GCSE English Literature Revision: Animal Farm: Themes (foundation level)

3rd April 2017

Animal Farm Themes: Foundation Level – English Literature GCSE Study

Revision Notes

Here are some of the key facts you need to know about Animal Farm to excel in your English Literature GCSE examinations and essays.


  • Animal Farm was written by George Orwell and published in 1945. In the 1900’s the Russians had a revolution. The poor took power from the rich royalty, but quickly the new leaders (led by Stalin) became corrupt too. The novel asks the question, will power always corrupt those in charge?  


  • At the beginning of the novel we find that men are in charge. They exploit the animals and use them up until they are worn out, then they are killed. The animals overthrow the humans with a dream in their hearts and idealistic hopes for a more equal future. Can society operate without a leader?


  • The pigs are the most educated of the animals and quickly take on the position of leaders. Soon we see that the pigs will also use their empowered position to achieve their own ends. There is a division between the smart and the strong.


  • Napoleon is one of the pigs who quickly uses the dogs to enforce his will. The working classes (the animals) trust the pigs but they let them down.


  • Like the Soviet (Russian) propaganda the Animals are fooled by the clever use of language and the communication from the Pig’s spokesman Squealer.


  • The animals give their hard work but get nothing different in return. Their loyalty is exploited in order to get the best out of them. Freedom becomes just a dream.


  • The use of songs in the novel encourages the animals to hope and work hard towards a greater future.


  • The windmill is supposed to symbolise the brighter future. Sadly the money just comes back to the pigs, who now seem no different from the humans before.


  • The general themes in the novel are;


Socialist goals

Social classes

The naïve working classes

The use of language as an instrument of power

Pride and violence

Songs and rituals

The barn and the windmill


For more info on the themes in Animal Farm go to ….. for the higher level notes and songs. For other English texts on the GCSE English Literature syllabus, check out our songs and revision notes at……



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