Notes on Animal Farm Themes

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Animal Farm Topic Tracking: Principles of Animalism

Principles of Animalism 1: The basic ideas Old Major passes on in his first speech are that humans are the enemy because they overwork the animals and treat them badly. He says all animals should cooperate to overthrow the humans. He teaches that all animals are equal, even the wild creatures like rats and rabbits, and that they should all protect each other as friends. All humans are enemies. He warns the animals never to live in houses, sleep in beds, wear clothes, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, touch money or engage in trade - these are all the evil habits of humans. Particularly, no animal must ever try to exert power over another animal - strong or weak, they are all brothers. As a symbol of Animalism and its ideas, he teaches them the song, Beasts of England.

Principles of Animalism 2: Snowball, Napoleon and Squealer are the ones who develop Old Major's ideas into a complete system of thought and name it Animalism. They determine specific principles which they can then teach to the other animals.

Principles of Animalism 3: The pigs then reduce the principles of Animalism to seven basic commandments. These include that animals are equal, all animals are friends and all humans enemies, and that animals should not wear clothes, sleep in a bed, drink alcohol or kill any other animal.

The Seven Commandments omit some of Old Major's original warnings, such as that animals should not touch money or engage in trade.

Principles of Animalism 4: Although all the animals are equal, the pigs take over the leadership with the very first harvest - it is seen as natural that because they know more they should direct and supervise the others.

Principles of Animalism 5: The Seven Commandments are then reduced to just one principle, which is written in bigger letters above the others - Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad. Snowball says that this is the essence of Animalism and anyone who thoroughly grasps it will be safe from human influences.

Principles of Animalism 6: It is accepted that the pigs have the right to decide the farm policies because they are more intelligent - even though all animals are equal.

Principles of Animalism 7: Napoleon then decides that the animals should not even be allowed to vote on decisions, but everything should be decided by a committee of pigs which will meet in private and communicate its decisions to the other animals later. He is to preside over the committee himself.

Principles of Animalism 8: The skull of Old Major, as the founder of Animalism, is disinterred (now clean of flesh) and set up on a stump at the foot of the flagstaff, beside the gun, and the animals are required to file past it reverently before entering the barn on a Sunday.

Although the animals are supposedly still equal, the seating arrangements in the barn change to reflect a kind of hierarchy. The pigs and dogs sit on the raised platform, with the other animals sitting facing them in the main part of the barn. At the very front of the platform are Napoleon, Squealer and the poet Minimus, with the young dogs forming a semi-circle around them.

Principles of Animalism 9: At crucial moments when the animals are dragging heavy boulders up the slope of the quarry, the pigs will actually join in. This is clearly unusual - the pigs are avoiding all the physical labor that goes into running the farm and leave it all for the 'lower' animals to do.

Principles of Animalism 10: Old Major warned never to handle money, engage in trade, or have any dealings with human beings, but Napoleon has now decided to do this. He has little choice - the farm needs iron, lamp oil, nails and string etc. which it cannot produce. However, the pigs do not admit that they are going against anything Old Major said. They claim there was never any resolution against these things.

Principles of Animalism 11: Squealer begins to refer to Napoleon as 'the Leader'. When the pigs move into the farmhouse and begin sleeping in the beds, the Fourth Commandment turns out to have mysteriously changed. It now reads 'No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.'

Principles of Animalism 12: Napoleon's dogs slaughter a large number of the animals. This is the first time anyone has broken the rule that no animal shall kill another animal - up to now not even a rat has been killed.

Principles of Animalism 13: The change of 'Beasts of England' to the song 'Animal Farm' is part of the change from Old Major's original ideas of freedom to the pigs' own agenda.

Principles of Animalism 14: After Napoleon has several of the animals executed, the Sixth Commandment has mysteriously changed and now reads "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause."

Principles of Animalism 15: The term 'Comrade', originally meant to remind everyone that all the animals are equal, becomes completely meaningless when used in connection with the general hero-worship of Napoleon.

Principles of Animalism 16: After the pigs get drunk on whisky from the farmhouse cellar, Napoleon orders Whymper to buy some booklets on brewing and distilling, and arranges to plant barley. The Fifth Commandment is then found to have been changed to read 'No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.'

Principles of Animalism 17: Squealer explains away the fact that the pigs and dogs have not had their rations reduced along with the other animals, by saying that a too rigid equality in rations would be 'contrary to the principles of Animalism'.

Principles of Animalism 18: Napoleon now argues against ideas from the early days of Animalism, like putting electric lights in the stalls, by saying that they are 'contrary to the spirit of Animalism'.

Principles of Animalism 19: The pigs disobey even the 'essence' of Animalism - four legs good, two legs bad. In the end the Seven Commandments of Animalism are obliterated and replaced with one commandment which is the opposite of the originals: "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." Right after this, the pigs order a telephone and newspaper subscriptions and start wearing clothes, carrying whips and smoking pipes.

Principles of Animalism 20: After so completely subverting the principles of Animalism, the pigs actually turn into humans.

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