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Literature / Animal Farm

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It's actually a Mature Animal Story.

"All animals are equal ... but some animals are more equal than others."

A clever Beast Fable satirizing the evolving Russian communism by George Orwell, as well as a book with two adaptations that have an understandably misplaced demographic.

Orwell tells, allegorically, how the Russian Revolution would go if its participants were animals, and if you reduced Russia to the area of a typical English country farm. When you get what the point of the book is — being a satire of Stalinism written during World War II — it's not hard to guess where the plot is going. It was strictly outlawed by Josef Stalin as it technically depicted Stalin and other Soviet leaders as evil pigs (Stalin as Napoleon, Leon Trotsky as Snowball, and Vyacheslav Molotov as Squealer. Also, Karl Marx as Old Major, though that one technically wasn't evil).

The inspiration for this book came about when Orwell saw a boy leading a cart-horse, whipping it all the while. Orwell thought that if animals realized just how strong they are, they can defeat the human race and end up running the world.


The animalist state of Animal Farm is founded by Old Major's philosophy of peace and equality among animals and a deep hatred for humans. To confirm their stance, the animals create constitution laws that are painted on the side of a barn. But as Napoleon's reign grows corrupt, the laws are rewritten.

Eventually, the pigs violate every rule and end up rewriting the constitution entirely to one phrase:

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

The maxim, "Four legs good, two legs bad." is changed to "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better".


When the other animals spy on a meeting between the farmers and the pigs, they cannot tell the difference between them anymore.

In 1954, the British animation studio Halas & Batchelor produced an Animated Adaptation, which was widely heralded as a milestone of British animation,note  though it came under heavy criticism for its Lighter and Softer approach to Orwell's fable, including a (somewhat) Happy Ending in which the farm animals rise up against their new overlords. (It appears that the United States' CIA had a hand in providing funding for the film, though it seems uncertain whether the film's writers and directors were aware of the fact.) Tropes for that film should go here.

It also inspired Pink Floyd's Concept Album Animals, though it criticizes capitalism instead of communism. John Reed's Affectionate Parody aptly named Snowball's Chance also rips on both capitalism and Animal Farm itself, portraying Snowball returning and becoming a George W. Bush Expy. In Animal Farm, things go horribly wrong; in Snowball's Chance, things go horribly right.

A live-action version, starring Patrick Stewart as the voice of Napoleon and Kelsey Grammer as Snowball, was produced in 1999. A stage adaptation, drawing heavily from another Orwell classic, Homage to Catalonia, was first produced in 2008. Andy Serkis is prepared to direct a new film version using Serkis Folk.

Nerial, developer of Reigns, partnered with the Orwell Estate in 2020 to develop a Video Game Adaptation for PC and mobile called Orwells Animal Farm.

All spoilers below are unmarked.

All tropes are equal, but some are more equal than others:

  • Ace of Spades: The initially cordial man-pig dinner party at the end ends in chaos when during a game of cards, Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington simultaneously play an ace of spades. Most critics view this as Orwell's interpretation of the Tehran Conference, ostensibly meant to establish a unified front among the allies but in actuality setting up the future conflict between the Soviet Union and the West.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The new endings of both film versions. Plus the focus on Jessie in the live-action version.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The book ended as badly as the real-life events it's based on, while the 1954 animated movie changes it to a more uplifting ending in which the animals revolt against their new overlords. The 1999 live-action movie expanded the ending based on the real-life collapse of the Soviet Union by showing Napoleon's empire eventually falling apart.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The 1999 film shows Farmer Frederick as being primarily concerned about the poor welfare of the other animals under the leadership of the pigs, in contrast to Farmer Pilkington, who sees the animal farm situation as an opportunity to make a tidy profit swindling the financially naive pigs.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The 1999 film presents Farmer Pilkington as the Greater-Scope Villain of the whole situation, being the unreasonable debt holder over Farmer Jones. In a case of Reality Ensues, the film also presents Napoleon as a Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond completely ignorant of how to run a farm or manage finances, with Pilkington "partnering" up with him to essentially swindle him.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Mrs. Jones in the 1954 film.
    • Mr. Whymper, the solicitor who acted as the prime liaison between humans and the pigs of Animal Farm, is absent from the 1999 film; Mr. Pilkington takes up his role when he establishes his business relationship with Napoleon.
  • Adult Fear: Jessie's puppies. In the live-action film, she desperately looks for her puppies and even asks Napoleon for them. However, he claims that it's "for the best" that they're with him. When she does finally see her puppies all grown-up, she's horrified to see what Napoleon has done to them. Multiple times, she tries to reason with them and control them, but they don't realize who she is nor do they care.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The pigs, especially Napoleon, tend to be power-hungry and Selfish Evil. Those who aren't corrupt end up dead: the genuinely idealistic Old Major dies before the revolution even happens, and any pigs who oppose Napoleon get purged along with all the other dissidents. The Ambiguously Evil Well-Intentioned Extremist Snowball gets run off the farm pretty quickly once Napoleon decides he's a threat.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The pigs end up adopting human ways to the point where, in the end, the other animals find it impossible to tell the pigs from the humans.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: In-Universe, the rival human farmers were expecting the whole idea of a farm run by animals to collapse in no time. Played with in both film adaptations, where it ultimately does, but it was more from the pigs getting Drunk with Power rather than gross incompetence like the farmers expected.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Napoleon has nine of these, which he reared by taking Jessie the dog's newest litter shortly after their birth and rearing exclusively to become his own personal soldiers.
  • Animal Motifs:
  • Animal Talk: All animals can talk to each other, and, eventually, the pigs at least can talk to the humans as well.
  • Animated Adaptation: The 1954 film.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: One of the original Seven Commandments forbade animals to kill animals, conveniently discarded when Napoleon convinced the other animals that there were potential or actual pro-Snowball traitors in his midst, and began holding show trials.
  • Asshole Victim: After having ruined the reconstructed windmill, several of Frederick's men were brutally killed in the Battle of the Windmill by the angry animals.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the original story, the pigs become just as oppressive and cruel as the humans ever were, never facing any repercussions for their totalitarian ways if not even rewarded for that. The film adaptations feature bittersweet endings of varying sweetness.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Jones and his farmhands are cruel and neglectful towards the animals before they get driven out, and Mr. Frederick is rumored to outright torture his livestock.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: In-Universe — Boxer's motto "Napoleon is always right" is actually derived from "If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right."
  • Beast Fable: A critique of authoritarian communism falling from its lofty ideals, with Boxer the horse as the overworked proletariat, the sheep as the state-run media bleating propaganda, the dogs as brutal state police removing opposition, and the pigs at the top reaping the fruits of the workers' labor. Equally, it applies as a critique of capitalism, with the humans representing the capitalists and being so similar to the pigs that they cannot be told apart from each other.
  • Big Bad: Napoleon is the leader of the pigs and the one responsible for corrupting the ideals of the revolution.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Both film versions qualify. The 1954 version has the animals get fed up with the pigs, rise up, and overthrow all of them, taking back control of the farm. The 1999 live-action film has Napoleon's empire eventually collapse in on itself, reflecting the real-life downfall of the Soviet Union. However, in both versions, Boxer is still dead, the farm is completely ruined, and the animals all wasted years of their lives and endured countless suffering, all of which ultimately amounted to nothing.
  • Blatant Lies: Everything Squealer says, but he words it so that disagreeing with him sounds pro-human or pro-Snowball. "You don't want Jones to come back, do you?"
  • Blind Obedience: Towards the end of the novel, most of the animals default to this regarding the pigs' leadership.
  • Book-Ends:The farm is titled Manor Farm while Jones runs it. The animals rename it Animal Farm after the uprising. After Napoleon's corruption and hypocrisy is complete, the farm is renamed Manor Farm again.
  • Brainy Pig: This book features a decidedly dark take on this trope. The pigs, as the most intelligent animals on the farm, declare themselves to be the new government after kicking out their former human masters. Over the course of the story, however, one particular pig named Napoleon (a stand-in for Josef Stalin) becomes a power-hungry dictator who rules the farm with an iron fist.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Benjamin is a deconstruction of this; he's smart enough to realize that things probably won't be as rosy as the pigs say they are, he sees right through their various deceptions, and he’s one of the few animals other than the pigs who can read, but he can't be bothered to spell it out for the other animals, who are more gullible than he is. In the end, this means Boxer obliviously works himself to near-death from exhaustion, and then meekly goes to his death because he trusts Napoleon's claim that he is being sent to a vet instead, and though Benjamin (who figures out the truth because he can read) tells the other animals, it’s too late to save him. All because Benjamin couldn't be bothered to try and make his fellow animals realize what a tyrant Napoleon had become. Even after this, when Napoleon tricks the others into thinking Boxer really was sent to a vet, Benjamin doesn’t try to oppose him.
  • Broken Aesop: The 1999 film tries to account for The Great Politics Mess-Up by changing the ending so that Napoleon's empire becomes unsustainable and collapses on itself. Fair enough, but then the film concludes with a smiling human family driving onto the farm as the sun comes back out and Jessie happily explains, "Now we have new owners!" Which pretty much negates the entire meaning of the allegory.
  • Bus Crash: The ultimate fate of Jones. At some point in the book, it is mentioned that he left the area, and lost interest in his lost farm. And later, they took the time to mention that years later he died.
  • The Caligula: Napoleon, especially in the 1999 film where we actually see his empire ultimately just collapse from his despotic incompetence.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor:
    • Squealer and Napoleon, when waking up the next morning after ending up completely plastered while rewriting the amendment that forbade alcohol to forbid drinking in excess (ironically) in the 1990s film, end up with an intense hangover with Napoleon and Squealer remarking that they're dying, showing why animals shouldn't drink alcohol, and thus leading to Napoleon's later paranoia.note 
  • Catchphrase:
    • Boxer has two: "I will work harder" and "Napoleon is always right."
    • Squealer: "You don't want Jones to come back, do you?"
    • Benjamin: "Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey."
  • Central Theme: The corruption of communism. It's also a satirical/symbolic take on the rise of Stalin.
  • Chekhov's Army: The dogs in the live-action film. They first get mentioned as Napoleon taking Jessie's pups to rear and educate. Then they appear just when Napoleon needs their muscle as huge, powerful, vicious dogs.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Benjamin is the only non-pig on the farm who can read just like a human. Guess who finds out that Boxer's being sent to the knacker instead of the vet.
  • The Commandments: The Principles of Animalism (see main entry). While founded on an ideal and noble cause, they gradually become more and more corrupted. Eventually, the pigs unveil "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
  • Counterfeit Cash: Mr. Frederick bought timber from Napoleon with banknotes. They were discovered to be fake and Napoleon got so mad that he declared a death sentence on him.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover for the 1999 film makes it look like a cute, Disneyesque movie for kids. No. The book itself is also labelled "a fairy story", but it's really a mature and blatant political satire on Red October and Bolshevism.
  • Crowd Chant: "Four legs good, two legs baaaaaad!" And at the end of the book, it's "four legs good, two legs better!"
  • Crowd Song: "Beasts of England" is one; its change to "Animal Farm" and later "Comrade Napoleon" reflects the change of Soviet anthem from "The Internationale" to the "Hymn of the Soviet Union", which itself reflected the change from socialist internationalism to Stalin's "socialism in one country". It's sung to a tune that is said to be a cross between "La Cucaracha" and "My Darling Clementine". Indeed, the lyrics fit with both tunes. However, the USSR didn't ban "The Internationale", unlike how Animal Farm treated "Beasts of England".
  • Cyanide Pill: One gander confesses to working for Snowball and eats some nightshade berries, which are deadly to ganders, to kill himself.
  • Darker and Edgier: The 1954 film's version of Napoleon's takeover. Instead of chasing Snowball away, Napoleon has the audacity to kill Snowball with the dog's pups. If the dogs chasing Snowball into a corner wasn't clear what they did, then the growling and squealing should make it more evident.
  • Dead Guy on Display: After his death, Old Major's skull is dug up and put out on display to inspire the other animals. Napoleon eventually has it removed.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Benjamin the donkey. When asked by the other animals whether or not he feels life has improved after the revolution, he says, "Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey."
  • Death by Adaptation: Several examples in the 1954 Animated Adaptation:
    • In the book, Jones simply left the area and lost interest in his lost farm, dying in a home for alcoholics. In the movie, it is implied that he died in the explosion that destroyed the windmill.
    • Napoleon and the other pigs have a Bolivian Army Ending, against a second animal revolution.
    • A more subtle example is a dog near the beginning, who dies during the first battle instead of the book's original sole casualty being a sheep — this sets up where Napoleon gained the pups he trained into his personal guard.
    • Whereas Snowball escaped to an ambiguous fate in the novel, in the animated film, he gets an off-screen death at the jaws of Napoleon's attack dogs.
    • In the 1999 live-action adaptation, the pigs meet a more ambiguous end, the farm showing to have just fallen apart from Napoleon's despotic rule (much like the Soviet Union had by this time). However, a dead pig is shown in the rubble that is heavily implied to be Napoleon.
  • Demoted to Extra: Mr. Frederick has a much smaller role in the 1999 film, with his attack on the windmill being given to Jones. He does get a small Adaptational Heroism, in which he is disgusted by the treatment of the animals under the pigs. Also in the 1999 movie, Clover's role as the point of view character is given to Jessie; Clover herself appears, but has no speaking lines and has zero focus.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Napoleon and Squealer never take part in any of the actual battles, openly voice their fear of getting killed, and ultimately hide while the other animals do all the fighting.
    • Averted when Mr. Frederick dynamites the windmill; Orwell rewrote the scene to have Napoleon standing tall after the explosion, as a reference to how Stalin remained in Moscow when the Sixth Panzer Army was less than five miles away.
  • Disneyfication: Both film adaptations changed the ending to be more uplifting. The live-action version was made after the Soviet Union collapsed, making it one of the more justified uses.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: At the first show trial, Napoleon has animals mauled to death for crimes as minor as urinating in drinking water.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In both the film adaptations.
    • In the climax of the 1954 film, the animals engage in a Full-Circle Revolution of their own by overthrowing the pigs and taking back control of the farm.
    • In the 1999 film, the animals just escape and leave the pigs to their fate.
    • Also in the 1999 film, Jessie attacks farmer Jones and bites onto the wooden stick Jones was using trying to whip the other animals.
  • Downer Ending: This book is a satire of the Russian Revolution. Obviously, things go badly.
  • The Dragon: Squealer effectively serves as Napoleon's voice. He is just as evil as his boss, and possibly even more repulsive due to his constant toadying.
  • Dumb Is Good: Played straight with Boxer, who is one of the dimmest animals on the farm, but also has a huge heart, a pronounced gentle streak, and massive loyalty to his fellows, which is why Napoleon ultimately is able to work him to death — Boxer is so determined to help the others on the farm however he can that he forgoes looking after himself.
  • Dumb Muscle: Boxer, while incredibly strong, isn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box.
  • The Eeyore: The ever-cynical Benjamin, a donkey just like the Trope Namer; "Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on — that is, badly."
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Farm animals break loose and — unprecedented in the animal world — take over the place and establish a revolutionary community.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: Squealer is a porker,note  and serves as the mouthpiece for the rest of the pigs. Averted, however, with four other porkers who protest Napoleon's decision to give the pigs all the power and eventually get killed for it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In the 1999 film, Mr. Frederick criticizes Pilkington for opening up trade with Napoleon while the other animals on the farm are starving.
    • In the 1954 film, the crow that had watched the dogs kill Snowball is horrified enough to turn his head away as the dogs kill the other animals.
  • Evil Is Petty: Napoleon expresses his contempt for Snowball by literally pissing on his windmill plans; an overall pointless, lowly, and spiteful act that does nothing but show what a downright rotten person Napoleon is.
  • Exact Words: When Clover questions Muriel about the animals violating one of the commandments (the one about sleeping on the beds), Muriel responds that the commandments just state that the animals shouldn’t sleep in beds "with sheets."
  • Excrement Statement: When Snowball proposes building a windmill, he starts drawing up plans on the floor of the incubator shed over the course of several weeks. At one point, Napoleon comes into the shed, looks over the plans, then urinates on them. Of course, later Napoleon goes ahead with building the windmill and says it was his idea all along.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Napoleon, as well as most of the other pigs, begin oppressing their fellow animals and become horrible villains. It could be argued, however, that Napoleon better fits Evil All Along. After all, he begins raising his army of dogs only a chapter after the revolution. This could indicate that he was planning to betray the revolution from the very beginning. The other pigs better fit this trope.
  • Fat Bastard: Squealer, who grows so fat that he can barely see near the end of the novel. Justified since a) he's Napoleon's mouthpiece and thusly getting all of the rich, fattening food he can ask for, and b) as a porker, he has no real desires to sate besides eating, which is one of the reasons porkers are made.
  • Foreshadowing: The Face–Heel Turn of the pigs, especially Napoleon and Squealer, is quite obvious in advance.
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: The Trope Namer, as this is one of the "laws" installed by Napoleon and the pigs towards the end. It's the central concept of the story: as Napoleon (a pig) becomes more tyrannical and corrupt, he ultimately abandons one of the most important characteristics that the animals took pride in because of how it made them different from the humans — the notion that four legs are good and two legs are bad — and decides to walk on two legs, like a human.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: The Central Theme of the novel. Most of the pigs end up just as oppressive and greedy as the humans they drove out. The pigs use propaganda, lies, and deceit to get their way. The rest of the animals end up even worse off than before, and they can no longer tell apart the pigs and the humans.
  • Fun with Acronyms: One of Orwell's suggested titles for its French translationinvoked was Union des républiques socialistes animales, which roughly acronyms as URSA — Latin for "bear", the symbol of Russia (not to mention referencing Union des républiques socialistes soviétiques, acronymed as URSS, which is the French equivalent to USSR).
  • Glad I Thought of It: Napoleon appropriates Snowball's windmill idea after the latter's exile.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The animals install a new system after overthrowing Jones. Not only does it not go as planned, but the pigs' corruption ends up making things even worse.
  • Good Is Dumb: Deconstructed. At least when compared to the pigs, the rest of the animals are rather simple-minded and easy for the pigs to manipulate as they rarely question the pigs' authority. Even at times when they even consider the farm's state to have become worse than when Jones was in charge, they don't consider to have a change of authority and instead only make up excuses for the pigs ruthlessness which allows them to continue their dictatorship with nobody to stop them.
  • Gullible Lemmings: Most animals, but especially sheep, are easily convinced by anything that Squealer says.
  • Hate Sink: Farmer Jones, who is presented as an Allegorical Character for the exploitational practices of capitalism and conservatism in his hold of the farm, but only relevant to the story for the first portion of the book.
    • It doesn’t take long before Napoleon becomes this as well, given how he treats the other animals.
  • The Hedonist: The pigs in general. They usually spend their time living in luxury while all the other animals do the hard work.
  • He's Dead, Jim: The reader is told that some characters die off towards the end of the book in a very off-handed way — including Jones, who is said to die in an inebriate's home.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: At the end of the story, is there really any difference for the animals between the rule of the pigs and the rule of the humans? Whips, bare minimal rations, work from sun to sun so others take the fruits of it, death when not useful anymore, masters walking on two legs and in a comfortable house while they suffer the cold outside... they rebelled against all those things, and all those things eventually returned with the pigs.
  • The Horseshoe Effect: The pigs claim to be ideologically opposed to the humans running the farm, but by the end of the novel, they're scarcely distinguishable from them in appearance or beliefs. Notably, Napoleon chooses to return the farm's name to the Manor Farm just because it fits better in his eyes.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • Part of Old Major's philosophy is that humans are cruel parasites without whom the animals who serve them would be better off. However, as bad as the humans were, the pigs end up becoming just as bad, showing that Old Major failed to account for animals possibly acting greedy, petty and cruel as well.
    • In contrast with the humans, the animals are generally portrayed positively in the book. After the revolution, the animals all work together 'according to their capacity' and no animal steals 'so much as a mouthful'. Napoleon and his fellow pig followers (after he exiles Snowball and does away with any form of democracy on the farm) are an exception since they represent the emerging ruling class of Russia (which Orwell despised). Another exception is Mollie, who represents the middle class.
  • Humans Are Special: The pigs send forth the pigeons to announce the coming of the revolution to all the other farms. Animals that were well looked after and loved by their caretakers were utterly mortified to heed the call. Others that were mistreated and abused, listened on with intrigue.
  • Hypocrite: The pigs, but especially Napoleon who hoards sugar for himself, not even sharing it with the other pigs, because it will make them fat. Even before Snowball is driven off, the pigs already hoard milk and apples for themselves.
  • Insufferable Genius: Snowball acts much nicer than most other pigs, but he also has a very patronizing attitude towards the other animals and generally ignores any criticism of his ideas.
  • Internal Retcon: The real truth of the revolution keeps getting this treatment until no one really remembers the original facts except those smart enough to keep their mouth shut.
  • Ironic Name: Guess who Napoleon is named after.
  • Irony: To Humans Are the Real Monsters entry above. By the end of the story, thanks to Napoleon, the pigs start emulating the very humans Old Major inspired them to overthrow.
  • Kangaroo Court: One after another, many animals "admit" to helping Snowball sabotage the farm and get immediately killed. (This cites Stalin's purges and show trials of the late 1930s.)
    • In the live-action film, there were actual trials.
  • Karma Houdini: In the novel, Napoleon and the pigs get everything they want and continue oppressing the other animals. No punishment at all. This changes in all the later adaptations.
  • Large Ham: Snowball and Squealer both love making long and animated speeches (fitting, because they're both pigs). This makes sense because they were based on Trotsky and Molotov, respectively, both of whom were known for being very over-the-top.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Exploited by the pigs. "You don't want Jones to come back, do you?"
  • Mature Animal Story: Animal Farm is labelled as "a fairy story", but this is no whimsical fairy tale book for kids, but rather a political satire on the troubles of Red October and the rule of Joseph Stalin, with all the purging and totalitarian antics it entails.
  • Meaningful Name: Snowball (as in the snowball effect), Napoleon (as in the dictator), and Moses (as in the one talking about Sugarcandy Mountain, a "promised land").
  • Meet the New Boss: The ending of the novel is the animals' slow realization that they can no longer tell the difference between the pigs and the humans. Metaphorically, this is Orwell's declaration that Stalinism is just as bad as capitalism in its exploitation of the working classes (or the non-pig animals) it claims to champion.
  • Mood Whiplash: What was supposed to be a tragic moment in the live-action film, as Old Major dies getting accidentally shot in the head by Farmer Jones right before his cause is fulfilled, becomes pure Narm when he falls off the roof of the barn, does a triple backflip, and crashes dead in a haystack.invoked
    • So the animals are now happy and cheerful, then they enter the farmhouse and find Major's butchered carcass in the kitchen (along with his severed head in a meat rack).
    • The 1954 movie's first half was cheerful and somewhat comical, which makes Napolean's regime all the more jarring.
  • Mouth of Sauron: Squealer becomes the mouthpiece for Napoleon.
  • Mundane Fantastic: By the end of the story, most people have gotten used to the idea of a farm run by animals, to the point where human farmers are invited over to the farm for a card game. It is a subtle sign of the extent that the pigs have left the ideals of Animalism, that they can appear presentable to human beings.
  • My Local: Mr. Jones' pub is called The Red Lion, which is a real pub in the real village of Willingdon.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Mr. Frederick. He has a Germanic name, is noted for his efficiency and cruelty, and ends up invading and occupying part of Animal Farm before being driven off in a costly battle. He blatantly resembles Hitler in the 1999 film. Ironically, he's more sympathetic there than he was in the novel.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: When Napoleon demands that the chickens hand over their eggs to be sold — they rebel by flying to the rafters of the coop and then hatching their eggs there so they break on the ground. Napoleon merely cuts off their food supply (and threatens death to any animal who dare help them), and then executes the ringleaders.
  • Nice Guy: Boxer. He's utterly loyal, honest to a fault, very hard-working, and always willing to help those in need even at the expense of his own health. The pigs exploit all of this ruthlessly.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Being an allegory for the Russian Bolshevik uprising, several animals in the story serve as recognisable analogues to real-life figures to those who know the history and period.
    • Napoleon was based on Josef Stalin, Snowball on Leon Trotsky, while Old Major is based on both Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
    • The four young pigs represent the Bolsheviks executed at the Moscow Trials for crimes they almost certainly didn't commit.
    • Squealer is probably based on Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin's propaganda chief. Alternatively, he may simply represent the power of state propaganda in general.
    • Also, Pilkington has traits of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Frederick is based on Adolf Hitler. Farmer Jones essentially fills the role of Tsar Nicholas II.
  • No-Sell: When the pigs are purging dissidents by ridding the farm of animals who are "proven" to be conspiring with Snowball, one of the ones targeted is Boxer. Fortunately, Boxer easily overpowers the attack dog ordered to rip out his throat by pinning it under his leg, only releasing him when Napoleon requests it.
  • Not So Different: More or less the moral; the final line of the book sees the animals look from their pig rulers to the humans they are meeting with and being no longer able to tell the difference.
  • Odd Friendship: Boxer is immensely strong, friendly, extremely trusting, but rather stupid. Benjamin is highly intelligent, extremely cynical, and rather cranky. They are best friends, and indeed it's implied that Boxer is the only animal Benjamin considers a friend. This becomes evident when Boxer is taken to the glue factory. He spends the majority of the scene frantically braying while trying in vain to save Boxer, and the book notes that after Boxer's death he becomes even more miserable than before.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In the 1954 film, when the animals rebel, the pigs seem to know very well what's coming to them, especially Napoleon.
    • Mr. Jones in the same film, when he sees the red eyes of the animals and realizes they're much more organized than he thought before.
  • One Tract Mind: Many of Napoleon's speeches end with the dire warning that "Jones will come back" if the animals do not obey whatever his latest diktat is.
  • Only Sane Man: Benjamin, who is possibly the only animal who has any understanding of what the pigs are doing; his token gestures to speak the truth end in vain.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Snowball comes up with the idea to build a windmill. Napoleon steals it. What's worse, he makes things seem as though Snowball was the one who stole the idea, and before having Snowball exiled, he expresses displeasure in the concept, at one point he even goes so far as to urinate on the plans.
  • The Power of Language: The pigs, especially Squealer, become skilled at reading and writing and use this power of literacy to exert control over the other animals on the farm. One of the most obvious ways is that the farm's laws are recorded in writing on the side of the barn: only the pigs can read them, so only the pigs can interpret them — or know when they have been subtly changed.
  • The Promised Land: Sugarcandy Mountain. Played on the cynical side that it doesn't exist, and it's told only to keep the animals in line.
  • Proud Beauty: Mollie was very prideful regarding her appearance.
  • The Purge: When Napoleon orders the four young pigs (who previously protested against his decisions) executed. Many other animals are then killed after being declared traitors and/or conspirators.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Battle of the Windmill. While the animals successfully drive out Mr. Frederick and his henchmen, they suffer some pretty heavy losses and the windmill is destroyed. Napoleon and Squealer successfully downplay the "Pyrrhic" aspect to the other animals, however.
  • Randomly Reversed Letters: The Seven Commandments of Animalism, as originally written on the wall by Snowball, have only two errors of penmanship, one of them being the reversal of one S. In the edition with full-color illustrations by Ralph Steadman, the reversed S is the one in the Fifth Commandment, "No animal shall drink alcohol."
  • Reality Ensues: When winter comes around, it becomes harder to plant and harvest food. This makes the animals starve, thus forcing them to eat only chaff and mangels. The weather also makes it hard for the animals to build the windmill due to the unworkable weather-induced conditions. The 1999 film also shows what happens when a pig with no real financial experience runs a farm, as Manor Farm is left in ruins.
  • Really Gets Around: It's implied that Napoleon fathered many of the new pigs in the farm. This is only logical since we're told that most of the other pigs were castrated porkers.
    • By his own admission, Old Major has fathered over four hundred children. Given that he was a prized show boar, this isn't unusual.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mr. Pilkington gives Mr. Jones a few of these in the live-action movie for not keeping his farm animals under control.
  • Recycled In Space: The Russian Revolution and Rise of Josef Stalin's communist regime, WITH BARNYARD ANIMALS!
  • Released to Elsewhere: The fate of Boxer, whom Napoleon betrays and sells to the knacker.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: The titular farm is said to be the most efficient farm at exploiting, subduing, and disciplining animals... by Mr. Pilkington, whose sincerity is dubious.
  • Ret-Canon: The 1999 film makes a collie named Jessie from the novel the main character of the film.
  • Retirony: Boxer was injured when he was due for retirement. He then ends up "sent to the vet" (he's actually being sent to the knackers).
  • Roman à Clef: Of a sort. Granted, the people are mostly replaced by animals.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Loaded with this.
    • Snowball is Leon Trotsky.
    • Napoleon is Josef Stalin due to the way he ran Animal Farm.
    • Squealer is Molotov, who was Stalin's propaganda minister.
  • The Scapegoat: After being driven from the farm, Snowball is routinely blamed for anything that goes wrong. Eventually, Napoleon declares that some of the animals are traitors working for him and even that Snowball personally sneaks back in at night to commit acts of sabotage. In the same way, as the Soviet government’s economic planning failed, Russia suffered under a surge of violence, fear, and starvation. Stalin used his former opponent Trotsky as a tool to placate the population. Trotsky became a common national enemy and a source of negative unity. He was a frightening specter used to conjure horrifying eventualities, in comparison with which the current misery paled.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The pigs repeatedly rewrite the Seven Commandments to fit their actions, finally replacing them outright with "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mollie runs away and gets a new job as a carriage horse. Smarter than she looks, all right!
    • It is implied that the Cat (who vanished) recognized what was going on and got out.
    • The 1999 film shows that a large group of animals fled the farm before it collapsed.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Napoleon and the rest of the pigs come to embody them.
    • The pigs help themselves to the food at the expense of their fellow animals (Gluttony).
    • The pigs trade Boxer for some booze, and they also force the chickens to hand over their eggs (Avarice).
    • Napoleon slaughters his enemies without remorse (Wrath).
    • Napoleon believes himself to be greater and more deserving of power than Snowball (Pride).
    • Napoleon sires many piglets (Lust).
    • Napoleon hates Snowball for his good ideas and runs him off the farm (Envy).
    • The pigs laze around, while the other animals do the work (Sloth).
  • Shout-Out: "I will work harder," Boxer's motto, was found in the mouth of Jurgis Rudkus from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.
  • Sinister Minister: Moses, Farmer Jones' pet raven, who fled the farm when Jones was overthrown and returned years later to tell the animals about Sugarcandy Mountain. His position is kind of analogous to that of religion; his claims are officially denied by the pigs, but they keep him around to keep the animals in line. This was very similar to how the Soviet Union usually dealt with religion, though downplayed it if anything. In the real life Soviet Union, while the case can be argued that the Soviet Union used the Russian Orthodox Church to keep their people in line even though they never actually believed it, the truth is that that was only if the religious people were actually lucky. Most of the time, the Soviets were attempting to eliminate religion outright, and even had the KGB try to investigate locations of churches, sometimes even tricking people to help them locate a church so they could arrest the occupants for practicing religion, and the penalty was either execution or being placed in a work camp. Moses' reinvigorated status under the pigs' rule might have been inspired by the fact that after Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, Josef Stalin revived the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for the war effort.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Communication: The animals can talk to each other, but only the pigs seem able to talk to humans, and then only after they take over the farm.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Animal Farm is a cautionary tale. Even if you successfully revolt to remove a hated tyrant, you won't change the world — you will merely take that tyrant's place, and possibly become even worse.
  • Smug Snake: Squealer, especially in the 1999 movie. He really loves to rub the pigs' superiority in the other animals' faces, even while he's actively deceiving them.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Is it Mollie or Molly? The book itself tends to use the first, while some other references (including us) use the second.
  • Straw Hypocrite: The pigs. For example, when Squealer changes one of the laws from "Animals shall not drink" to "Animals shall not drink to excess", he's still in violation of the law, as he's completely drunk at the time he's adding the extra words. This was implied in the novel, since the animals hear a loud crash and run out in time to see Squealer stumbling around near the barn with a ladder and pot of white paint, but they're not smart enough to realize what he was doing. In the films, it was explicit.
    • A man took the aged and injured Boxer away. According to the pigs, he was a vet, not a knacker; he had a knacker's vehicle because he has not changed it yet. The book mentions that, somehow, after the man left, the pigs got money to buy some bottles of whiskey.
  • Talking Animal: By the end, the pigs are capable of talking with humans fluently. No other animal can do this.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Benjamin the donkey becomes more sympathetic to the other animals in both film adaptations, mostly by being less lazy.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: The pigs start out like this. As the story progresses, some pigs are lost, while others are corrupted by their power (unless they were really Straw Hypocrites all along). By the end of the story, the remaining pigs have become what they once rebelled against.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Napoleon plays it deadly straight by becoming the farm's new leader (after driving Snowball into exile) and becoming at least as bad as Mr. Jones.
  • Undying Loyalty: A cynical interpretation with Boxer, who represents Stalin's most dedicated and hardworking supporters in the proletariat (people like the Stakhanovites). His solution to any confusion is "Napoleon is always right" and his solution to any problem is working harder.
  • Unperson: Mollie is rendered into this after she flees the farm under Napoleon's rule and takes up with another human owner.
    "None of the animals ever mentioned Mollie again."
  • Unusual Animal Alliance: At least at first, all the farm animals are unified against humans. They even pass a resolution stating that wild animals like rats are comrades too.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No one seems to think it's weird that animals are running a farm by themselves, something that would most likely draw large crowds in real life. People even think the animals will just starve to death by themselves. Hell, no one seems bothered that they can TALK AND WRITE.
  • Verbal Tic: "Four legs good, two legs bad!" is all the sheep ever say. And at the climax of the story, "Four legs good, two legs better!"
  • Villainous Glutton: Napoleon, Squealer, and the rest of the pigs reserve all the milk and apples for themselves. This is their first sign of villainy. Eating the food their fellow animals have worked so hard to make is possibly the least awful thing they do.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Napoleon in Chapter 8 of the novel (it was hard to come across an animal without hearing how Napoleon's way of running things has improved his/her life). Not so much in the film adaptations, though, which shows the animals seeing him as the monster he is.
  • Wham Line:
    • "It was a pig walking on its hind legs."
    • "All animals are equal... but some are more equal than others."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In the book, the cat just stops appearing after the first few chapters, and later isn't mentioned in the list of animals who've died, whilst only Snowball and Mollie are ever acknowledged to have left the farm.
    • It's mentioned that she didn't show up to the meeting where Napoleon killed a bunch of the animals, so she probably ran away into the wild. As any cat owner can tell you, cats are smart.
    • Also, what happens to Snowball in the novel and the live-action film adaptation. In the animated film, he's killed by the dogs, but in the other versions, it's open to interpretation because he never actually gets caught and manages to escape from the farm. It's usually assumed he met a similar fate to his real-life counterpart, Trotsky (i.e. assassination).
    • The live-action adaptation also makes clear that Napoleon's rule fell apart after a short time (mirroring the Soviet Union's fate by the time this adaptation was made). How this occurred and what became of the pigs is not shown, it merely implied the whole empire self-destructed from the pigs' incompetence and self-indulgence.
  • Wild Card Excuse: Over time, any mishap or malfunction on the farm is credited to Snowball's interference.
  • Wretched Hive: Animal Farm becomes this during the winter under Napoleon’s ruling. There was barely any food and the animals were angry, miserable, and fighting amongst themselves. It's widely rumored that they also resorted to cannibalism and infanticide to keep their stomachs full.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The final fate of Boxer. He works himself until his body breaks down for the sake of the farm's prosperity, and Napoleon has him sold to a knacker since he can't work anymore. Old Major cited this tendency among humans as one of the very worst of their evils against animals, and sure enough, this is the moment in the story where Napoleon is shown to be no better than the animals' original oppressor.

What? Not enough tropes? If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right. I will work harder!

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