Snowball Vs. Napoleon: Education and Power in Animal Farm

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Updated: Aug 16, 2023
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The Power of Education: Manipulation and Control in Orwell’s Allegorical Tale

In 1946, George Orwell authored one of the most notorious and astute books of all time, a book titled Animal Farm. Animal Farm takes place on a farm led by a pig by the name of Old Major. When he describes his dream to his fellow animals on the farm, he encourages them to turn against the humans. Some days later, Old Major passes away, and the animals revolt and take over the farm, renaming it Animal Farm.

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Through his novel, George Orwell tries to convey the significance of being educated and the tragedies that fall upon the uneducated animals of Animal Farm. These include putting their faith in the wrong hands, getting manipulated and controlled, and not being able to make decisions for themselves and how it relates to the Soviet Union during this time.

Napoleon vs. Snowball: A Struggle for Influence and the Weaponization of Knowledge

In the beginning, the pigs are seen as faithful to their fellow animals and to the revolution. They interpret Old Major’s vision and end up turning it into the ‘Seven Commandments of Animalism.’ However, it is not some time before the pigs’ knowledge and instructions are used in oppression and mistreatment. Following Old Major’s passing, we see a major struggle between two characters: Snowball and Napoleon. Napoleon believed that an emphasis on younger animals should be the focus of education. This is first exemplified in Chapter 2/3 when he takes nine young dogs from their mother in order to train them. They later come back as Napoleon’s ‘guards’ and play a large role in his grab for power against Snowball.

Snowball, on the other hand, believes everyone is important and equal. Snowball was eventually chased off the farm by the dogs, giving Napoleon full control. Progressively, the pigs began to control education and started to brainwash the animals. For instance, the sheep were taught to say ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ at different times so that the animals had to listen to the pigs’ ideas, which were believed and remained undisputed. Because the animals were indecisive and uneducated, they were forced to believe something that turned out to be false.

Orwell’s Critique: The Power Play of Education, Dictatorship, and Deception in Animal Farm

This is one of the reasons Orwell attempts to discuss the impact of education through his novel. The instant the pigs are faced with a problem or supplies that they desire (the milk), they desert their morals and use their greater knowledge to deceive the other animals. The pigs also bound the other animals’ chances to gain intelligence and education early on. They educate themselves to write and read from a children’s book but destroy it before the other animals get a chance to read it. Once the pigs strengthen their status as the knowledgeable elite, they use their intellectual advantage to control the other animals.

Another important issue Orwell tries to cover is the issue of dictatorship and manipulation. In this story, the animals make Napoleon responsible for all affairs, a pig that can read and write. Napoleon uses his authority and control to play and control the animals. One way he does this is by altering the rules. When the animals first founded the Animal Farm, they came up with seven rules commandments to live by. Every time Napoleon would break a rule, he would.


  1. Orwell, G. (1945). Animal Farm. Secker and Warburg. London.
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Snowball vs. Napoleon: Education and Power in Animal Farm. (2023, Aug 16). Retrieved from