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Motifs: Animal Farm

Animal Farm by George Orwell 60second Recap Decoder Study Guide Video

Beasts of England,
Beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the golden future time.

OK, I promise. No more singing. Besides, that single stanza is enough to lodge this fact in your head:

Song is a major motif in Animal Farm.

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Animal Farm by George Orwell 60second Recap Decoder Study Guide Video Motifs Summary Overview Analysis_

Find out more about motifs in literature like Animal Farm. Check out Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms.

Good luck making it through Animal Farm without getting the tune for Beasts of England permanently lodged in your skull. The only upside is that the song does serve as a helpful reminder of one of George Orwell’s main motifs.

If there’s one thing that appears over and over again in Animal Farm it’s songs and chants and poems and slogans—beginning with Old Major’s rousing anthem, “Beasts of England,” which he sings at the end of Chapter One.

So what is Orwell up to? (And you know he’s up to something: This book is an allegoryeverything is symbolic.)

Well, in Animal Farm, the songs and poems aren’t just charming ditties. They’re propaganda, and they’re used for a malicious purpose—as social control.

So all that chanting and singing serves to keep the working-class animals from thinking for themselves—and keep the ruling-class animals in power. Those songs and chants also erode the animals’ individuality.

Think about the sheep, never identified individually. They’re just “the sheep,” bleating hypnotically, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Waiting to be sheared. Orwell’s way of reminding you to think for yourself.


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