In Orwell's Animal Farm, why did the animals sing “Beasts of England” slowly and mournfully as they were gathered on the knoll?

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In George Orwell's 1945 novel Animal Farm, the animals of Manor Farm sing "Beasts of England" as a sort of national anthem. It became their custom to sing it at the conclusion of all of their meetings. They sang it seven consecutive times after driving the Jones family from the farm. When they tried to stir up rebellion among the animals of other farms, teaching them this song was part of their strategy. Indeed, this song spread throughout the countryside and the other animals were constantly singing it: "when the human beings listened to it, they secretly trembled, hearing in it a prophecy of their future doom."

In Chapter 7, however, the song takes on a new tone. After Napoleon has a number of animals killed after they have confessed to various deeds that run contrary to the Napoleon-led rebellion, Clover and many of the surviving animals once again sing "Beasts of England." In this instance, in light of the recent deaths of their animal comrades, the song takes on the quality of a funeral dirge.

After they finish singing the song, Squealer arrives and makes the following announcement: a special decree of Comrade Napoleon, 'Beasts of England' had been abolished. From now onwards it was forbidden to sing it.

Squealer goes on to explain that the song was no longer necessary since the Rebellion was over.