George Orwell's Animal Farm
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George Orwell's Animal Farm
Introduction:Animal Farm is a short story written by George Orwell in
1945. He had a lot of difficulty getting it published due to its
underlying criticism of the political situation in Russia at the time.
The story takes place on a farm somewhere in England. The owner of the
farm, Mr.Jones, comes into conflict with the animals. The animals
rebel, and finally scare him away. Two of the strongest animals,
Napoleon and Snowball (two pigs), think that they can run the farm.
Both Napoleon and Snowball felt that they should both be leaders in
the early stages of the Revolution. Snowball had many ideas about how
the Farm should be run but he came into conflict with Napoleon over
many of them. Napoleon, was a shrewd pig who could see that he could
not carry on working with Snowball. This was shown when the two of
them could not agree on the building of a windmill.When it looked as
though Snowball might win the arguement, Napoleon "uttered a
high-pitched whimper of a kind no one had ever heard him utter before"
and the vicious dogs ran in and attacked Snowball and ran him off the
farm. Eventually Napoloeon won and the windmill was built, and soon
after Napoleon ran Snowball off the farm. In order to make sure that
he would stay leader in the future, Napoleon told the animals that
Snowball was against them and was friendly with the old farm owner,
The similarity between Napoleon and Joseph Stalin (the Russian
leader), is very clear. Without being elected both became leaders,
surrounding themselves with powerful guards (the dogs in the case of
Napoloeon), living in luxury while the workers were forced to work
hard. At first Napoleon seemed to be a good leader, but very quickly
became greedy and power-mad, causing conflict among the animals. As in
Russia, the idea of Socialism soon changed to a virtual dictatorship,
with Napoleon ordering animals to build and work while he sat around.
When some of the other animals decided that he should no longer be a
leader, Napoleon set the dogs on them and had them slaughtered. He had
become power mad, going totally against the ideas of socialism, and
ruling through fear, as did Stalin.
As time went on, he became like Mr.Jones, caring for himself without
thinking about the others, which was partly the reason for the
original Revolution. Food rations were under his control, making sure
that he got plently but the animals got just enough to keep them
working. Soon after the Revolution the animals got together to make
seven commandments that they should all stick to, but Napoleon slowly
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moved away from them as his power increased. One of them, 'no animal
should kill another animal' was ignored by Napoleon when he
slaughtered those against him. 'All animals are equal' was another but
again, was ignored as Napoleon felt he was above all the other animals
and should be praised as their leader. The animals first commandment
is of interest. 'Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy'. As the
story progresses we see Napoleon become more of a two-legged leader.
He can be compared to Mr.Jones in his treatment of the other animals,
and in many other actions become the two legged person that was
originally hated by all the farm.
He had many conflicts with the other animals on the farm, but with
Squealer by his side he made the animals think he was right. In
discussing the eviction of Snowball and the questions he met over the
decision, Squealer explains that " loyalty and obedience are more
important", and Boxer continues " If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must
be right". Showing that Napoleon has taken sole power of the farm and
influenced all the other animals, a political move. With the dogs by
his side, he disregarded suggestions made by the others, or met them
with violence. As a result non of the other animals ever got close to
him, he was very much alone and perhaps this also made him resent some
of the animals with the friendships they had.
Orwell set out to express his feelings and thoughts on the situation
in Russia. By using the basis of a farm and the animals to take the
place of people, he was able say more of what he really felt.
Napoleon, the leader, pushing himself into the position after the
Revolution ( the similar situation with Stalin), anyone not agreeing
with his ideas is ejected from the community (as with Snowball).
Slowly becoming all powerful, as he sees how easy it becomes to lead,
especially with guards by his side that are feared by the rest. Any
disagreement is dealt with severly (the dogs). Finally by the end, the
situation turns around so it is not so different from the farm that
was run by Mr.Jones that caused the original Revolution. The four
legged animal slowly becomes the two legged enemy that was hated by
all the farm animals.
After the rebellion on Manor Farm and the banishment of Mr.Jones the animals set up seven guidelines in which to govern themselves by, known as the “Commandments”. All the animals on the farm help devise and inscribe them on the side of the barn to ensure their visibility to all. The pigs manipulation of these commandments to gain control over the other animals is an evidence of the power of language manipulation demonstrated in the novel. To begin, the pigs broke the commandment “Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy” and through the use of powerful speech justify their actions to the other animals. “Napoleon announced that he had decided upon a new policy. From now onwards Animal Farm would engage in trade with neighbouring farms: not of course, for any commercial purpose but simply in order to obtain certain materials which were urgently necessary.” (Orwell 42). The animals were in agreement that from the expulsion of Mr. Jones that Animal Farm would never communicate with anything that had two legs, primarily human beings. In order to gain more materials for building the windmill and financial revenue for themselves, the pigs made the decision to start selling eggs to a market in Willingdon. Though this is contradictory to what the animals originally put forth in the commandments the pigs persuade them that it was essential to their very existent to make some form of communication with the world around them. The other animals were quite skeptical of this proposal but the convincing mannerism in which the pigs argue their survival based on trade with humans brought unchallenged acceptable of their decision. Second, the pigs also alter the fourth commandment “No animals shall sleep in a bed” so they could live inside of Mr. Jones’ old house and when questioned by the other animals; the pigs re-interpret the commandment’s actual meaning. “You have heard, then comrades,’ he said, ‘that we pigs now sleep in the bed of the farmhouse? And why not? You did not suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely means a place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention.” (45- 46). Through the manipulation of language Squealer cleverly convinces the animals that a human bed is no different than that of an animal bed. He goes to justify his action by stating they sleep without sheets and therefore compile with the fourth commandment. Once again the animals are permissive to this because of the pigs’ careful use of words and ability to manipulate the meaning of the commandments in their favor. Finally, the power of language exploitation is demonstrated through the pigs disobeying and rewriting the sixth commandment, “No animal shall kill any other animal”. “Squealer read the commandment to the animals. It ran: “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.’ Somehow or other the last two words had slipped out of the animals’ memory, argued Squealer “The commandment had not been violated; for clearly there was a good reason for killing the traitors who has leagued themselves with Snowball” (61). Once again the pigs have abhorred to the rules and then found means to justify their action through words. Carefully “stringing a web of lies” with their words, the pigs trick the other animals into believing that “without cause” had always been a part of the sixth commandment and the animals were foolish to ever question the intelligence of a pig. Elise Durham, book critic, supports this perspective by asserting, “The horrific execution that follows are in direct contradiction of the original sixth commandment, but due to the pigs’ cunning linguistic skills the killing of other animals by pigs went unpunished.”  However not only are the pigs’ ability to manipulate the often vague meanings of each commandment attributed to their power of language, but also their ability to convince the other animals of the presence of an evil force responsible for all the problems on the farm.
After the revolt on the farm, all major decision making was turned over to the most intelligent animals on the farm, the pigs and their leaders, Napoleon and Snowball. They often disagreed on many issues concerning the farm until Napoleon expelled Snowball from the farm via guard dogs and took control of the farm and it inhabitants. However even after the disappearance of Snowball, through the use of persuasive language the pigs still find a way to blame him for any misfortune the farm may encounter. To begin, the pigs blame Snowball for destroying the windmill in which the animals labored so long to build. “Comrades,” he said quietly, ‘do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL! He suddenly roared in a voice of thunder” (47). It was clear that the terrible storm the night before could be attributed to the windmill being destroyed; however the pigs were able to persuade the animals, even in his absence that Snowball was responsible for its destruction. Christian Ballesteros, literary analyst, agrees with this agreement by stating, “A natural mishap would have been portrayed as an omen over their farm and ideology; however the idea of an evil presence working against the farm would only make the animals work more diligently and look for guidance from their all-knowing leaders, the pigs.” Next, the pigs convince the animals that their terrible crop season is because of Snowball. “The wheat crop was full of weeds, and Squealer had somehow discovered that on one of his nocturnal visits Snowball has mixed weed seeds with the seed corn.” (65). In reality the farm is suffering from disorganization and the corruption of the pigs hording profits for alcohol, which resulted in no wheat seeds being bought. Instead of explaining this otherwise selfish behavior to the other animals, the pigs convince them that their “perfect” harvest was being deliberately afflicted by Snowball. To protect their own interests in money and power, the pigs misinform the other animals with persuasive speeches to prevent them from revolting against their control and creating the illusion that the farm is still successful. Finally, after the Battle of the Cowshed, the pigs discredit Snowball of his medal, Animal Hero, First Class, for fighting bravely during the battle. “The animals now also learned that Snowball has never- as many of them believed hitherto- received the order of ‘Animal Hero, First Class’ (65). Before his expulsion the animals regarded Snowball as both a scholar and a gentleman and had grown skeptical about many terrible accusations which were insinuated him. Through the propaganda ability of Squealer and the other pigs, they were able to persuade the animals that Snowball had never received “Animal Hero, First Class” which had made him famous and admired by all. Through discrediting this award from Snowball the pigs successfully removed any association of Snowball with a hero and could therefore use him a “scape goat” for any problems without questioning from the other animals. Though the pigs’ blatant abuse on the behalf of Snowball’s name went unnoticed, an even greater manipulation of other situations by the pigs proved to only be possible due to their wit and verbal communication to create the illusion of their integrity and selflessness.
Throughout the novel, the animals are plagued with numerous problems when attempting to run their own ostracized farm. The pigs however, often find ways for themselves to benefit from the peril of the other animals but through the command of language create the illusion of altruistic and virtuous behavior on their behalf. First, the pigs convince the animals that Napoleon’s new dictatorship was not something Napoleon wanted, but was essential for the survival of the farm. “Comrades,” he said, “I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility” (37). Though Napoleon’s new position has given him all the wealth and control of the farm the pigs have disguised this with arguments of works and pressure which Napoleon must endure. Angelo Christonea, college English professor, supports this view by convincingly arguing, “Napoleon’s ascension as a dictator is clearly a selfish move to elevate the pigs’ standard of living on the farm but through the use of rhetoric made to appear as a noble act.” Second, the pigs deceived the animals about their contributions toward Boxer’s murder to appear innocent and benevolent.
“It had come to his knowledge, he said, that a foolish and wicked rumour had been circulated at the time of Boxer’s removal. Some of the animals had noticed that the van which took Boxer away was marked ‘Horse Slaughterer,…….It was almost unbelievable, said Squealers, that any animal could be so stupid. Surely, he cried indignantly, whisking his tail and skipping from side to side, surely they knew their beloved Leader, Comrade Napoleon, better than that! Squealer went on to give further graphic details of Boxer’s death- bed, the admirable care he had received and the expensive medicines for which Napoleon had paid without a thought as to the cost…..” (84).
The pigs indecent regard for their fallen comrade and shameful disposal of him would have appalled the other animals. However Squealer’s clever speech and storytelling left the animals astonished by Napoleon’s apparent heroic actions. Finally, the pigs assert their selfish hording of the extra apple and milk ratios are essential to the farm’s prosperity.
“Comrades!” he cried “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milks and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well- being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. (. 23).
The withholding of these extra ratios is a perfect example of the pigs’ selfish intentions and corruption from the very beginning. Their manipulation of language creates the appearance that the pigs only require the extra ratios to make the farm a better place for all; however this is far from the truth. They have through words convinced the other animals of their need for the apples and milk due to their “excess intelligence” as to not comprise their appearance of innocent and altruism.
In conclusion, Animal Farm, provides a very important lesson for all who read it. It shows that the true intent of some can often be shrouded with clever rhetoric and captivating speech, often leading the masses into confusion and vulnerability. Although the characters in the novel were animals and could be considered unintelligent, the novel conveys that we humans are no better when it comes to exploiting one another with the power of words, “As we starred through the window it was no question now. The animals outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which” (95).
 Durham, Elise. “The Seven Commandments of Animal Farm.” 123HelpMe. 2000. 17 Dec 2008 <http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=15455>.
 Ballesteros, Christian. “Animal Farm Essay.” Literature Network Forums. 2005. 17 Dec 2008 <http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9049>.
 Christonea, Angelo . “Absolute Power in “Animal Farm”.” Book Rags. 12 09 2005. 16 Dec 2008 <http://www.bookrags.com/essay-2005/8/1/225342/5601>.