Animal Farm

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Summary

Animal Farm

​​In a nutshell

Animal Farm is a political satire written by George Orwell in 1945. It tells the story of a farm of animals who plot against their farmer in order to establish a society where they can live happily, free and equally. In this summary, you will learn about the plot, characters and themes of Animal Farm.



Plot summary

One night at Mr. Jones' Manor farm, the animals gather to listen to Old Major, a wise pig who shares his dreams and ideas to one day rebel against humans. He teaches the animals a song called 'Beasts of England' and encourages them to rebel against their human farmer, Mr. Jones. Later, despite Old Major's death, the animals plot a rebellion against Mr Jones and for the first time, the animals fight for their farm against humans.


The rebellion succeeds and the animals organise themselves to harvest and establish farm policies amongst themselves. They rename the farm Animal Farm and the Seven Commandments of Animalism are painted on a wall. The animals are led by two pigs: Snowball and Napoleon


Napoleon turns out to be a power-mad leader who uses propaganda to expel Snowball. With the help of Squealer, a skilled pig in corrupting and persuading animals, Napoleon manages to manipulate the other animals to think he is a hero. 


Napoleon and Squealer slowly indoctrinate and convince the other animals to work more and get paid less, while he and his close circle of pigs live a very extravagant lifestyle, separated from the community. One day, Mr Jones and his men return to Animal Farm and try to take back control from the animals. Again, the animals manage to defeat the humans, all thanks to the strategies that Snowball suggests in what becomes known as the Battle of the Cowshed.


Later on, Napoleon orders the construction of a windmill, even though he initially opposed the idea when Snowball proposed it previously. Mr. Frederick, the owner of the neighbouring farm of Pinchfield, and his men destroy the windmill. Boxer, an honest and strong horse, proposes the construction of a new windmill. Later, Napoleon secretly sends Boxer away to be slaughtered and then lies to the animals about what happened to him. 


Time passes and the Seven Commandments that the animals live by are reduced to one; "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". The pigs now walk about on two legs just like humans and have access to education. The rest of the farm lives a harsh life. The novel ends with Napoleon and the pigs having drinks at Mr. Jones' house with Mr. Pilkington, the owner of the neighbouring farm of Foxwood, and some of his men. The animals look at the scene from the outside, and they can no longer tell the difference between pigs and humans.



Characters


​​SNOWBALL

Snowball is the main animal that adopts the teachings of Old Major and takes the initiative of spreading education on the farm. For example, he summarised the commandments into one single phrase 'Four legs good, two legs bad' so that even the least smart animals could join and understand the Animalism movement. He had great ideas to improve the living conditions of all the animals, which was the reason why Napoleon used him as a scapegoat and kicked him out of the farm.

NAPOLEON

Napoleon represents corruption, the thirst for power, opportunism and manipulation. At the beginning of the novel, he supports the rebellion of Animal Farm, but then he starts breaking the Seven Commandments and exploiting the animals. Orwell portrays the character of Napoleon as the figure of a political tyrant or dictator such as Joseph Stalin, Augusto Pinochet and Mao Tse-tung, among others.

BOXER

Boxer represents the working class that is easily manipulated and abused by tyrants. Boxer is a hard-working horse that could fight the pigs and dogs easily, however, he is too used to following directions. Boxer blames himself and believes Napoleon is always right; the pigs take advantage of him until he crashes down. 

Old major

Old Major is a figure of respect, wisdom and inspiration for the animals. He gathers all the animals and gives a speech that will later encourage them to rebel against the humans. Old Major's character represents both the Marxist ideas and Vladimir Lenin, whose ideologies are the foundations of socialism. In the novel, this is classed as 'Animalism'.

squealer 

Squealer illustrates a figure of manipulation and persuasion. Politicians manipulate language in order to make people agree with them. Throughout the novel, Squealer alters language and lies to convince the other animals that Napoleon's actions are fair. 



Relationships

Snowball \leftrightarrow Napoleon

Snowball and Napoleon are both leaders with different intentions for Animal Farm. On one hand, there is Snowball, a brave and enthusiastic pig who has great ideas like the creation of a windmill. On the other hand, there is Napoleon, a manipulative and corrupted pig whose only interest is to benefit himself. These two characters represent the political dystopia of the tyrant and power abuser (Napoleon) and the honest leader that opposes the tyrant's ideas and is repressed by force (Snowball).


Boxer \leftrightarrow​ Squealer

Boxer and Squealer represent the working class against the manipulations of the tyrant's circle. Boxer is an intelligent and trusting horse who is always doing his best for Animal Farm. However, he is strongly manipulated by Squealer. On the contrary, Squealer serves as Napoleon's puppet to persuade the animals in favour of Napoleon's actions. 



Themes

Corruption

Animal Farm deals with the topic of corruption from a point of view that too much power always corrupts. No matter the leader (Snowball, Napoleon or Old Major), the novel suggests that the rise of power results in corruption. For instance, at the end of the novel, the pigs become indistinguishable from humans which demonstrates that power has the same effect, regardless of who holds it. 


Socialism 

Orwell renders the ideas of socialism in the novel through other sub-themes. For example, the power, control and propaganda from Napoleon and the pigs; the equality and inequality between the working class (the animals) and the elite (the pigs), even if one of the Commandments is "All Animals Are Equal"; and the oppression of the naive working class. 


Tyranny

Tyranny is present in the novel as a form of satire against politicians and their ability to manipulate others. Napoleon and Squealer are two of the characters that strongly depict this topic. Any time Napoleon and the pigs break one of the Seven Commandments, they either modify it or with the help of Squealer, manipulate the animals to think it is fine for them to do so.



Key quotations


​​chapter

quotation

theme

Chapter X

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Corruption

This quote portrays the corruption among the animals in Animal Farm. There is no way to have different degrees of equality, however, the pigs use this Commandment to justify the corruption of the system on the farm; that is, the pigs have their own circle and facilities apart from the rest of the farm.

Chapter VI

"Napoleon announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal that absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half."

Tyranny

Napoleon gives the animals the option of 'voluntary' work on Sundays. However, the fact of reducing the portions makes the animals have no choice but to work on Sundays. This quote shows how Napoleon does not care about the animals; he only cares about his own benefit.

Chapter III

"Four legs good, two legs bad."

Socialism

This phrase is a sort of propaganda established by Snowball to teach the animals and achieve their goals. However, it works as an example of how the elite can use language to manipulate lower classes since the pigs later change the slogan to "Four legs good, two legs better".


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