How is hope portrayed in George Orwell's Animal Farm?

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Most of the hope in in Animal Farm appears in the opening two or three chapters; for the remainder of the story, what hope there was is taken away, and by the conclusion of the story, the animals (except for the pigs) are left in a state of utter hopelessness.

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Most of the hope in in Animal Farm appears in the opening two or three chapters; for the remainder of the story, what hope there was is taken away, and by the conclusion of the story, the animals (except for the pigs) are left in a state of utter hopelessness.

The hope that exists in the first few chapters is encapsulated by the "Beasts of England" song that the animals sing at their group meetings. This song articulates the hope that "the day is coming (when) / Tyrant Man shall be o'erthrown" for good. Having just chased Mr. Jones from the farm, the animals are full of hope that their feat can be replicated on farms across the country. When mankind is chased from all the farms in the country, the song proclaims, all animals will be free. The "Rings shall vanish from (their) noses" and "Cruel whips no more shall crack" their backs.

The "Beasts of England" song also encapsulates the hope of the animals because it is all about affirming the equality between themselves, between "Beasts of every land and clime." The lyrics of the song are peppered with the collective pronoun "our," which emphasizes that, for the animals, hope lies in their ability to act as a collective and work together. The idea that equality among the animals is essential for their future happiness is outlined by Old Major in the opening chapter of the novel when he outlines to the animals the fundamental principles of Animalism.

There is also hope in the character of Snowball. Snowball seems to genuinely believe in the principles behind Animalism (equality, freedom, working together, etc.), whereas, of course, Napoleon does not. Snowball plays a major part in the Battle of the Cowshed, during which the animals overthrow Mr. Jones. He leads from the front and takes a pellet in his back for his efforts. He then comes up with the idea of the windmill, which is designed to produce electricity and ease the burden of work upon the animals. In short, Snowball is a leader with sound moral principles. He genuinely cares for his fellow animals, and he is prepared to risk his life for theirs. He is the kind of leader that inspires hope.

Another possible reason for hope, in the opening chapters at least, is the character of Boxer. Boxer, like Snowball, leads by example, dragging boulder after boulder to the top of the hill and working longer and harder than anybody else to build the windmill. Unfortunately, towards the end of the story, the pigs exploit the hope that Boxer gives to the other animals by using his example to make the other animals work beyond their capabilities. Just like Stalin (Napoleon's historical, real life counterpart) used the example of a worker called Stakhanov to push the working classes harder and harder during his five year plans to industrialize Russia, Napoleon too exploits the efforts of Boxer and the hope that his efforts inspire to drive the other animals to debilitating physical exhaustion.

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Hope is generally presented as being misplaced and the product of the animals' ignorance. The animals genuinely believe that their hopes and dreams will be fulfilled now that the hated human oppressor has been driven from the farm, and they believe that they can control their own destiny. But of course it doesn't work out like that. Under Napoleon's dictatorship, things get much worse for the animals, who've simply exchanged one tyranny for another.

Yet they still stubbornly cling to the hope that better times are always just around the corner. The animals are emotionally invested in the success of the Animalist revolution and so are not prepared to give up their commitment to Old Major's ideals. Hope keeps them going through the bad times—of which there are many—but at the same time it makes them especially vulnerable to Napoleon, who can play on their hope and boundless optimism to consolidate his power over them.

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Hope is not easy to find in Animal Farm.  The ending message is one that marginalizes hope in the name of political power.  However, one can see hope in a couple of distinct places. The first would be in chapter one.  Old Major represents the force of hope in how he galvanizes the animals to accept the premise of animal exploitation at the hands of humans.  This is hopeful in how it is depicted, suggesting that if animals demonstrate solidarity to one another, great results can be seen.  Another way this is hopeful would be in how the animals sing "Beasts of England" together, almost unifying their consciousness in a shared purpose and goal.  This hope is also seen in how animals like Boxer and Clover accept the tenets of the Revolution and do what they can to support it on a local and subjective level.

There is hope in these elements.  Yet, Orwell makes the case that political power benefits when there is a lack of hope.  Hope is what causes individuals to rise up and take action, ideas that directly challenge authority.  For Orwell, those in the position of power benefit when there is a lack of hope.  With Napoleon's consolidation of power, hope becomes a casualty.  Thus, an element of hope comes at the end of the book when the reader recognizes how important hope actually is to ensuring that individual voice is not marginalized or relegated to the periphery.

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