Character of The Sheep in Animal Farm
The sheep symbolize the masses who are generally stupid. A clever and designing leader can easily lead them anywhere. Their numbers count in getting things done, but they never want to know the reason for any change. They are content to do what the leaders want them to.
Napoleon was quick to realize that they could be of great use to him in his struggle to attain supreme power in the Animal Farm. He therefore pays attention to their education, and teaches them to repeat the slogan “Four legs good, two legs bad”. This slogan is supposed to be the essence of the Seven Commandments which no sheep could understand, let alone read them. Napoleon instructs them to repeat it when he gives them signal for it.
The sheep could be depended upon to keep on bleating it for hours on end without feeling tired. Napoleon would make them bleat it whenever Snowball is addressing a meeting. This interrupts the meeting at crucial stage and Snowball fails to control his audience. The sheep constitute Napoleon’s second line of offence, and defence, the first being his formidable does When Napoleon expels Snowball and announces that there will be no Sunday meeting in future, four of the pigs voice their protest. At that, Napoleon’s dogs begin to growl and the sheep start bleating- “Four legs good, two lees bad”. In the combined noise set up by the dogs and sheep the voice of the Protestants gets completely drowned and is not at all heard.
Through all the going on in the Animal Farm, the bleating of the slogan “Four legs good, two legs bad”, by the sheep is a marked feature, particularly so when a public opinion has to be expressed on some important issue. The slogan became hackneyed by constant repetition and lost what significance it originally possessed.
When Napoleon abrogates the Seven Commandments and introduces a new code which reads- “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”–the sheep have to change their slogan also. The pigs begin to walk on hind legs fully dressed. Prior to this, Squealer takes the sheep aside and teaches them the new slogan- “Four legs good, but two legs better.” The sheep learn this slogan with equal delight. So, when Squealer had thus prepared the ground and the pigs led by Napoleon come out walking like men, the sheep repeat at the top of their voice-Four legs good, two legs better. This new slogan sounds like the funeral song of Animalism.
In this way, the common men, who are made use of by a dictator to further this tyranny, have been parodied. As long as men are like sheep, progress in life remains a distant dream. Intelligence and knowledge on the part of men in the street is the prerequisite condition of democracy.