In George Orwell's novel Animal Farm, how and why did the pigs come to be in control of the other animals?

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In George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, the pigs – particularly Napoleon – quickly rise to preeminence after the rebellion, and Napoleon soon establishes a dictatorship with himself as leader. Since Orwell’s novel was intended as a satire of the Soviet Union under the iron rule of Joseph Stalin, events and characters in the book resemble events and characters in Russian history of the early twentieth century. The pigs represent the Bolshevik leaders and intellectual defenders of the Russian Revolution. They represent the communist elite who quickly became a new regime of totalitarian rulers, enjoying many of the same privileges, and even more of the power, that had been enjoyed by the old Russian monarchy and aristocracy.

The elite status of the pigs is justified, by them and by others, in a number of ways, including the following:

  • The pigs are widely admitted, before the Rebellion, to be the most intelligent of the animals.
  • Soon after the Rebellion the narrator notes that

The pigs now revealed that during the past three months they had taught themselves to read and write from an old spelling book which had belonged to Mr. Jones's children and which had been thrown on the rubbish heap.

The pigs are thus better-educated than most of the other animals.

  • At one point, the narrator comments that

The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others. With their superior knowledge it was natural that they should assume the leadership.

  • The pigs are diligent, especially after the Rebellion. Thus, the narrator reports that

The pigs had set aside the harness-room as a headquarters for themselves. Here, in the evenings, they studied blacksmithing, carpentering, and other necessary arts from books which they had brought out of the farmhouse.

  • When the other animals learn that the pigs are being given more food than the rest of the animals, Squealer justifies the inequity as follows:

'Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what wouldhappen if we pigs failed in our duty?'

  • The narrator notes that after the Rebellion,

It had come to be accepted that the pigs, who were manifestly cleverer than the other animals, should decide all questions of farm policy, though their decisions had to be ratified by a majority vote.

Thus, part of the explanation for the rise of the pigs lies, at least at first, is the acquiescence of the other animals.

  • Later, the narrator reports that

the pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse and took up their residence there. Again the animals seemed to remember that a resolution against this had been passed in the early days, and again Squealer was able to convince them that this was not the case. It was absolutely necessary, he said, that the pigs, who were the brains of the farm, should have a quiet place to work in. It was also more suited to the dignity of the Leader (for of late he had taken to speaking of Napoleon under the title of 'Leader') to live in a house than in a mere sty.

In short, the growing power of the pigs is justified in a number of ways at each stage of the process.


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