The great windmill symbolizes the pigs’ manipulation of the other animals for their own gain.
The Windmill Quotes in Animal FarmThe Animal Farm quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Windmill. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
At this there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight for Snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws.
“Comrades, do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!”
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Cite this page as follows:
“What is the significance of the windmill in Animal Farm?” eNotes Editorial, 12 June 2020, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-is-the-significance-of-the-windmill-in-500169. Accessed 15 Sep. 2022.
The windmill in Orwells celebrated novella Animal Farm allegorically represents the Soviet Unions industrialization as part of Joseph Stalins initial five-year plan to modernize the nation. The construction of the windmill also depicts the pigs exploitation of the working-class animals and emphasizes Napoleons tyrannical reign. Snowball is the first to propose the idea of constructing a windmill as a way to dramatically improve the standard of living on the farm. Snowball proposes to use the windmill as a dynamo to electrically power the farm, allowing the animals to have light and heat in their stalls and giving them the opportunity to use power tools, which will shorten their workdays. Similar to Trotsky, Snowball promotes technology, while Napoleon is vehemently opposed to the idea.
After usurping power, Napoleon supports the idea of building a windmill but intends to reap the benefits of the windmill instead of generating electricity to the farm. Napoleon and Squealer manipulate the animals into constructing the massive windmill and exploit them for their labor. Boxer works tirelessly transporting heavy stones from the quarry, which negatively affects his health and well-being. Unfortunately, a strong storm knocks down the first windmill and the pigs blame its destruction on Snowball. By using Snowball as a scapegoat, Napoleon and Squealer distract the animals from their mistakes and utilize various propaganda techniques to change the narrative.
The pigs continue to exploit the animals for their labor and the animals exhaust themselves rebuilding the windmill. Eventually, the animals complete the project and name it Napoleon Mill. However, Mr. Frederick and his men blow up the windmill during an epic battle in chapter 8, which allegorically represents the Battle of Stalingrad. Towards the end of the story, the animals finally complete the windmill, which is used for milling corn to solely benefit the pigs. Milling corn makes the pigs wealthy while the other animals continue to endure the difficult conditions on the farm. In the end, the original purpose of the windmill is forgotten and its construction illustrates how the aristocracy exploits the working class.
The windmill illustrates several aspects of life on Animal Farm. First, it shows how hard the animals work, having to adapt human equipment to their own needs and having to build the windmill on top of their other tasks. We especially see how tirelessly and cheerfully Boxer works and how dedicated he is to making the farm a success. He hopes the windmill will generate the energy needed to make the stalls more comfortable for the animals. The windmill, especially as it has to be rebuilt twice, represents the tremendous struggle and achievement of the animals.
Further, the windmill illustrates Napoleons treachery and incompetence. He opposes the windmill at first—even though it is obviously a good idea—because it is Snowballs idea, not his own. He cant stand that another animal could have a good idea. He then treacherously runs Snowball off the farm as a traitor and adopts the idea as his own. Of course, since he has no idea what he is doing, the first windmill collapses.
The fate of the windmill shows that the most qualified and dedicated leader wont necessarily be the one who stays in power. The most ruthless of the pigs, Napoleon, wins control, not from competence or having the best interests of the farm at heart, but from being willing to be the biggest liar and strongman.
The windmill represents technological achievement and gives the pigs a way to distract the animals with hopes of a better future.
The windmill was the future that was never meant to be. It was easy living, and the good life. A windmill meant electricity, and less work. It is a fantasy and pure propaganda.
Snowball, the idealist, had the grand idea. He was going to make things better for the animals. They believed it too. He probably did as well. The problem with ideals is that this is all they are. Snowball’s ideals got him killed, most likely. He is driven off the farm and used as a scapegoat thereafter. Everything that goes wrong is blamed on Snowball.
However, his idea of the windmill is very convenient. Whenever the animals need a distraction, they can be building the windmill, and they won’t look too closely at what is really going on. When the windmill gets too close to getting done, it can mysteriously be destroyed in a battle or other disaster. This can go on indefinitely, so that the pigs are always in control, and the animals never get their freedom. Animals resting and free would be very bad for the pigs indeed.
Notice how Napoleon was against the windmill, which Snowball painstakingly designed, when it was Snowball’s idea, until he found a way to work it to his advantage?
As soon as the plans are done and Snowball presents them, Napoleon produces guard dogs to chase Snowball out. Squealer goes into propaganda mode, telling everyone that he had never in fact been opposed to the windmill, that it had been his idea all along, and that he only pretended to be against it to get rid of Snowball. He explains why they need the windmill, and that everyone will work hard to build it. The dogs growl, and everyone goes along with it.
This pattern continues. The windmill is the symbol of hope, and as long as the animals are distracted with working toward hope, they do not notice how terrible their lives actually are. As long as they have hope to look forward to, they do not realize how hopeless their lives are. As with many revolutions, they have simply exchanged one tyrant for another. Animalism promised equality, but what they got was animals subjugating animals.
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