Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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In Animal Farm by George Orwell, who is the smartest animal on the farm and why?

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There are various candidates for smartest animal on the farm, all of them pigs. The selection among the pigs really depends on one's definition of "smart."

Old Major is the visionary, the one who has worked out for himself the nature of the animals' existence and the forces that shape their lives. Although he is only present at the beginning of the book, his is probably the most powerful and insightful intellect.

Snowball is the most inventive and brilliant of the pigs. He is smart in the sense of being an ideas man, as well as, like Old Major, a utopian intellectual.

Napoleon has the most practical mind among the pigs. We might describe his variety of intelligence as "street smarts." While he lacks Old Major's breadth of vision and Snowball's theoretical brilliance, he is able to defeat his enemies by being more strategically-minded.

Squealer is an example of the type of intelligence which allies itself with power and provides legitimacy, while receiving numerous privileges. Unlike Napoleon and Snowball, Squealer is not a leader but is able to manipulate others into doing what he wants.

If one were to attempt to measure their intelligence by some method like an IQ test, I believe Snowball would score the highest of these four pigs and Napoleon the lowest. Conversely, if you measure "smartness" by practical success, Napoleon would top the table and Snowball would come last.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One could make the argument that Snowball is the most intelligent animal on the farm. Snowball helps develop the system of thought known as Animalism, forms the Seven Commandments based on old Major's principles, and establishes numerous committees. Snowball also develops elaborate, technically advanced blueprints for the windmill and demonstrates his military intelligence by formulating a successful defensive scheme to defeat Mr. Jones and his men at the Battle of the Cowshed. He is also a passionate, articulate public speaker. He wins over the majority of the animals to support his plans regarding the future of Animal Farm.

One could also argue that Squealer is the most intelligent animal on the farm because of his excellent, unparalleled rhetorical skills. He masterfully manipulates the animals into agreeing with Napoleon's one-sided, oppressive political agenda and is said to be able to turn "black into white" using his words.

Benjamin is also a candidate for the most intelligent animal on the farm. He can read as well as any pig and knows that the Revolution will not be a success. Benjamin is by far the oldest, most experienced animal on the farm. He portrayed as a cynical character who refuses to comment on the farm's early successes and Napoleon's oppressive tactics. Benjamin is also the only animal to recognize that Boxer is being taken to the knackers, and he is not fooled by Squealer's arguments.

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There are really two justifiable answers to your question, though I believe that there is one best answer.

Snowball was a brilliant pig. He made the plans for the windmill. He adapted the commandments, but Napoleon took everything Snowball did and manipulated it to his own purposes. Napoleon was the smartest pig on Animal Farm because he defeated and outmaneuvered Snowball.

Snowball wasn't "smart" enough to see how Napoleon was out-strategizing him. Napoleon saw well ahead of time that Snowball would be a hindrance to his own consolidation of power, so he prepared by taking Jessie's puppies. He trained them quietly and in private and eventually used them to drive Snowball from the farm.  

All of these maneuvers are a representation of (or allegory for) individuals from the Russian Revolution. Though Leonid Trotsky was a brilliant thinker, he was out-strategized by Stalin. Stalin used his position as General Secretary to appoint friendly (or pro-Stalin) individuals to government posts. Trotsky was eventually expelled from the party and the country. He was finally assassinated while living in Mexico.

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