Animal Farm Themes

  • Created by: Maary123
  • Created on: 10-05-15 08:57

Power and its corruption

The whole poitn in Animalism is equality - nobdofy should have more power than anyone else.  As the pigs gain power, they become more and more corrupt as they find it harder to resist temptations of an easier life - especially as the other animals are too unintelligent and gullible to avoid being manipulated.  The UTOPIA (perfect society) presented by Major's speech does not happen.  Putting his ideals into practice is not easy, and the animal's dependence on the pig's is the main issue. By the end of the book, Napoleon's farm has become a TOTALITARIAN state.  The animals have no control over any aspect of their lives and Napoleon has ABSOLUTE POWER OVER THEM. 

Napoleon increases his power by controlling:


  • contolls rations, uses the dogs, through trials and executions.


  • Through langauge, using propoganda, reomoving democracy.

(language theme: Orwell thought this was the most dangerous kind of control as it's so difficult to detect and challenge, especially by the uneducated)

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Power and its corruption

The pigs are shown to use their intelligence to take power. At the beginning, this is for the good of the animals generally but the pigs very soon come to realise the benefits of power. Even Snowball is in agreement with the idea of the milk and the apples being kept for the pigs. The pigs have some strength but they need more than this to remain in charge and that is why Napoleon trains the dogs. Even the dogs would be no match for Boxer, except en masse perhaps, and it is one of the subtler moments of the book when Napoleon orders Boxer to be attacked; Boxer holds the dog under his hoof and turns to Napoleon to ask what he should do.

  • Before Major;s speech the pigs automatically assume and prominent position 'then the pigs... settled down in the straw immediately in front of the platform'
  • The revolution is led by the pigs from the start.  It is Major who inspires the revolution and then the pigs who galvanise the others. 'The work of teaching and organising the others fell naturally to the pigs, who were generally recognised as being the cleverest of the aniamls'.
  • We are told several times that the pigs are the most intelligent animals on the farm 'Major's speech had given the more intelligent animals on the farm a completely new outlook on life'.
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Language and Power

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

Squealers persuasive tool is propaganda.  It reinforces N's power: 'He was always referred to... as 'our leader Comrade Napoleon'.

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

By simplfying the commandments to 'Four legs good, two legs bad' Snowball causes the words to lose their meaning.

The pigs are able to exploitthe others because they are intelligent enough to manipulate the truth so that their evil actions seem perfectly acceptable.  This is achieved through their skillful use of language.  The other have less control over language, and this is demonstrated by the difficulties they experience when learning to read.  This means they are powerless in a new society and makes them vulnerable to exploitation by the animals who can use language cleverly.

Language means that the totalitarian state controls your thoughts, not just movements and actions.

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No freedom of speech

Freedom of speech is necessary in a democratic, equal society.

However, when Snowball disagrees with Napoleon, he's attacked by the dogs and banished.

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

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

Trying to control people's thoughts is a feature of many totalitarian states.

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Pigs most intelligent = pigs have most power, take control of the management.

Initially they support the revolution by teaching its ideas to the others.  As most of the farm animals cannot remember Major's speech and ideas clearly, the pigs simplify them into seven commandments.  Snowball tries to teach the others to read and write. 

But throughout the novel, the pigs take advantage of the other animals, instead of leading and helping them. 

Education divides the animals into social classes

  • two classes form after the revolution, which goes against the commandments that 'all animals are equal'.  This division is based on the animals' intelligence.
  • The pigs are the ruling class - they make all the rules because they can write them. The other aniamls accept that the pigs are cleverer and let them take control.
  • The pigs reinforce their status by taking up the symbols of man - N appears 'wearing an old bowler hat' and 'with a pipe in his mouth'.
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S and N disagree on education.  animals don't have the intellect to object to pigs

the animals are supposed to be equal, but because the pigs teach themselves to read, they are superior from the start.  By controlling edu, they also control who is upper class.

  • S wants to educate all animals - tries to teach them to read, write and spread the idea of Animalism to all, so that there will be true equality among them. 
  • N is only interested in educating the young.  He focuses on the piglets to continue the pigs' superiority, and the puppies, so he can train them into his private army, loya l bodyguards.
  • the animals accept everything they are told and submit to the pigs' authority. 

Under N the clss 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. 

The animals misuse their education

  • remain working class bc dont make the most of the edu pffered: Mollie only wants to write her own name, Benjamin learns to read, but refuses to use his disability, and Bpxer wants to learn, but can only learn four letters, which he is 'content with'
  • bc of this lack of interest in edu, they remain ignorant and can't work things out for themselves
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Pigs use it to control the other aniamls and maintain power. 

Use it to justify their actions

  • prop = when an individual/ group spreads info to make themselves look good.  Often the info is exagerrated or made up. N uses it to gain control and maintain power.
  • Sq uses prop in SPEECHES- speaks 'so persuasively' that the animals accept his words. 
  • Pigs keep the animals loyal by spreading rumours about how cruelly animals are treated on other farms.  This means they forget the farms problems and are less likely to rebel.

Use to twist the truth

  • GLORIFY NAPOLEON: N takes credit for anything good that hapeens (claims windmill was his idea, brainwashes hen's into giving him credit for how many hen's they laid), weekly parade is held so N can show off his power and support.
  • BLAME SNOWBALL: Sq tells animals SBall is their real enemy (clever lie bc: unites them againsts SBall and makes them think the pigs are on their side).  Use S as a scapegoat and balme for everything - 'Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball', even the animals' memories of S are not enough to stop them believing Sq's lies.
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The other animals spread it too

So effective that they don't only belive it, but spread it themselves!

  • Boxer: 'Napoleon is always right' (lack of edu means he doesn't realise he is brainwashed)
  • Pigeons spread message like 'Death to humanity', 'Death to Frederick'
  • The sheep drown out opposition by chanting 'Four legs good, two legs bad'.


  • the first to simplify lang: Major's to 7 to 4 legs good 2 legs bad
  • twist lang by using vocab that the animals won't understand.  This use of jargon makes the speaker sound CLEVER.  Tis technique is also used by Squealer to hide his real meanings and motives.
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7 'commandments' - CHRISTIANITY: 10 commandments = unalterable laws.


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Read about:

  • Symbolism
  • Structure
  • Language

Quotes for the characters?

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this took YEARS so hope you're all grateful ;) jk

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