Animal Farm Themes


Animalism (1/3)

Animalism is the idea that animals will only work for themselves 

1. Animalism is a new "system of thought" inspired by old Major's ideas - his beliefs are summarised in seven commandments after he dies.  

2. Like communism, equality is essential in Animalism. The commandment that "All animals are equal" means that every animal should be treated the same. 

3. Orwell uses the word 'commandments' to draw a comparison with the Ten Commandments of Christianity. The seven commandments are an "unalterable law" - a set of rules that the animals could follow religiously. 

4. They also give the reader a framework to see Animalism's decline as the commandments are corrupted one by one.

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Animalism (2/3)

The ideals of Animalism don't last long 

Not long after the revolution, there are already serious problems - and they only get worse. As the pigs corrupt Animalism, conflict and inequality increase on the farm:  


  • Like Stalin, Napoleon gets rid of any opposition - he orders "nine enormous dogs" to attack Snowball and chase him from the farm. By preventing Snowball from having an equal say, Napoleon turns his back on equality and Animalism.  
  • Napoleon holds false trials and executes any animals who "confess" to going against Animalism. This goes against the commandment that "No animal shall kill any other animal". Ironically it's Napoleon who is actually going against Animalism by breaking one of the seven rules. 
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Animalism (3/3)


  • Some of the animals learn to read (e.g. the pigs) and so the other animals are at a disadvantage. Napoleon refuses to educate the other animals equally, so that he can maintain the pigs' authority. 
  • Animalism was founded on the idea that every animal worked for each other, but in reality, only the pigs benefit - they take more for themselves while the other "animals worked like slaves".

1. Power corrupts Animalism's original ideals. Napoleon changes the commandments to suit his needs. 

2. Napoleon becomes so similar to the humans that the animals can't tell them apart. Orwell's point was that Russia had suffered the same fate - Stalin's rule was no better than the Tsar's capitalist regime.

3. By making Animalism fail, Orwell was arguing that Russia had also failed in being fair and equal.

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Education and Social Class (1/3)

Education divides the animals into social classes 

1. Two social classes form after the revolution, which goes against the commandment that "All animals are equal". The division is based on the animals' intelligence. 

2. The pigs are the ruling class - they make all the rules because they can write them. The other animals accept that the pigs are "cleverer" and let them take control.   

3. The pigs reinforce their status by taking up the symbols of Man - Napoleon appears "wearing an old bowler hat" and "with a pipe in his mouth". 

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Education and Social Class (2/3)

Snowball and Napoleon disagree on education 

1.The animals are supposed to be equal, but because the pigs teach themselves to read, they're superior from the start. By controlling education, they also control who's upper class. 

2.Snowball and Napoleon have different approaches to education: 

  • Snowball wants to educate all the animals - he tries to teach them to read, write and spread the ideas of Animalism to everyone, so that there will be true equality among the animals.
  • Napoleon is only interested in educating the young. He focuses on the piglets to continue the pigs' superiority, and the puppies, so that he can train them to be loyal bodyguards.

3. Under Napoleon the class system is likely to stay the same - he doesn’t want to educate the other animals in case they use it to rise up against him. By only educating the pigs, they keep all the power.

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Education and Social Class (3/3)

The animals misuse their education 

1. The uneducated animals remain working class because they don't make the most of the education that Snowball offers them: 

  • Mollie only wants to learn how to write her name. 
  • Benjamin learns to read, but refuses to use his ability. 
  • Boxer wants to read and write, but can learn four letters, which he is "content with".

2. Because of this lack of interest in education they remain ignorant and they can't work out anything for themselves. 

3. The animals accept everything they're told and submit to the pigs' authority- they don't have the intellect to object

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Power and Language (1/3)

Desire for power corrupts Napoleon 

1.The whole point of Animalism (and communism) is equality - no one should have any more  power than anyone else. When Napoleon seizes power on the farm, it shows how corrupt he is. 

2. Napoleon increases his power over the farm by controlling:


  • By controlling rations 
  • By using the dogs 
  • Through trials and executions


  • Through language 
  • Using propaganda 
  • Removing democracy 
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Power and Language (2/3)

Language is a powerful tool 

1. Orwell was concerned about the power of language, and how it could be manipulated to change its purpose and meaning. 

2. Squealer's persuasive language is a powerful form of propaganda. It reinforces Napoleon's power: "He was always referred to... as 'our leader, Comrade Napoleon". 

3. Boxer has no power because he can't express his feelings properly - when Snowball is exiled he can't "think of anything to say". 

4. By simplifying the commandments to "Four legs good, two legs bad", Snowball causes the words to lose their meaning.

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Power and Language (3/3)

There's no freedom of speech 

1. Freedom of speech is necessary in an equal, democratic society - everyone has the right to a fair say.

2. However, when Snowball disagrees with Napoleon, he's attacked by the dogs and banished - there's no freedom of speech on Animal Farm. 

3. Napoleon knows that language is power. By ending the Sunday meetings and freedom of speech, Napoleon takes away the other animals' power. 

4. Even if an animal has a rebellious thought, they can't express it. Napoleon controls their thoughts by restricting what they hear and say.

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Propaganda (1/3)

The pigs use propaganda to justify their actions 

1. Propaganda is when an individual or group spreads information to make themselves look good. Often the information is exaggerated or made up. Napoleon uses it to gain power and keep control. 

2. Squealer uses propaganda in speeches - he speaks "so persuasively" that the animals accept his words. He takes them aside and convinces them that the pigs' actions are good this makes them believe him.  

3. The pigs keep the animals loyal by spreading stories about how cruelly animals are treated on other farms. This means they forget the farm's own problems and are less likely to rebel against their masters. 

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Propaganda (2/3)

Squealer uses propaganda to twist the truth 

Dictators spread propaganda to make themselves look better. Squealer uses propaganda to:

Glorify Napoleon:

  • 1. Napoleon takes credit for good things. He claims that the windmill was his idea, and the hens are brainwashed into giving him credit for how many eggs they've laid.
  • 2. A weekly parade is held so that Napoleon can show off his power and support. 

Blame Snowball:

  • Squealer tells the animals that Snowball is their real enemy - this is a clever lie as it unites them against Snowball and makes them think that the other pigs are on their side. 
  • The pigs use Snowball as a scapegoat and blame him for everything - "Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball".
  • Even the animals' memories of Snowball aren't enough to stop them believing Squealer's lies.
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Propaganda (3/3)

The other animals spread it too 

1. The pigs’ propaganda is so effective, the animals not only believe it, they also spread it themselves: 

  • Boxer unwittingly spreads propaganda every time he says “Napoleon is always right”.
  • The pigeons spread messages like “Death to Humanity” and “Death to Frederick”.
  • The sheep drown out opposition to Napoleon by chanting “Four legs good two legs bad”.

2. By spreading propaganda themselves, the animals seal their own fate. They have become part of Napoleon’s regime. 

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