Animal Farm

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Themes and Colors
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Animal Farm, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Class Warfare Theme Icon

One of the main tenets of Animalism is that all animals are equal. But quite quickly the pigs begin to refer to themselves as "mindworkers" to distinguish themselves from the other animals, who are physical laborers. Over time, this sense of separation takes hold: the pigs begin to discourage their children from playing with the children of the other animals, and then establish themselves as absolute rulers of the "lesser" menial laborers. Animal Farm shows how differences in education and occupation lead to the development of class, which leads inevitably to class warfare, in which one class seeks to dominate the other. Animal Farm suggests that the "mindworking" class will almost always prevail in this struggle.

Animal Farm doesn't just focus on the upper classes, however. In fact, it focuses more closely on the oppressed working class. The farm animals work so hard that they have no time to learn or educate themselves or think deeply about their world. Instead, they're taught that work is their contribution to society, their way to freedom. Boxer believes that "I will work harder" is the answer to every problem, though he never perceives that the pigs exploit his effort. Benjamin occupies the other extreme: he recognizes what's going on, but his cynicism stops him from taking action against the pigs. In the end, Animal Farm implies that whether because of ignorance, inaction, or fear, the working class allows itself to be dominated by the "mindworkers."

Class Warfare ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Class Warfare appears in each chapter of Animal Farm. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Class Warfare Quotes in Animal Farm

Below you will find the important quotes in Animal Farm related to the theme of Class Warfare.
Chapter 1 Quotes
Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever. 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, 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.
Related Characters: Old Major (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

The boar Old Major gives this rousing speech after calling the other animals into the barn. He argues that men hold an unfair power over animals, for they take resources without offering anything in return.

Old Major’s rhetoric employs many features characteristic of revolutionary speech. For instance, it posits the existence of a single evil that, if removed, would fix all issues. In making man the single and “root cause” of the animals’ hardship, Old Major glosses over any differences or quibbles among the animals themselves. To do so, he selects the quality that all animals hold in common except men: resource production. Though Old Major could have chosen a value that, say, man and some animals have in common, his decision instead allows the animals to unify against this false “lord.”

Orwell here shows the efficacy of this revolutionary speech, while also pointing out its false premise: that all animals can be considered equal and will live in harmony and without hunger once man is removed. It thus becomes a parody of the socialist and soviet efforts to unify disparate groups or people in the fight to overturn governmental systems—for that tactic predicts the fact that new lords will simply replace the vanquished humans.

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Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings.
Related Characters: Old Major (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Old Major continues his rallying speech to the other farm animals. He claims, here, that animals are trapped in a system that extracts the products of their labor and therefore makes them dependent on their human masters.

The entirety of Old Major’s speech is built on a socialist framework, and this line is particularly reminiscent of Soviet speech patterns and ideology. That “labour” has been “stolen” speaks to the common Marxist critique of alienated labor: in this account, Karl Marx, the theoretical origin for communism, believed that capitalist practices had divorced those producing commodities from the actual use of those commodities. Instead of, for example, building one’s own car or farming one’s own corn, capitalism had forced people to build cars and farm corn for others. Old Major is subtly invoking this idea when he points out that what the animals produce is “stolen.” Whereas the Marxist sense was more metaphorical or symbolic, in this case the stealing is literal. The animals are thus a useful way to make abstract concepts concrete (as any good allegory does). Orwell’s work therefore positions the animals as both engaging in and representing a revolution against the “miserable condition” of capitalism. Their relative successes and failures can be read as the corresponding values and limits of other revolutionary movements.

Remember, comrades, your resolution must never falter. No argument must lead you astray. Never listen when they tell you that Man and the animals have a common interest, that the prosperity of the one is the prosperity of the others. It is all lies. Man serves the interests of no creature except himself. And among us animals let there be perfect unity, perfect comradeship in the struggle. All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.
Related Characters: Old Major (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

As Old Major’s rousing speech draws to a close, he gives these final polemical statements. They draw harsh boundaries between men and animals and offer a specific, prescriptive strategy for the animals to unite.

What stands out in Old Major’s language here is his absolutism: each sentence carries a term such as “never” “no,” “all” and “perfect” thus permitting no space for nuance or exceptions. The goal in employing such terms is to draw strict boundaries that consolidate one group against another. By defining a singular and complete evil—“All men are enemies”—Old Major can link a disparate set of animals with the single term “comrades.” Thus adopting a direct foe becomes the essential way to consolidate a group with a direct purpose.

Yet Orwell also implies the danger inherent in this kind of rhetoric. Old Major insists, for instance, that the animals not take into account any other perspectives. When he says “No argument” and “It is all lies,” Old Major does not actually offer compelling counter-evidence, but rather asserts that any potential criticism should be ignored without due consideration. This sort of blind acceptance is precisely what will allow new tyrants to take control in the animal world after they have overthrown the humans—for Old Major has paved the way for them by indoctrinating the animals with authoritarian values and squashing the merit of independent thought.

Chapter 2 Quotes
THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon 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 animal.
7. All animals are equal.
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:

After having successfully ousted Mr. Jones and taken control of the farm, the pigs publicly display these tenets of Animalism. They detail the new rules of Animal Farm, which has been founded on a communally-shared philosophy.

The tone of these commandments continues the kind of absolutist rhetoric employed by Old Major in his rousing speech. They all begin with words that permit no exception—“Whatever” “no” and “all”—and thus unify the farm animals under well-defined terms. Their society is thus shown to stem from a singular ideology—that developed by Old Major—rather than from a democratic election or debate process. By publicly displaying the commandments, they imply that any social contention can be resolved by returning to these seven rules.

Order in the commandments deserves some additional attention: By first designating “an enemy” and then “a friend,” the commandments place the fear of humans as the farm’s core value. Orwell seems to point out how the USSR, along with other authoritarian regimes, rely first and foremost on a well-defined enemy in order to derive their other societal values. Indeed, almost all the commandments refer indirectly to humans, defining animal behaviors as anti-consumer and anti-economic. Only the last two commandments actually speak to morality as it concerns inter-animal relations, and the term “equal” remains deliberately unclear. Orwell thus stresses how an ideologically-driven society derives power but also ambiguity from its strict public rules.

Chapter 3 Quotes
I will work harder!
Related Characters: Boxer (speaker)
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

Boxer adopts this phrase as his motto in the animal’s new society. He becomes the epitome of the socialist work ethic, in which one derives self-value from the ability to contribute to the well-being of others.

Above all, this sentence shows how Boxer has fully internalized the values of Animalism. He is motivated to work ever harder based on a striking commitment to the society, and to his belief that he can improve the lives of others simply through hard work. Indeed, he is quite effective in this endeavor, and is able to aid the animals in producing an excellent harvest.

Yet the phrase also speaks to his narrow-minded perspective: Boxer does not consider other ways that he could approach life, but rather identifies fully with a single quality: his physical strength. Orwell renders him a caricature of how adherents to socialism were required to behave dependently: the best workers were instructed not to reflect on their position in the system, but simply drive themselves to work ever harder. Boxer thus demonstrates both the efficacy of a revolution like that in the USSR, as well as the significant drawbacks to such a structure.

"Comrades!" he cried. "You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples."
Related Characters: Squealer (speaker)
Page Number: 35-36
Explanation and Analysis:

Squealer gives this speech to defend the way the pigs have hoarded milk and apples away from the other animals. He claims that they need the nutrients from the foodstuffs to properly run the farm and thus best serve the needs of others.

This speech represents a critical turning point in the text: whereas previously the pigs’ subterfuge had remained secretive and unacknowledged, here they publicly admit to withholding resources from the other animals. Their explanation is that such unequal distributions actually will have overall positive effects on the animal society. In this way, they take advantage of an ambiguity in the idea of equality: if it is defined defined based on social well-being, the thinking goes, then redistributing resources to the intelligent pigs could create more equality by bettering the lives of all.

Squealer’s flowery language also harnesses uncertainty and vagueness as a propaganda strategy. He uses the rhetorical question “You do not imagine” to ridicule any potential criticism; he summons the abstract idea of “Science” as an objective standard without offering any specific data; and he claims that the pigs’ supposedly selfish behavior is actually entirely selfless. In these ways, he becomes a parody of governmental speeches that justify the unfair distribution of resources to those in power.

Chapter 5 Quotes
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?
Related Characters: Squealer (speaker), Napoleon
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

Squealer offers these comments to shore up Napoleon’s recent tyrannical actions against Snowball. He claims that power should be concentrated in the hands of fewer animals because others will inevitably make wrong decisions.

Once more, Squealer uses clever rhetorical tactics to convince the other less intelligent animals to give up their freedoms and rights. He first reiterates the central tenet of Animalism—“that all animals are equal”—which makes it seem that the later comments will not violate the principle, even if that is precisely what they do. His further comments rest on this idea that democratically-chosen decisions may not, indeed, be preferable for the other animals and that they should therefore cede their rights to the supposedly smarter animals. The phrase “be only too happy” casts Napoleon as falsely willing to acquiesce, while the taunting rhetorical question “where should we be?” goads the audience. Orwell thus emphasizes the essential role of propaganda in maintaining control of a populace.

Napoleon is always right.
Related Characters: Boxer (speaker), Napoleon
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Boxer makes this characteristically terse comment after listening to Squealer’s defense of Napoleon. Instead of responding to the specific terms, however, he offers his universal adherence to the leader.

This line reiterates Boxer’s role as a committed adherent to the political regime on the Animal Farm. He continues to deal in the absolute of “always right” even after evidence has been presented that would contradict that firm belief. Unable to take into account how Napoleon’s military tactics conflict with his own anti-violent system of ethics, Boxer blindly reaffirms his belief in the leader of-the-moment. He thus symbolizes the unquestioning supporter of a totalitarian governmental system, one who is persuaded by propaganda and will believe in the system despite indications that it is no longer effective.

Chapter 7 Quotes
If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak... Instead - she did not know why - they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.
Related Characters: Clover, The Dogs
Page Number: 86-87
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage describes Clover’s disheartened response to the current state of animal farm. She observes that its present conditions are directly opposed to what she had envisioned during the earlier revolution.

Clover’s observations reflect the disenchantment that many felt as the Soviet Union grew poorer and increasingly despotic. She points out the distance between the original image—“set free” and “all equal”—with the current reality of repression and violence. Unlike some of the other animals, who remain unable to compare these two things, Clover’s memory allows her to reflect on the difference between ideal goal and pragmatic implementation. Yet the subtle addition “she did not know why” stresses how she still cannot locate the exact causes of the current state of terror. She may notice that conditions are bad, but she cannot tie that observation to Napoleon’s behavior. Thus Clover represents an ultimately passive citizen, one who can note the occurrence of bad events but cannot make sense of why those events are indeed taking place.

Chapter 9 Quotes
"Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out."
Related Characters: Squealer
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

As the conditions deteriorate on Animal Farm, the pigs organize a series of celebrations. They aggrandize the supposed freedom of the animals from their previous human overlords.

This ironic sentence epitomizes the false story the pigs have told about the Animal Farm society. Their belief that things today are preferable to the past relies solely on the abstract idea of being “slaves” versus “free,” rather than the actual conditions experienced by the animals. That this supposed distinction “made all the difference” implies that the animals are not considering other significant differences that may make their current lives equivalent to or worse than they were under the rule of Mr. Jones. And the addition of the clause “as Squealer did not fail to point out” reiterates how this belief is more a trick of rhetoric than an actual indication of content. The passage thus corroborates Orwell’s presentation of the animals as unable to gain an objective viewpoint on their situation. Blinded by the pigs’ rhetoric and crippled by weak memories, they continue to believe in the improvement of their society.

Chapter 10 Quotes
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.
Related Characters: Napoleon, Squealer, Minimus, The Dogs
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

The text has now jumped several years into the future, and the narrator observes how the relative wealth of the farm is spread unevenly among the animals.

Introducing the phrase with the term “somehow” speaks to the incredulity and naïveté of the animals. Despite having witnessed the pigs’ actions for many years, they remain unable to see exactly why wealth is being unfairly sequestered in their hands. Yet the “of course” stresses how this process is logical considering the story thus far, and how it is at least understood on some level by the animals. Orwell thus points out how the populace in such a fascist regime oscillates between recognition of and blindness to what is taking place. In particular, as time has gone by and few of the animals can recall a different form of society, the current political regime becomes normalized, and inequality fades into the “of course” of a natural order.

Four legs good, two legs better!
Related Characters: The Sheep (speaker)
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

When the pigs begin walking on two legs, the sheep change their earlier stock phrase. Having been trained by Squealer, they replace “two legs bad” with “two legs better.”

The extent and ease of the change to the phrase is remarkable. Whereas earlier acts of propaganda or commandment-revision simply altered phrases slightly, here the text has been entirely rewritten. Yet Squealer has maintained the sonic and rhythmic flow of the phrase, swapping in “better,” which begins with the same “b” sound as “bad.” His action reiterates how the Animal Farm society is founded less on principles and more on a set of empty terms that can be manipulated at will. Unable to actually make sense of what they are saying, the sheep rapidly swap out the new phrase for the old one—and the other animals seem unable to resist the strategy. Orwell has now transformed the pigs into complete human-analogs, showing how after a revolution, the new leaders have a natural tendency to mimic old ones—and then to adjust their principles to slowly revert to the old power structure.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

When Benjamin recounts the Seven Commandments, he sees only this single statement. The pigs have evidently replaced the other principles with this one.

This law is a mockery of the term “equal,” and it epitomizes perfectly how the pigs have manipulated the word throughout the text. Presumably, if all the animals are indeed equal, there would be no ability to form a hierarchy between different "types" of equalities. Yet the pigs’ actions have relied on just this idea, for instance when they claimed that they needed more and better food in order to best help the other animals. The phrase makes explicit what they have been doing all along—manipulating language and ideology to suit their own ends.

Yet, once again, the strategy is effective instead of incriminating. Reducing a set of seven principles to just a single one also shows how simplification can be an instrument of these despotic regimes. Distilling a more complex set of ideas into a single, highly-ambiguous formulation gives the pigs great freedom to interpret the laws as they wish. They can both maintain the supposed ideology of the revolution—“All animals are equal”—and allow for corruption and preferential position—“more equal than others.” Orwell thus stresses how simplified phrases and positions are critical instruments of despotic regimes—and how any equal society has a natural tendency to reorganize itself such that some become “more equal” than others.