The Seven Commandments may be said to be the key to an understanding of Animal Farm.
The novel, Animal Farm, by George Orwell expresses the idea of self-government through the animals. The animals play the role of humans. Because the animals decide that they want to run the farm by themselves, they make up a way of living called Animalism. The Seven Commandments (Animal Farm's Constitution) under which they live are based on these major principles of Animalism. As time passes, the Seven Commandments undergoes subtle changes as the pigs rewrite it to suit their own agenda. The Seven Commandments may be said to be the key to understanding Animal Farm.
Animalism is an allegorical mirror of the Soviet Union, particularly between the 1910s and the 1940s, as well as the evolution of the view of the Russian revolutionaries of how to practice it. It is invented by the highly respected pig Old Major. The pigs Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer adapt Old Major's ideas into a philosophy, which they name Animalism. The Seven Commandments are laws that were supposed to keep order and ensure basic Animalism within Animal Farm. The Seven Commandments were designed to unite the animals together against the humans and prevent animals from following the humans' “evil” habits. Since not all of the animals can remember them, they are summed down into one basic statement: "Four legs good, two legs bad!”, which the sheep constantly repeat, distracting the crowd from the lies of the pigs.
The Seven Commandments of Animalism are written on the wall of the barn for all animals to see and read if they could. The most important is the seventh, "All animals are equal." After assuming control of the farm, Napoleon and Squealer indulge in the vices of humans (drinking alcohol, sleeping in beds, trading). Whenever the pigs break one of Major’s commandments, Squealer is sent to convince the other animals that that it is the correct interpretation, as is seen in this quote: ‘You didn’t suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely means the place to...