Animal farm was published at the beginning of World War II, in England in 1945 and in the United States in 1946. George Orwell wrote the book during the war as a cautionary fable in order to expose the seriousness of the dangers posed by the totalitarian government. The novel ‘Animal Farm’ centres on a group of animals, who decide to fulfil Old Major’s dream of a rebellion and drive out Mr Jones, in an attempt to run the farm themselves with the pigs in control. Orwell personifies the animals in the tradition of the allegory so that they symbolise real historical figures.
One of Orwell’s main messages is about how the ability to change and twist language can contribute to the abuse of power. Orwell effectively constructs this theme through the allegorical characterisations of the pigs, propaganda techniques and satire. In Animal Farm, the pigs gradually twist and distort their way into the minds of the other animals to justify their behaviours through the use of persuasive speeches which in turn are unanswerable and unarguable leaving them in the dark. Squealer, a strong-minded pig is well-known among the other animals.
As one of the main allegorical characters in the novel, Orwell uses Squealer to criticize the dictators of the communist system. Like Stalin, he is able to persuade people to believe him willingly. Squealer is known to ‘turn black into white’, especially in his lively speeches where he is known to incorporate bad situations into good situations. The animals of the farm lovingly embrace Old Major’s dream to start a rebellion after Major dies. However, soon after his death, the pigs gradually twist his words of wisdom into words of the abuse of power.
As a result, the animals are unable to oppose the strong words of the pigs; however they do not oppose the ideas of the rebellion. Squealers speech on milk and apples in particular is a great example of how the abuse of language contributes to the abuse of power. Squealer argues that the milk and apples must be taken to preserve their health, containing substances which are absolutely necessary for the well-being of a pig. The following major techniques of propaganda are successfully used in Squealers speech on milk and apples to persuade the animals to believe him including inclusive language, lying and identifying the enemy.
Squealer uses the technique inclusive language in the quote ‘it is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples’ (pg. 25). Here Squealer creates a sense of unity amongst the animals in the farm effectively explaining to them that most of the things they do is for their sake. Therefore, the animals are naive as they believe Squealer and the rest of the pigs health is dependent on them and so therefore they are willing to allow the pigs to preserve the milk and apples for themselves. The technique lying is used in the quote ‘you do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? (pg. 25). Here squealer insists that they are not preserving the milk and apples for themselves for the sake of selfishness and privilege when in actual fact, they are preserving the milk and apples for the sake of greed and to reduce the risk of starvation. The animals however, are too dumbfounded to easily notice this because of the way in which squealers ability to change and twist language controls them. Squealer further controls the animals by identifying their enemy ‘Jones’ in the quote ‘do you know what would happen if we pigs failed our duty?
Jones would come back! (pg. 25). Here Squealer clearly identifies the enemy ‘Jones’ which the animals utterly dislike and will obey any orders from the pig’s so long as he does not return. Squealer again effectively dumbfounds the animals into thinking that if the milk and apples aren’t given to the pigs, then Jones will be back for sure. Orwell also develops the theme that the abuse of language can contribute to the abuse of power in another of Squealers speeches on Napoleons honourable leadership.
Squealer argues that the animals should willingly accept the leadership qualities Napoleon controls them with and that they should be disciplined so that the wrong decisions aren’t made. The following major techniques of propaganda are successfully used in Squealers speech on the qualities of maintaining leadership to persuade the animals to believe him including inclusive language, scape goating and persuasive language. Squealer uses inclusive language in the quote ‘comrades, he said, one false step, and our enemies would be upon us.
Surely comrades, you do not want Jones back? ’ (pg. 40) In Squealers dominating speech, he again creates a sense of unity with the animals on the farm and allows them to be positive and look forward and not feel powerless against Napoleon or Jones for that matter. The technique scape goating is used in the quote ‘snowball, who as we know, was no better than a criminal’ (pg. 41) Squealer has no proof that Snowball is a criminal and therefore blames all the problems and conflicts on Snowball, distracting the animals from much of the important issues at hand.
Even when the farm animals point out that Snowball fought bravely in the ‘Battle of the Cowshed’, Squealers reply is too overpowering for the animals to say anything. This contributes to the way in which Squealer effectively changes and twists language to put himself in power. By using persuasive language in his speech ‘bravery is not enough, loyalty and disobedience are more important’ (pg. 41), Squealer is able to effectively persuade the animals to do what is right by napoleon and to take a certain position on the issue that loyalty and obedience are important when it comes to discipline.
Orwell effectively develops the message that the abuse of language can contribute to the abuse of power through the use of allegorical character representations of Squealer as Stalin, who are both persuasive and strong-minded speakers and satirical representations to help explain that there are people in society who expose this abuse of language and manipulate others as an instrument of control to keep themselves in power. He makes us realise that we must take into account the sort of language that people twist to abuse power through their use of persuasive language, which in turn makes them more powerful.
Therefore we should open up when we have a decent point to make which we know will change their way of speaking. From the very beginning of the novel, we become aware of educations role in stratifying animal farms population. This is another one of Orwell’s messages about how the ability of being intelligent and educated can later be used as tools of oppression. Orwell achieves this proposition through the characterisation of the pigs, propaganda techniques and the allegorical and satirical representations of characters, to symbolise the communist system and to allow us to realise that indeed communism is not equality.
Following Major’s death, the pigs are the ones who take on the task of organising and mobilizing the others animals into doing what they want them to do because they are ‘generally realised as being the cleverest of the animals’ (pg. 35). At first the pigs are loyal to their fellow animals and to the rebellion cause. Faithfully, they translate Major’s vision into the ‘Seven Commandments of Animalism’. However, it is not long before the pig’s intelligence and education turn from tools of enlightenment to implements of oppression. Squealer represents the totalitarian government, a propaganda machine.
Like Stalin, Squealer is a persuasive speaker and is able to manipulate the animals under his authority to do what he wants them to do, as a result, contributing to their own oppression. As persuasive and outspoken as he is, Squealer can make the animals believe almost anything in his way of ‘skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive’ (pg. 11). This fact is especially clear in Squealers interactions with Clover and Muriel. Each time Clover suspects that the Seven Commandments have been changed; Squealer manages to convince her that she is wrong.
Clover hears that the pigs not only take meals in the kitchen and use the drawing room as a recreation room, but sleep in the beds of the farm house. Thinking there is a definite rule against beds, she willingly asks Muriel to read her the fourth commandment which is changed from ‘No animal shall sleep in a bed’ to ‘No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets’. Soon enough Squealer explains to the animals that the pigs are officially allowed to sleep in the farmhouse beds. The following major techniques of propaganda are used in Squealers speech including inclusive language, identifying the enemy and lying.
At the start of Squealers speech, he creates a sense of unity amongst the farm animals in the quote; ‘I can tell you, comrades, with all the brainwork we have to do nowadays. You would not rob us of our repose, would you comrades? ’ (pg. 50). Squealer distorts his way through the minds of the animals and makes them think that they are too grateful and would not go against the pigs sleeping in the beds of the farm house, seeing as it is worth the brainwork they incorporate into the lives of the animals. Just like in all of Squealers speeches, he identifies the enemy in the quote ‘surely none of you wishes to see Jones back? (pg. 50). Squealer knows how much the animals dislike Jones and will do anything for him not to come back. Hence, the reason Squealer incorporates the use of Jones to brainwash the animals minds into thinking that if the pigs don’t sleep on the farm house beds then Jones will be back for sure. Towards the end of the novel, the animals are completely brainwashed to question the authority of the pigs and so Squealer is able to trick the animals into thinking the fourth commandment hasn’t been changed when in actual fact it has.
The technique lying is used in the quote ‘the rule was against sheets, which are a human invention’ (pg. 50). Squealer insists the fourth commandment is that ‘no animal shall sleep on beds with sheets’ which dumfounds the animals and makes them realise that they haven’t learnt the commandments right when in actual fact the commandment is changed without them knowing. Another example of the contribution of the manipulation of language in the novel is the maxim that replaces the seven commandments; ‘all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. pg. 97) The idea of ‘more equal’ is a senseless manipulation of language, but by this time, the animals are too brainwashed to notice. The idea that some animals are more equal than others is developed in the text; ‘it did not seem strange when napoleon was seen strolling in the farm house garden with a pipe in his mouth – no, not even when the pigs took Mr jones clothes out of the wardrobes and put them on, napoleon himself appearing in a black coat, ratcatcher breeches and leather leggings…’(pg. 98)
Orwell effectively develops the message that those who are unable, or unwilling, to question authority, contribute to their own oppression through the use of the allegorical character representation of Squealer who like Stalin is a powerful and manipulative speaker, propaganda techniques and satire. Orwell makes us realise that both intelligence and education are extremely powerful tools of oppression and whilst also being an important part of life, they can contribute to the oppression of others’ lives.
Through the use of these techniques, Orwell explains that there are some people in society, who expose their intelligence and education to their fullest extent to oppress others who they know, are not able to question authority unwillingly. Therefore we should willingly question authority no matter how intelligent or well-educated we are, if we know that the point we are trying to make is valid, to avoid oppression.
Authors of texts construct themes and develop them to portray a message to their intended audience using the techniques of propaganda and the satirical and allegorical representations of certain characters. In the novel Animal Farm, Orwell rewrites history in the representation of certain animals as historical figures from history, warning us about the ways in which power can be abused by individuals. Therefore we are encouraged to take a stance on the message that George Orwell provides us with and reflect on it in our everyday lives.