When Major dies, two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon , assume command and consider it a duty to prepare for the Rebellion. The animals revolt, driving the drunken, irresponsible farmer Mr Jones , as well as Mrs Jones and the other human caretakers and employees, off the farm, renaming it "Animal Farm".
They adopt the Seven Commandments of Animalism, the most important of which is, "All animals are equal". Snowball teaches the animals to read and write, while Napoleon educates young puppies on the principles of Animalism. Food is plentiful, and the farm runs smoothly.
The pigs elevate themselves to positions of leadership and set aside special food items, ostensibly for their personal health. Some time later, several men attack Animal Farm. Jones and his men are making an attempt to recapture the farm, aided by several other farmers who are terrified of similar animal revolts.
Snowball and the animals, who are hiding in ambush, defeat the men by launching a surprise attack as soon as they enter the farmyard. Snowball's popularity soars, and this event is proclaimed "The Battle of the Cowshed". It is celebrated annually with the firing of a gun, on the anniversary of the Revolution. Napoleon and Snowball vie for pre-eminence. When Snowball announces his plans to modernize the farm by building a windmill , Napoleon has his dogs chase Snowball away and declares himself leader.
Napoleon enacts changes to the governance structure of the farm, replacing meetings with a committee of pigs who will run the farm.
Through a young pig named Squealer , Napoleon claims credit for the windmill idea. The animals work harder with the promise of easier lives with the windmill.
When the animals find the windmill collapsed after a violent storm, Napoleon and Squealer convince the animals that Snowball is trying to sabotage their project. Once Snowball becomes a scapegoat , Napoleon begins to purge the farm with his dogs, killing animals he accuses of consorting with his old rival. When some animals recall the Battle of the Cowshed, Napoleon who was nowhere to be found during the battle frequently smears Snowball as a collaborator of Farmer Jones, while falsely representing himself as the hero of the battle.
The animals remain convinced that they are better off than they were under Mr Jones. Mr Frederick , a neighbouring farmer, attacks the farm, using blasting powder to blow up the restored windmill. Although the animals win the battle, they do so at great cost , as many, including Boxer, the workhorse , are wounded. Despite his injuries, Boxer continues working harder and harder, until he collapses while working on the windmill.
Napoleon sends for a van to purportedly take Boxer to a veterinary surgeon, explaining that better care can be given there. Benjamin, the cynical donkey who "could read as well as any pig",  notices that the van belongs to a knacker and attempts a futile rescue. Squealer quickly assures the animals that the van had been purchased from the knacker by an animal hospital, and the previous owner's signboard had not been repainted. In a subsequent report, Squealer reports sadly to the animals that Boxer died peacefully at the animal hospital; the pigs hold a festival one day after Boxer's death to further praise the glories of Animal Farm and have the animals work harder by taking on Boxer's ways.
However, the truth was that Napoleon had engineered the sale of Boxer to the knacker, allowing him and his inner circle to acquire money to buy whisky for themselves. In s England, one way for farms to make money was to sell large animals to a knacker, who would kill the animal and boil its remains into animal glue. Years pass, and the windmill is rebuilt along with construction of another windmill, which makes the farm a good amount of income. However, the ideals which Snowball discussed, including stalls with electric lighting, heating and running water are forgotten, with Napoleon advocating that the happiest animals live simple lives.
In addition to Boxer, many of the animals who participated in the Revolution are dead, as is Farmer Jones, who died in another part of England. The pigs start to resemble humans, as they walk upright, carry whips, and wear clothes. The Seven Commandments are abridged to a single phrase: He abolishes the practice of the revolutionary traditions and restores the name "The Manor Farm".
As the animals appearance changes from pig to human, they realise they can no longer distinguish between the two. He is an allegorical combination of Karl Marx , one of the creators of communism, and Vladimir Lenin , the communist leader of the Russian Revolution and the early Soviet nation, in that he draws up the principles of the revolution. His skull being put on revered public display recalls Lenin, whose embalmed body was put on display. He is mainly based on Leon Trotsky ,  but also combines elements from Lenin.
The piglets — Hinted to be the children of Napoleon and are the first generation of animals subjugated to his idea of animal inequality. The young pigs — Four pigs who complain about Napoleon's takeover of the farm but are quickly silenced and later executed, the first animals killed in Napoleon's farm purge.
Pinkeye — A minor pig who is mentioned only once; he is the pig that tastes Napoleon's food to make sure it is not poisoned, in response to rumours about an assassination attempt on Napoleon. Humans Mr Jones — A heavy drinker who is the original owner of Manor Farm, a farm in disrepair with farmhands who often loaf on the job.
He is an allegory of Russian Tsar Nicholas II ,  who abdicated following the February Revolution of and was murdered, along with the rest of his family, by the Bolsheviks on 17 July The animals revolt after Jones drinks so much he does not care for the animals. Mr Frederick — The tough owner of Pinchfield, a small but well-kept neighbouring farm, who briefly enters into an alliance with Napoleon.
The animals of Animal Farm are terrified of Frederick, as rumours abound of him abusing his animals and entertaining himself with cockfighting a likely allegory for the human rights abuses of Adolf Hitler. Napoleon enters into an alliance with Frederick in order to sell surplus timber that Pilkington also sought, but is enraged to learn Frederick paid him in counterfeit money.
Shortly after the swindling, Frederick and his men invade Animal Farm, killing many animals and detonating the windmill. The brief alliance and subsequent invasion may allude to the Molotov—Ribbentrop Pact and Operation Barbarossa. Mr Pilkington — The easy-going but crafty and well-to-do owner of Foxwood, a large neighbouring farm overgrown with weeds. Unlike Frederick, Pilkington is wealthier and owns more land, but his farm is in need of care as opposed to Frederick's smaller but more efficiently-run farm.
Although on bad terms with Frederick, Pilkington is also concerned about the animal revolution that deposed Jones, and worried that this could also happen to him. At first he is used to acquire necessities that cannot be produced on the farm, such as dog biscuits and paraffin wax , but later he procures luxuries like alcohol for the pigs.
Horses and donkeys Boxer — A loyal, kind, dedicated, extremely strong, hard working, and respectable cart-horse, although quite naive and gullible. Boxer does a large share of the physical labour on the farm. He is shown to hold the belief that 'Napoleon is always right'. At one point, he had challenged Squealer's statement that Snowball was always against the welfare of the farm, earning him an attack from Napoleon's dogs.
But Boxer's immense strength repels the attack, worrying the pigs that their authority can be challenged. Boxer has been compared to the Stakhanovite movement. He has been described as "faithful and strong";  he believes any problem can be solved if he works harder. Mollie — A self-centred, self-indulgent and vain young white mare who quickly leaves for another farm after the revolution.
She is only once mentioned again, in a manner similar to those who left Russia after the fall of the Tsar. Clover — A gentle, caring female horse, who shows concern especially for Boxer, who often pushes himself too hard.
Clover can read all the letters of the alphabet, but cannot "put words together". She seems to catch on to the sly tricks and schemes set up by Napoleon and Squealer. Benjamin — A donkey, one of the oldest, wisest animals on the farm, and one of the few who can read properly.
He is sceptical, temperamental and cynical: She, like Benjamin and Snowball, is one of the few animals on the farm who can read. The puppies — Offspring of Jessie and Bluebell, they were taken away at birth by Napoleon and reared by him to be his security force. Moses — The raven, "Mr Jones's especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker.
He regales Animal Farm's denizens with tales of a wondrous place beyond the clouds called "Sugarcandy Mountain, that happy country where we poor animals shall rest forever from our labours! Some commentators  have compared the sheep to representations of state controlled press. Their constant bleating of "four legs good, two legs bad" was used as a device to drown out any opposition; analogous to simplistic headlines used in printed media of the age.
Towards the latter section of the book, Squealer the propagandist trains the sheep to alter their slogan to "four legs good, two legs better", which they dutifully do, symbolizing the state manipulation of media. The hens — The hens are promised at the start of the revolution that they will get to keep their eggs, which are stolen from them under Mr Jones. However their eggs are soon taken from them under the premise of buying goods from outside Animal Farm.
The hens are among the first to rebel, albeit unsuccessfully, against Napoleon. The cows — The cows are enticed into the revolution by promises that their milk will not be stolen, but can be used to raise their own calves. Their milk is then stolen by the pigs, who learn to milk them. The milk is stirred into the pigs' mash every day, while the other animals are denied such luxuries. The cat — Never seen to carry out any work, the cat is absent for long periods and is forgiven; because her excuses are so convincing and she "purred so affectionately that it was impossible not to believe in her good intentions.
In the preface of a Ukrainian edition of Animal Farm, he explained how escaping the communist purges in Spain taught him "how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries".
This motivated Orwell to expose and strongly condemn what he saw as the Stalinist corruption of the original socialist ideals.
He was also upset about a booklet for propagandists the Ministry of Information had put out. The booklet included instructions on how to quell ideological fears of the Soviet Union, such as directions to claim that the Red Terror was a figment of Nazi imagination.
I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.
Efforts to find a publisher Orwell initially encountered difficulty getting the manuscript published, largely due to fears that the book might upset the alliance between Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Four publishers refused; one had initially accepted the work but declined it after consulting the Ministry of Information. During the Second World War , it became clear to Orwell that anti-Soviet literature was not something which most major publishing houses would touch—including his regular publisher Gollancz.
He also submitted the manuscript to Faber and Faber , where the poet T. Eliot who was a director of the firm rejected it; Eliot wrote back to Orwell praising the book's "good writing" and "fundamental integrity", but declared that they would only accept it for publication if they had some sympathy for the viewpoint "which I take to be generally Trotskyite ".
Eliot said he found the view "not convincing", and contended that the pigs were made out to be the best to run the farm; he posited that someone might argue "what was needed Anti-Russian books do appear, but mostly from Catholic publishing firms and always from a religious or frankly reactionary angle.
Such flagrant anti-Soviet bias was unacceptable, and the choice of pigs as the dominant class was thought to be especially offensive.
It may reasonably be assumed that the 'important official' was a man named Peter Smollett , who was later unmasked as a Soviet agent. I think the choice of pigs as the ruling caste will no doubt give offence to many people, and particularly to anyone who is a bit touchy, as undoubtedly the Russians are.
Frederic Warburg also faced pressures against publication, even from people in his own office and from his wife Pamela, who felt that it was not the moment for ingratitude towards Stalin and the heroic Red Army ,  which had played a major part in defeating Hitler.