Animal Farm Edexcel English Literature Revision Guide
Unit 1: Section A
Information about George Orwell 3 - 5
Animal Farm as an analogy 6 - 7
Themes in ‘Animal Farm’ 8 - 10
Events of the Russian Revolution compared to Animal Farm 11
A brief summary of the plot 12
The plot of ‘Animal Farm’ chapter by chapter
Chapter 1 13
Chapter 2 14
Chapter 3 15
Chapter 4 15
Chapter 5 16
Chapter 6 17
Chapter 7 18
Chapter 8 19 - 20
Chapter 9 21
Chapter 10 22
A ready reference of the different chapters 23 – 24
The Seven Commandments before and after 25
The characters in ‘Animal Farm’ – references to real people and events 26
Character map 27
Old Major 28
Napoleon and Snowball 31
Boxer and Napoleon 33
Minor characters 36 – 39
The exam and what has come up on the exam so far 41
The structure of the exam 42
Exemplar response and key tips for each question 43 – 49
Mark scheme for exemplar response 50 – 54
Past exam questions
Jan 2013 56
June 2012 57
Jan 2012 58
June 2011 59
Where to find the mark schemes 60
Analysis mark for ‘Animal Farm’ 61 – 62
GEORGE ORWELL 1903-1950
Who was George Orwell?
The author of Animal Farm was born in 1903 in India when it was part
of the British Empire.
His real name was Eric Blair and he came from an upper middle-class
background. His father and both is grandfathers made their livings in
Burma and India which were under British rule until 1947.
What were his schooldays like?
Orwell's early school days were spent in a private boarding school, called St Cyprians, which he hated. He
hated the snobbery, the dictatorial regime, the extremely Spartan conditions, the terrible food and the
There can be little doubt that Orwell based some of his descriptions in Animal Farm on his miserable life at
St. Cyprians where he stayed until he was nearly fourteen. Perhaps it was here that he first learned to hate
injustice and unchecked power.
After St. Cyprians, Orwell won a scholarship to Eton, one of England's most famous and exclusive public
schools. He enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere which gave him more room to 'develop his individuality'.
How did Orwell learn about imperialism?
When he left Eton, Orwell followed the family tradition by joining the Indian Imperial Police. He served in
Burma where he observed the workings of imperialism at close quarters. He knew it was an unjust system
and gradually came to despise the way in which it exploited and oppressed the poor and the hungry.
How did Orwell become a writer?
After working in Burma for five years, Orwell resigned from the Police Force and returned to England to try
his hand at becoming a writer.
To gather material for a book he decided to take to the road and learn about people who had fallen on
hard times: tramps, beggars, prostitutes and criminals. He explored the worst areas of London and Paris
doing casual work and sleeping rough. He was determined to find out at first hand what it was like to live at
the bottom of society.
In 1933, at the age of thirty, Orwell published his first book, called Down and Out in Paris and London. It
was the first time he used the name of George Orwell. He probably took the surname from the River Orwell
which ran close to his parents' home in Suffolk.
How did Orwell become a socialist?
A socialist believes that all people in any society are of equal worth and value because we are all human
beings. Therefore, a socialist believes that everybody in any society should be given equal opportunities
and that society has a duty and a responsibility to make sure that all its members have reasonable
standards of care and help throughout their lives. A socialist believes that every member of society is
ultimately responsible for every other member of society.
George Orwell became a socialist.
In 1936 Orwell was asked by his publisher to write a book about the poor and unemployed in the north of
England, especially the mining community. It was a time of mass unemployment and great hardship for
Orwell was very moved by what he saw and his anger at the injustices he witnessed helped to make him
into a committed socialist. The book in which he described his experiences is called The Road to Wigan
After several years of living rough Orwell took a job as a teacher in a private school in order to earn some
money. He worked hard at his job and also managed to write two more novels. Around this time Orwell
went to live in the country with Eileen O'Shaughnessy who he had married a year earlier.
Orwell goes to war
Orwell's life was dramatically changed by the Spanish Civil War which broke out in 1936. He and Eileen
went out to join the Republican forces in their struggle against the fascists led by General Franco. Writers,
intellectuals and trade unionists from all over Europe, many of them from Britain, flocked to join the
The Communist Party, backed Stalin, was also fighting against Franco's fascists. At first they worked
together with the International Brigade but gradually the Communists turned against them and began
persecuting Spanish socialists because Stalin did not want to see them really changing society and winning
Orwell saw that the Communism preached by Stalin was really another form of fascism, another form of
rule over the very many by the very few, just another form of totalitarianism.
Orwell writes Animal Farm
Orwell was badly wounded in the neck while he was fighting in Spain. When he returned to England, he
began to plan some kind of attack on al forms of totalitarianism. Animal Farm was the result.
In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, he published Animal Farm which became an enormous
Shortly afterwards his wife died and Orwell brought up their adopted son on his own. In 1948 he published
his most famous book, 1984, in which he imagined what Britain would be like under a totalitarian
George Orwell remained a firm socialist until his death in 1950 at the age of 47.
The origins of Animal Farm
George Orwell was once asked where he had got the idea for Animal Farm. He replied:
“...the actual details of the story did not come to me for some time until one day (I was then living in a
small village) I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge cart horse along a narrow path,
whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength
we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich
exploit the proletariat.”
Animal Farm as Analogy
Animal Farm is a simple story with a complex field of reference, an Aesopian fable that viciously attacks the
history, rhetoric and excesses of Soviet Communism by retelling it as the story of a group of farm animals.
Orwell is not anti-communist, in fact he was very pro-socialist, it is just that he hated the abuse of power
which became the hallmark of post WWII communism.
Animal Farm is a miniature nation, surrounded by a county full of farms that parallel the other nations of
the world. Each phase of Joseph Stalin's (Napoleon in the story) rise to dictatorial power in Russia is
present in Animal Farm:
the Russian Revolution, here represented by the animals' overthrow of Mr. Jones and their human
the consolidation of power in the hands of the Communist Party, here represented by the pigs
emergence as the animals in charge of the farm;
the struggle for pre-eminence between Trotsky and Stalin, here represented by the struggle
between the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, which, as with Trotsky, leads to Snowball's expulsion
from the farm; (Trotsky was exiled and later killed by Stalin’s secret police)
the Party purges and show trials with which Stalin eliminated his enemies, here represented by
the false confessions and executions of animals Napoleon distrusts following the collapse of the
Stalin's emergence as a figure so powerful he was essentially a tyrant, here represented
by Napoleon and the other pigs' adoption of human characteristics such as walking upright and
But Animal Farm is more than just an invective against Stalin. One of the book's most impressive qualities is
its evocation not just of the figures in power, but of the oppressed people themselves. Animal Farm is not
told from the perspective of any particular character, though occasionally it does slip into Clover's
consciousness. Rather, the story is told from the perspective of the common animals as a whole. Gullible,
loyal, slow-witted, and hard-working, the common animals give Orwell a chance to sketch the human
qualities that enable oppression to flourish, rather than simply the motives of the oppressors.
Napoleon's psyche is not the only important terrain explored in Animal Farm; Boxer's is just as central to
the novel, and the betrayal of the great horse forms the novel's grotesquely melodramatic climax.
Grotesque melodrama of a certain kind is the heart and soul of Animal Farm, which makes a very big point
by telling a very small story.
Orwell's reduction of the novel to the form of a children's fable works on a number of levels:
it makes the anti-Communist (in that the regime abused power) moral of the novel seem
fundamental and obvious, so basic it can form the foundation of a children's story;
it makes the reader see the real events it refers to from a new perspective, because they are
told in such a startlingly different way;
it makes the real story of Communism seem massive and pressing, simply because the novel
itself is so small and so un-pressing, a kind of catastrophic understatement more effective than
a thousand-page treatise;
and it makes the reader marvel at how such a thing could come to pass in reality, simply by
making the story so alien and implausible.
Orwell calls his book a "fairy story," but unlike most frightening fairy tales, this one almost literally came
true. Perhaps most importantly, the form of fable enables Orwell to assume complete control over the
tone and mood of Communist history in a way that would have been impossible had he been writing about
historically-based human characters; he is able to portray the Communists as grotesque pigs, the suffering
people as noble horses, and the complicit masses as mindless sheep.
Orwell takes everything impressive and grand away from the sweep of Communist history, as if to say that
they do not deserve it, as if to say that at its heart, the story of Communism is simple an ugly melodrama
that could have happened on a farm.
This is not to say that Orwell underestimates the Communists' power or their ability to maintain control of
their subjects even when the improvements promised by the Revolution (1917) have visibly made things
worse. One of Orwell's central concerns, both in Animal Farm and in 1984I (his other famous novel which
deals will abuse of power in a ‘new world’ order), is the way in which language can be manipulated as an
instrument of control.
In Animal Farm, a simpler rhetoric of socialist revolution is gradually twisted and distorted to justify the
pigs' behaviour and keep the other animals in the dark. The animals wholeheartedly embrace Old Major's
visionary ideal of socialism. After Old Major dies, the pigs gradually inject new nuances of meanings into his
words, so that the other animals are seemingly unable to oppose them without also opposing the ideals of
THEMES IN ANIMAL FARM
GEORGE ORWELL felt very strongly about political leaders who try to gain absolute power and who will not
allow other people or other politicians a fair share in the running of the country. He, therefore, decided to
write a story warning of the dangers of trusting political leaders who on the one hand promise a better and
more equal society but on other hand never let ordinary people share in making the decisions which affect
In order to obtain as wide an audience as possible for his ideas Orwell knew that he had to write a story
which could be easily understood and which could be translated into any language. He decided to give his
story instant appeal by making it seem simple and childlike. That is why he called it a fairy story.
Fairy stories are not always as simple and innocent as they seem. They first began to be told among the
poorer sections of society many hundreds of years ago. They were not only for children; in fact many of
them had deeper meanings that were for adult ears only.
The parables told by Jesus worked in a similar way: they seemed like ordinary accounts of everyday life but
they always had a deeper meaning. It is the same with Animal Farm. On the surface it is an interesting story
about farmyard animals; beneath the surface it is about how humans organize and govern themselves in
different kinds of society.
In Animal Farm, George Orwell is trying to help us think seriously about very serious issues that we all have
to face as adults: how shall we organize ourselves into a fair society, how will we govern that society and
what are the dangers which face it.
We can call these deeper questions, the THEMES of the novel, the ideas which Orwell is trying to make us
think about. George Orwell cared passionately about the beliefs he leads us to think about in the novel; he
was prepared to fight and risk his life for what he believed in and to try to put these beliefs in the form of a
book which is accessible to as many people as care to read and understand it.
THE OVERALL THEME of Animal Farm is very clear: it is a criticism of any kind of government in which a
small group of people make the laws for the great majority of people without consulting them in any
form about what they actually want. This is called totalitarianism and it has produced the greatest
horrors of the 20th century: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, and the China of Mao Tse Tung.
In a totalitarian society the rulers have absolute power over the property and lives of every person who
lives in that society. They make the laws and they administer the laws. No one is allowed to question these
laws and those who do are severely punished, often executed without even the pretense of a trial.
We can break down Orwell's overall theme into four main elements:
1 Power corrupts those who seize it
3 The abuse of socialism
4 The dangers of revolution
There is a saying that 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely', and this is certainly shown
to be true in Animal Farm.
There is no doubt that all the animals took part in the revolution with the genuine intention of bringing Old
Major's noble ideals to reality. However, almost immediately after the rebellion, the thrill of power is felt
by the pigs who are more natural leaders than the other animals. Even Snowball, who seems to be more
high-minded than the rest, gives into the temptation of the milk and apples. Orwell seems to hint that
Snowball would also have developed into a tyrant.
The pigs' degeneration is rapid; once they realize what power they have, they soon grow to love it and will
stop at nothing to increase it and hang on to it.
Orwell's purpose is clear; it is very dangerous to place too much power into the hands of individuals.
Propaganda: Something written or spoken with the intention of making people believe what you want
them to believe.
The aim of propaganda is to persuade people to accept certain beliefs or facts without question.
Propaganda is not necessarily good or bad. It depends what people use it for.
When wars are being fought it becomes essential to keep up the spirits and morale of your own
side/country and at the same time persuade the enemy that they are fighting a lost cause without any
hope of victory.
In Animal Farm propaganda is used for a wicked purpose because its aim is to trick and deceive the very
animals that is meant to serve. In Animal Farm, propaganda becomes a twisted mass of lies and half-truths
intended to hide the reality of the situation from the animals; it is used to confuse and bewilder them; and
above all, to stop them thinking for themselves.
Squealer is in charge of all the propaganda for Napoleon. Every time something happens which makes the
animals question the way the revolution is progressing, Squealer uses his skills with language to persuade
them that everything is for the best.
Here are some of the main techniques used in propaganda:
Selection: Out of a mass of complex facts, the propagandist selects only those which support his arguments
Lying: Telling lies is always a major tool of the propagandist. Remember what Hitler said: 'If you tell a BIG
LIE often enough and loudly enough people will begin to believe it.'
Repetition: If you keep repeating a statement again and again, it will eventually be accepted by your
Pinpointing the enemy: The propagandist often tries to find an enemy, real or imagined, to attack. This
unites everybody against the 'enemy' and they stop thinking for themselves.
Assertion: The propagandist rarely argues. He just makes bold statements that he asserts to be true - and
goes on and on making them.
Rhetorical questions: The propagandist often peppers his speeches with questions which he intends to
answer himself. He does not want his listeners to answer them because he does not want them to think.
He will do their thinking for them.
The abuse of socialism
George Orwell was a socialist. He believed in the theory that wealth should be more evenly distributed, to
benefit the poor rather than remaining forever in the hands of the rich.
What he is criticizing in Animal Farm is not the socialist ideals of the animals; from his description of the
farm immediately after the Rebellion, we can see that the animals were happier and better off.
What angered Orwell was when those ideals were perverted and corrupted by those who gained power
under such a system. He is savagely critical of those countries, e.g. Communist Russia and Communist
China which claim to be socialist but are in reality totalitarian states.
The Dangers of the Revolution
This is related to the previous theme. Orwell shows that a revolution which destroys an unjust and
tyrannical regime may not produce anything better to take its place.
In the case of Animal Farm, the animals are better off for a short time after they get rid of Jones. However,
he is soon replaced as their master by Napoleon and the other pigs. Under this new leadership the animals
are ultimately no better off than they were before, and probably even worse off.
Orwell's message is again quite clear: that a popular revolution may well backfire on those who support it if
every member of the community is not vigilant in ensuring that democratic rights and freedoms, are not
preserved, protected and practiced.
Events of the Russian Revolution compared to the events in ‘Animal Farm’
Year Events in History Events in Animal Farm
1917 -Russian Revolution, ending with the
abdication of Nicholas II (Mar. 15)
-Nicholas II was murdered on July 17
-End of World War I (Nov. 17)
-Start of Labour Camps
-Battle of the animals against Jones
-Battle of the Cowshed
-Pigs encouraged the animals to work hard
on the farm
1923 -Beginning of the struggle between Stalin
-Different opinions between Napoleon and
Snowball are apparent
1924 -Death of Lenin -Napoleon is openly antagonistic to
1925 -Trotsky removed as war commissar
1927 -Trotsky expelled from party
1929 -Trotsky deported
-Start of Industrialization
-Snowball chased away by the dogs
-Building of the windmill
1932 -Starvation of millions of people who did
not want to work for Stalin
-Hens starved to death, when they did not
want to sell eggs
1933 -USA recognizes USSR -Other farms recognized Animal Farm
1934 -"Secret Police" became official
-Kirov was murdered
-Dogs helped Napoleon to search through
the private belongings of the animals
1936 -Show trials of Stalin's opponents -Death of four pigs, three hens, goose and
1937 -Terror climaxes with labour camps and
1939 -Non-Aggression Pact between Germany
-Deal between Animal Farm and Frederick
1940 -Trotsky murdered in Mexico
1941 -German invasion of Russia
-Start of deportation of non-Russians
-Banknotes for woodpile were not worth
1945 -Treaty to divide Germany -Treaty with Pilkington
A Brief Summary of the Plot
Just before he dies, Old Major, a respected pig on Manor Farm stirs the animals up with his
revolutionary ideas of rebellion against the tyrant Man.
Before long, the ineffective farmer, Mr. Jones, is over thrown and expelled from the farm. The
animals adopt the name Animal Farm.
The animals draw up a set of principles which will guide their new lives: the Seven Commandments.
Before long, the pigs emerge as leaders and start to assume minor privileges over the other animals.
The two leading pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, quarrel and Napoleon eventually drives his rival off the
farm by force.
Despite hardships, the farm makes progress, and the animals embark on the construction of a
windmill which will supposedly ease their lives.
Unfortunately, the windmill is destroyed and the animals must start again. Boxer, the cart-horse, is a
tower of strength.
Napoleon assumes more and more power, and governs by fear and terror. Opponents are killed. The
pigs now enjoy a luxurious style of life, far removed from the hardships of the other animals.
Napoleon is cheated by Frederick, a neighbouring farmer, over the sale of some timber. Frederick
attacks and destroys the windmill a second time.
The over-worked Boxer falls ill and is treacherously shipped off to the knacker's by Napoleon.
Over the years, the pigs continue to benefit at the expense of the other animals. The Commandments
are changed, corrupted and perverted.
At the end of the novel, Napoleon and his henchpigs, are discovered drinking and playing cards with
Pilkington and other men. Napoleon even toasts the farm by its old name 'Manor Farm'.
The bewildered animals who witness this scene through the farmhouse windows are finally unable to
tell the difference between the pigs and the humans who had previously ruled over them and
Absolute power has corrupted the pigs - absolutely.
The Plot of Animal Farm Chapter by Chapter
The novel opens with Mr. Jones, the proprietor of Manor Farm, lurching across his yard and going off
drunk to bed. The animals, after waiting for his light to go out, assemble in the barn to hear what Old
Major, the prize boar, has to say to them. We meet the animals on the farm as they arrive and already
know something of their characters as they settle down to listen. Major has had a dream. He is
approaching death and wishes to communicate to the others the wisdom he has acquired during his long,
thoughtful life. This, briefly, is what he tells the animals:
(a) Animals' lives are 'miserable, laborious and short'; they live at subsistence level while working to
capacity; the moment they cease to be useful they are cruelly killed; misery and slavery is the fate of
all animals in England.
(b) The land can support them but the produce of their labour is stolen by Man; remove Man and the
problem is solved.
(c) Man is the only creature that consumes without producing, taking everything from the animals except
what is necessary to keep the animals alive and working.
(d) Animals are not even allowed to live out their natural span but are slaughtered when their usefulness
is at and end.
(e) Therefore, animals must work night and day to overthrown Man. In a single word: Rebellion!
Major sums up by telling the animals that 'All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.' He then
describes his dream of a world without Man and teaches them a song, 'Beasts of England', that presents
his dream-world. As the animals are singing, Jones wakes up and shoots his gun across the yard. The
meeting breaks up.
This is the list of Commandments that the animals all agree to obey when they create Animal Farm. They
are based on Major's speech. They are meant to be 'an unalterable law by which all the animals on
Animal Farm must live for ever after.'
But as time passes, some of these Commandments are broken, or at least twisted. It is not always obvious
to the animals when this happens as the pigs are clever at deceiving them and the pigs try to persuade
them that they have not broken the original Commandments at all>
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs or has wings is a friend
3. No animals shall wear clothes
4. No animals shall sleep in a bed
5. No animals shall drink alcohol
6. No animal shall kill any other animal
7. All animals are equal
Three days after his inspiring speech Old Major passes away peacefully. His ideas are taken up by the pigs
- who are clever animals - a political philosophy called Animalism is worked out. The other animals are
not very interested and the pigs have a hard time trying to educate them, especially where the tales of
Moses are concerned. Boxer and Clover are loyal and supportive.
The rebellion takes place almost accidentally because the animals are hungry and can stand it no longer -
Jones has neglected them - so they break out and help themselves to food.
The animals eventually manage to expel
Jones and his men from Manor Farm and
they joyfully discover that it is theirs.
The pigs reveal that they have quietly
taught themselves to read and write.
Snowball changes the name on the gate
to 'Animal Farm' and writes up on the
barn in letters for all to see the
principles of Animalism - the Seven
The pigs have taken over quite naturally
as leaders and Snowball urges them off
to the hayfield to bring in the harvest
while Napoleon stands guard over the
milk which the pigs have just milked
from the cows.
Snowball is shown to be lively, energetic, inventive and practical while Napoleon is, as yet, a shadowy but
The characters of Mollie and Boxer are also brought out clearly in this chapter - again a strong contract
being made. Mollie is interested only in a comfortable life, in sugar and ribbons, while Boxer accepts
everything the pigs say. Mollie does not want to part with her pretty ribbons and eventually runs away in
order to keep them; Boxer throws his fine straw hat, used to keep the flies off in summer, on the bonfire
and sets about working himself to death.
The animals have worked hard and the first harvest is a great success. We hear how the different animals
measure up as workers and Boxer gets a special mention, having done the work of three horses. On
Sundays there is no work but a ceremony where the flag is raised followed by a meeting where
resolutions are put forward and debated. It is always the pigs who put forward resolutions and we notice
that Snowball and Napoleon can never agree.
We hear the pigs have set aside the harness room for a study and workshop area and that Snowball has
formed many committees to educate the animals and encourage them in their efforts and attitude. We
hear how the animals fare at reading and writing and that the principles of Animalism are reduced to a
slogan: four legs good, two legs bad, as many of the animals cannot read very well. Snowball, however,
has developed his ideas in a complicated manner and uses long words which the animals cannot
understand (but they are impressed).
The puppies of Bluebell and Jessie are taken away by Napoleon to be educated. The milk and apples have
been appropriated by the pigs; this is explained and justified by Squealer and accepted by the animals.
Some months have passed since the Rebellion and the news has spread to other farms, assisted by the
pigeons sent out by Snowball and Napoleon. Jones is apparently making no effort to win back his farm.
The neighbouring farmers are too involved in their own disagreements to unite and help him win back
Manor Farm. Pilkington and Frederick, his neighbours, scoff at the idea of a farm run by animals and
spread tales about the terrible goings-on at Animal Farm. However, they are both frightened that their
own animals might rebel and they flog any animal heard singing Beasts of England, which is becoming
very popular. There are small rebellions on other farms but they are easily snuffed out.
Jones, Frederick and Pilkington do eventually get together and mount an attack on Animal Farm but,
thanks to the strategy of Snowball, they are repulsed at the Battle of the Cowshed. Snowball, Boxer and a
dead sheep are decorated for their part in the battle.
Snowball's character is developed in this chapter. He has planned the battle in advance and he leads the
animals to victory, fighting bravely even when wounded. The animals obviously trust him and follow his
lead. Snowball is seen to be working continually for the well-being of the farm and presents an attractive
personality; however, we see that he is fundamentally an intolerant revolutionary when he says 'the only
good human being is a dead one'.
Boxer and Mollie are again contrasted. Boxer fights bravely and exhibits his great strength; Mollie hides
away as soon as the battle begins, concerned only about herself and her safety. Boxer is shown to be
tender-hearted when he shows great concern for the enemy stable boy he thinks he has killed but who in
fact has only been stunned.
The fantastic ideas - the animals having celebrations and decorations, naming the battle and important
dates in the history of the Rebellion - give a fairy-tale atmosphere but also an accurate imitation of
Mollie begins to act strangely and Clover becomes concerned about her behaviour and takes her aside to
tell her that she has seen Mollie's activities with the neighbouring farmer - Mollie has been allowing him
to stroke her nose. Mollie denies this but Clover later finds sugar and ribbons on her stall. Eventually
Mollie defects (joins the enemy) and is seen in Willingdon pulling a dogcart.
We hear that the pigs decide all policy matters connected with the farm having appointed themselves the
Senior Management Team. Disagreements break out between Napoleon and Snowball, especially over
the windmill which Snowball wants to build to make the running of the farm easier and the life of the
animals more comfortable. Napoleon argues that the immediate concern of the farm must be to produce
Eventually two factions develop under the slogans 'Vote for Snowball and the three-day week' and 'Vote
for Napoleon and the full manger'. They also have a major disagreement over the defence of the farm;
Snowball believes that if the other farms have rebellions there would be no need to defend the farm so
the best thing would be to send out pigeons and help these rebellions come about. Napoleon thinks it is
more important to defend their own farm, Animal Farm, and wants to get hold of firearms, guns and
When Snowball gets up and passionately defends his ideas, the puppies, who have turned into savage
young dogs, attacked Snowball and drive him off the farm. Snowball just manages to escape with his life.
Napoleon has trained the dogs to act as his police and bodyguard.
Napoleon takes advantage of the confusion to remove all the democratic rights from the other animals.
There will be no more Sunday meetings. Animals will not be permitted to vote on the pigs' proposals. The
pigs will now be in control of all farm matters.
There is some protesting but this is immediately quashed by the growling of the dogs. Squealer later goes
round the farm to justify Napoleon's actions, stressing the importance of discipline. The animals learn that
the windmill is to be built after all and that the plans were actually stolen from Napoleon by Snowball.
This chapter is the turning point of the fable. The progress in the life of the animals has reached its peak
and the downward movement is about to begin.
Napoleon has been biding his time. When he does make his move it is an effective climax for we have,
with the animals, been full of admiration for Snowball and have been giving him our full attention. The
careful reader will have noticed clues and hints about Napoleon, small incidents that have been leading
up to this climax: the milk and apples, the taking away of the puppies, his non-appearance at the Battle of
the Cowshed. As the animals are soon to learn, Napoleon is now fully in control of their lives and
The animals are working like slaves but are happy in their work because they are working for themselves,
not working to support idle and wasteful human beings. We also learn that because of the building of the
windmill, some tasks are left undone. The windmill is difficult to build as the animals are not physically
adapted to the task but they find ways around the difficulties. Boxer comes into the limelight again as his
great strength and persistence is an asset. He puts his all into the work, so much so that Clover warns him
not to overstrain himself.
Despite their efforts, the animals do not have the materials they require and this presents another
difficulty. Napoleon decides to get round this by trading with the humans, something that upsets some of
the animals as they remembered it had been agreed never to have anything to do with humans, the
enemy. Protestors are silenced by the snarling of the dogs. Squealer tells them later they must have been
dreaming, that no such decision was ever made. The pigs make their way into the farmhouse and sleep in
the beds; Squealer justifies this by altering the Commandment.
Animal Farm is beginning to be accepted by the humans, grudgingly. They no longer support the drunken
Jones who has given up hope of ever being restored to the farm. When the windmill is blown down by a
November gale, Napoleon blames Snowball and the animals believe him. They are deeply shocked that
Snowball should do such a thing.
It is, of course, ironic that the animals are happy to work so hard and for such long hours because they
are working for themselves and not for someone who is exploiting them. In fact, they are working for a far
more ruthless exploiter, Napoleon and his hench-pigs; however they have not yet recognised this reality.
Napoleon has declared that all work is 'strictly voluntary', but if it is not done, there will be a fifty per cent
reduction in food ration for offenders.
Napoleon also convinces the animals that Snowball is responsible for the destruction of the windmill.
Why do they not realise that Napoleon is lying, we may ask, for all the facts seem to prove it?
Napoleon has realised something important about human nature: people will often believe what they
want to believe rather than face up to the truth. All the animals are shocked but not one of them openly
questions Napoleon's statement: they now no longer question anything, believing what they are told
absolutely. This chapter presents the process by which they have been brought to this state of constant
confusion and fear. Truth is ceasing to exist on Animal Farm and the animals no longer believe the
evidence of their own senses and memories.
It is a bitter winter and the animals' life is hard. They are often cold and hungry and have been depressed
by the ruin of the windmill. They are not as hopeful as before but must succeed because the rest of the
countryside is watching, ready to rejoice if they fail.
Food becomes very short and rations are reduced, the potatoes are spoiled and starvation seems a
possibility. They have to conceal this fact from the outside world as new lies are being put about by
human beings that famine and disease are rife, that cannibalism and infanticide are practised. Napoleon
fills the food bins with sand and puts the grain on top of it to hide the truth from Whymper, who is
Eventually it is decided that the hens must give up their eggs so that they may be sold for grain and meal.
The hens protest and smash their own eggs but Napoleon starves them into submission. He is advised by
Whymper to sell off some timber to Pilkington or Frederick who both want to buy it.
In the spring Snowball is discovered to be coming into the farm at night and sabotaging the work of the
animals. Napoleon decides an investigation should be made when it is discovered that Snowball has
always been an agent of Jones and intends to attack the farm.
The animals do not believe him. Boxer, especially, speaks up on Snowball's behalf, reminding everyone of
how bravely Snowball fought at the Battle of the Cowshed. Squealer, however, manages to carry the day
but it is obvious he is displeased with Boxer.
Four days later, the dogs attack four pigs and Boxer too. Boxer fights them off but the pigs confess to
have been plotting with Snowball and are executed. The pigs who confess and are executed are those pigs
who protested when the Sunday Meetings were abolished, and again when trading with humans was
begun. (The incident has, of course, been organised and stage-managed by Napoleon and Squealer.) The
hens who had started the egg rebellion are also eliminated.
The animals are deeply shocked and creep away confused and miserable. When the comfort themselves
by singing Beasts of England, Squealer arrives and tells them that this song is now outlawed and they are
forbidden to sing it. A new song is composed which they must sing at Sunday meetings.
We, the readers, are roused to anger and left with a feeling almost of despair when Squealer arrives to
announce that the song which has carried them through so much and which represents the spirit of the
animals is forbidden. Napoleon is going to crunch even this. It is not enough for him to control their
actions and direct their thoughts; Napoleon intends to become 'an engineer of the soul' - songs that
express that he wishes the animals to feel will replace those that express what they actually do feel.
The chapter begins with another example of a Commandment being adjusted and the animals' uneasiness
about the matter is relieved. They learn to accept executions as part of their way of life.
We hear that they now have to work very hard indeed, even harder than when Jones was in charge, and
food is still very short. However, as they can no longer remember these times very clearly, Squealer has
no difficulty in persuading them that they are wrong.
Napoleon is becoming a cult figure; he is absolute ruler and is given inflated titles which suggest his good
leadership and general benevolence. He is praised for everything that goes well. He has a hymn
composed to him which is written up on the wall of the barn at the opposite end to the Commandments.
He also has a young pig to taste his food in case it is poisoned. He begins complicated dealings with
Pilkington and Frederick over the timber they both wish to buy. Rumours of an attack by Frederick are
heard and about the cruelty he inflicts on his own animals and feelings against him run high. The windmill
is eventually finished and is to be called Napoleon Mill.
Napoleon amazes the animals by telling them that he has sold the timber to their greatest enemy,
Frederick, and that the rumours about him were the work of Snowball who has been on Pilkington's farm
all the while. Napoleon claims that he pretended friendship with Pilkington to get Frederick to raise the
offer for the timber.
However, the banknotes with which Frederick paid Napoleon are useless forgeries and Frederick then
attacks Animal Farm with guns and blows up the windmill. Eventually he and his men are repulsed by the
animals who suffer great losses in the Battle of the Windmill but Napoleon declares it has been a great
victory and orders celebrations. The pigs discovery whisky and get drunk, later pretending that they were
ill. Snowball is caught altering the Commandment but the animals are too bewildered, confused and
stupid to realise what he is doing.
Just how stupid are these animals? we begin to ask ourselves. Have they been so morally corrupted by
Napoleon that they can no longer recognise evil when they see it? Thought-control is one of Napoleon's
crimes but the animals are not entirely innocent either. Look at these animals being duped, tricked, says
Orwell, and ask yourself if you too could be so easily deceived in similar circumstances. And if you are,
shouldn't you be doing something about it?
The character of Benjamin needs to be looked at in closer detail at this point. Benjamin has kept well out
of things; he did not believe in the revolution, nor in the hope that life would improve in any way. Here he
refuses, as usual, to go and read the Commandment. How much blame does Benjamin deserve for doing
nothing to avert the tragedies? He has brains - why does he not use them to guide his comrades until it is
too late? Is Orwell asking us to look at people like him and question their policy of letting well or ill alone?
Or does Benjamin recognise, as Orwell seemed to do, that in human history we dethrone one set of
tyrants simply to enthrone another?
It is worth looking carefully at Benjamin's character. In this chapter he looks on in wry amusement while
Frederick and his men get ready to blow up the windmill - only he knows that is going on. Is this an
occasion for 'amusement' or is there no other course for Benjamin? When what we call human values are
at stake, he acts quite differently; he is devoted to Boxer but is finally roused to action only when Boxer is
being carted away. We should also ask ourselves why the Battle of the Windmill is much more ferocious
than the Battle of the Cowshed.
In the second battle, the animals are fighting for their farm, or so they think. In reality, they are fighting
for Napoleon who appeals to their patriotism to sacrifice their lives if necessary. It is one more way of
getting people to do what we want by appealing to their better instincts for the wrong reasons.
Boxer is growing old and his wounds from the battle heal slowly. Clover and Benjamin urge him not to
overwork himself but he continues with the rebuilding of the windmill. He will soon be of retiring age and
we hear that there is a rumour that a new place will soon be designated for retired animals mow that he
original meadow has been used to grow barley.
Life on the farm is getting harder and harder and rations are drastically reduced. Squealer, with is
statistics, argues the opposite, presenting the facts and figures in a distorted and misleading way. The
animals are ready to believe, as usual, that things are not so bad as they were before the rebellion. Their
morale is kept up by the 'Spontaneous Demonstrations' that Napoleon organises and by the tales of
Moses who has been allowed back on the farm by the pigs.
Boxer works so hard that he strains himself and falls ill. His popularity is shown by the fact that half the
farmyard rush to where he lies. Squealer says that it has been decided to send him to hospital and a van
arrives one day to take him away. Benjamin rushes out to tell the animals and to tell them what is written
on the van. They are sending Boxer to the knacker's!
They shout to Boxer and try to rouse him to break out of the van but Boxer has no strength left to save
himself. The pigs deny this has happened and explain the mistaken rumours by saying the van changed
hands. It now belongs to the vet but he has not had time yet to the paint out the name on the side of the
van - the name of the local Horse Slaughterer. The animals are so cowed and beaten that we are told they
are 'glad to believe' this lie.
The pigs promise to hold a memorial feast for Boxer but instead they drink a case of whisky which has
obviously been paid for by the sale of Boxer to the Knackery.
Napoleon has become an absolute dictator and his position is officially recognised - he is the only
candidate for the Presidency of the newly proclaimed Republic. All opposition has been physically or
psychologically removed and the animals, who has just been described as 'no longer slaves', are less free
now than they were in Jones' day when they could at least think their own thoughts and believe the
evidence of their own senses.
When the animals are 'enormously relieved' to hear what Napoleon has to tell them, we are reminded of
the swift way they accommodated to the confessions and executions - because they wanted to! This is a
very important point that Orwell is making. We do not feel that the animals have once more been
deceived by the lies of the pigs so much as feel that they are to blame for being so ready to be deceived.
Years pass - 'the seasons came and went, the short animal lives fled by - until there is no one left on the
farm who remembers when it was owned by Jones, except Clover, Benjamin, Moses and some of the pigs.
We hear that no animal has ever retired. The farm has become prosperous and been enlarged, and the
windmill has been built. However, the prosperity is not used to improve the life of the animals but to mill
corn for profit.
The pigs and dogs have increased in number and consume a large proportion of the farm's produce
without themselves producing anything. They are too busy with essential paperwork, Squealer tells the
animals. Despite their very hard life, the animals feel privileged to belong to Animal Farm for it is still the
only farm in England owned and run by animals. There are still celebrations which make the animals feel
One day Squealer takes away the sheep to teach them a new song and, on their return, Squealer is seen
walking on his hind legs. Napoleon follows, also walking upright, and carrying a whip in his hands.
Immediately the sheep begin to bleat in unison, 'Four legs good, two legs better!'
Clover has noticed some change on the wall of the barn and Benjamin consents to read what is written
there. He reads: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. This justifies all the
existing privileges and all the new ones the pigs give themselves.
Napoleon is visited by a delegation of farmers who he entertains in the farmhouse. The animals creep up
to look in the window. Napoleon is now on equal terms with the farmers and they make jokes about
lower orders and lower animals, which amuses them hugely.
Napoleon declares that 'Comrade' will no longer be used and that the name of the farm will be changed
back to Manor Farm.
A quarrel breaks out when it is discovered that someone is cheating at cards. As the animals look from pig
to human and from human to pig they notice that something has happened to the faces of the pigs - they
cannot tell the difference between them and the humans.
A READY REFERENCE
George Orwell did not give titles to his chapters. Talk about the contents of each chapter with the help of the notes
below and think of a good title for each chapter. The title should give readers a clue about what they might be about to
This exercise will also be useful in reminding you about the essential stages in the story.
- Meeting in the big barn at which Old Major encourages the animals to rebel.
- The animals all sing 'Beasts of England'.
- Farmer Jones fires his gun and all the animals free.
- Major dies.
- Pigs begin to organise rebellion.
- Snowball, Napoleon and Squealer begin to preach Animalism at secret meetings.
- Mr. Jones forgets to feed the animals. They help themselves to food.
- Jones and his man are driven out of the farm when
they try to whip the animals.
- All traces of Jones' control over the animals are destroyed.
- Mollie is rebuked for still wanting ribbons.
- Seven Commandments are written on the barn wall.
- The milk disappears.
- Record harvest, finished in record time.
- Boxer displays incredible strength and keenness.
- Sunday meetings for raising of flag, discussion and planning.
- Snowball and Napoleon never seem to agree.
- Snowball invents slogan: 'Four legs good, two legs bad’.
- Snowball concentrates on committee work; Napoleon on educating the young (especially the puppies).
- Squealer justifies keeping milk and apples for pigs.
- Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington, whose lands are next to Animal Farm, become worried that their animals are
catching the infection of rebellion.
- The farmers invade Animal farm but are driven out, thanks to careful planning by Snowball.
- The Battle of the Cowshed becomes a national anniversary.
- Mollie disappears.
- Snowball wants the animals to build a windmill so that they would only have to work for three days a week.
- Napoleon disagrees and says that food production must be the first priority.
- Napoleon wants firearms for defense: Snowball wants to send out pigeons to spread the word of rebellion to other
- Napoleon gets his dogs to chase Snowball off the farm.
- Napoleon clamps down and abolishes Sunday meetings.
- Napoleon decides to build the windmill claiming that
Snowball had stolen the plans from him.
- The animals are working harder than every even on Sundays
- Progress on the windmill is slow, in spite of the determined efforts by Boxer
- Napoleon begins trading with other farms
- Pigs move into Jones' house
- Gale destroys windmill: Napoleon blames Snowball
- News of starvation on Animal Farm begins to circulate
- Mr. Whymper, the agent, is shown round the farm to prove that everything is all right
- The hens start a rebellion and smash their own eggs in protest at having to sell them to Whymper.
Nine hens die.
- Snowball gets blamed for everything that goes wrong, and is accused of being in league with Mr. Jones.
- Execution of four pigs who had objected to cancellation of Sunday meetings and three hens who had led the egg
- The singing of 'Beasts of England' is forbidden.
- Squealer reassures animals that production of food is increasing.
- The windmill is completed.
- Napoleon sells timber to Frederick but is paid in forged notes.
- Frederick attacks the farm and blows up the windmill.
- Pigs discover a case of whisky and get drunk celebrating the victory over Frederick.
- The cold winter brings suffering as food becomes scarce.
- Napoleon orders frequent Spontaneous Demonstrations.
- Animal Farm is declared a republic and Napoleon is unanimously elected President.
- Boxer collapses from overwork and is taken to the knacker's yard.
- The pigs hold a memorial banquet in Boxer's honour.
- The years pass by and there is a new generation of animals who believe in Animalism without really understanding it.
- The farm is better off and the windmill is at last completed.
- Animals work harder than ever but the pigs and dogs deal with the paperwork and spend lives of leisure.
- Pigs walk on two legs and behave increasingly like humans.
- Pigs hold party and invite their human neighbours.
- The other animals look through the window and are amazed: they cannot tell which is man and which is pig.
THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS
The Seven Commandments, Animal
Farm's original Constitution
1. Whatever goes on two legs is an
2. Whatever goes on four legs, or
has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other
7. All animals are equal.
The Seven Commandments, after the pigs'
1. "Four legs good, two legs better!"
2. No animal shall sleep in a bed with
3. No animal shall drink alcohol to
4. No animal shall kill any other animal
5. All animals are equal, but some
animals are more equal than others.
THE CHARACTERS IN 'ANIMAL FARM'
References to real people and events
Characters corresponding to real people in the Russian Revolution
Old Major - Marx/Lenin
Napoleon - Stalin
Snowball - Trotsky (who was exiled and later assassinated)
Squealer – The Russian Press
Mr Jones - Tsar Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia
Frederick - the leaders of Germany but particularly Hitler
Pilkington - the leaders of England/America
Whymper – Capitalists who conducted business with the Soviet Union
The Hens – The proletariat or unskilled labour class in Russian society
The dogs - the Russian secret police (KGB)
Moses - the Russian Orthodox Church
Benjamin – Disillusioned people of Russia
Recognisable events, ideas and places satirised in Animal Farm
Hoof and Horn - the Hammer and Sickle on the Russian Communist flag.
The Windmill - Stalin's Five Year Plan, which took control of industry in
Committees - the animal committees are an echo of how Communist
Russia was organised.
Battle of the Cowshed - this was the October Revolution in 1917,
whereas the initial revolt refers to the February Revolution.
Battle of the Windmill - the Battle of Stalingrad.
Hens' Revolt - the protest of Ukranian farmers against Stalin's proposed
collectivisation of the small (peasant) farms.
As a democratic socialist, Orwell had a great deal of respect for Karl Marx, the German political
economist, and even for Vladimir Ilych Lenin, the Russian revolutionary leader. His critique of Animal
Farm has little to do with the Marxist ideology underlying the Rebellion but rather with the perversion
of that ideology by later leaders. Major, who represents both Marx and Lenin, serves as the source of
the ideals that the animals continue to uphold even after their pig leaders have betrayed them.
Though his portrayal of Old Major is largely positive, Orwell does include a few small ironies that allow
the reader to question the venerable pig’s motives. For instance, in the midst of his long litany of
complaints about how the animals have been treated by human beings, Old Major is forced to concede
that his own life has been long, full, and free from the terrors he has vividly sketched for his rapt
audience. He seems to have claimed a false brotherhood with the other animals in order to garner their
support for his vision.
Napoleon is a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar. He is described as being 'not much of a talker, but with a reputation for
getting his own way.'
Napoleon may have taken part in the rebellion for genuine reasons at first, but within a few days of the expulsion of Jones, he
begins to show his true colours. He (and Snowball) quickly assert the pigs' superiority over the other animals and undertake to
dispose of the cows' milk (to their own benefit, of course).
Napoleon, the pig, is really the central character on the farm. Obviously a metaphor for Stalin, Comrade Napoleon represents the
human frailties of any revolution. Orwell believed that although socialism is good as an ideal, it can never be successfully
adopted due to the uncontrollable sins of human nature. For example, although Napoleon seems at first to be a good leader, he
is eventually overcome by greed and soon becomes power-hungry. Of course, Stalin did, too, in Russia, leaving the original
equality of socialism behind, giving himself all the power and living in luxury while the common peasant suffered. Thus, while his
national and international status blossomed, the welfare of Russia remained unchanged.
Orwell explains, "Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer--
except, of course for the pigs and the dogs." The true side of Napoleon becomes evident after he slaughters so many animals for
plotting against him. He even hires a pig to sample his food for him to make certain that no one is trying to poison him. Stalin,
too, was a cruel dictator in Russia. After suspecting many people in his empire to be supporters of Trotsky (Orwell's Snowball),
Stalin systematically murdered thousands of people. At the end of the book, Napoleon doesn't even pretend to lead a socialist
state. After renaming it a Republic and instituting his own version of the commandments and the Beasts of England, Comrade
Napoleon quickly becomes more or less a dictator who of course has never even been elected by the animals.
In general terms, Napoleon represents any cruel, absolute dictator who perverts the goals of a revolution for his own personal
gain and glory. We see how any such leader goes from bad to worse, adopting more and more vicious tactics to retain his hold
on power. Napoleon is vivid proof of the saying that 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
NAPOLEON - Key Characteristics
Large, fierce-looking Berkshire boar
Has a reputation for getting his own way
Greedy and selfish (milk/apples)
Powerful and ruthless tyrant (Snowball/Boxer)
Shrewd, cunning, practical (trains dogs)
Uses lies, propaganda and brain-washing
Uses terror (execution of hens and sheep)
Self-centered and vain (President)
Takes credit for everything (the windmill)
No moral conscience (treatment of Boxer)
Physical coward (Battle of the Cowshed)
Represents any cruel, absolute dictator who perverts a revolution for his own personal gain and glory.
Snowball is a more lively and vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in thought and speech, and more inventive. He
was not considered to have the same depth of character nor the same ruthless streak.
Snowball may also be seen as the most 'intellectual' of the animals. He is best at writing and it is Snowball who
explains the more abstract ideas of Animalism to the others. It is Snowball who designs the Farm Flag that flutters
over Animal Farm.
Although Snowball's interest in bettering the education of the other animals is genuine, his ideas are often
impractical and fail for that reason. For instance, he organizes several useless Committees such as the Egg Production
Committee and the Clean Tail League. Snowball's other great dream is, of course, the windmill: “in glowing
sentences, he painted a picture of Animal Farm as it might be when sordid labour was lifted from the animals'
However, Snowball's ability to design the windmill does demonstrate his intelligence as do the brilliant tactics he
devises for the Battle of the Cowshed. There is no doubt that Snowball is brave; he leads the charge against Jones at
the Battle of the Cowshed. In general terms, Snowball represents the idealistic 'thinkers' of a revolution whose
admirable ideas often fail for practical reasons - and who cannot defend themselves against their more unscrupulous
and ruthless colleagues.
Snowball can be easily identified with the historical figure of Leon Trotsky, one of the early leaders of the Russian
Revolution. Like Snowball, Trotsky was an intellectual and a clever military tactician. And like Snowball, Trotsky
was exiled from his country by a ruthless rival (Stalin) and later used as a scapegoat. Trotsky was eventually
murdered on Stalin's orders in 1946.
SNOWBALL - Key Characteristics
More lively and vivacious than Napoleon
Quicker in thought and speech
More inventive than practical (windmill)
Great organizer (Battle of the Cowshed)
Not so ruthless as Napoleon
Most intellectual (invents Animalism)
Brave (leads charge against Jones)
Enthusiastic, an inspiring leader
Rather naive (does not suspect Napoleon)
Idealistic, but his good ideas often fail for practical reasons
NAPOLEON & SNOWBALL
Snowball is good at organizing, at planning. He is intelligent and his aim is to educate the animals so that
they are able to help in the governing of the farm. Snowball would also like to export the revolution to as
many neighbouring farms as possible to set animals free from slavery.
Napoleon is taciturn (tight-lipped, uncommunicative, unforthcoming), he keeps his ideas to himself and
works in the background (taking the puppies away to train), while Snowball works in the open. Napoleon
plays no part in the Battle of the Cowshed where Snowball is fighting so bravely after working out the
strategy by which victory is achieved.
Snowball wins support by his ability to arouse enthusiasm for his ideas and projects; Napoleon has to resort
to deception, lies and force, expelling Snowball with the dogs after Snowball has won the argument over
As the story develops, the character of Napoleon is presented more openly. He does not hide his real
nature and deals with opposition in a most ruthless manner. Looking back, we can see that Napoleon
prepared for his policies of confessions and executions by training the dogs to act as his vicious police.
Napoleon is so utterly corrupt with no motive other than his desire for absolute power that Orwell's main
theme - power corrupts - is presented in clear and stark terms. We do not need to question why Napoleon
acted as he did. In the fable he represents the ruthlessness, violence, treachery and self-interest of men
such as Hitler and Stalin. Napoleon displays not a single redeeming virtue because he has none.
The name Boxer is cleverly used by Orwell as a metaphor for the Boxer Rebellion in China in the early twentieth century. It was
this rebellion which signalled the beginning of communism in red China. This form of communism, much like the distorted Stalin
view of socialism, is still present today in the oppressive socialist government in China.
Boxer and Clover are used by Orwell to represent the proletariat, or unskilled labour class in Russian society.
This lower class is naturally drawn to Stalin (Napoleon) because it seems as though they will benefit most from his new system.
Since Boxer and the other low animals are not accustomed to the "good life," they can't really compare Napoleon's government
with the life they had before under the czars (Jones). Also, since usually the lowest class has the lowest intelligence, it is not
difficult to persuade them into thinking they are getting a good deal. The proletariat is also quite good at convincing themselves
that communism is a good idea. Orwell supports this contention when he narrates, "Their most faithful disciples were the two
carthorses, Boxer and Clover. Those two had great difficulty in thinking anything out for themselves, but having once accepted
the pigs as their teachers, they absorbed everything that they were told, and passed it on to the other animals by simple
arguments." Later, the importance of the proletariat is shown when Boxer suddenly falls and there is suddenly a drastic decrease
in work productivity. But still he is taken for granted by the pigs who send him away in a glue truck. Truly Boxer is the biggest
poster-child for gullibility.
One function of Boxer's character is to serve as a contrast to the lazy, self-serving pigs. It is tragic that Boxer remains fiercely
loyal to Napoleon who callously (cold-hearted and cruel) send him to the Knackery once his usefulness has gone.
Orwell cleverly builds up the character of Boxer as gentle, humble, thoughtful and self-sacrificing so that his ultimate betrayal
inspires anger and disgust in the reader against the pigs and Napoleon in particular.
Ultimately, Boxer is too loyal and trusting for his own good.
BOXER - Key characteristics
Most likeable character
Enormous carthorse, great strength
“not of first rate intelligence” - dim-witted
Has the slogan “I will work harder.”
Animal Farm kept going by Boxer's strength and determination
So different from the lazy, selfish pigs
Boxer is loyal and devoted to friends (even to Napoleon)
Boxer is gentle (e.g. the stable boy)
Thoughtful and self-sacrificing
Boxer is too loyal and trusting for his own good.
BOXER and NAPOLEON
Boxer is the animal that most readers remember best along with Napoleon and he forms another of the
important character contrasts with Napoleon.
The way we view Boxer is essential to the way we view Napoleon. Boxer is presented simply and
sympathetically to reinforce our hatred of all that Napoleon represents. Through Boxer we come to see
Napoleon as ruthless, exploitative, and power-hungry, and we loathe him for the way he treats Boxer.
The fact that Boxer himself cannot hate Napoleon because he is duped, tricked and deceived by him
throughout the story makes us despise Napoleon even more.
Boxer is presented as one of Napoleon's most devoted followers, never doubting for more than a moment
what the Leader says anymore than he would shirk his workload, taking upon himself far more than his
share of the work until it kills him. Boxer represents those people who believe that more of the same thing
will solve a problem when the present amount is failing rather than standing back to consider whether the
course of action might be wrong.
It is Boxer's presentation as a simple, sincere and compassionate creature that causes the reader to be
outraged, angry, and eventually deeply saddened and grieved that this noble animal is treated in such a
shabby, sordid manner.
We find a balance of opposites:
Napoleon is ruthlessly cruel (the confessions and executions, Boxer's death); Boxer is compassionate (the
injured stable boy in the Battle of the Cowshed);
Napoleon is all-powerful in his cunning; Boxer is quite helpless in his trust and loyalty;
Napoleon is motivated by greed and selfishness; Boxer is motivated only by a desire to do his best for all.
Many more contrasts could be listed, but we can already see quite clearly Orwell's intention in his
characterization of this hard-working, devoted and betrayed horse.
Squealer is a “small fat pig with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice.” His persuasive nature
makes him ideal for the job of propaganda agent for the pigs and for Napoleon in particular.
Squealer's name suggests his nature: he is a sneak and a tell-tale. Throughout the novel he is portrayed as an unpleasant
character, always distorting the truth or telling pure lies.
He is a flatterer, a toady who worms his way into Napoleon's confidence and serves Napoleon whole-heartedly so that he can
share in Napoleon's status and privileges. Squealer has no beliefs, no ideals of his own, he exists to serve the greatest power that
he finds around him.
Squealer is also a coward who vanishes during the Battle of the Windmill. He hates being opposed and never forgives Boxer for
standing up against the animals who are to be executed. He takes delight in getting revenge by helping to send Boxer to the
Knocker’s Yard and then telling the absurd lie that the van was transporting the faithful carthorse to the vet's.
Like all pompous cowards, Squealer is also rather ridiculous (e.g. falling off the ladder while altering the Commandments). By the
end of the novel Squealer has become extremely fat, lazy and more pompous than ever.
Squealer represents the propaganda agents of the state who strive to keep the dictator in power no matter what lies they
have to tell or whose lives have to be sacrificed. Many critics correlate Squealer with the Pravda (the Russian newspaper of
the 1930s). Propaganda was a key to many publications, and since there was no television or radio, the newspaper was the
primary source of media information. So the monopoly of the Pravda was seized by Stalin and his new Bolshevik regime. In
Animal Farm, Squealer, like the newspaper, is the link between Napoleon and other animals. When Squealer masks the evil
intentions of the pigs, the intentions can be carried out with little resistance and without political disarray. Squealer is also
thought by some to represent Goebbels, who was the minister of propaganda for Germany. This would seem inconsistent
with Orwell's satire, however, which was supposed to metaphor characters in Russia.
SQUEALER - Key characteristics
“Twinkling eyes, shrill voice, nimble movements”
Very persuasive - could prove that “white is black”.
Exists to serve Napoleon, to share in his privileges
Sneak and a tell-tale
Invents statistics, distorts truth, tells pure lies
Malicious and vengeful (never forgives Boxer)
Pompous and ridiculous (falls off ladder)
Becomes extremely fat and lazy
Has no beliefs or ideals of his own
Benjamin, the donkey, is the oldest animal on the farm and may
also be the wisest. He sees through the pigs' exploitation of the
other animals but his cynical, pessimistic nature prevents him from
doing anything about it. He represents the disillusioned people
who realize that all revolutions are probably pointless and merely
lead to new forms of tyranny. In some ways, it could be said that
Benjamin could resemble Orwell.
Benjamin represents those people who believe that there is
something fundamentally wrong, fundamentally corrupt with
human nature itself.
BENJAMIN – Key characteristics
Oldest animal on the farm
May be the wisest
Cynical and pessimistic
Does nothing to stop the pigs
Disillusioned - believes that nothing ever really changes
Loyal and devoted on a personal level (Boxer)
Believes there is something fundamentally corrupt with human nature itself
Witnesses the transformation of the pigs
There are many minor characters in Animal Farm but they are all memorable, and they all have some
importance in getting across the total message of the novel.
Orwell uses the pigs to surround and support Napoleon. They symbolise the communist party loyalists and
the friends of Stalin, as well as perhaps the Duma, or Russian parliament. The pigs, unlike other animals,
live in luxury and enjoy the benefits of the society they help to control. The inequality and true hypocrisy of
communism is expressed here by Orwell, who criticised Marx's oversimplified view of a socialist, "utopian"
society. Obviously, George Orwell doesn't believe such a society can exist. Toward the end of the book,
Orwell emphasises, "Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals
themselves any richer except, of course, the pigs and the dogs."
Minimum, the pig, is a kind of official poet and song-writer, composing second-rate poetry to praise
Napoleon and Animal Farm. Minimus represents the kind of artists who 'sell-out' to the leaders of the
Revolution and who prostitute their art by producing what the leaders want to hear and see rather than
pointing towards the truth, which is the first function of all Art.
Moses is perhaps Orwell's most intriguing character in Animal Farm. This raven, first described as the
"especial pet" of Mr Jones, is the only animal who doesn't work. He's also the only character who doesn't
listen to Old Major's speech of rebellion. Orwell narrates, "The pigs had an even harder struggle to
counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven. Moses, who was Mr Jones's especial pet, was a
spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker. He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious
country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere
up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven
days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges.
The animals hated Moses because he told tales and did no work but some of them believed in Sugarcandy
Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place."
Moses represents Orwell's view of the Church. To Orwell, the Church is just used as a tool by dictatorships
to keep the working class of people hopeful and productive. Orwell uses Moses to criticize Marx's belief
that the Church will just go away after the rebellion. Jones first used Moses to keep the animals working,
and he was successful in many ways before the rebellion. The pigs had a real hard time getting rid of
Moses, since the lies about Heaven they thought would only lead the animals away from the equality of
socialism. But as the pigs led by Napoleon become more and more like Mr Jones, Moses finds his place
After being away for several years, he suddenly returns and picks up right where he left off. The pigs don't
mind this time because the animals have already realised that the "equality" of the revolt is a farce. So
Napoleon feeds Moses with beer, and the full circle is complete.
Orwell seems to offer a very cynical and harsh view of the Church. This proves that Animal Farm is not
simply an anti-communist work meant to lead people into capitalism and Christianity. Really Orwell found
loop-holes and much hypocrisy in both systems.
Mollie is one of Orwell's minor characters, but she represents something very important. Mollie is one of
the animals who is most opposed to the new government under Napoleon. She doesn't care much about
the politics of the whole situation; she just wants to tie her hair with ribbons and eat sugar, things her
social status won't allow. Many animals consider her a traitor when she is seen being petted by a human
from a neighbouring farm. Soon Mollie is confronted by the "dedicated" animals, and she quietly leaves the
Mollie characterises the typical middle-class skilled worker who suffers from this new communism
concept. No longer will she get her sugar (nice salary) because she is now just as low as the other animals,
like Boxer and Clover. Orwell uses Mollie to characterise the people after any rebellion who aren't too
receptive to new leaders and new economics. There are always those resistant to change. This continues
to dispel the belief Orwell hated and according to which basically all animals act the same. The naivety of
Marxism is criticised, socialism is not perfect, and it doesn't work for everyone.
The cat is lazy and independent. She avoids work whenever possible, often with some plausible excuse. She
represents those people in society who adapt to whatever the conditions are, but who never accept any
responsibility or make any commitments. The cat wants to take what she can get from the community
without contributing anything towards it.
Clover, like Boxer, is compassionate, gentle, and dim-witted, but unlike Boxer is not prepared to give
unquestioning loyalty and obedience to Napoleon. Nor is Clover prepared to work herself to death for
something she feel intuitively may be wrong.
The sheep are the stupidest animals on the farm. They can be easily convinced of anything by the sharp-
witted pigs and can even change their views completely with a little prompting.
The sheep represent the ignorant masses of people in a country who blindly follow the instructions of
whoever happens to be in power at the moment.
Orwell uses the dogs in his book, Animal Farm, to represent the KGB or perhaps more accurately, the
bodyguards of Stalin. The dogs are the arch-defenders of Napoleon and the pigs, and although they don't
speak, they are definitely a force the other animals have to reckon with. Orwell almost speaks of the dogs
as mindless robots, so dedicated to Napoleon that they can't really speak for themselves. This contention is
supported as Orwell describes Napoleon's early and suspicious removal of six puppies from their mother.
The reader is left in the dark for a while, but is later enlightened when Orwell describes the chase of
Snowball. Napoleon uses his "secret dogs" for the first time here; before Snowball has a chance to stand up
and give a counter-argument to Napoleon's disapproval of the windmill, the dogs viciously attack the pig,
forcing him to flee, never to return again. Orwell narrates, "Silent and terrified, the animals crept back into
the barn. In a moment the dogs came bounding back. At first no one had been able to imagine where these
creatures came from, but the problem was soon solved: they were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken
away from their mothers and reared privately. Though not yet full-grown, they were huge dogs, and as
fierce-looking as wolves. They kept close to Napoleon. It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him in
the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr Jones." The use of the dogs begins the evil use
of force which helps Napoleon maintain power. Later, the dogs do even more dastardly things when they
are instructed to kill the animals labelled "disloyal." Stalin, too, had his own special force of "helpers".
Really there are followers loyal to any politician or government leader, but Stalin in particular needed a
special police force to eliminate his opponents. This is how Trotsky was killed.
In Chapter seven, Napoleon calls for the hens to ‘surrender their eggs’. This is a reference to Stalin’s
attempt to collectivize the peasant farmers of Russia. The hens attempted to resist the order at first, just as
the peasant farmers of the Ukraine. But, just as in real life, they were eventually starved into submission.
In the book, 9 hens died during the incident. In reality, it is estimated that somewhere between 4 and 10
million Ukrainian peasants were starved to death by Stalin. In the book, it was also said that the Hens
smashed their own eggs to protest Napoleon’s actions. This is symbolic of the Ukrainian farmers who
slaughtered their own livestock before joining a collective as a form of protest. So many farmers engaged in
this practice that livestock in the Ukraine dwindled by 50% - 80% between 1928 and 1935. The problem
became so out of control that Stalin eventually executed any farmer found guilty of engaging in this
practice. Even the act of ‘neglecting’ your livestock was punishable by death.
Mr Jones is one of Orwell's major (or at least most obvious) villain in Animal Farm. Orwell says that at one
time Jones was actually a decent master to his animals. At this time the farm was thriving. But in recent
years the farm had fallen on harder times and the opportunity was seen to revolt. The world-wide
depression began in the United States when the stock market crashed in October of 1929. The depression
spread throughout the world because American exports were so dependent on Europe. The U.S. was also a
major contributor to the world market economy. Germany along with the rest of Europe was especially
hard hit. The parallels between crop failure of the farm and the depression in the 1930s are clear. Only the
leaders and the die-hard followers ate their fill during this time period. Mr Jones symbolises (in addition to
the evils of capitalism) Czar Nicholas II, the leader before Stalin (Napoleon). Jones represents the old
government, the last of the Czars. Orwell suggests that Jones was losing his "edge". In fact, he and his men
had taken up the habit of drinking. Old Major reveals his feelings about Jones and his administration when
he says, "Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay
eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, and he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all
the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from
starving and the rest he keeps for himself." So Jones and the old government are successfully uprooted by
the animals. Little do they know history will repeat itself with Napoleon and the pigs.
The owner of Pinchfield, the small farm adjacent to Manor Farm. He is a hard-nosed individual who is
known for his frequent legal troubles and demanding business style. He cheats the animals out of their
timber by paying for it with fake banknotes. Frederick represents Adolf Hitler. Rumours of the exotic and
cruel animal tortures Frederick enacts on his farm are meant to echo the horror stories emerging from Nazi
Germany. Frederick’s agreement to buy the timber represents the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression treaty, and
his subsequent betrayal of the pact and invasion of Animal Farm represents the Nazi invasion of the Soviet
The owner of Foxwood, the large, unkempt farm adjacent to Manor Farm. He is an easy-going man who
prefers pursuing his hobbies to maintaining his land. At the book’s end, Mr. Pilkington offers a toast to the
future cooperation between human farms and Animal Farm. He also says he plans to emulate Animal
Farm’s low rations and long work hours. Pilkington can be seen to represent the Allies (England and
America). Allied countries explored the possibility of trade with the Soviet Union in the years leading up to
World War II but kept a watchful distance. Ominously, as Friedrich Hayek points out in The Road to
Serfdom (1944), communist principles had strong proponents among many Allied nations as well.
Pilkington’s unwillingness to save Animal Farm from Frederick and his men parodies the Allies’ initial
hesitance to enter the War (America). Napoleon’s and Pilkington’s poker game at the end of the book
suggests the beginnings of a power struggle that would later become the Cold War (America versus Russia).
A solicitor in Willingdon who acts as Animal Farm’s intermediary to the human world. He is “a sly-looking
little man with side whiskers.” He visits the farm every Monday to get his orders and is paid in
commissions. Mr. Whymper’s business-minded attitude towards Animal Farm, which allows him to ignore
the injustices and atrocities committed there, make him a parody of nations who conducted business with
the Soviet Union while turning a blind eye to its internal affairs.
Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colours used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Animal Farm, known at the beginning and the end of the novel as the Manor Farm, symbolizes Russia and
the Soviet Union under Communist Party rule. But more generally, Animal Farm stands for any human
society, be it capitalist, socialist, fascist, or communist. It possesses the internal structure of a nation, with
a government (the pigs), a police force or army (the dogs), a working class (the other animals), and state
holidays and rituals. Its location amid a number of hostile neighboring farms supports its symbolism as a
political entity with diplomatic concerns.
The barn at Animal Farm, on whose outside walls the pigs paint the Seven Commandments and, later,
their revisions, represents the collective memory of a modern nation. The many scenes in which the
ruling-class pigs alter the principles of Animalism and in which the working-class animals puzzle over but
accept these changes represent the way an institution in power can revise a community's concept of
history to bolster its control. If the working class believes history to lie on the side of their oppressors,
they are less likely to question oppressive practices. Moreover, the oppressors, by revising their nation's
conception of its origins and development, gain control of the nation's very identity, and the oppressed
soon come to depend upon the authorities for their communal sense of self.
The great windmill symbolizes the pigs' manipulation of the other animals for their own gain. Despite the
immediacy of the need for food and warmth, the pigs exploit Boxer and the other common animals by
making them undertake backbreaking labor to build the windmill, which will ultimately earn the pigs
more money and thus increase their power. The pigs' declaration that Snowball is responsible for the
windmill's first collapse constitutes psychological manipulation, as it prevents the common animals from
doubting the pigs' abilities and unites them against a supposed enemy. The ultimate conversion of the
windmill to commercial use is one more sign of the pigs' betrayal of their fellow animals. From an
allegorical point of view, the windmill represents the enormous modernization projects undertaken in
Soviet Russia after the Russian Revolution.
What has come up on the exam so far?
Character: Mr. Jones
Theme: Seven Commandments
Overall, you should spend a total of 50 minutes on this question. Remember, you have 105 minutes
overall for this exam: 50 minutes on Section A (Animal Farm), 50 minutes on Section B (Of Mice and
Men) and then 5 minutes to read through and check your answers.
Part a, b and c of the question are ALL based on the extract you are given. Part d asks you to again focus
on a theme but this time you have to select your own extract.
This question is broken into four parts and you are tested on the following Assessment Objectives:
Part a is usually based on a character (assesses AO1): 8 MARKS & 13 MINUTES
AO1: respond to texts critically and imaginatively; select and evaluate relevant textual detail to illustrate and support
Part b is always has a language focus (assesses AO2): 10 MARKS & 10 MINUTES
AO2: Explain how language, structure and form contribute to a writer’s presentation of ideas, themes and settings.
Part c focuses on a theme presented in the extract (assesses A01): 10 MARKS & 10 MINUTES
AO1: respond to texts critically and imaginatively; select and evaluate relevant textual detail to illustrate and support
Part d is again focused on a theme but you are asked to select your own extract (assesses AO1 and
A02):12 MARKS + 3 MARKS FOR SPAG & 17 MINUTES
AO1: respond to texts critically and imaginatively; select and evaluate relevant textual detail to illustrate and
AO2: Explain how language, structure and form contribute to a writer’s presentation of ideas, themes and settings.
Part a: CHARACTER (A01)
8 MARKS = 5 MINUTES TO READ AND ANNOTATE THE EXTRACT + 8 MINUTES TO WRITE RESPONSE
- USE THE KEY WORDS FROM THE QUESTION
- COVER THE WHOLE EXTRACT
- AIM FOR AROUND 6 QUOTATIONS AND WEAVE THEM INTO YOUR RESPONSE
- MAKE A RANGE OF POINTS ABOUT WHAT THE EXTRACT SHOWS YOU ABOUT THE CHARACTER
Part b: LANGUAGE FOCUS (A02)
10 MARKS = 10 MINUTES TO WRITE
- USE THE KEY WORDS FROM THE QUESTIION THROUGHOUT YOUR RESPONSE
- COVER THE WHOLE EXTRACT (DOESN’T HAVE TO BE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)
- AIM FOR AROUND 6 QUOTATIONS (THESE CAN BE THE SAME ONES AS YOU HAVE USED FOR PART A)
- INCLUDE SOME SINGLE WORD ANALYSIS (AIM FOR 3 INSTANCES)
- USE THE CORRECT LANGUAGE TERMINOLOGY IN YOUR RESPONSE
Part c: THEME (A01)
10 MARKS = 10 MINUTES TO WRITE
- USE THE KEY WORDS FROM THE QUESTION AND MAKE SURE THAT YOU COVER THE WHOLE EXTRACT
- AIM FOR AROUND 6- 7 QUOTATIONS (THESE CAN BE THE SAME ONES AS YOU HAVE USED FOR PART a
- WEAVE YOUR QUOTATIONS INTO YOUR RESPONSE
- MAKE A RANGE OF DIFFERENT POINTS.
Part d: THEME IN YOUR CHOSEN EXTRACT (A01 + AO2)
12 MARKS + 3 MARKS FOR SPAG = 5 MINUTES TO FIND YOUR EXTRACT AND PLAN + 12 MINUTES TO WRITE
- BEGIN BY SPECIFYING WHERE YOUR CHOSEN EXTRACT IS FROM AND HOW THE THEME IS PRESENTED IN
THIS PARTICULAR EXTRACT
- AIM FOR AROUND 4 - 5 QUOTATIONS FROM YOUR CHOSEN EXTRACT
- WEAVE YOUR QUOTATIONS INTO YOUR RESPONSE
- INCLUDE SOME SINGLE WORD ANALYSIS
- USE THE CORRECT LANGUAGE TERMINOLOGY IN YOUR RESPONSE
- ENSURE THAT ALL OF YOUR POINTS ARE WELL DEVELOPED
Make sure you read the comments above as they provide a valuable insight
as to what the examiner is looking for.
Mark schemes for these past papers can be found on the following website:
Words to use when analysing
Words to use when evaluating
Clear and varied:
This/Orwell has done this/used this to suggest ...
This/Orwell has done this/used this to portray...
This/Orwell has done this/used this to depict...
This/Orwell has done this/used this to imply...
This/Orwell has done this/used this to highlight...
This/Orwell has done this/used this to convey...
This echoes the way in which.../a sense in which...
This parallels the idea that
This alludes to a sense of ...
This establishes the tone to be...
This illustrates the way in which.../a sense that...
This emphasises (brings attention to)
This presents the feeling that...
This validates (confirms/proves) any uncertainty we might have had concerning...
The use of X exemplifies (is typical of) the way in which Orwell portrays this relationship/feeling etc...
Orwell’s use of X illuminates (highlights) the sense (feeling) of ……………. that pervades the text.
The use of X encapsulates (shows the essence of) this sense of ………….... that we see in the extract.
Using X clarifies (makes clear) the notion that...
Top Tip: Don’t overuse short sentences that all begin with ‘This...’
Instead join sentences with connectives or semi-colons so that they don’t read like annotations just
written out in full sentences!
For example: Within the extract, Orwell uses lots of references to the collectiveness of the animals. In the
extract he uses phrases such as ‘all animals’, ‘together’ and ‘theirs’ to illustrate a sense of harmony and
equality that now exists on the farm since the rebellion; this conveys to the reader the animals’ vision of
utopia as they are all united as one in their shared sense of ‘joy’ at their new found independence. It could
also reflect how all the animals have the same ideology as they are working together to ‘destroy’ the
remnants of anything human and this only serves to enhance the feeling of utopia that permeates the
Challenging compelling confronting convincing effective engaging evocative
interesting poignant (makes you feel sad) reminiscent of... (reminds you of)
moving impressive powerful evocative (making you feel strong emotions)
this resonates on the reader (the reader feels the emotion)