In Animal Farm, why do the animals instantly memorize and like the song "Beasts of England"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Animal Farm by George Orwell, the animals like the song "Beasts of England" for a number of reasons.  Firstly, the song is introduced to the animals by Old Major, the highly revered elder pig of Manor Farm, after his stirring speech in which he tells the animals about the dream he had of a world without man.  He claims the song comes from his childhood, which makes it even more endearing to the animals.  To them, Old Major is a sacred member of society, and he's sharing a piece of himself with them.

Further, the narrator tells the reader "it was a stirring tune, something between Clementine and La Cucaracha."  Both of these songs are very catchy, so it makes sense that a song based out of the same rhythms would be as well.  The animals, even the less intelligent ones, would have an easy melody to remember which, in turn, would allow them to more easily sing the song together.  This would increase their sense of community.

Finally, the other important reasons for the song's appeal can be found in the lyrics.  The song speaks of unity among all beasts "of every land and clime," and tells of a day when "Tyrant Man shall be o'erthrown." This appeals to both the animals' sense of brother and sisterhood and their desire to be their own masters.  The latter is further stressed in the third stanza, that claims that instruments of control, such as rings, harnesses, bits, spurs, and whips will disappear forever.  No longer will the animals be subjugated and forced to endure pain and hardship.  This vision of the future is particularly appealing to the animals, who have lived under the control of the negligent, often abusive Mr. Jones.

The next two stanzas appeal to the animals by depicting the promised land that will emerge when man is gone.  The animals will have "riches," such as "wheat and barley, oats and hay."  This appeals to the animals' desire for safety and sustenance.  They don't have many needs, but plentiful food is definitely important to them.

Finally, the appeal to camaraderie is reinforced through the last two stanzas, The sixth stanza claims that "All must toil for freedom's sake," and the final stanza, a near refrain of the first stanza, shifts the power of the song to the animals themselves.  Whereas the first stanza commanded the listener to "Hearken to my joyful tidings/ Of the golden future time," the final stanza amends the order slightly to "Hearken well and spread my tidings/ Of the golden future time."

Through its inspirational source, catchy melody, and uplifting lyrics, "Beasts of England" becomes a siren song for the animal revolution at Manor Farm.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the opening chapter of Animal Farm, the animals memorize the song, "Beasts of England." It is Old Major, the boar, who teaches this song to the animals and its lyrics portray a utopia in which all animals are equal and are freed from the oppression and tyranny of humans.

This explains why the animals memorize the song on the spot: it represents their hopes and dreams for the future. It acts as a rousing call to action which makes them believe that a Rebellion, in which Mr. Jones is removed, is the only way to proceed and to improve their standard of living. It is, therefore, a symbol of the way they want to live.

That all the animals are capable of learning the words is also significant because it acts as a force for unity. Even the most "stupid" of animals, for example, is able to memorize the lyrics and this gives them hope for the future.


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial