Animal Farm

By George Orwell


Political Lies

Snowball's part is rewritten in the history of the farm - his heroic deeds ignored and lies constructed about his past. Snowball is increasingly used as a scapegoat on whom to blame the failures of the farm. He is reported to be in league with the humans and sabotaging the farm under cover of darkness. The animals are mostly persuaded of the veracity of Napoleon's fabrications. Only Boxer shows some doubts here: "He lay down, tucked his fore hoofs beneath him, shut his eyes, and with a hard effort managed to formulate his thoughts. 'I do not believe that,' he said. 'Snowball fought bravely at the Battle of the Cowshed. I saw him myself.'" The animals are forced to work on little food and punishing hours. Napoleon makes it seem that the animals are working voluntarily. However, there is no option for them to rest. Boxer repeats to himself: "Napoleon is always right" to persuade himself of the fact. The pigs move into the farm house and are increasingly like their human predecessors. The animals have almost finished the windmill, when one night it crashes down. Napoleon blames Snowball: "'Comrades,' he said quietly, 'do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!... Snowball has done this thing! In sheer malignity, thinking to set back our plans and avenge himself for his ignominious expulsion, this traitor has crept here under cover of night and destroyed our work of nearly a year. Comrades, I pronounce the death sentence upon Snowball... '".

Napoleon continues his trade with humans through an agent called Mr Whymper. He shows the human stores full of grain to give the impression that the farm is hugely prosperous, even though this is far from the case. It is another example of the pigs using lies and manipulation to secure their status of power.

A Gradual Takeover of Power

Orwell's skill is in showing the incremental way in which the society, and in particular the social status of the individual animals, has changed. There is no sea-change or revolution, just a gradual taking on of power by the pigs to the detriment of the other animals (whose hard work ensures the farm's ongoing success). Squealer, the pigs' mouthpiece, informs the animals of the pigs' decisions - such as the allocation of all the apples to the pigs: "Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain-workers... Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." The animals murmur their discontent, but cannot organise any concerted resistance to the tyranny of the pigs. The pigs use the return of Mr Jones as a threat to keep the animals from turning against them. The animals do not notice that the circle is beginning to close - they are now subjugated under the pigs as they once were under man.


The animals work together to bring in the harvest, and their solidarity and commitment to the cause means that the first harvest is a huge success. The pigs design a flag for their animal state, and call meetings of the animals which give the impression of democracy. However: "The other animals understood how to vote, but could never think of any resolutions of their own." The pigs are the natural leaders and the other animals cannot help but bow to their superior intelligence. The pigs, and specifically Snowball, try to educate the animals, but they are either too dim, or not interested in what there is to read. Finally the pigs teach the animals one mantra: "Four legs good, two legs bad", which the sheep bleat ceaselessly. Snowball says that he has distilled the essence of 'Animalism' (the animals' movement) to one slogan. Thus Major's visionary speech has lost its depth and is reduced to a meaningless jingle.