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An Animal Farm Essay Sample

Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements / paper topics for “Animal Farm” by George Orwell that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “Animal Farm” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “Animal Farm” in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Animal Farm” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.

For background, here is a general plot summary of Animal Farm

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Power of Words, Language, and Rhetoric in Animal Farm

From the rousing song, “Beasts of England" to the commandments and subsequent changing of them by Napoleon, the main source of power throughout the novel results from language and the use of rhetoric. Without language and the power of words in Animal Farm, the rebellion never would have taken place and certainly the end result of Napoleon’s complete takeover would never have happened. Through the impressive rhetorical and propaganda skills of Squealer and the skillful manipulation of meaning by other characters, reality is shaped by words—for better or for worse. By demonstrating how easily swayed the animals of the farm are by a powerful speech or strong words, Orwell is demonstrating something via a fable about the human vulnerability to carefully chosen words and out unfortunate ability to fall victim to the power of words without understanding the deeper meanings behind them. For this essay, go through the book and look for sections where Squealer is speaking or arranging words. This will provide you with a great group of quotes to eventually work in and build around.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Class Issues in Animal Farm

Throughout the novel the issue of class is an important theme, both in terms of what it means to the animals before the rebellion and even more significantly, what happens after. There is never a moment that the class distinctions in Animal Farm by George Orwell disappear. From the very beginning, all of the animals are ruled by the “human class" and then by Snowball, then by Napoleon. In this novel it seems that class stratification is an almost vital element. For this essay, use the phrase, “All animals are equal… but some are more equal than others" and trace the decline of equality in classes as Napoleon gains more power. If this is not complex enough and you would like a more challenging alternative, consider the ways in which the farm is a mini society and examine how the workers and ruling class interact with one another and how the one is subjected while the other maintains control. This might be most effective if you incorporate ideas from Essay Topic #1 and examine the way language is used to manipulate the “dumber" classes of workers.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Corrupting Influence of Power in Animal Farm

Animal Farm is a social and political fable / allegory about the influences and nature of power and how it can be used for ultimate good or absolute evil. At the beginning of Animal Farm power was used to achieve great things; it brought all members of Manor Farm together under a united cause and allowed them gain their freedom from oppression. After this initial positive influence of power, however, it began to destroy the community that had worked together to form a utopia in Animal Farm by George Orwell. After this point, power struggles emerged and served to divide rather than unite the animals of the farm. For this essay, look at how power was a corrupting and ultimately negative influence by the end of the book. For organizational purposes, choose three characters (and mention them in your thesis statement by stating “this can be seen by the development of characters such as ….) and trace the way power has negatively impacted them. It is suggested that Snowball, Mr. Jones, and Napoleon be used in this analysis but there are other great examples as well.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Animal Farm in Historical and Social Context

In many ways, Animal Farm is a complete allegorical / fable –like retelling of the founding of the Soviet Union, complete with a rebellion and eventual installation of a dictator. Like the ideological battle that was raged in Russia between the classes, the one that is played out in this novel have many of the same themes, including an initial push to strengthen the working class, a strong beginning movement of nationalism and unity, a series of successful efforts to topple the ruling authority (Mr. Jones), all followed by a complete totalitarian takeover by a dictator who is a hypocrite and goes back on many of the promises he made at the height of the revolutionary action. For an essay on this subject, it would be useful to spend a good two paragraphs detailing the events of the Russian Revolution and subsequent Communist rule before looking at how the history and the novel are alike. The thesis statement would be as simple as stating that there are many parallels between the Russian Revolution and ensuing Communist takeover and the events in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: From Utopia to Distopia

(You can argue either way in this thesis statement): The society represented in Animal Farm during the height of Napoleon’s presents an example of a dystopia. Although the society was founded after the rebellion with great ideals about the future of Manor Farm, the influences of power and greed finally gave way and the residents of Manor Farm were far worse then they were under Mr. Jones. For this essay, you could go multiple directions. On the one hand, you can claim that it was a utopia after Napoleon because a great deal of work was being done and it was an efficient society. On the other hand (and it might be one heck of a lot easier) you can claim that a quintessential dystopia was created. If you are allowed to make outside connections to other works, use 1984 as a reference and look at Orwell’s sense of utopias / dystopias as reflected in either work. This would make for an excellent argumentative or comparison (to 1984) essay; just make sure your thesis statement is strong and solid.

For background, here is a general plot summary of Animal Farm

(For an excellent example of an essay on Animal Farm, .)

(For a great essay on Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies in terms of their representations of utopias and dystopias, check this out)


This list of important quotations from “Animal Farm” by George Orwell will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “Animal Farm” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.

* All page numbers for the following quotes refer to the 1989 Penguin Edition. *

“Comrades! You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in selfishness and privilege? Milk and apples contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain workers; the organization of the farm totally depends on us" (42).

“Squealer could turn black into white" (11).

“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 plow, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals" (19).

“Napoleon was a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only one of those on the farm. He was not much of a talker, but had a reputation for getting his own way" .. Snowball was a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive but did not have the character depth that Napoleon did" (25).

“Napoleon took no interest in Snowball’s committees. He said that the education of the young was more important than anything that could be done for those who were already grown up" (51).

“Every day Snowball and Napoleon sent out flights of pigeons whose instructions were to mingle with the animals on neighboring farms, tell them the story of the Rebellion, and teach them the tune Beasts of England" (54).

At the meetings, Snowball often won over the majority by his brilliant speeches, but Napoleon was better at canvassing support for himself in between times" (63).

“For we know now, it is all written down in the secret documents that we have found—that in reality he [Snowball] was trying to lure us to our doom" (80).

“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others" (114).

“All men are enemies; all animals are comrades" (31).

“Now, when Squealer described the scene so graphically, it seemed to the animals that they did remember if. At any rate, they remembered that at the critical moment of the battle, Snowball had turned to flee" (91).

“the execution of the traitors this afternoon was the final act" (96).

“The animals believed every word of it. Truth to tell, Hones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. They knew that they were usually working when they were not asleep but doubtless it has been worse in the old days. They were glad to believe so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail not point out" (115).

“Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer—except, of course, the pigs and the dogs" (86).
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Animal Farm by George Orwell

The short novel Animal Farm that was published in 1945 is being considered as one of the most enduring writings of George Orwell. In the novel, Orwell utilizes an animal fable to detail a story of a group of animals that unite together to rebel against their human masters creating a utopian state in the farm. A large number of commentators has viewed Orwell’s Animal Farm as a picture that reveals the rise and fall of socialism in the Soviet Union and the beginning of Joseph Stalin’s totalitarianism. Critics have considered Orwell’s story to be relevant and important in the exploration of human nature and social and political systems in the society. The story was banned in Russia and other Soviet-Union countries after it was translated into Russian. In general, Orwell’s work carries a message of revolution not only in the Russian society but across the whole world.

The animals in the Animal Farm represent a certain group of people in the society. As the story evolves from the manner in which the animals organize themselves and decide to overthrow their master from the firm to the battle for the Windmill, it represents the change process in the society. The eviction of Mr. Jones from his own firm and taking over of the firm by the three smart pigs (Squealer, Snowball, and Napoleon) depicts the displacement of one regime by another. Being an allegory, George Orwell used animals to represent people and detail the events that took place in Russia between 1917-1940. In the story Mr. Jones represents Czar Nicholas II. In both the story and in Russia, they both lost control of where they administered power. Mr. Jones controlled the Manor Farm in the Animal Farm whereas Czar was the head of Russia.

Through the events that were taking place in both Manor Farm and Russia, it was evident that new leadership was needed. In Animal Farm three pigs stood up, (Snowball, Squealer, and Napoleon) and in Russia Trotsky, Stalin, and Lenin stood up for this challenge. Orwell chose pigs to represent the Russian leaders since they were considered to be the most intelligent animals in the farm.  Since the leaders of the farm were all gone, the animals were in need of a leader who was to lead them in a regime where they were both equal. Among the animals, the pigs were the most intelligent and Snowball and Napoleon received the highest distinction. To demonstrate that power corrupts, the pigs became corrupted and Napoleon was of the opinion that they (pigs) were the only ones to have a say and rule the farm. Napoleon’s opinion was contrary to that of Snowball who thought all animals in the farm should have a say and they should conduct regular meetings to discuss new plans for the farm. Their different opinions lead to constant arguments with each other, this was an indication that Napoleon was really thirsty for power and had plans to eliminate his main opponent (Snowball) immediately after the rebellion. In Russia, Stalin and Trotsky were in constant fights for power; finally Stalin succeeded in eliminating Trotsky by having him expelled from the country. In the Animal Farm, Napoleon organized an attack on Snowball by the dogs which he had raised. Through the attack he eliminated his only and able opponent by having him expelled from the farm giving him the power to control it. After Snowball’s expulsion from the farm, Napoleon cancelled the Sunday meetings by saying that they served no purpose and a wastage of time. From there onwards, all issues in regard to the ways of the farm were to be handled by a special committee that was constituted of pigs only. Napoleon’s special committee of pigs was like Stalin’s Command Economy, which was responsible for making all government economic decisions.

To gain more power, Stalin had to eliminate whoever who stood up to challenge his leadership and keep bodyguards around him to prevent him from any harm plotted by his opponents. He also had secret police whose work was to assassinate his opponent as well as protecting him from any danger. Likewise, Napoleon had his own army of dogs which he had raised. Squealer was Napoleon’s right-hand man and was very persuasive. Orwell says that Squealer, the pig “… could turn water into white.” He was in charge of communicating to other animals on what Napoleon had said and could persuade them into believing that came from their master was always right. In Russia, Lenin played Squealer’s role in the Animal Farm by ensuring that nobody opposed Stalin’s decisions and always convinced them they were right.

There are various lessons that can be learnt from this allegory. The first one is that when absolute power is bestowed to an individual, it is not used to benefit the public but oneself. This allows one to control others and acquire all the luxurious things he or she desires. This can be seen after Napoleon drives Snowball out of the farm and what happens after Trotsky is expelled from Russia. Both Napoleon and Stalin uses this opportunity to benefit themselves. Another incidence is when Squealer convinces other animals when the pigs eat and drink milk is beneficial to all. Here the pigs are misusing the power that is given to them. This lesson is relevant in the real world. When one gains absolute power, the first thing to do is to ensure that he is fully satisfied. From there, their desires becomes many and they start doing things that can harm others in order to get what they want. This can be demonstrated by Napoleon’s actions, when he took the dogs from their owners, he claimed that he was protecting them from humans, but he later trained them to protect him and help him in getting his way.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Napoleon and his fellow pigs got corrupted when they took control the farm. In maintaining their supremacy within the farm, they had to change some rules to avoid being accused of breaking the law. This is another lesson that the story teaches. When Napoleon took control of the farm he started to change some rules that favored him (pigs in general) and get his way.

In conclusion, the Animal Farm doubles as a “fairy tale” but a lengthy one. In this story, both good and evil are demonstrated, and it has a good moral lesson to all, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  However, the only place where the story differs from a fairy tale is that it does not have a happy ending or after and those who stand for the good in the society do not get rewarded. This is an indication that for a revolution to occur in the society, some people have to suffer.

References

  • Orwell, G. (1945). Animal farm. Secker and Warburg, London, UK.
  • Williams, R. (Ed.). (1974). George Orwell: A collection of critical essays (Vol. 119). Prentice Hall.