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Animal Farm

Animal Farm is difficult to read seriously for the first few chapters,

mostly because the

main characters are animals that talk not only amongst themselves, but also

with humans. After a

short period, though, the animals take on such believable personalities that

it is easy to forget that

they are not humans.

In the beginning, life is satisfactory at the Manor Farm. While food

rations are low, no

one is dying from starvation. One evening, an older member of the farm, a

boar named Old Major

announces that he will die soon. Before he dies, however, he wants to share

with the rest of the

animals his thoughts on how Man has ruined the animals’ life. He says that

if animals were to

grow their own food, Man would no longer be needed on the farm, leaving all

the profits to the

animals. Society without man, of course, would be simpler and more relaxed.

Old Major then

suggests a revolution with the best of intents. A vote taken at the meeting

proves Old Major’s

main idea, that "all animals are equal". All the animals on the

farm leave

the meeting with fresh

energy, prepared to run Manor Farm on their own, although not sure how to

chase away their

human master, Mr. Jones.

Soon after Old Major’s speech he dies. One evening, Mr. Jones neglects to

feed his

animals. They become hungry and break into the storage shed to find some

food. When their

master finds his storage room a mess, he is furious, and begins to whip the

animals violently.

The animals decide this may be their only chance to get rid of their master,

and spontaneously

fight back against Mr. Jones. He quickly flees from the farm with his wife.

The Manor Farm is quickly renamed the Animal Farm, and a variety of changes

take place.

The farmhouse is declared a museum, and a set of Seven Commandments is

created for the

animals to follow (Orwell, 40). The principle rules are "All animals are

equal" and the simple

phrase memorized by every animal, "Four legs good, two legs bad".

The other

rules focus on

making sure no animal ever takes on evil human characteristics such as

drinking alcohol and

sleeping in beds.

Because the brains behind the Revolution, Old Major, is now dead, two pigs


themselves the leaders of Animal Farm, although the two do not agree.

Neither of the two pigs,

Napoleon or Snowball, hold all of the dreams which inspired the creation of

the farm. The only

character who constantly communicates the existence of "a better


after Old Major’s death

is Moses, a raven. He never actually does farm work, but is still given

food rations for keeping

the animals motivated by talking of a perfect afterlife. Snowball, one of

the head pigs in the

Animal Farm’s early days is more like Old Major than Napoleon, but still

leaves much to be

desired. Snowball’s first action as self-appointed ruler is to set up

committees so that each animal

can be actively involved in making Animal Farm a success (Orwell, 49).

Snowball has the brilliant

idea of building a windmill. He carefully draws detailed plans of how the

mill will operate and

what it will produce. All the animals love the idea except Napoleon.

Snowball seems to follow

the rule "every animal is equal" quite closely, and the animals on

the farm

seem to take his side in

arguments between him and Napoleon.

The fact that Snowball may be the favorite pig infuriates Napoleon. He is

a boar who is

quite secretive with his ideas, but always seems to firmly disagree with

Snowball. Napoleon

distances himself from the other animals and creates an illusion of

supremacy for himself. One

evening, during one of Snowball and Napoleon’s frequent arguments Napoleon

sends his dogs to

attack his opponent. Snowball is brutally attacked and runs away, never to

be seen again on the


Therefore, Napoleon is left as the farm’s only leader. The farm animals

always seem to

quickly adjust to these leadership changes and immediately accept Napoleon

as the farm’s head.

The animals also seem to forget Snowball’s important part in leading the

Rebellion and his

concern for their welfare.

Napoleon’s concern for the supremacy of pigs becomes apparent quickly. He

orders all

the better foods, apples and milk, to be reserved for the pigs only (Orwell,

71). Eventually he

requires all "lower animals" to clear the path when a pig walks by


These changes come in a

subtle way and are peppered with reminders of how awful life was when humans

were in charge.

These threats cause the farm animals to barely notice how different their

farm is from Old Major’s

dream. Suddenly, Napoleon makes an announcement. He has decided to build a

windmill. He

also declares that Snowball’s original plans for the windmill were stolen

from Napoleon himself.

All the animals are eager to begin the windmill, which will generate

electricity to the barn. Soon

after the work on the windmill begins, all the animals, with the exception

of the pigs, are ordered

to work on Sundays. This is the first time the farm animals notice that

they are getting no more

rest than when Mr. Jones controlled them. This surprise, however, is soon

overshadowed with

the excitement of the windmill. Slowly, Napoleon becomes more distant, and

one day moves into

the sacred farmhouse to live. A few animals remember on the Seven

Commandments reading,

"No animal shall sleep in a bed", but when they read the actual

rules they

read, "No animal shall

sleep in a bed with sheets" (Orwell, 79). From here, changes on the farm

occur more rapidly.

Napoleon takes the baby pigs born on the farm to live alone with him so that

he can instruct them

constantly. He also begins to only communicate with the "lower


through his attendant,


Eventually the windmill is finished and named the Napoleon Mill. The mill

is not used for

electricity as promised, but rather for grinding corn to sell to humans.

Food rations are slowly

decreased for all the animals except for the pigs. The animals grow older

and many forget the old

Manor Farm. Hard work becomes the only memories the farm possesses. The

two old horses on

the farm catch Squealer altering the Seven Commandments (Orwell, 116). This

instance is not

forgotten, but not discussed publicly either. The older animals are forced

to see that their lives on

Animal Farm are worse than they were with human leadership. Finally,

Napoleon makes an

appearance walking on two legs and wearing one of Mr. Jones’ old suits. He

officially changes

one of the main beliefs of Animal Farm from "Four legs good, two legs


to "Four legs good,

two legs better".

The inevitable occurs, the farm makes serious human contact. Napoleon

invites many

local farmers to Animal Farm for a tour and dinner. Napoleon greets his

guests walking naturally

on his two hind legs and carrying a whip. As the gentlemen gather to eat,

the older farm animals

gather outside the farmhouse window and peer inside. Napoleon loudly

announces that the

Animal Farm is being renamed Manor Farm. The animals watch in shock as

slowly their leader’s

face is transformed into that of a human (Orwell, 138,139).

This book clearly is anti-utopian, or following the understanding that

nothing works out

exactly as it is planned and nothing in this world is perfect. Old Major

has a wonderful dream, but

it was impossible to fulfill. In the end the situation was worse than it was

before anyone cared.

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