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Animal Farm

George Orwell's Animal Farm
by

J Stockford

on 25 November 2012

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Transcript of Animal Farm

The working class were largely unhappy and were starving. There was rationing on food and people started striking. Nicholas II ordered his army to kill the people.

This made the people even angrier, coupling inhumane violence with the inequality the rich and poor (class stratification). Food demonstration in Petrograd in 1905 Once upon a time in Russia (100 years ago) there was a tsar by the name of Nicholas II who oversaw the empire of Russia.

Except that he was a dictator and under his rule there was severe class division between the ruling (aristocrats) and the poor working class (the proletariat). There were two revolutions in 1917: February and October (or November depending on who you ask) by the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

Tsar Nicholas II abdicated (gave up his position) but was executed anyway. To give you an idea of his wealth, the women in his family were wearing 1.3 kilograms of diamonds and precious gems sewn into their clothing …at 2am!

Therefore, a provisional government was installed by the Bolsheviks, led by the fellow in red. Karl Marx
Marxism predicts the downfall of capitalist societies.
It defines history as the struggle between the haves and the have-nots. 1870-1924
Born Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov
Following the execution of his brother in 1887, Lenin became interested in revolutionary politics
Expelled from the University of Kazan for radical views
Studied Marxist philosophy
Changed his name to Lenin
Was persuasive, charismatic and theoretical. What could be more opposite? Well, actually Lenin was a Socialist who believed: "Each according to his ability, each according to his need."
This means a classless, money-less, self-sufficient society with Egalitarian hopes (everyone is equal)... Russia became the first nation in the world to become socialist. People viewed Lenin as a champion for the Proletariat.

Sounds nice, doesn't it? But this is heavily tainted by the human tendency to become corrupt.

After several years, Lenin passed away and Josef Stalin came to power ruling for 30 years with a totalitarian communist society to control. With the tyrant's iron fist and 'purges', the people were worse off than when they were under the empire's rule. Leon Trotsky was a Soviet politician with socialist ideas and became the founder and first leader of the Red Army.

Working with Stalin initially, Stalin turned against him and had Trotsky removed from power and exiled to Mexico where he remained opposing Stalin's rule until Stalin ordered his assassination in the late 1930s.

Under Stalin's rule and "Five Year Plans" the economy was growing again transforming Russia into an industrial country by seizing their land. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of people were executed; millions were sent to labour camps and many exiled. A great famine left many people starving. George Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Stalin. Born in India to British colonist parents and raised in England, Animal Farm is set in the English countryside. Animal Farm was published on 17 August 1945 with all the events of Russia and WW2 fresh and on-going. Animal Farm was forbidden in East Germany, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, and other eastern European countries until 1989 when communism ended. (These countries are known as the Eastern Bloc). This novella is about greed, corruption, power, ignorance and indifference. Animal Farm is an allegorical satire with allusion, a fable. Characters and events are symbolic Criticism designed to ridicule A figure of speech that reference or represents something else

Pure Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

Russian Communism: You have two cows. You have to
take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. Socialism vs Communism
The Dog and His Bone

A hound dog found a bone and held it tightly in his mouth. He growled and scowled at anyone who attempted to take it away. Off into the woods he went to bury his prize.

When he came to a stream, he trotted over the footbridge and happened to glance into the water. He saw his own reflection. Thinking it was another dog with a bigger bone, he growled and scowled at it. The reflection growled and scowled back.

"I'll get THAT bone too," thought the greedy dog, and he snapped his sharp teeth at the image in the water.

Alas, his own big bone fell with a splash, out of sight, the moment he opened his mouth to bite!

“That’ll teach me to be greedy!” he thought. A fable is a fictional story featuring animals (or other things/forces of nature) which are anthropomorphized (given human qualities i.e. verbal communication), and that illustrates or leads to an interpretation of a moral lesson. What do you think Animal Farm is about? A story telling a moral using animals Key questions: chapter 1

1. How is Farmer Jones portrayed in the opening chapter? Use quotations! Can you liken him to Tsar Nicholas II?

2. The animals gather in the barn but there is already some subtle power plays from certain animals. What can you read into here? What power/lack of power is shown by the animals in the barn? Use quotations where you can!

3. To draw parallels to the political events in Russia, what is happening at this time? Chapter 1 summary

• Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, is criticised in the very first paragraph. He is excessively “drunk” and “he lurched across the yard”.

• This contrasts strongly with the feeling of anticipation and excitement as the animals gather to hear the dream of “old Major … a majestic-looking pig”.

• Orwell already suggests the pigs as power-hungry, greedy monsters as they settle down “in the straw immediately in front of the platform” where old Major is ensconced. So already it appears that some animals are more equal than others.

• To this first meeting of the animals in the barn, Orwell brings a gentle, warm quality, mixing whimsically with a dash of absurdity. Chapter 2 summary

• In the first paragraph of this chapter old Major dies. By the end of the chapter when the pigs steal all the milk for themselves, the corruption is already entrenched.

• The animals, led by the pigs, hold “secret meetings in the barn” to keep old Major’s message alive, and when Mr. Jones falls into a drunken stupor and neglects to feed the animals for days, the hungry animals rebel and expel “Man” from “Man-or” Farm.

• To remind them of their tormentors, the farmhouse is unanimously declared a museum. Ironically, a situation which Orwell knew only too well, this memorial to their former oppressors (Jones and Co) will become the home of their new oppressors (the pigs). In other words: Corruption merely breeds corruption.

• Old Major’s resolutions are painted on a wall “in great white letters” and the animals are deceived into believing that these Seven Commandments form “an unalterable law by which all the animals on Animal Farm must live for ever after”.

• Hint: Know the Seven Commandments very well. Take special notice of those commandments that are revised and why and those which completely disappear and why, as well as how the seventh commandment “All animals are equal” is changed to suit the pigs. Key questions: chapter 2

1. In the first paragraph, Old Major dies. Who is Old Major an allusion to? Why is this event a critical point?

2. By the end of the chapter when the pigs steal the milk for themselves... What key them does this show? Is an egalitarian socialist society possible?

3. The animals (led by the pigs) hold secret meetings to keep Old Major's message alive. When Jones neglects the animals, they rebel to expel 'man' from 'man-or' farm. Explain your opinion of the significance of this event.

4. What is significant of where the new leaders choose to live? Chapter 3 summary

• The animals’ blind respect for the superiority of the pigs erodes their independence and individuality and equality (if there ever was any genuine equality).

• Orwell snidely comments: “The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others.”

• The harvest proves the most successful ever, despite their inexperience and the animals believe themselves to be “happy as they had never conceived it possible to be”.

• The rivalry between Snowball and Napoleon is tangible but Squealer’s constant warning that “Jones would come back” immediately dispels any uneasiness the animals may be feeling. Key questions: chapter 3

1. How much do the pigs contribute to the equal share of labour on the farm? Use quotations!

2. Initially the harvest is the most successful it has ever been. How do the animals respond to this? How does this reflect on the Russian people's idealistic socialist hopes?

3. How does the constant warning that "Jones would come back" impact on the rivalry between Snowball and Napoleon? Chapter 4 summary

• The success of Animal Farm causes great anxiety among the neighbouring farmers. Mr. Pilkington of Foxwood and Mr. Frederick of Pinchfield are “thoroughly frightened by the rebellion on Animal Farm.”

• We are told that these two farmers “disliked each other so much”, which is no different from the hostility that exists between Snowball and Napoleon. As rumours of the success of Animal Farm filter through, their own animals become rebellious and savage. So terrified are these farmers that the minute they hear any of their animals singing Beasts of England, “it was given a flogging on the spot”. As old Major had warned “Man is the only real enemy we have” (Chapter 1).

• However, the brutality of Man towards animals is not unique; man is equally vicious towards his fellow man and in the same way, the animals will murder their fellow animals.

• The Battle of the Cowshed is a triumph for the animals with Jones and all the humans fleeing in panic. Orwell uses satirical humour by explaining that Snowball “who was in charge of the defensive operations” had organised the strategy by following the method used by Julius Caesar, the great Roman soldier.

• Napoleon is noticeably absent from any participation in the battle, but given his silent, enigmatic behaviour, we know that he is obviously securing his power base and is still biding his time.

• In imitation of humanity, and for the purpose of keeping morale high, “military decoration(s)” are given to the heroes and “public holidays” declared to honour historic dates. Key questions: chapter 4

1. Explain the relationship between the farmers.

2. How does the role of song (propaganda) come across in the novella?

3. What is the Battle of Cowshed symbolic for?

4. How do Napoleon and Snowball behave in this chapter? How do they mirror the behaviour of their allusions (Trotsky and Stalin)?

5. Why are military decorations given and public holidays declared? What does this show? Chapter 5 summary

• Mollie, vain, the stereotypical 'dumb blonde', disappears. Having no interest in politics whatsoever, she is indifferent to the stirring notion of freedom and liberty and is solely concerned about her ribbons and her lumps of sugar.

• The fighting between Snowball and Napoleon intensifies. The animals are naïve and confused, not knowing for whom to vote. In reality, the whole idea of needing a majority vote is irrelevant as all Napoleon is waiting for is to become the dictator of the farm. It is only Benjamin who remains unaffected by the persuasive arguments of Snowball and Napoleon and remarks gloomily that “Windmill or no windmill, … life would go on as it had always gone on – that is, badly”.

• It is at this point that Napoleon unleashes his power, leaving the animals full of fear and terror as his dogs expel Snowball from the farm. Napoleon has raised the pups as vicious guard dogs – they were “as fierce looking as wolves” who will obey only him. Orwell comments cynically: “It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him (Napoleon) in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr Jones.” The animals are left “silent and terrified”.

• The dictatorship of Napoleon is entrenched:
- No more Sunday meetings.
- Animals would receive “their orders”…“there would be no more debates”.
- Napoleon sat on a raised platform surrounded by his dogs when the animals assembled to receive their orders.
- The windmill is to be built after all (According to Squealer it had been Napoleon’s idea from the very first).

• Snowball is an enemy, “a dangerous character and a bad influence”. Thus begins the character assassination of Snowball which will continue throughout the novel. The events that have happened in which Snowball was involved will be given a new interpretation, while all the problems that occur on the farm from now will be the malicious work of Snowball. Key questions: chapter 5

1. Explain how the role of voting has been orchestrated. How do different animals respond to this? What does this show you about humans? Consider the US election going on right now.

2. “It was noticed that they [the dogs] wagged their tails to him [Napoleon] in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr Jones.” Explain how Napoleon has seized power and how the animals are left feeling.

3. What is the equivalent to Stalin's "Five Year Plans" here in Animal Farm? Chapter 6 summary

• Life becomes harder and harder for the animals while Napoleon’s power becomes more and more terrifying and despotic. The animals are constantly under threat. When Napoleon announces that there will be work on Sunday afternoons as well, the decree leaves the animals no choice. The animals are informed that “this work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half”.

• Orwell describes the immense hardship the animals experience in building the windmill, and bitterly comments: “If they (the animals) had no more food than they had had in Jones’s day, at least they did not have less.”

• The corruption intensifies:
- Napoleon would from now on “engage in trade with the neighbouring farms.” (See commandment 1).
- The hens must 'sacrifice' their eggs. (What did old Major say about this in Chapter 1?).
- The pigs move into the farmhouse. All were agreed that no animal must ever live there (ie in the farmhouse).
- Napoleon is referred to as the “Leader” and no longer “comrade”. All animals are equal. (See commandment 7).
- The fourth commandment is secretly altered to “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets”. (See Squealer’s explanation of a 'bed' and what Orwell meant by lies and humbug).
- The pigs will sleep an hour later in the mornings than the other animals. (All animals are equal?)

• The windmill is destroyed during a storm but whereas the animals are devastated by this tragedy, Napoleon is totally unresponsive to their despair. He blames the destruction of the windmill on Snowball, imaginary footprints of a pig are discovered near the ruined windmill, and Napoleon alone orders the re-building of the windmill to begin at once. The animals are now the slaves of Napoleon whereas before they were the slaves of Jones.

• The reality is becoming more and more painful and there is not the slightest touch of humour in this chapter. Key questions: chapter 6

1. Explain how the quality of life has transformed for the animals. Explore the moral: "be careful what you wish for".

2. What tactics does Napoleon adopt to coerce the animals into working additional hours?

3. Explain what happens with the windmill. How does this illustrate the tyranny of Stalin's communist government under the guise of equality? Chapter 7 summary

• The animals are “cold, and usually hungry as well”; their rations keep on being reduced; Orwell comments sharply: “Starvation seemed to stare them in the face.”

• Napoleon sees that all the necessary 'window-dressing' is done when Whymper comes on his weekly visits to the farm, so that the truth of the hardship is hidden from the outside world

• Napoleon remains in the farmhouse in isolated splendour, or if he does emerge “it was in a ceremonial manner, with an escort of six dogs who closely surrounded him and growled if anyone came too near”

• Any rebellion, eg that of the hens who do not want to surrender their eggs, is dealt with “ruthlessly”

• The character-assassination of Snowball intensifies as events are rewritten, and any restlessness or criticism from the animals is treated as treachery. The scene where Napoleon’s dogs slaughter their fellow animals is relentless in its brutality: “… there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon’s feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood.”

• After the killings, Orwell’s diction and description of the animals is filled with sorrow and pain. The animals “crept away”. They were shaken and miserable “… huddling together for warmth”

• Clover’s eyes are “filled with tears”. Old Major’s ideals are destroyed, censored, even Beasts of England is forbidden, abolished because as Squealer ironically remarks: “In Beasts of England we expressed our longing for a better society in days to come. But that society has now been established.”

• The new song naturally praises Napoleon: Never through me shalt thou come to harm – and is a bizarre conclusion to a chapter filled with misery and pain. Key questions: chapter 7

1. How does Napoleon's appear on the farm? And what could you say about his absence?

2. What is the significance of the 'window-dressing' when Farmer Whymper comes round? Comment on the role of trade with the humans.

3. Old Major’s ideals are destroyed, censored, even Beasts of England is forbidden, abolished because as Squealer ironically remarks: “In Beasts of England we expressed our longing for a better society in days to come. But that society has now been established.” Comment on the striking brutality in this chapter... Chapter 8 summary

• Two further commandments are conveniently altered to suit the pigs: Sixth commandment: No animal shall kill any other animal without cause; Fifth commandment: No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.

• Napoleon’s unchallenged power becomes more and more excessive. He is worshipped as a god, and the pigs refer to him in the most extravagant terms. He is “Father of all Animals”, “Terror of Mankind” etc. Everything is seen in the light of the grace of their leader, Napoleon. Like all leaders obsessed with absolute power, total control and blind obedience, Napoleon has ensured that no animal dare question the 'noble' concept that “all animals are equal.”

• In reality, the animals are starved and exhausted. The animals’ lives have become a nightmare.

• Orwell satirises everything Napoleon stands for in the poem that Minimus writes in the “Great Leader’s honour”. By this point of the novel, however, the humour is black and painful and intensifies the lies and corruption of the farm under the iron control of a ruthless tyrant. In his prayer-like ode (song of praise) to Napoleon, the latter is referred to as the “giver of / All that thy creatures love”. Napoleon’s portrait accompanies this hymn of praise “on the wall of the big barn” and the windmill will be named Napoleon Mill.

• Napoleon is totally removed from all the animals (except the pigs, of course), and all his activities and dealings are with Man. The situation on the farm is no different from when it was Manor Farm. Thus it comes as no surprise when the farm reverts to its original name in the final chapter.

• As seen in the behaviour of Napoleon, and in the deceit of all the neighbouring farmers, there is overwhelming corruption by all parties. Frederick buys timber from Napoleon and pays with bank-notes that are forgeries, and the attack which follows is a crushing blow to the animals. Napoleon’s arrogance and complacency is coupled with stupidity as he fails to understand how the farmers are planning to destroy the windmill. It is, of course, Benjamin who understands what is happening and how the farmers will destroy the windmill with dynamite.

• The sight of the destroyed windmill enrages the animals and they charge at Frederick and his men. The animals are successful in expelling Frederick but it is a pyrrhic victory (ie no victory at all). Napoleon, who has in fact behaved in a most cowardly way during the battle – he “was directing operations from the rear”, awards himself heroic status while the animals are left “weary and bleeding”.

• A few days later, the pigs discover the pleasure of alcohol and become hopelessly drunk. Once the 'dying' leader recovers from his hangover, the fifth commandment needs to be altered, and when Squealer falls off the ladder while revising the commandment, it is only Benjamin who nods wisely, but will “say nothing”. Key questions: chapter 8

1. How did Stalin rewrite history to suit himself? How is Napoleon doing the same?

2. Explain why this controversial novella was banned until 1989 in the entire Eastern Bloc.

3. How does Orwell satirise the poem Minimus write in "Great Leader's Honour"?

4. How is the expulsion of Frederick a pyrrhic victory? (no victory at all) Chapter 9 summary

•Squealer continues to brainwash the animals with false statistics and carefully chosen diction that disguises the truth. He never refers to the rationing of the food as a 'reduction' but uses the euphemistic term 'readjustment'. He never fails to remind the animals that they are free, and that freedom – this priceless gift – is to be treasured.

•Napoleon’s god-like status continues to grow through the introduction of processions, titles (President) and Spontaneous Demonstrations (“the object of which was to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of Animal Farm”).

•However, it is the ailing Boxer that evokes compassion and despair, and represents the cruelty and injustice of man, in this case animal, to his fellow man (animal).

•While Clover and Benjamin devotedly nurse the weakened horse, the pigs prepare to dispose of him.

•The description of Boxer being sent to his death and the frenzied reaction of Benjamin may be seen as sentimental, but it makes the focus of Orwell’s satire even more dramatic. There is no place for such innocence in a power-hungry, selfish, cruel world.

•Squealer is quick to placate the animals with his desperate fabrication of Boxer’s death, but the fact that his “little eyes darted suspicious glances from side to side” acts a warning to anyone who may dare to challenge his version of Boxer’s end.

•The 'sale' of Boxer enables the pigs to buy yet another case of whisky and they hold a banquet in Boxer’s honour. The pigs become less and less concerned about placating the animals through lies and even the altered commandment “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess” is summarily ignored. Key questions: chapter 9

1. How does Squealer brainwash the animals on the farm? How does Napoleon come across as god-like?

2. Boxer evokes compassion and despair, representing the cruelty and injustice of the world. How do Napoleon's plans undermine the sentimental, innocence of Benjamin and Clover as they care for Boxer and mourn his death? Chapter 10 summary

• It comes as no surprise that in this, the final chapter of the novel, the wheel has turned full circle and the farm reverts to its original name.

• Any independent, hopeful thoughts that the animals may once have had have been totally annihilated. They are helpless pawns in the grip of the pigs. The literal and figurative meanings of the word ‘pig’ fuse totally in this chapter. Just as Jones was a pig and treated the animals appallingly, so now the pigs are identical to their human counterparts.

• Orwell never suggests that the farmers are any better. On the contrary, there is really nothing to choose between them, and the books ends in that fantastic scene in which the pigs entertain the neighbouring farmers in a social gathering, and the other animals, looking in, see a quarrel break out over cheating at cards. Thus old and new tyrannies belong to the same family.

• The pigs now walk on two legs, Napoleon and all the other pigs carry whips; Napoleon is seen with a pipe in his mouth; Napoleon (and his favourite sow) are dressed in human clothes and on the wall there is now one single commandment: "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others." Key questions: chapter 10

1. How do the literal and figurative meaning of pig come across in this chapter?

2. The pigs now walk on two legs; Napoleon and all the other pigs carry whips; Napoleon is seen with a pipe in his mouth; Napoleon (and his favourite sow) are dressed in human clothes and on the wall there is now one single commandment:

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

What messages does Orwell want his readers to understand about the events in the real world? Mock question: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Explain the bitter truth of the above statement (commandment) in the context of the novel. Be sure to include certain events and the behaviour of certain characters. Mock question: How important is knowledge of the Russian Revolution to a solid understanding of Animal Farm? Mock question: Choose two characters from the novel whom you admire the most. Explain why these characters are particularly special for you. Mock question: “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Explain why the conclusion to the book (paragraph quoted above) is not only disturbing but also inevitable. Mock question: Lies and deception are essential tools in order to maintain power. Discuss the role of Squealer in the novel as an example of propaganda. Mock question : Look at the song 'Beasts of England'. Explore the use of language in the song.

Hint: Liken the song to the historical context of Internationale, the anthem of the time of the revolution. Mock question: Explore the exile of Snowball. Use language from the text.

Hint: Liken it to the exile and assassination of Trotsky for historical links. Mention the lies, deception and propaganda surrounding this event for Snowball. Mock question: Looking at the text, explain the role of Mollie. Why does she leave the farm?

Hint: Mention who she is an allusion to, and why you think Orwell included her in his novella. Mock question: Explain the role of greed in one section of the novella.

Hint: Which character do you think is the greediest? How and why do the other animals accept this (if they are supposed to be so... equal). Click on the pigs for a mock question! Oink!
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