Symbols in Animal Farm – Animal Farm Symbolism

Animal Farm Symbols – An Introduction

Animal Farm starts its story on Manor Farm in rural England. Later, after the animal rebellion, the farm is renamed Animal Farm in order to reflect its new political and social structure. Manor Farm was likely once owned by a wealthy English gentleman but at the start of the novella it is being overseen by Mr. Jones, a working-class Englishman. Since the novella is, in its entirety, an allegory, the farm is meant to represent the following: Manor Farm represents capitalist Russian immediately prior to its communist revolution and Animal Farm represents Russia during its communist revolution. The fact that Animal Farm takes place in England rather than in Russia itself suggests that such a political and social upheaval is closer to home than most British residents probably wanted to admit to themselves.

Being that Animal Farm is an allegory, it is a novella ripe for the picking with symbolism and interesting thematic elements. A contributing factor to these themes and symbols are the two major motifs of the story: songs and rituals. Both of these motifs are immensely supportive to the overall themes of the novella which speak to the dangers of corruption in politics, namely a communist revolution. The first motif, songs, helps to jumpstart the action of the story. In the beginning of the novella, Old Major teaches “Beasts of England” to the rest of the animals, encouraging them that they can live a life for themselves rather than for humans to benefit off of them. The other motif is ritual. Political and social rituals are constantly an important part of life on Animal Farm; however, these rituals shift as the political structure shifts as well. Paying attention to how the rituals are progressing in the story can provide deeper insight into the allegorical story as a whole.


Symbolism in Animal Farm

Here’s a list of the major symbols in Animal Farm.

  • Animal Farm
  • The Windmill
  • The Barn

Animal Farm

animal farm what do the animals representWhat does animalism represent in animal farm? The setting of the novella is one of the novella’s strongest symbols. At the beginning (as well as the very end) of the novella, the farm is named Manor Farm. It symbolizes Russia and its tumultuous political revolutions after the fall of Czar Nicholas II.

Once the aristocracy was brought down, Russia faced decades of political upheaval. The experiences of Manor/Animal Farm symbolize how greatly devastating such political catastrophes can be on the common people, the working-class.

This is perhaps the strongest element of Animal Farm—its portrayal of daily life during political revolution. The farm has an internal structure that speaks to this. It has a government (the pigs), a military (the trained dogs), and of course, it has a working class consisting of all the other animals on the farm.


The Windmill

animal farm windmillWhat does the windmill represent in animal farm? The windmill is perhaps the most heart-tugging symbol in the novella. The working-class animals are forced to work tirelessly to build it under the rule of the pigs.

The windmill symbolizes the crass nature that the pigs start to rule Animal Farm with—using the working-class animals for their own gain, the pigs fail to sympathize with the pain of having to build, and then rebuild, the windmill without ever experiencing any of the expected benefits. Furthermore, the pigs use the collapse of the first windmill as a political tool, blaming it on Snowball and brainwashing the rest of the animals into believing that it was an evil outside of their own environment that caused the disaster rather than political mismanagement of the farm.

Ultimately, the pigs decide to use the windmill for commercial purposes which opposes its original intent. Originally, the windmill was supposed to benefit all animals. In the end, it only benefitted the pigs even though it was built by the common animals and for the good of all animals. Allegorically speaking, this windmill represents the enormous technological and industrial projects taken on by the Russian people during the revolutions.


The Barn

what does animal farm representWhat does the barn represent in animal farm? The barn on the farm represents a common nation. Specifically, the efforts to achieve an independent and modern nation for the animals.

The barn literally shows the oppression happening in front of the animals’ very eyes as the original Seven Commandments for Animalism are gradually altered by the corrupt pigs. However, the working-class animals are so brainwashed by the pigs that they see the pigs as their saviors rather than their oppressors.

Any dissenting or questioning of the pigs is immediately squashed in some way. In this way, the barn symbolizes how a government can quickly veer towards dictatorship as a result of corruption and greed and how that government’s people can miss it due to rhetoric and brainwashing even though it’s happening before their very eyes.