"Beasts of England" is the song that Old Major teaches to the other animals in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. He claims that his parents sang it to him when he was young, although they only remembered the first three words. The song is instrumental in firing up the other animals in their pursuit of rebellion and freedom from humans. Like other parts of Old Major's philosophy, the song contains anti-human, pro-animal sentiment, and shows the strong collectivist slant that the animals initially adopt in the Laws of Animalism. Old Major gives the song a history, saying that he believes the same song was "...sung by the animals of long ago and... lost to memory for generations." The song is uniquely effective in promoting rebellion because it is easy to remember and sing collectively. The animals adopt it as their anthem and it remains part of their philosophy for a long time. Eventually, Napoleon bans the song because it promotes rebellion against exactly the sort of dictatorship that he creates for his own power.

It is what unites the animals in the beginning of the book. It is a symbol of change for the animals. “Bright will shine the fields of England, purer shall its waters be, sweeter yet shall blow breezes on the day that sets us free.”  The song is both a battle cry for the rebellion on Manor Farm and an anthem that helps the animals keep the spirit of the rebellion alive in their hearts. The animals are singing a song of freedom, the animals are expecting their desire to leave the dictatorship of Mr. Jones and start a democracy. The fact that the animals sing the song after the battle of cowshed is an example of how it is a symbol of freedom because they are finally free from human rule. The animals can now rule for themselves.

After "Beasts of England" has been used to express criticism of the direction of Animal Farm, Napoleon tries to supplant the song, arguing that such an anthem is antiquated and no longer needed after the rebellion has been completed. The anthem is first replaced by the short "Animal Farm!" and later by "Comrade Napoleon", while "Beasts of England" is eventually outlawed. The phasing out of "Beasts of England" as the anthem of Animal Farm corresponds to the Soviet Union's 1944 replacement of The Internationale with the National Anthem of the Soviet Union.

"Beasts of England” serves to create enthusiasm and unity, and its banning represents the loss of hope for a better life. That the animals continue to sing "Beasts of England" after it is banned is a testimony to the power of the memory of Old Major.

Last modified: Saturday, 28 April 2018, 1:50 AM