He snatches every chance to further

his own personality. He even negotiates ‘trade’ with his human neighbors after

setting them against each other.

Frederick, a neighboring farmer, launches an attack, called the Battle of

Windmill, against the animals. During the fighting, the Windmill is blown off.

Reconstruction of the Windmill brings about prosperity, but not for all the

animals; the pigs are the only beneficiaries. Ironically, the pigs now resemble

the humans that they hated. They carry whips and walk upright on their hind

legs. The only rule that now exists is, “All animals are equal, but some

animals are more equal than others.” The novel ends with Napoleon

entertaining his human neighbors, and it is impossible to distinguish the pigs

from the men.


Major Theme

The major theme of the novel is the sad triumph of evil over good. The

animals try to create a utopia, a paradise where society brings out and

develops the best in a being. Unfortunately, the animals that gain control of

Animal Farm begin to act in a manner similar to the humans that they had

kicked off the farm. At the end of the novel, the pigs cannot be distinguished

from the humans.

Minor Theme

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is another theme of

Animal Farm. When the animals seize control of the farm, the leaders are

corrupted by their power. Allegorically, Orwell is exposing the perversion of

Marxist Socialism by Communism. In the novel, he is emphasizing the

suppression, oppression, and frustration of the good, well meaning, and

benevolent animals, just as Communism suppresses man.

Table of Contents


The mood varies from the comic to the tragic, with the overall mood being

one of tension. The whole story is filled with irony and bitter sarcasm


In the opening chapter of the book, Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is shown as a

careless, irresponsible farm owner who cares more for a glass of beer than for

his animals and the farm. He is often drunk, and his ensuing negligence causes

the farm animals to protest and rebel against him.

One night, Old Major, the prize Middle White Boar, wishes to share a strange

dream with all the animals. Since the two-year old boar is greatly respected by

all, the animals are willing to forego an hour’s sleep to listen to Old Major’s

tale. Before the animals assemble, the stout, majestic Old Major makes

himself comfortable on his bed of straw. As the animals enter the barn, each is

described. First to come are the three dogs, Bluebell, Jessie, and Picher. Then

the pigs arrive and settle down in front of the platform. Clover, the stout,

motherly mare, who is nearing middle age, finds her place. Benjamin, the

cynical donkey, who is the oldest animal and the worst tempered, grumps as

he settles down. Boxer, who is an enormous and optimistic horse, Mollie, who

is the foolish, pretty white mare, Moses, who is the tame raven, and the cat are

all present. The hens perch on the windowsills, and the pigeons flutter up to

the rafters.

Major’s intentions are noble. He shows concern for the welfare and destiny of

the animals and inspires them to rebel against the human beings for their own

good. Without ever telling his dream, he diverts the animals’ attention to his

song, ‘Beasts of England’. He encourages them to gather in perfect unity and

warns them to avoid the habits of men.


The first chapter clearly establishes the point of view of the entire novel. The

story is told by an observing narrator who is outside the action of the story. He

appears to be an average being who is unbiased; therefore, he can be trusted

and believed. He also tells the story in a direct and concise manner, which is

very effective. This point-of-view also helps Orwell successfully express the

wishes, expectations, obedience, unity, and even protest of the animals.

The chapter also begins to establish the personalities of the animals, who act

like animals and think and talk like human beings. True to animal behavior,

Boxer and Clover trot like horses, and the cat selfishly looks after its own

needs in a typically feline way. In contrast, Old Major, talking like a man,

appears to be a polished statesman, more human than boar. He convinces the

animals that they are poorly treated and deserve better. He describes instance

of man’s repeated cruelty to them. He then paints a picture of a happy future,

when humans have been removed and the animals rule themselves. The

groundwork for an animal farm and its rules of behavior are established in Old

Major’s speech. He specifically points out which human vices must be

avoided by the animals when they rule the farm. Old Major’s philosophy is overly simplistic. He is convinced that humans are

bad and animals are good. He also believes the good life is one ruled by

animals in an easy-going, pastoral setting, as described in the song ‘Beasts of

England.’ The fact that the other animals accept his philosophy is seen when

they join in the singing and repeat the song five times, waking Farmer Jones

from his drunken sleep in the process.

Old Major’s speech also sets the slowly rising action of the plot in motion. It

suggests the idea of animal freedom and hints that a leader is needed for the

animal rebellion. Unfortunately for the animals, the leader who emerges is a

tyrant and the animal’s plight goes from bad to worse by the end of the novel.

It is important to notice how Orwell positively describes the animals in the

chapter. The fat Old Major is “still a majestic looking pig, with a wise and

benevolent appearance.” The stout Clover is described as a “motherly mare

that had never got her figure back after her fourth foal.”

It is also important to notice that politically, Old Major represents a blend of

Marx and Lenin, the leaders of Communism in Russia. It was Marx, like Old

Major, who had a ’strange dream’ about the “proletariats’ overthrowing of the

bourgeoisie” to end capitalistic tyranny. ‘Beasts of England’, the animal

anthem of the revolution, reflects Lenin’s idea of unity among workers.

Through Old Major, Orwell has developed the first stage of revolution, which

is an intense fight for an ideal.


The second chapter commences with the peaceful death of Old Major.

Although he is no longer physically present, Major’s inspiring speech has

brought about a changed outlook on life among the animals. They are

convinced that an animal rebellion will take place in the unknown future and

prepare for it psychologically. The work of organizing and teaching naturally

falls upon the most intelligent of the animals, the Pigs. Pre-eminent among

them are two young boars called Snowball and Napoleon. Napoleon, a fierce

looking Berkshire, is not much of a talker but has a reputation for getting his

own way. Snowball, a young boar, is high-spirited, quick in speech, very

intelligent, and inventive. Squealer, a nimble, quick thinking pig, is also

introduced as a brilliant, persuasive talker who can turn black into white.

These three pigs advocate, expound, and propagate Major’s teachings, which

are called ‘Animalism’.

The rebellion is achieved much earlier, more accidentally, and more easily

than any of the animals expected. When Jones fails to feed them for a day, the

animals break into the storage shed and eat heartily. The farmer and his men

try to beat the animals away with whips, but they grow angry over this

mistreatment and fight back. Jones is quickly expelled, and the gate is locked

against him. Manor Farm now belongs to the animals. They caper in joy and

burn everything that reminds them of Farmer Jones and his cruelty. They sing

‘Beasts of England’ seven times and then sleep better than they ever have

before. The next day the animals can hardly believe they really control the


The pigs begin to teach themselves to read and write. Snowball, the best at

writing, paints over the name Manor Farm and clearly writes Animal Farm in

its place, while the animals cheer him on. Snowball and Napoleon then reduce

the principles of Animalism to ‘Seven Commandments,’ which are inscribed

on the barn wall. They are the unalterable laws by which all animals of

Animal Farm must live forever.

Snowball then asks the animals to gather the harvest more quickly than Jones

demanded. Although the cows are uneasy over the request, the animals march

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