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Flashcards in Animal Farm Deck (19):
1

Theme 1: Totalitariansim 

Totalitarianism is a form of government
in which the state seeks to control every facet of life,
from economics and politics to the each individual’s ideas and
beliefs. Different totalitarian states have different justifications
for their rule. For instance, Mr. Jones runs Manor Farm based
on the idea that human domination of animals is the natural
order of things, while Napoleon and the pigs run Animal Farm
with the claim that they are fighting for animals against evil
humans.
Orwell’s underlying point is that the stated goals of totalitarianism
don’t matter because all totalitarian regimes are
fundamentally the same. Every type of totalitarianism, whether
communist, fascist, or capitalist, is founded on oppression of
the individual and the lower class. Those who hold power in totalitarian
regimes care only about one thing: maintaining their
power by any means necessary. While the story of Napoleon’s
rise to power is most explicitly a condemnation of totalitarianism
in the Soviet Union, Orwell intends Animal Farm to criticize
all totalitarian regimes.

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Theme 2: Revolution and Corruption 

Animal Farm depicts a revolution in progress. Old Major gives
the animals a new perspective on their situation under Mr.
Jones, which leads them to envision a better future free of
human exploitation. The revolution in Animal Farm, like all
popular revolutions, arises out of a hope for a better future.
At the time of the revolution, even the pigs are excited by and
committed to the idea of universal animal equality.
So what undermines the animal’s revolution and transforms
it into a totalitarian nightmare? Animal Farm shows how the
high ideals that fuel revolutions gradually give way to individual
and class self-interest. Not even Napoleon planned to become
a dictator before the revolution, but as his power grew, he took
more and more until his power became absolute. Revolutions
are corrupted in a slow process. Animal Farm portrays that
process.

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Theme 3: Class Warfare 

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.”

4

Theme 4: Language as Power 

Animal Farm shows how the minority in power uses vague
language, propaganda, and misinformation to control the
thoughts and beliefs of the majority in the lower classes. The
pigs, especially Squealer, become extremely sophisticated
and effective in their attempts to rewrite the rules of Animal
Farm and Animalism. They even revise the farm’s entire history
in order to mislead the other animals into believing exactly
what they say. By the end of the novel, the animals on the farm
believe Snowball fought against them at the Battle of the
Cowshed even though they saw him fight with them. They believe
life on the farm has improved even though they have less
food than ever, and that Napoleon has their best interests at
heart even though he kills those who disagree with him. As the
only literate animals on the farm, the pigs maintain a monopoly
on information that they use to build and hold their power.

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Theme 5: Soviet Union 

While Animal Farm condemns all forms of totalitarianism, it
is most explicitly a bitter attack on the Soviet Union. Though
Orwell supported the ideas of Socialism, he strongly opposed
the Soviet Union’s descent into totalitarianism under Stalin.
Animal Farm satirically attacks the Soviet Union by mirroring
many events from Soviet history in the novel. The events of
Animal Farm that mirror historical events in the Soviet Union,
such as the revolution and the subsequent corruption of its
ideals, will be highlighted and discussed in the Summary and
Analysis sections.

6

Old Major 

pig. He creates the ideas behind Animalism
and inspires the other animals to rebel. As a prize boar, Old
Major has lived a relatively privileged life among the animals.
This privileged life has given him the time to think about and
understand fully the ways that humans exploit and enslave
animals. Old Major’s ideas inspire the animals’ revolution,
though Old Major dies before the revolution occurs

7

Napoleon 

A pig. One of Old Major’s main disciples. A
“fierce-looking Berkshire boar,” Napoleon prizes power over
ideas, unlike Snowball, Napoleon’s other main disciple. Napoleon
is cowardly, shrewd, calculating, and selfish. While he
fully supports the revolution against Mr. Jones, he cares more
about his own power than he does about the ideals of the
revolution. His selfishness leads him to build a totalitarian government
based on terror and lies that gives him more power
over the other animals than Mr. Jones ever had.

8

Snowball 

A pig. Alongside Napoleon, one of Old Major’s
main disciples. Snowball is a more lively, original, and intelligent
pig than Napoleon, but he is less shrewd in the ways of
power. Snowball values the ideals of the revolution more than
Napoleon does, though at times Snowball does seem willing to
sacrifice the principle of animal equality for his own personal
comfort. In the end, despite Snowball’s bravery in supporting
the revolution, his political naiveté is no match for Napoleon’s
cunnin

9

Squealar 

A pig. Short and fat, Squealer is a terrific speaker
who prioritizes his personal comfort above all else. Whenever
the pigs violate the tenets of Animalism, Squealer persuades
the other animals that the pigs are actually acting in everyone’s
best interest.

10

Bocer 

A horse. Strong and hardworking, Boxer is extremely
honorable, though not so intelligent. Boxer believes deeply in
the revolution, so much so that he thinks the Animal Farm leader,
who also leads the revolution, must be virtuous and wise.
One of Boxer’s favorite sayings is “Napoleon is always right.”
Boxer has the strength to overthrow Napoleon’s dictatorship,
but not the wit to realize that it is a dictatorship. Boxer devotes
all his strength to supporting Napoleon, yet when that strength
finally fails him, Napoleon betrays him.

11

Clover 

A horse. Clover is a gentle, motherly, and powerful
mare, who supports the revolution, but becomes dismayed
by the direction it takes under Napoleon. Yet she has neither
the will nor the personality to resist the pigs. She becomes a
witness to the corruption of the revolution as it turns into a
totalitarian state, though she only vaguely understands that
something has gone wrong.

12

ben

Benjamin – A donkey. Guided by a skeptical philosophy
that life will always be difficult and painful, Benjamin is not
surprised when the pigs corrupt the revolution and transform
Animal Farm into a totalitarian state. Though Benjamin’s skepticism
proves to be correct, it also makes him powerless. Alone
among the other animals, Benjamin seems to understand
what’s going on, but he does nothing to stop it. In the end, his
inaction comes back to haunt him when his dear friend Boxer
is betrayed and killed.

13

Moses 

Moses – A tame raven who constantly speaks about a beautiful
place called Sugarcandy Mountain where all animals go
when they die.

14

Muriel 

A goat. One of the few animals other than the pigs
and dogs who becomes fully literate.

15

Mr. Jones

The owner of Manor Farm, and once a strict and
fierce master, Mr. Jones has in recent years become drunk,
careless, and ineffective, though he remains as casually cruel
and arrogant as ever. Mr. Jones symbolizes the Russian Tsar in
the early 20th century

16

MR. Frederick 

Mr. Frederick – The owner of the neighboring farm of
Pinchfield. A vicious, cruel, and calculating man, Frederick
symbolizes the Fascist Germans.

17

Pilkingtipon

Mr. Pilkington – The gentleman owner of the neighboring
farm of Pilkington. A man who prefers recreation to farm work,
Pilkington represents the Allies before World War II, particularly
the British.

18

mr. Jones 

The owner of Manor Farm, and once a strict and
fierce master, Mr. Jones has in recent years become drunk,
careless, and ineffective, though he remains as casually cruel
and arrogant as ever. Mr.

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