Animal Farm

by: George Orwell

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

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

The ultimate example of the pigs’ systematic abuse of logic and language to control their underlings, this final reduction of the Seven Commandments, which appears in Chapter X, clothes utterly senseless content in a seemingly plausible linguistic form. Although the first clause implies that all animals are equal to one another, it does not state this claim overtly. Thus, it is possible to misread the word “equal” as a relative term rather than an absolute one, meaning that there can be different degrees of “equal”-ness, just as there can be different degrees of colorfulness, for example (more colorful, less colorful). Once such a misreading has taken place, it becomes no more absurd to say “more equal” than to say “more colorful.” By small, almost imperceptible steps like these, the core ideals of Animal Farm—and any human nation—gradually become corrupted.

The revision of the original phrase also points to the specific form of corruption on Animal Farm. The initial, unmodified phrase makes reference to all animals, its message extending to the entire world of animals without distinction. Similarly, Old Major expresses ideals that posit the dignity of all, the comradeship of all, the inclusion of all in voting and decision-making, so that no one group or individual will oppress another. The revised phrase, however, mentions an “all,” but only in order to differentiate a “some” from that “all,” to specify the uniqueness, the elite nature, and the chosen status of that “some.” The pigs clearly envision themselves as this privileged “some”; under their totalitarian regime, the working animals exist only to serve the larger glory of the leadership, to provide the rulers with food and comfort, and to support their luxurious and exclusive lifestyle.