Why is Animal Farm an allegory?

An allegory is a story in which the events and characters stand for something besides themselves. The characters and events of Animal Farm represent the real people and events of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. Orwell wrote Animal Farm because he wanted to tell the true story of the Russian Revolution in a way anyone could understand, even if they didn’t know all the historical details. However, Animal Farm is not only an allegory of Russian history. The novella also makes a broader argument about political power and oppression in general.

What is Animalism?

Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer develop Old Major’s idea that animals have a right to freedom and equality into “a complete system of thought” (Chapter 2) which they call Animalism. The central beliefs of Animalism are expressed in the Seven Commandments, painted on the wall of the big barn. However, as the pigs seize more and more power, they change the Commandments painted on the barn, until Animalism is reduced to a single principle which is virtually the opposite of Old Major’s original idea: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” (Chapter 10).

How does Napoleon seize power?

Napoleon trains a litter of puppies to be loyal to him: when they are fully grown, he uses the dogs to chase Snowball, his main rival, off the farm. Napoleon justifies his takeover by telling the other animals that Snowball was a traitor secretly working for the human farmers. Squealer makes confusing and manipulative arguments to convince most of the animals that Napoleon is telling the truth, while fear of Napoleon’s dogs keeps any doubters from speaking out.

What does Boxer represent?

Within Animal Farm’s allegory of Soviet history, Boxer represents the Russian working class. Boxer does most of the work on the farm, and his strength and size give him a great deal of power. However, he is illiterate and trusting, which makes it easy for the pigs to trick him into submitting to their leadership. Orwell believed that something similar had happened to the Russian working class during the Soviet Revolution: the workers were powerful, and did all the work in the Soviet Union, but they were tricked and betrayed by Russian intellectuals.

How does Mr. Frederick trick Napoleon?

Mr. Frederick agrees to pay a high price for Animal Farm’s timber, and encourages Napoleon to insult Mr. Pilkington. Knowing that the animals are not familiar with money, Frederick pays for the timber in forged banknotes. When the forgery is discovered, Frederick attacks Animal Farm and destroys the windmill. The insulted Mr. Pilkington refuses to help the animals defend their farm. This sequence of events roughly parallels the relations between Stalin’s Soviet Union (Napoleon), Nazi Germany (Frederick), and the United Kingdom (Pilkington) during the Second World War.

Why does Mollie leave Animal Farm?

Mollie leaves Animal Farm because she has never fully embraced its new way of life, and she instead prefers the benefits of being owned by humans. Of all the animals, Mollie has not risen to the demands of Animalism. She sneaks sugar and ribbons, shirks her duties, shows up late to work, and maintains contact with humans. After she leaves Animal Farm, the pigeons see her in town, pulling a dogcart while a human strokes her nose and feeds her sugar. These details show that Mollie chooses to sacrifice her liberty for comfort.

Why does Snowball want to build a windmill?

Snowball wants to build a windmill so it can power a machine to create electricity on the farm. Electricity will improve the animals’ comfort by supplying light and heat in their stalls. The electricity also will be used to power numerous machines that can perform the work the animals must do, providing them with more leisure time. With the windmill in operation, all the animals will have more time to relax and to “improve their minds with reading and conversation.”

What is Snowball’s role at the Battle of the Cowshed?

Snowball is a hero at the Battle of the Cowshed, bravely leading the animals’ defensive operations to decisive victory over Mr. Jones, who tries to retake the farm. Employing what he learned from a book on war campaigns, Snowball launches a series of sham attacks designed to lull the farmers into thinking they’ve won, which end with the farmers running for their lives. After Snowball flees the farm, however, Napoleon and Squealer slowly distort this history. Squealer questions Snowball’s role and motives, suggests Snowball was a traitor, and eventually states that Snowball “had been openly fighting on Jones’s side” and “had actually been the leader of the human forces[.]”

Does Snowball ever return to Animal Farm after Napoleon’s dogs chase him away?

Snowball never appears to return to Animal Farm. Squealer, however, claims that Snowball sneaks back onto the farm to commit sabotage. For example, when the first windmill falls down, Squealer claims that Snowball “has crept here under cover of night and destroyed our work of nearly a year.” Within a short time, “[w]henever anything went wrong [on the farm] it became usual to attribute it to Snowball.” In actuality, no one ever sees Snowball again once he leaves the farm.

Why do the animals confess to being traitors?

While Orwell doesn’t explain why the animals confess to crimes they didn’t commit, readers can infer that the four pigs who are the first to be executed are terrified of the dogs and believe that if they do as Napoleon asks, he will spare their lives—after all, the Commandments stipulate that no animal should harm another. More puzzling might be the hens and the sheep’s confessions since they have seen exactly how Napoleon treats so-called traitors. However, the hens are among the least intelligent animals, so they may lack capacity to process the events. Similarly, the sheep have already proved themselves to be followers with little ability to think or question for themselves.

Why does Napoleon blame Snowball for everything that goes wrong on the farm?

Napoleon, aided by Squealer, uses Snowball as a scapegoat, which means that when something goes wrong, he blames Snowball. As Snowball is not present, Snowball can’t defend himself and reveal falsehoods in the accusations, essentially creating a situation in which all of Napoleon’s statements regarding Snowball are simply accepted as truth. This tactic means that Napoleon does not need to take responsibility for mistakes and misdeeds, and it also allows him to continue to receive the animals’ support and respect even when calamity occurs, as when the windmill collapses. Further, by casting Snowball in the role of the enemy, Napoleon ensures that his rival will never be able to return to the farm and challenge his leadership.

How is the windmill destroyed?

The windmill is actually destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout the course of Animal Farm. The first windmill collapses in a storm, and the second windmill is blown up during the Battle of the Windmill. After the first windmill is destroyed, which Napoleon blames on Snowball’s sabotage, the animals begin reconstruction and make the walls much thicker. After the second windmill is fully built, Frederick attacks Animal Farm and takes down the structure with blasting powder. Undeterred, the animals begin rebuilding the windmill the next day.

Why does Napoleon change the Seven Commandments?

Over time, Napoleon changes all of the Seven Commandments, which were created to keep the animals humble and on equal footing, to allow the pigs to enjoy prohibited privileges and comforts. For instance, when the pigs move into the farmhouse, Napoleon amends the commandment about not sleeping in a bed to read, “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.” Napoleon changes other commandments as well so the pigs can wear clothes, drink alcohol, and even kill other animals. By the end of the book, the original commandments have been reduced to one statement that encapsulates the authoritarian nature of the farm: “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”

What does Boxer’s death represent?

Boxer’s death represents the exploitation of the working classes as well as the death of the idealism that led to the establishment of Animal Farm. Before his death, Boxer is Napoleon’s most loyal supporter, abusing his body in service to the farm and the windmill. Once he weakens and is no longer useful, the pigs don’t reward him with the promised peaceful retirement but sell him to a glue factory. Ironically, this fate is what Old Major predicted for Boxer under Mr. Jones’s ownership: “You, Boxer, the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds.” Instead of bringing about equality among animals, Napoleon has created a society in which the pigs have taken the place of the humans in their corruption and self-interest.

How does Squealer manipulate the animals so the pigs can better control them?

A persuasive speaker, Squealer uses language to make the other animals disbelieve what they have seen with their own eyes and to believe the lies he tells them. Sometimes Squealer encourages the animals to question their own recollections, such as when Napoleon violates the prohibition against trade: “Is it written down anywhere?” Squealer asks, causing the animals to be certain they are mistaken. Squealer explains why actions that appear to benefit the pigs actually help all the animals. When the pigs move into the farmhouse despite an earlier ban, he declares, “It was absolutely necessary . . . that the pigs, who were the brains of the farm, should have a quiet place to work in.” Squealer’s disingenuous and manipulative speech succeeds in making the animals distrust their own experiences.