How are the Seven Commandments broken in Animal Farm?

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In Animal Farm, the Seven Commandments are broken by Napoleon and other pigs engaging in business with humans, treating other animals brutally, wearing clothing, sleeping in beds, drinking alcohol, executing other animals, and establishing hierarchy and privilege on the farm.

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The Seven Commandments, as set down by Old Major, are supposed to form the basis of the new Animalist utopia built by the animals after Mr. Jones is sent packing from the farm. But over time, Napoleon and the other pigs start making subtle changes to each Commandment, to provide cover for their many nefarious acts and to give them free reign to do as they please.

The First Commandment states that whatever goes on two legs—i.e. is a human—is an enemy. Yet Napoleon blatantly violates this Commandment by engaging in lucrative trade with the nearest town and with local farms.

The Second Commandment states that whatever goes upon four legs or has wings is a friend. But try telling that to the hens massacred on the orders of Napoleon for refusing to hand over their eggs. Some friendship this is!

The Third Commandment states that no animal shall wear clothes. Napoleon, however, fancies himself as a bit of a sharp dresser, so ends up disregarding the commandment entirely. The pigs like wearing clothes, which is one of the reasons why it becomes increasingly difficult to tell them apart from humans.

The Fourth Commandment is pretty emphatic that no animal shall sleep in a bed. Why? Because that's something that humans do, and humans are to be hated and despised. But this is yet another commandment that goes by the board as Napoleon rather likes sleeping on beds. So he subtly changes this Commandment to read "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets".

The Fifth Commandment, with its prohibition on animals drinking alcohol, is another one designed to prevent animals from behaving like humans. But once Napoleon discovers the contents of Mr. Jones' drinks cabinet, then it's time for another subtle change in Old Major's teachings. Now, the Commandment states that "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess". Yet even this is blatantly violated by Napoleon, who's such a greedy pig.

The Sixth Commandment is one of the most important: No animal shall kill any other animal. But it's also the one most honored in the breach than the observance. Once Napoleon establishes himself as dictator of the farm, he has no hesitation in killing any other animal who gets in his way.

Last, but not least, we have the Seventh Commandment: All animals are equal. In actual fact, however, some animals are more equal than others. While most of the animals work long hours in return for ever-diminishing rations, Napoleon and the pigs get to live like kings.

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The pigs, being more intelligent than the other animals, seize control of Animal Farm after the rebellion and gradually, with the support of the dogs, transform it from an experiment in equality and plenty for all to one of hierarchy and privilege for themselves. The Seven Commandments were meant to protect the rights of all the animals, so the pigs have to change them in order to get away with commandeering most of the benefits of the farm for their own exclusive use. The Seven Commandments are as flollows:

  1. "Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy." The pigs break this when they enter into business dealings with humans. For example, they sell poor, devoted Boxer to the glue factory, owned by the humans, when he is old and worn-out at the end of the book. 
  2. "Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend." Anyone who does not go along with Napoleon, even if an animal, is an enemy. For instance, Napoleon has the dogs kill the hens who refuse to give up their eggs to sell to the humans. He runs Snowball off the farm. 
  3. "No animal shall wear clothes." The pigs wear clothing.
  4. "No animal shall sleep in a bed." The pigs sleep in beds in Mr. Jones's farmhouse.
  5. "No animal shall drink alcohol." This rule was a response to the neglect the animals endured due to Mr. Jones's drinking. The pigs, however, drink alcohol—and even get drunk.
  6. "No animal shall kill any other animal." Napoleon, as in Stalin's Soviet Union, has trials and has executed animals deemed traitors.
  7. "All animals are equal." By the end of the book, the pigs have become a separate caste, living well, walking on two legs, carrying whips, and wearing clothes. In contrast, the rest of the animals are just as poor and overworked as they were under Farmer Jones. All the animals are not equal, and the pigs deal with this problem by adding to this commandment. This commandment will eventually state, illogically, that some animals are more equal than others.
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In Animal Farm, the Seven Commandments represent the animals' utopian dreams after they overthrow Mr Jones in Chapter Two. It does not take long, however, before the commandments are broken by the power-hungry and corrupt pigs. Here is a glimpse of how this happens:

  1. "Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy." This commandment is broken when Napoleon begins trading with the neighbouring humans, Mr Pilkington and Mr Frederick. In addition, by the closing scene of the novel, Napoleon has adopted human dress and walks around on his hind legs.
  2. "Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend." Napoleon breaks this rule when he runs Snowball off the farm in Chapter Five and later portrays him as an enemy of Animal Farm. 
  3. "No animal shall wear clothes." By the final chapter of the novel, all of the pigs can be seen in human clothing which they have taken from Mr Jones' wardrobe.
  4. "No animal shall sleep in a bed." The pigs break this commandment in Chapter Six when they move into the farmhouse to be more comfortable.
  5. "No animal shall drink alcohol." Napoleon changes this commandment to include the words "to excess" in Chapter Eight after he drinks whiskey for the first time and suffers from a terrible hangover.
  6. "No animal shall kill any other animal." Napoleon breaks this commandment when he brutally slaughters the hens who rebel against him in Chapter Seven.  
  7. "All animals are equal." This commandment is famously changed in the final chapter of the book when Napoleon declares that some animals are "more equal than others." This sums up the divide between the pigs, the ruling class, and the other animals on the farm.  
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Although it is unintentional, the first major corruption of the Seven Commandments of Animalism comes when Snowball, with good intentions, creates a distilled law: "Four legs good, two legs bad." While it helps to instill the ideals of Animalism in all the animals, even those without much intellect, it starts the path of simplification that ends with the seven rules converted into one rule: "Four legs good, two legs better."

The first proper corruption of the Commandments comes when the pigs move into the farmhouse, sleeping in beds, directly against the original wording of the laws:

"...You did not suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? ... The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention... You would not have us too tired to carry out our duties? Surely none of you wishes to see Jones back?"
(Orwell, Animal Farm, msxnet.org)

With this change, it becomes obvious to the pigs that they can slowly alter the rules and as long as Squealer appeals to their fear and hatred of Farmer Jones, the other animals will forget the original wording and believe the new wording. More changes follow, giving the pigs the ability to take on human attributes while keeping the other animals oppressed. This sets up the farm to change from a community of equality to a dictatorship, and all done with the implicit approval of the other animals, who cannot think far enough ahead to see what these changes will mean.

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Why were changes made to the Seven Commandments in Animal Farm?

The Seven Commandments are intended to guide the animals’ behavior following the revolution that overthrows Farmer Jones. They are derived from the key points that Old Major makes in his rousing speech. Unfortunately, Old Major dies soon thereafter, and the other animals must take charge of spreading his egalitarian message and educating the young. It seems especially important not to imitate the humans and thereby fall into the error of their ways.

The pigs secretly acquire literacy, and their command of the written word gives them some power. They paint the commandments on the wall for all to see; however, the other animals cannot read them. This prompts the literate few to organize classes, and they soon acquire basic literacy. Another issue soon develops, which is that many animals cannot memorize things by rote. If they cannot recite the commandments, they are not proper revolutionaries. To encourage all to adhere to the revolution’s basic message, the leaders decide to shorten the commandments. While this makes perfect sense in terms of the plot, it is also Orwell’s foreshadowing of the ultimate betrayal. The most fundamental tenet to which all should adhere is now “four legs good, two legs bad.” In the end, the pig leaders walk upright.

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Why were changes made to the Seven Commandments in Animal Farm?

In George Orwell's novel Animal Farm, the animals of the farm rebel against Mr. Jones. After taking over the Manor Farm, the animals (led by Snowball and Napoleon) begin to make the laws which the animals are expected follow. The original Seven Commandments of the Animal Farm are:

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

Unfortunately for Snowball and Napoleon, many of the animals are illiterate (meaning that they do not know how to read). Therefore, the commandments become somewhat of a challenge for them to uphold.

Snowball, realizing that the commandments have become hard for other animals to read (let alone memorize), decides that the rules of the farm need to be changed. Snowball, realizing that one idea is, by far, most important, decides to eliminate all of the original commandments. The new, and more easily memorable, commandment is "four legs good, two legs bad."

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What are the seven commandments in Animal Farm?

The seven commandments are the core precepts of Animalism, the ideology that animates and drives the animals in their rebellion, which is shaped by the original vision expressed by Old Major. In many respects, the commandments are also a simplification, translating Old Major's more abstract and complicated theories into terms that are easily communicated to the other animals of the farm. They read as follows:

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.

2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.

3. No animal shall wear clothes.

4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.

5. No animal shall drink alcohol.

6. No animal shall kill any other animal.

7. All animals are equal.

Animal Farm was intended to be an allegory for the history of the Soviet Union, and this original vision of Animalism correlates with the original vision of Marxist communism that animated the Bolsheviks. Marxism envisions a violent struggle against capitalism by which the capitalists would be overthrown. This, in turn, would allow for the creation of a classless society (thus bringing about an end to the cycle of class struggle and exploitation which, Marxist theory holds, has shaped all of human history). Likewise, Animalism predicts a future in which animals overthrow the humans who oppress and abuse them, allowing for a similarly utopian vision to unfold.

What is most interesting about the seven commandments, however, is the manner in which the pigs are able to manipulate and rewrite them to suit their own interests. In blatant violation of Animalism's original precepts, the pigs begin to claim special privileges for themselves, on account of their status as the farm's managers and intelligentsia. Slowly, they revise these original commandments to be in line with the new reality they have constructed: one that places pigs on top. The other unintelligent animals ultimately prove to be helpless against this systematic manipulation.

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How does the Sixth Commandment change in Animal Farm?

As was mentioned in the previous post, the Sixth Commandment initially stated that "No animal shall kill any other animal." Old Major passed down this tenet to unite the animals and prevent them from becoming enemies with each other. However, Napoleon quickly usurps power and begins his tyrannical reign over Animal Farm. Napoleon initially attempts to murder Snowball during a meeting but is unsuccessful. However, Napoleon does follow through by murdering other animals in Chapter 7. In Chapter 7, Napoleon forces confessions from various animals and has them killed by ferocious dogs. Napoleon's killings mimic Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of the 1930s when he arrested, exiled, and murdered political dissidents in Russia. The brutal murders upset the animals, and Clover eventually asks Benjamin to read the Sixth Commandment again. When Benjamin recites the Sixth Commandment, it has been altered to read, "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." The additional two words added to the Sixth Commandment justify Napoleon's actions. Orwell demonstrates how authoritarian regimes manipulate the population through the clever use of language to justify heinous acts and policies. 

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How does the Sixth Commandment change in Animal Farm?

The Sixth Commandment created by the animals of Animal Farm states that

No animal shall kill any other animal.

However, this commandment is soon broken. Napoleon attempts to have Snowball killed in Chapter V when he orders his nine canine bodyguards to attack his opponent, but Snowball manages to escape the vicious dogs. In Chapters VI and VII, the chickens are forced to turn over their eggs for sale to the humans--an act they consider murder, but in Chapter VII, the first brutal killings actually occur. When several hens admit to being supporters of Snowball, they are "slaughtered." One sheep admits to "urinating" in the drinking water; two more admit to killing an old ram;

They were all slain on the spot.

More executions are administered, leaving "a pile of corpses" at Napoleon's feet. A few days later, the Sixth Commandment had been changed. It now read

"No animal shall kill any other animal without cause."

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How and why do the Seven Commandments, which are written on the barn wall, change during the course of the novel Animal Farm?

The original Seven Commandments that were written on the side of the barn were meant to be the basic rules for society on Animal Farm. They were intended to apply to all the animals equally and establish a community of cooperation and unity. The first two commandments establish who is a friend and who is a foe. The next three further differentiate the animals from the humans. The final two are meant to promote peace among the animals.

Although the commandments are meant to establish and protect equality between all the animals, they soon become perverted by Napoleon and his supporters. Very soon, it becomes clear that some animals are more equal than others.

By the beginning of the third chapter, we see that the pigs have begun to grant themselves special privileges. They become the taskmasters and do almost none of the physical labor that supports the community. Furthermore, they begin making and enforcing their own rules, many of which violate the original seven commandments. No one has appointed the pigs as leaders; they simply have taken the power for themselves. The pigs have become the privileged class in violation of the commandment that all animals are equal.

By the end of the book, all seven commandments have been broken, some repeatedly so. The pigs begin executing other animals, beginning with the murder of nine of the hens. This results in the commandment forbidding the killing of other animals to be amended to say that no animal shall be killed "without cause." The pigs violate the fourth commandment when they move into the farmhouse and begin sleeping in beds with sheets. After the pigs discover whiskey and learn to distill their own liquor, they change the fifth commandment. It originally stated that no animal shall drink alcohol, but they add the words "to excess" to justify their actions. Perhaps the most shocking violation of the commandments occurs when the pigs begin walking on two legs and become friendly with humans, enjoying a banquet with them.

By first establishing rules for all to live by and then gradually eroding them, Orwell shows how those in power apply the law unevenly. The novel serves as a parable of the Soviet Union, which strayed from its original revolutionary ideals by creating a privileged class that was free to abuse and ignore the laws upon which the society was built.

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What is happening to the seven commandments in Animal Farm?

The Seven Commandments constitute the founding document of Animalism, to be strictly adhered to by everyone at all times. They are:

  1. Whatever goes on two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes on four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes. 
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol. 
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal. 

As the reign of Napoleon degenerates into an outright dictatorship, all of the commandments are eventually distorted beyond recognition until they become utterly meaningless. The original commandments placed too much restriction on Napoleon's absolute power, so he changed to them to suit himself:

  1. The pigs end up walking on two legs.
  2. The pigs end up thinking that any animal with four legs or wings is inferior.
  3. The pigs start wearing clothes.
  4. The rule changes to "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." Because there's nothing Napoleon likes better than having a nice, comfortable sleep in a human's bed.
  5. "No animal shall drink alcohol....to excess." Although even this cunningly rewritten commandment is ignored by the pigs as they habitually get drunk on whiskey at wild parties.
  6. "No animal shall kill any other animal...without cause." This is a particularly important amendment to the original commandment if you're going to unleash a reign of terror against the other farm animals. And who decides what the cause should be for killing an animal? Napoleon of course.
  7. "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." Animalism's all very well in theory, but as the pigs progressively exploit their power over other animals, it eventually makes sense, in context, for them to have "more equality."

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