Animal Farm

by: George Orwell

Important Quotations Explained

1
“Four legs good, two legs bad.”

This phrase, which occurs in Chapter III, constitutes Snowball’s condensation of the Seven Commandments of Animalism, which themselves serve as abridgments of Old Major’s stirring speech on the need for animal unity in the face of human oppression. The phrase instances one of the novel’s many moments of propagandizing, which Orwell portrays as one example of how the elite class abuses language to control the lower classes. Although the slogan seems to help the animals achieve their goal at first, enabling them to clarify in their minds the principles that they support, it soon becomes a meaningless sound bleated by the sheep (“two legs baa-d”), serving no purpose other than to drown out dissenting opinion. By the end of the novel, as the propagandistic needs of the leadership change, the pigs alter the chant to the similar-sounding but completely antithetical “Four legs good, two legs better.”


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