The social hierarchy and class differences of The Animal Farm caused its demise. The most prominent social groups settled into their own habitats, establishing their own “grounds.” The animals on the bottom of the hierarchy are not well educated, and so are inferior under the top of the hierarchy. The classes had varying levels of educational background, pigs being the visionaries and thinkers. The rest of the animals are workhorses that carried out the pigs’ dreams. With this air of disunity, the animals were subject to a weakness. Large groups are stronger when united. Animal Farm’s plot is driven by the differences between social classes.
“I will work harder” (36), was one of the maxims that the animals chanted. Although this quote is short, it says a lot about the government of The Animal Farm. It portrays the animals as, “the working class” working hard for their government. The animals worked diligently until they no longer could. In a way of thinking, the government used them until they had no use left. When Old Major gave his speech of rebellion to the Animal Farm, he stated, “Boxer, the very day your great muscles lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker” (10). This explains how The Animal Farm’s government worked. The upper class being the pigs, came up with the ideas and the lower class (animals) had to make sure they got done. While the pigs were showered with treats and compliments, the animals just had to be contempt with the fact that they were finished with the pigs’ vision. When the animals were of no further use they were shut away from everything and had a section of the farm especially for themselves.
An example of class stratification in Animal Farm is the matter of the milk and apples. The pigs believed that the milk and apples should be reserved just for them, because they were the thinkers of The Animal Farm. When the animals started to argue back, Squealer proclaimed,
“Comrades! You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to a pig.” (52)
The pigs abused their power and lied to the animals just to make sure they had enough food. This excerpt from Animal Farm shows the corruption of the government in class stratification.
After Napoleon exiled Snowball from the farm, rumors started to fly everywhere. Reports said that he frequented the grounds of The Animal Farm. It is believed that Snowball sold himself to Pinchfield farms and is plotting to recapture The Animal Farm. Squealer and his followers spread propaganda questioning his participation in the Battle of Cowshed. They made Snowball’s participation in the Battle of Cowshed, to be an act of rebellion against The Animal Farm. When questioned of the tangibility of the story, Squealer replied,
“Jones’ shot him only grazed him. I could show you this in his own writing, if you were able to read it. The plot was for Snowball, at the critical moment to give the signal to fight and leave the field to the enemy.” (90)
By this statement, the upper class manipulated the lower class by using their advantage of reading. This series of propaganda would only later destroy them when Napoleon’s rule would be rebelled against.
After the executions of the four pigs, three hens, three sheep, and a goose, the animals began to realize something was amiss about the sixth commandment, “Clover asked Benjamin to read her the sixth commandment, and when Benjamin, as usual, said that he refused to meddle in such matters, she fetched Muriel. Muriel read the commandment for her. It ran: No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” (98)
The sixth commandment of the Animal Farm had clearly stated, “No animal shall kill any other animal.” Yet somehow whenever the animals asked for the sixth commandment they were told, “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” The animals did not remember the last two words but now they thought that Napoleon had not violated the commandment. This is another example of Napoleon’s widespread propaganda, sent out to corrupt the minds of the defenseless animals.
As I think of the class differences in Animal Farm, I can’t help but think of the similar actions of Karl Marx. He intended to do well when he first came to power but the system fell under his leadership. Just like Napoleon, Marx made all people equal, but in doing so, he widened the gap between government officials (pigs) and common people (animals). It was almost as if all the animals on the farm were equal but the pigs were excluded, and held in a higher position. There was no other power that limited the power of the leaders. When this happens, the leaders can get out of control because they are free to do anything without consequence. When citizens see their leaders living with overt extravagance in comparison to their own living conditions it may cause resentment among a few, and thus cause a rebellion to begin.