Old Major dies, but his words are still ringing in the ears of the animals and in particular the pigs.
They are led by Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer, and they head the rebellion against Farmer Jones who has again forgotten to feed or milk the animals.
He is driven out of the farm and the
animals are amazed at the ease with which this is achieved.
They set about destroying all the reminders of the farmer’s control over them, and the instruments he used to punish them.
Napoleon makes his play for absolute power by securing control over the food supply. He also draws up Seven Commandments that are written
on the barn wall so that all animals can read and learn.
Now that the animals are working for themselves, they produce a bumper harvest with no wastage, and the cows are milked on a regular basis.
The hens expect to see an improvement in their food by the addition of milk, but this fails to transpire.
Farmer Jones’ continued neglect on top of the Old Major’s
speech and death proves a catalyst for the revolution. We learn that the farm is located in a remote spot, and the animals together quickly overthrow the farmer and his men, and chase them from the farm.
The revolution is led by two young boars, Snowball and Napoleon, supported by Squealer.
We note that when the animals refer to one another they use the word comrade, thus providing the Communist tone to the society that the animals
We also observe that not all the animals greet the revolution warmly, in particular Molly the Jones’ horse wants to know if she will still be
allowed to wear ribbons, and Moses the tame raven keeps bringing in a religious perspective to proceedings, referring to Animal Heaven or Sugar Candy Mountain.
Although the animals work well together at first and produce an excellent harvest, there are still indications that Old Major’s ideal is not
going to be achieved. The ruling pigs have already condensed Old Major’s ideology into Seven Commandments as follows:-
. Whatever goes upon 2 legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon 4 legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- All animals are equal.”
Orwell’s aim here is to show how the new animal society
degenerates from this initial stance.
The reader senses that the pigs are not being totally honest with the other animals. What has happened to the cows’ milk?
At this stage, we are not sure whether these minor glitches will be remedied or whether this Utopian society will totally fall apart.
However, we are clear that not all animals are equal, and we already have a class society where the pigs, by consensus, organize the running of
As with Communism (Marxism), animals call one another ‘Comrade’ in the society of animalism.
As we have said before, this satire is not just aimed at 20th Century Russia, but at the age-old evils of humanity - selfishness, pride and hypocrisy.
Orwell wishes to stress that in any society there would be stalwarts such as Boxer the shire horse, and Napoleon the prize boar.
We will see that power corrupts pigs and humans alike.
In addition to satire, there is much irony in this story as well. Perhaps the reader is surprised that the animals so readily accept the
replacement of their human masters, by the pig masters, accepting that an animal’s status depends on its intelligence.
It is their folly that they accept this position from the outset. They do not seek to enforce the Seventh Commandment. Perhaps this should have been the First Commandment.
It is interesting to note that the actual event of rebellion is covered in just two paragraphs. Perhaps this is the author’s comment on how
quickly revolution can occur.