What is the significance of the change in the commandment, "No animal shall drink alcohol," in chapter 8? In chapter 8, the animals find that the commandment had been changed to, "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess," instead of, "No animal shall drink alcohol." 

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To understand the significance of this quote, you need to look a little further back in the story. Remember that just before this change, the pigs find a case of whisky in the farmhouse cellar. That night, they drink the whisky and get very drunk, so drunk that Napoleon has a hangover the next day. Instead of telling the animals that Napoleon has a serious hangover, the pigs realize that this is a great opportunity to further blacken Snowball’s reputation. As a result, Squealer declares that Snowball has tried to poison Napoleon. So, on the one hand, this quote is proof that the pigs have lied to the other animals about Napoleon’s hangover.

This quote is also significant because it demonstrates just how corrupt and increasingly human the pigs have become. In the beginning, it was declared that no animal should drink alcohol because alcohol is associated with human behavior. Now, the pigs are replicating this human behavior and, even worse, changing the commandments so that they can indulge in this behavior whenever they choose—even though it goes against the principles of Animalism.

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The significance of this subtle change is that Napoleon is bending the rules to suit himself. The Seven Commandments of Animalism, originally laid down by Old Major, are supposed to be sacrosanct. But Napoleon never really believed in them; he simply used them for propaganda purposes as and when it suited him.

But as Napoleon consolidates his rule, he realizes that the Commandments in their original form have become something of a burden, preventing him from doing exactly what he wants. So he changes them, and in doing so, he eases the transition from pig to human, which is what Napoleon really wanted to be all along. It's largely because of the changes to the Seven Commandments that, at the end of the book, the animals can look from man to pig and from pig to man and find it impossible to say which is which.

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Originally, the Fifth Commandment prohibits animals from drinking alcohol. At the beginning of the novella, Old Major warned the animals about adopting human habits and cautioned them about the negative effects of alcohol, which is why the pigs originally prohibited the animals from consuming alcoholic beverages following the Rebellion. After Napoleon usurps power, he begins ruling the farm like a tyrant and dismisses each one of the commandments.

In chapter 8, the pigs discover a case of whiskey in Mr. Jones's cellar and indulge in the alcohol. The next day, Napoleon suffers from an extreme hangover and thinks that he is dying. Napoleon then decrees that drinking alcohol is punishable by death. Two days later, Napoleon recovers and begins to feel better. He even commissions a small field to be plowed and planted with barley, which implies that the pigs plan on making their own alcohol. At the end of the chapter, Muriel rereads the Fifth Commandment, which now reads, "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess." This is simply another example of how Napoleon manipulates the animals by altering the laws in order to benefit his political and personal agenda.

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When the commandment changes from “no animal shall drink alcohol” to “no animal shall drink alcohol to excess,” it is an example of rewriting history, and significant because drinking alcohol makes the pigs more like humans.

Old Major’s dream includes provisions for avoiding all human behavior.  Drinking alcohol is a distinctly human behavior.  This commandment change is important for three reasons. 

First, it makes the pigs act more human.  As they become more and more human-like, they start to be more abusive to the other animals.

Second, alcohol was an indirect cause of the revolution.  Jones was a drunkard who did not run his farm efficiently, and when he did not feed the animals they rebelled.  So when the pigs begin drinking alcohol and Napoleon thinks he’s dying, it shows that he is becoming more and more like the humans.  Notice that only the pigs drink alcohol.

Third, this is another example of propaganda and rewriting history.  There was no commandment against alcohol, the animals remember wrong.  The commandment is against drinking alcohol to excess.

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