Animal Farm

In this study guide we will help you analyse the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell. You can also find detailed summaries of both the entire novel and its individual chapters, as well as inspiration for interpreting the text and putting it into perspective. This study guide is based on the Penguin Books edition of the novel from 2008.

Excerpt from the study guide:

The sheep

The sheep do not directly represent a specific social class themselves, but still play a role in enforcing the class system, because they are always quick to accept the rules and principles thought up by Napoleon and the other pigs. Often their voices drown out the criticism of the other animals as they repeat the pigs’ various propaganda messages. They represent people who unthinkingly follow the doctrines and ideology of their society or era without considering how they might be wrong or could be changed. The collective character of the sheep shows how unthinking acceptance of ideas can be a powerful tool for reinforcing a dictatorship.

The sheep also play a significant part in the change of one of the central principles of Animal Farm towards the end of the story, as the pigs teach them a new chant to be shared with the other animals: “ ‘Four legs good, two legs better!’ ” (p. 89).

The other animals

The rest of the animals form the lower classes. They are forced to work for the pigs’ benefit, even as they are repeatedly told that the superiority and leadership of the pigs are really to the benefit of everybody. At many points in the story they seem disillusioned about the new state of affairs (e.g. pp. 36-37, 58-60), but they are always eventually persuaded by the pigs’ propaganda or the dogs’ threats.

Even when the farm grows to great prosperity at the end of the story, the other animals do not see an improvement in their living conditions, but continue to work hard on poor rations. Even so, they continue to believe that their situation is better than before, as they do, after all, live in a society free of the tyrannical rule of human beings (p. 87-88). However, even this comfort is taken from them, as the pigs start to resemble humans more and more and eventually violate all the fundamental principles of the Rebellion (pp. 88-90).

By the end of the story, the animals realise that they have been manipulated and forced into a worse condition than they were in before Animal Farm was established, but that most of them had been brainwashed into thinking that the situation was an improvement. 

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Animal Farm

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