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Give a few  examples of symbolism in the novel "Animal Farm."

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dgibson13 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 9, 2009 at 8:15 AM via web

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Give a few  examples of symbolism in the novel "Animal Farm."

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:10 PM (Answer #1)

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The three prominent symbols in Orwell's "Animal Farm" are:

1. The Farmhouse: symbolises the power equation  which governs the relationship between the pigs and the other animals on the farm. From the beginning of the novel to the end, the farmhouse is occupied by the people or animals that run the farm. After the rebellion, the pigs gradually become the leaders of the farm and relocate themselves in the farmhouse. "It was about this time that the pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse and took up residence there." (Orwell, 45) This shows how higher authority is centred  in the farmhouse and how the pigs slowly take control over the farm. Not only is the farmhouse used for the pigs' residence, but it is also a place of social gathering with humans. "There, round the long table, sat half a dozen farmers and half a dozen of the more eminent pigs, Napoleon himself occupying the seat of honor at the head of the table." (Orwell, 91) The farmhouse is the location where the pigs break all the commandments and alter them to suit themselves. They do this by drinking whiskey, trading with humans, wearing Mr. Jones's clothes and sleeping in beds with sheets.

2. The windmill:  In "Animal Farm," the windmill is a symbol showing the tremendous power of the pigs and their amazing ability to manipulate the other animals. The windmill is first brought to everyone's attention by Snowball who researches on how to build one and draws out the plans. While this occurs, Napoleon slowly takes full control over the farm by eliminating Snowball. He does this by convincing all the animals that the windmill is a poor idea and eventually, Napoleon's dogs scare Snowball away. After Snowball vanishes, Napoleon confesses that the windmill is his idea and Snowball is a corrupt animal that should be disposed. "Napoleon had never been opposed to the windmill on the contrary, it was he who had advocated it in the beginning," said Squealer. (Orwell, 39) This shows how Squealer uses his ability to manipulate the other animals to think highly of Napoleon, while despising Snowball.  The construction of the windmill shows the manipulative power of the pigs at its best. The pigs do not help the other animals at all and the animals work very long hours; receiving very little food while the pigs eat all of it. After the destruction of the windmill, the pigs convince the other animals that it is in fact Snowball who destroys it. The pigs try to make Snowball look guilty and they want the working animals to dislike Snowball at all costs. "Snowball was in a league with Jones from the start! He was Jones's secret agent all the time," said Squealer. (Orwell, 53)The windmill is a powerful object that is a symbol of manipulation to show the pigs' control over the other animals.

3. The Seven Commandments: the seven commandments are extremely symbolic due to the fact that they illustrate both the manipulation in "Animal Farm" and the differences between the pigs and the working animals. At the beginning of the novel, the pigs combine their ideas to form a list of seven laws that all the animals would live by. "The sevencommandments would be inscribed on the wall; they would form an unalterable law by which the animals must live by forever," said Snowball. (Orwell, 15) As the story progresses, the pigs, in particular, Napoleon, distort the commandments to suit their own selfish interests. An incident of this occurring is when Napoleon changes the commandment about drinking.

Muriel, reading over the seven commandments to herself, notices that there was yet another of them which the animals had remembered wrong...'No animal shall drink alcohol, to excess!' (Orwell, 73) She however, states that she does not remember thecommandments correctly because of how Squealer manipulates all the animals to think that it will benefit them and the farm as a whole. Squealer informs them that he has evidence and the animals must not be smart enough to remember correctly. The animals do not question this fact because they know that the pigs are more intelligent. The last commandment that stands on the wall explains greatly how pigs are a higher authority than the rest of the animals. "For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out what was written on the wall-All animals are equal. Some are more equal than others." (Orwell, 90) The pigs show their great power of manipulation and emphasize their superiority over  the working animals by involving themselves in the destruction of the commandments from the very beginning itself.

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