Lack of Education and the Rise of Class Stratification: Boxer, Napoleon, and the Fate of Animal Farm

The first president of the United States, George Washington, famously stated, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter” (Washington). Often an uneducated working class is exploited for labour by the higher intellectual class. This type of exploitation is evident in the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell. While Animal Farm is intended to be an allegory for the Russian Revolution, Orwell demonstrates somewhat more broadly how an uneducated working class is easily manipulated by the smarter population. After all the animals cooperate to overthrow the owner of the farm, Jones, they quickly agree to establish specific rules to ensure every animal is equal. Napoleon, a pig who symbolizes Joseph Stalin, creates seven commandments that the animals devotedly follow. However, only pigs are capable of actually reading and remembering what the commandments are. The consequence of the pig’s higher intelligence results in them reaping the rewards and luxuries provided by the hard work of the other animals, who do not have the mental capacity to understand they are being taken advantage of. The ignorant working class in Orwell’s novel Animal Farm illustrates how class stratification and exploitation is the result of an uneducated naive population. First, the animal’s inability to critically think and question authority allows the pigs to make decisions without challenge. Next, the incapacity of the animal’s memory enables Napoleon’s partner Squealer to advertise false propaganda and history that the animals foolishly believe. Finally, the incompetence of the animal’s literacy level grants the pigs power to deceive the population with written words or laws. As a result, disputing and opposing authority is essential to bringing change in a society.

One problem is the refusal to question authority or analyze information. This is presented multiple times throughout the novel in many characters. Boxer, a hardworking loyal horse, gullibly believes that Napoleon is working for the interest of all animals, and refuses to inquire about the choices made by Napoleon. When Napoleon blatantly lies and states that another pig is no better than a criminal, Boxer initially disagrees, but is unable to protest as he cannot find the right arguments (Orwell 36). Rather than attempt to dispute Napoleon’s claim, he justifies the action by believing his slogan: “Napoleon is always right, this seemed to him a sufficient answer to all problems” (41). Boxer’s denial to investigate and scrutinize Napoleon’s commands causes him to mindlessly labour for Napoleon for no compensation. Another example of the animals not challenging sovereignty is seen when the pigs reveal how they are distributing food. While the entire working class population struggled to feed themselves, the “brainworkers” or pigs, lived in luxury and comfort. When confronted about this inequality, Squealer brazenly declares, “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? [. . .] Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples” (23). After this implausible explanation, the animals still trust that this is in the best interests of everyone, and there is no further dispute. This ignorant stubborn belief that Napoleon’s leadership is representing equality coerces them to believe propaganda that results in the robbery of the product of their hard work. Finally, Clover is another horse who recognizes that their original vision of animal equality has gone awry. Despite this realization, she does not challenge Napoleon’s regime. She would continue to “remain faithful, work hard, carry out the orders that were given to her, and accept the leadership of Napoleon. But still, it was not for this that she and all the other animals had hoped and toiled” (59). Clover failing to speak out and debate against Napoleon gives the pigs the opportunity to continue their oppression of the working class without any opposition. Without Clover prompting the other animals, they are completely oblivious to their situation. The animal’s presumption of the naive ideal that the governing animals are only working towards the benefit of the entire populace leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.

The animals’ inferior memory facilitates Napoleon’s deceit as he creates a false history that the animals must believe because they cannot remember. For example, as the animals begin to perceive that living conditions are deteriorating, their doubts are eliminated by Squealer who provides fabricated statistics. When complaining about starvation, Squealer states, “production of every class of food stuff had increased by two hundred percent, three hundred percent, or five hundred percent” (61). Despite this obvious lie, the animals “saw no reason to disbelieve him, especially as they could no longer remember clearly what conditions had been like before”(61-62). The incapability to recall past living conditions compels the animals to assume Squealer’s falsifications correct, allowing the imbalance of resources to continue in favour of the pigs. Later, Squealer attempts to slander Snowball’s (another pig) reputation. The animals faintly recollect that Snowball fought valiantly against Farmer Jones and was praised for his actions. Squealer immediately eradicates those thoughts, proclaiming how, “he attempted to get us defeated at the Battle of the Cowshed” (53). He then explains his fictional version of the battle which glorifies Napoleon’s efforts so well that “when Squealer described the scene so graphically, it seemed to the animals that they did remember it” (54). Once again, the ineptitude to record history or accurately reminisce the past yields Squealer the opportunity to misinform the population for obedience. Lastly, the pigs are able to alter the fundamental seven commandments to their advantage, as the animals cannot remember what they originally said. When the pigs begin to sleep in beds, clearly in violation of the commandment: “No animal shall sleep in a bed”, Clover recalls this ruling against beds (15). Yet when Squealer informs her that the commandment has always been written as “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets”, Clover thinks, “she had not remembered that the Fourth Commandment mentioned sheets; but as it was there on the wall, it must have done so” (45). Due to the impaired memories of the animals, the pigs can modify the law unimpeded to improve only their own lifestyle. The revision of multiple laws give the pigs freedom to do things that were originally outlawed, such as drink alcohol or wear clothing. Subsequently, without being able to correctly remember or document history, the animals fall victim to the pig’s propaganda and counterfeit history.

Moreover, the inadequacy of the animals’ literacy skills allows the pigs to beguile the population using the ambiguity of language that the animals cannot comprehend. This is first displayed when the pigs twist the meaning of the rudimentary commandments for their benefit. Using their superior literary skills, the pigs adjust the original commandment “All animals are equal” into “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” (90). This phrase is glaringly flawed and contradictory, yet the pigs are still able to continue their exploitation. The animals fail to detect how the term “equal” no longer has a meaning, or discern the hypocrisy of stating equality for all, but a select elite group. Without any literacy skills, the pigs freely distort the meaning of written language to justify their actions and establish an aristocracy for themselves. Shortly after Boxer is injured, Napoleon makes the arrangements to sell Boxer to be slaughtered in exchange for alcohol. When the vehicle used to transport Boxer arrives, the animal’s illiteracy prevented them from reading the words on the truck: “Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal” (82). When rumors begin to spread about what the truck actually read, Squealer simply informs them that the truck belonged to a veterinary surgeon. Since the animals cannot identify the words themselves, they cannot validly vindicate the pigs of any dishonesty. Later, the pigs prove that Snowball is a criminal by producing counterfeit documents incriminating him. Once more, the animals are incapable of deciphering the letters and therefore must believe the word of the pigs. At first, the animals are incredulous of this accusation, but after Squealer argues how Snowball had it all “written down in the secret documents that we have found [. . .] I could show you this in his own writing, if you were able to read it” (54). Without the ability to verify this declaration, the pigs can effortlessly generate evidence to justify anything with no dispute from the illiterate animals. The pigs efficiently exploit and deceive all other animals through written propaganda as a result of the incompetence of the animal’s literacy skills.

In Animal Farm, the story suggests that class stratification is the consequence of an ignorant working class that is susceptible to exploitation. Throughout the story, the animals fail to criticize or oppose any decisions made, allowing the inequitable distribution of resources for the pigs. In addition, the deficient memory of the working class enables the pigs to misinform animals with propaganda to secure compliance. Lastly, the substandard literacy level of the animals results in the inability to contest against written articles or laws. Equality, as Orwell indicates, can only be established with an educated society.

Power and Corruption: A Comparison of Animal Farm and Divergent

“All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is echoed throughout the texts ‘Animal Farm’ (George Orwell, 1945) and Divergent (Neil Burger, 2014). Both texts demonstrate that the struggle for power is deep rooted in corruption and prove this by portraying that power cannot be attained without it. Furthermore, once a taste of power occurs, the individual/institution craves more and that power is bound up in intellectual superiority and mental manipulation is utilised for power to be grasped. These ideas inherently prove that all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely because for power to be clutched, corrupt means must be employed.

Firstly, Animal Farm and Divergent both exhibit that power cannot be attained without corruption. The intentions of ambitious and power hungry characters in both texts are reflected through their use of corrupt means to elevate their status.

In Animal Farm we perceive this through “Snowball’s eloquence had carried them away. In glowing sentences…there was no doubt as to which way the vote would go…Napoleon stood up…nine enormous dogs …dashed straight for Snowball…”. Through this use of vivid imagery, we see that Napoleon is securing power by eliminating his competition through violent means rather than actually proving himself as the more appropriate candidate. Snowball is the superior orator and persuades the animals with his inspiring speech, so Napoleon resorts to violence to assert his dominance, proving that power cannot be attained without corruption.

In Divergent, when Four is under the effect of a simulation, Jeanine says “…conformity to a faction removes the threat of anyone exercising their independent will”. The dramatic non-diegetic music and close up shots of Jeanine’s intimidating countenance indicate that her power is reliant on oppressing freedom of thought and speech, preventing any opposition. Through her use of the serum and plot to destroy Abnegation she demonstrates that power cannot be attained without corruption, which she does by manipulating and controlling the Dauntless.

The necessity of corruption to attain power in Animal Farm is also seen through “The creatures outside looked from pigs to man, and from man to pig…but already it was impossible to say which was which”. Through the repetition we see that when it comes to attaining power, the pigs are equally tyrannical as the humans and that corruption is a common factor between all power figures, including humans and pigs. Therefore, Animal Farm and Divergent demonstrate that power cannot be attained without corruption so all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Secondly, both texts manifest verification that once a taste of power occurs, the individual or institution craves more. Power cannot be attained without corruption, so to acquire more power would require heightened corruption. Since they continue to crave more, corruption would increase until they successfully reach absolute power and absolute corruption.

In Animal Farm, “…it was laid down as a rule that when a pig and any other animal met on the path, the other animal must stand aside: and also that all pigs, of whatever degree, were to have the privilege of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sundays”. Orwell illustrates that as their power over the animals has increased, the pigs are becoming increasingly selfish and creating rules and exemptions from other rules for their personal benefit because they crave more power and a higher status. This can also be seen through “more suited to the dignity of the leader…to live in a house than a mere sty”. This use of irony emphasises that with the apotheosis of their power on Animal Farm, corruption also reaches its acme as the pigs see the sty as ‘mere’, even though they have spent their whole lives there.

In Divergent, once a taste of power occurs, the entity craves more is expressed through the character of Eric. One instance of this is when he is taunting Four during the Abnegation raid. “The legendary Four, a mindless drone”. The close up shot of his baleful physiognomy accentuates how Eric is exploiting the power of his role to gain more, by gloating about his current superiority to Four. We also see a high angle shot of Eric dangling Christina off the bridge at Dauntless and a close up of her shaking and slipping hands and diegetic sound of her grunts and pleads. This demonstrates Eric’s dominance and how his influence in Dauntless is expanding because he is establishing himself as dominating through violence. Consequently, we see that in Animal Farm and Divergent, once a taste of power occurs, the entity craves more.

Thirdly, Orwell and Burger convey that power is bound up in intellectual superiority and leaders psychologically manipulate others. Corruption is quintessential to expanding power, and strategically manoeuvring the perception of others is essential to create a gateway for corruption to flourish and power to be expanded.

This form of corruption is perspicuously illustrated in Animal Farm, including “The pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse…the brains of the farm should have a quiet place to work in”. Through this personification, we discern that the pigs are using their intellectual prowess to differentiate their needs from the others and make themselves and their own comfort the priority of the farm. The other animals cannot express any objections because the pigs psychologically contort them into believing that their increasing demands are necessary, rather than selfish. Also, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” effectively summarises the result of Animal Farm through irony. The animals are being told that they are equal, but the pigs have carved out a distinctive stance for themselves. The ability of the pigs to manipulate the animals allows their corruption to function, and empowers them.

In Divergent, power being bound up in intellectual superiority is most significantly denoted through the implementation of the serum on Dauntless. The overhead shot of the Dauntless marching into Abnegation portrays how they have become belittled and demeaned by the intellectually superior Erudite, who are literally controlling their minds because they concocted the serum. This forces them to conform to Jeanine’s plan and inhibits introspection. Jeanine also says “…Amazing isn’t it, everything that makes up a person: thoughts, emotions, history, all wiped away by chemistry”. The sterility of the mise en scène and portentous tone of Jeanine’s voice emphasises how she is using Erudite’s superior knowledge of chemistry to mentally alter others, to use them to her personal advantage. Hence proving that power is bound up in intellectual superiority and leaders manipulate others psychologically. This allows them to use corrupt means without obstruction and gain more power. Therefore, both texts evince that all power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupt absolutely.

In conclusion, “all power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is a crucial message of Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1954) and Divergent (Neil Burger, 2014). They both exhibit this through proving that power has its foundation established in corruption and cannot be attained without it. It also shows that once a taste of power occurs, the entity craves more, creating more corruption until they reach absolute power which coincides with absolute corruption and that power is bound up in intellectual superiority, and corrupting through psychological manipulation enhances power.

Moses the Raven: The “Church” of Animal Farm

Animal Farm is an allegorical novel written by George Orwell based upon the historical events of the 1917 Russian Revolution. The short tale revolves around an overworked group of farm animals that rebel against their owners in an attempt to create a utopian state. Above the quarrelling and altercations of the embittered animals is situated a religious raven that resembles the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian Revolution. This essay will explore the satirized relationship between Moses the Raven and the Orthodox Church in the Russian Revolution. Firstly, it is evident that authority struggled to abolish both Moses and the church due to the strength and support behind the two. Furthermore, by maintaining control and sanity in the workers and peasants through propelling preaches, Moses and the Orthodox church demonstrate how religion can be beneficial to a functioning society. Lastly, the two religious forces essentially attached themselves to forms of authority, in a bid for superior advantages.

Throughout Animal Farm, Moses the Raven is religiously emphatic and quite difficult to efface. He speaks of a utopian world named Sugarcandy Mountain, where all hard working animals will be rewarded. Before the pigs realise that he may be an advantage, they fear his religious presence will distract the animals from the concept of Animalism. This is evident in Chapter 2 of the novel, where “the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place”. Despite his lack of contribution towards work around the farm, Napoleon tolerates Moses’ brash presence on the farm after his return after the Battle of the Windmill: “In the middle of the summer Moses the raven suddenly reappeared on the farm, after an absence of several years” (9.8). The pigs realize that Moses can be taken to advantage. Equivalently, the Russian Orthodox Church was heavily prominent around the revolution. The Bolsheviks found it difficult to diminish religion during the revolution because of the church’s large following and tenacity. Stalin, the leader of the Bolsheviks, believed in science and reason, completely disregarding the Russian Orthodox Church. However, it was only after World War 2 when the Orthodox Church gained status and toleration by the government, only because it was seen as an opportunity to keep the slaves and peasants subdued. Karl Marx is quoted to have said that “Religion is the opiate of the masses”. Essentially, this means that religion is a drug for the people. Before the Russian Revolution, religion presumably ‘sedated’ the members of the working class, enabling them to look past the pain and hard work and dream about the afterlife. Moses is allegorically represented as the opiate in Animal Farm, metaphorically a ‘pain killer’. This determination can be linked to the Russian Orthodox Church during the Russian Revolution. Despite the Bolsheviks strong efforts in trying to diffuse the popularity of the church, the true strength and depth of religion really pulls through especially after World War 2. Therefore, it is evident throughout the novel that due to the strength and power of Moses, it was difficult to diffuse his popularity; similar to religion in the revolution. Although the pigs themselves disagreed with the supposed existence of a ‘better world’, they tolerated his existence because, for a small offering of beer, Moses was unknowingly benefitting them by keeping control in the animals; which the Russian Orthodox Church was also known for doing.

Moses the Raven preaches of Sugarcandy Mountain, where “it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges” (2.8); such fantasies were the underlying reason of control and sanity amongst the animals. The animals are tricked and pressured into believing that there is such thing as an afterlife, and are lulled into a state of endurance, therefore continuing to work hard: “Many of the animals believed him. Their lives now, they reasoned, were hungry and laborious; was it not right and just that a better world should exist somewhere else?” (9.8). Because the oppressed farm animals have something to look forward to, they look past the barbaric working conditions and dream about the Promised Land. The role of the Russian Orthodox Church in the revolution is uncannily similar. The church resembled a pain-killing drug; used on the poor to keep them working. Religion maintained control by creating a fantasy for the workers. This particular idea of an afterlife provided solace for the hard working and distressed poor during the revolution, thus eliminating controversy and maintaining discipline. Without the church, there would have been uproar, chaos and the chance of more rebellions. The church kept stability and hope amongst the working class society, paralleling Moses’ role in Animal Farm. Moses unknowingly became a great asset to the pigs. “They all declared contemptuously that his stories about Sugarcandy Mountain were lies, and yet they allowed him to remain on the farm, not working, with an allowance of a gill of beer a day.” (9.8), only if he spoke to the farm animals about Sugarcandy Mountain regularly. Essentially, the pigs realised why Moses was the Jones’ favourite pet, because he kept control on the farm.

The relationship between Moses and Mr Jones correlates with the relationship of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Tsar. Rasputin was a trusted friend of the Tsar, as he was a mythical faith healer and demonstrated his religious powers on the Tsar’s son Alexei Romanov when he was sick. The Tsar was the last Tsar of Russia, and Mr Jones was the last farmer of the Manor Farm; proving allegory. The two were known to be negligent rulers, hence the rebellions. It is evident in Chapter 2 of the novel that Moses and the human owner of the farm share a bond, “Mr. Jones’s especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker”. He leaves with the Jones’ after the rebellion because without the daily offerings of bread and beer, he has no reason to remain on the farm: “Mrs. Jones looked out of the bedroom window, saw what was happening…and slipped out of the farm. Moses sprang off his perch and flapped after her, croaking loudly” (2.12). Moses returns to the farm after the satirized version of World War 2 in the novel, ‘The Battle of the Windmills,’ as he is offered “a gill of beer a day” (9.8) without completing any work, unconsciously being taken advantage of. Therefore, it can be made clear that both religion (in this case, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church) and Moses share the similarity of attaching themselves to a member of higher authority in a bid for superior advantages.

Throughout the novel Animal Farm, many allegories for people and groups within the Russian Revolution can be identified. Moses the Raven and the Russian Orthodox Church are an example; two figures that uncannily correlate together, sharing many similarities. Both were hard to abolish from the farm/Russia due to the strength and power in the religious values they held. Moses made a return after the Battle of the Windmill, and the church made a comeback after World War 2 when they realized that the people needed them. The idea of an afterlife kept control and sanity in the slaves and peasants of Russia and on the farm, demonstrating how religion can be beneficial to a functioning society. Lastly, Moses and the Russian Orthodox Church attached themselves to a leader in a hope of gaining something out of such a bond. With all three similarities considered in detail, it is evident that the character Moses in Animal Farm is a metaphorical yet optimal representation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1917 revolution.

Why Animal Farm Failed

The social hierarchy and class differences of The Animal Farm caused its demise. The most prominent social groups settled into their own habitats, establishing their own “grounds.” The animals on the bottom of the hierarchy are not well educated, and so are inferior under the top of the hierarchy. The classes had varying levels of educational background, pigs being the visionaries and thinkers. The rest of the animals are workhorses that carried out the pigs’ dreams. With this air of disunity, the animals were subject to a weakness. Large groups are stronger when united. Animal Farm’s plot is driven by the differences between social classes.

“I will work harder” (36), was one of the maxims that the animals chanted. Although this quote is short, it says a lot about the government of The Animal Farm. It portrays the animals as, “the working class” working hard for their government. The animals worked diligently until they no longer could. In a way of thinking, the government used them until they had no use left. When Old Major gave his speech of rebellion to the Animal Farm, he stated, “Boxer, the very day your great muscles lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker” (10). This explains how The Animal Farm’s government worked. The upper class being the pigs, came up with the ideas and the lower class (animals) had to make sure they got done. While the pigs were showered with treats and compliments, the animals just had to be contempt with the fact that they were finished with the pigs’ vision. When the animals were of no further use they were shut away from everything and had a section of the farm especially for themselves.

An example of class stratification in Animal Farm is the matter of the milk and apples. The pigs believed that the milk and apples should be reserved just for them, because they were the thinkers of The Animal Farm. When the animals started to argue back, Squealer proclaimed,

“Comrades! 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. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to a pig.” (52)

The pigs abused their power and lied to the animals just to make sure they had enough food. This excerpt from Animal Farm shows the corruption of the government in class stratification.

After Napoleon exiled Snowball from the farm, rumors started to fly everywhere. Reports said that he frequented the grounds of The Animal Farm. It is believed that Snowball sold himself to Pinchfield farms and is plotting to recapture The Animal Farm. Squealer and his followers spread propaganda questioning his participation in the Battle of Cowshed. They made Snowball’s participation in the Battle of Cowshed, to be an act of rebellion against The Animal Farm. When questioned of the tangibility of the story, Squealer replied,

“Jones’ shot him only grazed him. I could show you this in his own writing, if you were able to read it. The plot was for Snowball, at the critical moment to give the signal to fight and leave the field to the enemy.” (90)

By this statement, the upper class manipulated the lower class by using their advantage of reading. This series of propaganda would only later destroy them when Napoleon’s rule would be rebelled against.

After the executions of the four pigs, three hens, three sheep, and a goose, the animals began to realize something was amiss about the sixth commandment, “Clover asked Benjamin to read her the sixth commandment, and when Benjamin, as usual, said that he refused to meddle in such matters, she fetched Muriel. Muriel read the commandment for her. It ran: No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” (98)

The sixth commandment of the Animal Farm had clearly stated, “No animal shall kill any other animal.” Yet somehow whenever the animals asked for the sixth commandment they were told, “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.” The animals did not remember the last two words but now they thought that Napoleon had not violated the commandment. This is another example of Napoleon’s widespread propaganda, sent out to corrupt the minds of the defenseless animals.

As I think of the class differences in Animal Farm, I can’t help but think of the similar actions of Karl Marx. He intended to do well when he first came to power but the system fell under his leadership. Just like Napoleon, Marx made all people equal, but in doing so, he widened the gap between government officials (pigs) and common people (animals). It was almost as if all the animals on the farm were equal but the pigs were excluded, and held in a higher position. There was no other power that limited the power of the leaders. When this happens, the leaders can get out of control because they are free to do anything without consequence. When citizens see their leaders living with overt extravagance in comparison to their own living conditions it may cause resentment among a few, and thus cause a rebellion to begin.

Comparison of Values: Animal Farm and V for Vendetta

George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ is an allegorical fairy tale which is profound in its condemnations of totalitarian regimes. The novel explores the concepts of propaganda, totalitarianism and tyranny impacting on the oppressed society with the use of animal characters to expose the evils of exploitation. Similar to ‘Animal Farm’, ‘V for Vendetta’ directed by James McTeigue, explores the same concepts through characterisation of the main character, V, who juxtaposes the idea of individuality and the rebellion against forced conformity. The film demonstrates the rebellion of citizens against injustice of an oppressive government of England who have immense control over the community. It also reveals the difference in the phases of tyranny – ‘V for Vendetta’ is about rebellion and freedom from tyranny, whereas, ‘Animal Farm’ begins with the chaos of driving out the government (Jones). McTeigue and Orwell both resonate with audiences today by warning to the future society that a government body can potentially become corrupt due to the inability to govern excessive power.

McTeigue and Orwell similarly demonstrate the concept of propaganda and corruption in a anthropomorphic way to explore the values of their times through the stories of ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ with the intentions of relating to future audiences. The governing characters from both texts have manipulative control over their people and are abusing their power in order to satisfy their own wants. In ‘V for Vendetta’, Gordon’s satirical TV commercial shows the comparison between Chancellor and V and reflects the illusion of propaganda that Sutler sold to the public. Gordon emphasises the vague terms ‘freedom fighter’ and ‘terrorist’ to show how they are used subjectively and interchangeably by people wanting to assume power. Utilising twin images of Sutler and V as the Chancellor implies that Sutler’s elevation to leader and his judgment of V as a terrorist is hypocritical, relating back to Evey’s father who, “…used to say that artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up”. This reinforces the idea that the government is using lies to cover up the truth to stay loyal to the society.

Similarly, this can be seen through ‘Animal Farm’, when Napoleon uses Snowball as a scapegoat to every problem, “The windmill was, in fact, Napoleon’s own creation”. This directly relates to the aspects of propaganda and visualises the crafty and manipulative characteristics the pigs possess. By revealing false information to his fellow animals, Napoleon is making himself superior by taking all the credit in the making of the windmill and veiling Snowball as a fraud. Snowball being manipulated as a scapegoat, reveals that the other pigs are using lies to cover up the truth for the pig’s benefit, hence exploring the aspects and themes of corruption through the promotion of Squealer’s propaganda. Animal Farm and V for Vendetta both shows the comparison between of how leaders use propaganda to be seen as a loyal and upstanding.

‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ both reinforce the theme tyranny and explore the values of the government exploiting its power to satisfy their own wants. The eras of the two texts are diverse showing the distinctions between the era of Orwell’s, ‘Animal Farm’ and McTeigue’s, ‘V for Vendetta’. This can be seen through the phase of tyranny the two texts encompasses. In ‘Animal Farm’, the development of tyranny can be seen during the process of the rebellion and throughout the rest of the novel. Upon chaos of driving out Jones, voluntary leaders such as Napoleon took the advantage to take control of the farm, putting him in a more superior position over the other animals. With the pigs’ advanced knowledge, they are able to use their power to exploit ‘fellow animals’ into labour and adversity while the pigs provided comfort. The anthropomorphic pigs have grown in power to an extent where the other animals cannot express their point of view in effective functioning of the farm, “They had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere…”, demonstrating the lack of unity between the pigs and the other animals. Orwell satirises Stalin as Napoleon and Trotsky as Snowball to show how laughable the leaders were in the face of revolution. In ‘V for Vendetta’, tyranny is already present at the start of the film. However V gathers support of the citizens who are growing more and more dissatisfied with the amount of control the government has over them, taking the advantage of the growing hostility to create a mass rebellion in order to bring down the tyrannical government. The use of masks to cover identity, it allowed people to voice their attitudes with supremacy and to stand up to rebel against the injustice. The rebellion shows the unity among the community members and demonstrates clarity of power and that people beats tyranny, directly linking to V’s famous liturgy, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people”. The ending of the film shows a sense of hope and freedom in despair of its corrupting government, whereas Animal Farm shows the beginning of tyranny and the exploitation of power, showing the contrast between the two texts.

‘V for Vendetta’ and ‘Animal Farm’ are used as a message to future audiences that the government can potentially become corrupt due to the inability to govern excessive power. Both Orwell and McTeigue explore the concepts of propaganda and exploitation by symbolising characters in satirical way to taunt the government and their failure to indulge and conform to their people. Propaganda can be seen in our modern society where a government is using power for their own benefits and deceiving its community into labour. North Korea is a perfect example. Kim-Jong-Un, the leader of North Korea, claims that his country is a paradise that hasn’t experienced poverty and is living a happy life, when in reality people are forced into hard labour. This is a form of propaganda and Kim is exploiting his power to develop deadly weaponry instead of creating harmony with his people. Orwell and McTeigue’s motif behind ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ explores the ways in which a nation can become corrupt through excessive power and that it is the basic fundamentals of humans to exploit power for their beneficial compensation.

Conclusively, both Orwell and McTeigue explore the concepts of propaganda, tyranny and rebellion to critique the values of their times through the stories of ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘V for Vendetta’. Through the use of satirical characterisation both authors are able to resonate with modern audiences of the corruption and exploitations of various tyrannical governments in the modern era.

Non vi, sed verbo (Not by force, but by the word)

Sylvia Plath, a confessional poet, once said, “I talk to God but the sky is empty,” (Plath 199). When one talks to God, they know He is there, but they do not see Him. They ask for help and expect it right away, which leads to conflict. Plath is well-known for her death due to carbon monoxide inhalation, caused by sticking her head in an oven as her children slept (Rollyson 7). She had committed suicide because of the effect of unseen impacts on her mental and emotional health, especially in her state of helplessness. Said forces and the like have a role in everything. While Animal Farm by George Orwell and Lord of the Flies by William Golding seem to be completely different on the surface, beneath they are both driven by unseen forces.

Scapegoats are an important part of both works, as they take all of the blame for occurrences that no party wants to accept responsibility for. In Animal Farm, Snowball is blamed for any and every misfortune that occurs after he is driven off the farm and declared an enemy. For example, he is blamed for the ruin of the windmill in chapter six — Napoleon says, “Comrades, do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!” (Orwell 82). Lord of the Flies’ Piggy is Snowball’s human counterpart — but an underlying scapegoat, one that is not clearly detectable, would be Piggy’s aunt. Constantly, Piggy laments about one thing or another and makes reference of his aunt, inadvertently blaming her for his shortcomings. For instance, in the beginning scene where he does not run, he says, “‘My auntie told me not to run,’ he explained, ‘on account of my asthma’” (Golding 7). He often accuses his aunt of being the reason why he cannot do things, even though she is not around to chastise or berate him. This may be because he is secretly afraid of her, and of displeasing her.

Whereas a scapegoat is mainly used as someone or something to blame, fear tactics enable one to subjugate a group through invisible terrors and bring them under control. Mr. Jones is used more as a scare tactic than a scapegoat. In Animal Farm, the pigs constantly threaten the other animals with the return of Jones, their former abusive owner. For example, this argument is constructed by Squealer, master orator: “One false step, and our enemies would be upon us. Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?” (Orwell 70). In Lord of the Flies, the Beast is used to justify the evil dormant within the boys. It is first mentioned when one of the small boys admits to have seen it. “‘He says the beastie came in the dark.’ ‘Then he couldn’t see it!’” (Golding 31). Nevertheless, the boys still start to believe in the Beast despite Jack and Ralph’s attempts to refute the small boy’s claim.

Collectively, scapegoats and fear tactics can be used to gain power and persuade a group without having to demonstrate anything physical, but are only some of an entire range of ways to influence a group. They all utilize verbal persuasion — most importantly, two of the three rhetorical appeals: ethos, or the credibility/trustworthiness of the speaker, and pathos, the appeal to the audience’s emotions and/or imagination. Old Major of Animal Farm “was so highly regarded on the farm that everyone was quite ready to lose an hour’s sleep in order to hear what he had to say” (Orwell 25). His speech draws on the horrors of each individual animal, and is what ultimately drives them to begin the revolution. However, as Napoleon gains power and revises the seven commandments to his liking, Old Major’s influence progressively fades away. The years since the revolution go by, and things change. “There was nothing there [on the wall of the barn] except a single Commandment. It ran: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS” (Orwell 133). The conch in Lord of the Flies has its own power, allowing the bearer to have their turn to speak out, as seen in the beginning of the story, when there is still order: “‘I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking…. And he won’t be interrupted: Except by me’” (Golding 29). Like Old Major and his commandments, the effects of the conch soon wear away as Jack’s faction dominates over the boys.

Power can inflate one’s ego so much so that they perceive themselves as God Himself, who is never seen but yet is always there. Dictators, including current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, are particularly guilty of this hamartia. This is the case with both Napoleon and Jack, the main antagonists of Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies, respectively. They both get so engrossed in the influence they have that they do not ever put things into perspective, which, in turn, ruins everything. This is nothing more than human, or humanly, in Napoleon’s case, predisposition — studies show that power fundamentally changes how the brain operates (Benderev 2). Ultimately, the situation in its entirety is ironic, because the animals and the boys are rising up against, or fleeing from dictators (Mr. Jones in Animal Farm; Adolf Hitler in Lord of the Flies), only to become dictators themselves. The two prevailing antagonists develop a god complex, which undoubtedly alters the courses of both stories.

God Himself could even be an influential part of both Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies — He is omnipresent and almighty. However, the authors of both books had different beliefs and religious standpoints. Orwell, for one, “disliked Roman Catholicism” but “seemed unable to leave the subject alone,” which is quite typical and paradoxical of him (Gray 2). “In his mind religious dogmatics and right-wing dictatorships were indissolubly linked” (4). In short, he thought that religion was only for one’s convenience; one could thank God for their blessings and later turn to Him as a scapegoat for His supposed shortcomings. On the contrary, Golding thought, according to an interview with his daughter, that, “‘I am fairly sure he believed in some sort of version of God — but not in an afterlife (at least he hoped there wasn’t one), and not in the whole — what you might call the Christian superstructure, the doctrine and the theology’” (Jordison 4). Golding wasn’t fully committed to the Church, but unlike Orwell, who detested Roman Catholicism, he did somewhat believe in God. Nevertheless, there are biblical allusions in both stories. God may still have been the reason for the events that occurred throughout the books, despite the beliefs of Orwell and Golding.

Orwell and Golding both make allusions to the Bible, especially to the Garden of Eden, which, after Adam and Eve were expelled, was never seen again. God was watching the entire time whilst Adam and Eve cavorted in the Garden, not making His presence clear, but still keeping his power over them intact. When the Devil, disguised as a snake, coerced them to take a bite of the forbidden fruit, which directly disobeyed the word of God, they are immediately cast out of the Garden of Eden — “therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken” (The Holy Bible, Genesis 3:23). In Lord of the Flies, the fly-infested pig’s head, which speaks to Simon in a hallucination, is the “Lord of the Flies.” According to the Dictionnaire Infernal, Beelzebub in Greek translates to “lord of the flies” (Collin de Plancy 209). In the New Testament, “The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons’” (The Holy Bible, Mark 3:22). This would then make the pig’s head on the stick in the book a symbol for the Devil. This is much like the situation between Adam and Eve and the Devil. And yet, if Adam and Eve’s psyches had been strong, had they not secretly wanted to try the fruit, they would not have been cajoled into taking the bite that led to the inception of Original Sin amongst all of their descendants.

The subconscious is a funny thing. One does not acknowledge it, or even see it, for that matter; however, it is the “thing” that pushes one to do what they do. It is not about when push comes to shove, but more of what makes the push — the energy in one’s surroundings, the influences of the environment, other people, and everyday life in general — and all of it is unseen. The subconscious is what is easily influenced; it is swayed by the words and actions of others. Words, among other forces, have powers superior to those of brute strength; it is not by force, but by the word — non vi, sed verbo.

Works Cited

Benderev, Chris. “When Power Goes To Your Head, It May Shut Out Your Heart.” NPR. NPR, 10 Aug. 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Collin de Plancy, Jacques Auguste Simon. Dictionnaire Infernal, Ou Bibliothèque Universelle, Aur Les Ertres, Les Personnages, Les Liores, Les Faits Et Les Choses. Paris: La Libr.Universelle De P. Mongie Aînè, 1825. Print.

Golding, William, James R. Baker, and Arthur P. Ziegler, Jr. Lord of the Flies: A Novel. New York: Perigee, 1983. Print.

Gray, Robert. “Orwell vs God.” The Spectator. The Spectator, 10 June 2011. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Penguin, 1996. Print.

Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. “Journal: 22 November 1955 – 18 April 1956.” The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962: Transcribed from the Original Manuscripts at Smith College. New York: Anchor, 2000. 199. Print.

Rollyson, Carl. “The Last Days of Sylvia Plath.” BostonGlobe.com. The Boston Globe, 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

The Holy Bible, Containing the Old Testament and the New. Oxford: U of Oxford: Printed by John Baskett, 1719. Print.

Character Textual Response – Benjamin

In the allegorical novel Animal Farm, George Orwell uses animals to represent humans or groups in Stalin’s Russian Revolution. A character who is integral to the development of the storyline is Benjamin, an aged donkey. It is unclear which group or person in Stalin’s Revolution Benjamin represents. However, one theory is that Benjamin is used to portray the sceptics living in the revolution, especially those who do not criticise Stalin’s regime publicly. Orwell uses Benjamin to represent the sceptics as he is is strong minded, yet smart enough to keep his beliefs low profile so as not to face repercussions. His interactions with the other animals are typically abrupt and rude and he is not renowned for his hard work. However he is respected by all the animals. His stubbornness is evident throughout the text, and despite his rudeness he is undeniably loyal and helpful to those in need.

Throughout the novel, it becomes apparent that Benjamin is an extremely intelligent and mentally strong animal. Orwell states that Benjamin ‘could read as well as any pig’, which immediately leads the reader to assume that he is one of the, if not the, smartest animal on the farm. However this is not the only piece of evidence that suggests Benjamin is intelligent or strong minded. He is the only animal on the farm that immediately differentiates his opinion from what the pigs want him to believe. This is shown through the general impression of scepticism he emanates, this can be inferred from his opinions on minor issues on the farm. Benjamin believes that as far as he knows, ‘there is nothing worth reading’ and he also refuses to ‘meddle in such matters’ as reading a commandment for Clover, Boxer’s discerning beliefs can be compared to the beliefs of another animal such as Boxer, who is willing to devote his whole life after retirement to learning and studying the ‘remaining twenty-two letters of the alphabet’. Through his ability to resist the ‘propaganda’ spread by the pigs, specifically Squealer., Benjamin’s mental strength is shown. Another display of Benjamin’s intelligence is shown by his approach to his beliefs mentioned above. Not only does he have the mental strength to formulate these views but he has the intelligence to not boast about what he believes. Orwell lets the reader infer that Benjamin keeps his beliefs and scepticism low profile around the farm. As readers, we can make this conclusion as we never hear his beliefs spoken to a large audience or to many people – they are always phrases muttered by Benjamin under his breath to other trusted animals. He acts in this manner for he knows that if he spreads or publicises his beliefs he will be killed, just like the hens who were starved to death after their rebellion in protest of Napoleon wanting to sell their spring eggs. All these features of Benjamin’s personality can be drawn back to the characters Benjamin represents from Stalinist Russia. These quiet sceptics were not dragged into the vortex of propaganda, they had the mental strength to forge their own opinions and constantly avoided trouble by keeping their opinions low profile. As it is now clear, Benjamin’s intelligence and mental strength are designed to represent the sceptics from this era.

Benjamin’s interactions with animals also gives us an insight into his characteristics and their parallels with the sceptics of Stalinist Russia. We can ascertain two major characteristics from viewing Benjamin’s interactions: mysteriousness and unearned respect. Orwell leads us to make the conclusion that Benjamin is a respected animal by eluding to his seniority. On the first page he states that Benjamin is ‘the oldest animal on the farm’. Instantly Benjamin is seen as a senior figure, and with seniority comes a type of respect. Another example of Orwell inferring the mutual respect which the Animals have for Benjamin is in the way that other animals look to him for assistance. An example of this is Clover instantly turning to Boxer to assist her in reading the commandments. The reader is invited to conclude that the animals value Benjamin, this value puts him a position of natural leadership, albeit an unwanted, and quite possibly an undeserved one. With this leadership comes the animals respect. Benjamin is also a mysterious figure. he keeps mainly to himself throughout the whole text, however he still forms very strong opinions. It is clear that Benjamin does have strong preferences. However when he is asked to vote for either Snowball or Napoleon to lead Animal Farm he ‘did not side with either faction’ and chose to remain impartial. This act of indifference could be seen as a sign of rebellion – through saying nothing he is making the biggest statement. It is also the only sign of rebellion that is not realised and stopped by the pigs. These acts adds to Benjamin’s mysterious figure as they separate him from the rest of the animals. The same can be said for the sceptics from Stalinist Russia. Their mystery around their lives are what separate them from the working class and earn them the respect of the people around them. This is another example of how Benjamin’s characteristics can be used to relate him back to the sceptics of the Russian Revolution.

Benjamin is a donkey of mixed emotions, he is extremely stubborn, yet shows uncompromising loyalty and helpfulness to those in need. This shows that although Benjamin may sometimes be self-centered, at heart he wants the best for others as well. The quality of stubbornness can be linked to Benjamin by analysing his quotes. On several occasions he says that ‘Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.’ This cryptic remark leaves the animals puzzled, but he continues with this remark. Through this quote we can infer that Benjamin is a single minded character who may be perceived to be stuck in his ways. The repetition of this quote suggests that he only sees things a certain way and does not want to change his views. His physical appearance also relates him to stubbornness. Mules, which are descendants of donkeys are notoriously stubborn. Benjamin’s loyalty is a surprising quality to attribute to such a seemingly rude animal. When boxer is injured after the second battle with the humans, he cares for him and is by his side. He also risks his life for his friend Boxer when Boxer is being taken away in a horse slaughterer van. As soon as he understands what the pigs have planned for boxer he alerts the other animals, in the process giving the pigs all the reason they need to execute him. Through these acts the reader infers that Benjamin cares for his fellow animals and although at times seeming spiteful, he has their best interests at heart. These qualities can be related back to the sceptics in Stalin’s era through the single-mindedness these sceptics would have only had their beliefs and would not have led anything or body change their views. He also can be loyal and caring for his fellow ‘comrades’ to keep them on his side and to retain friends in an era where is was so easy to have enemies.

To conclude, the text Animal Farm is one which is dependent on the understanding of the characters. Benjamin proves to be a stubborn animal who is single minded yet intelligent. He is a mysterious character who gains a position of respect and leadership amongst his peers. Benjamin’s characteristics combine to portray the sceptics of Stalinist Russia

Consent to Destruction: the Phases of Fraternity and Separation in Animal Farm

Within George Orwell’s simple allegory Animal Farm lie lessons about the complex bonds between leadership, fraternity, and self-agency. The animals are at first subjugated by humans in a communal voiceless suffering, but Old Major inspires them to mobilize their powerful fraternity for their own good. However, the readers cringe as the originally successful revolution becomes increasingly thwarted; first, the intelligent pigs take over; then, the government devolves into a military dictatorship which destroys the original fraternity by creating a schism between the pigs and the other animals. Though the working animals are separated from their leaders, once again they find comfort in a frightened togetherness. Thus, each phase of the revolution is a step in a cycle of unity and separation. However the cycle is imperfect since as the story closes, the animals are stranded, unable to act for themselves in the face of Squealer’s rhetoric; the power in their frightened unity can only be exploited by the pigs who, separated into a different category, do not have their interests at heart. The tragedy of the revolution is not simply that the pigs become even crueler oppressors than original man, but that at each step towards tyranny, it is the working animals themselves who are persuaded to give up their agency and consent to the increasingly terrorizing leadership. The animals first find their power in a visceral sense of brotherhood against humanity inspired by Old Major. Old Major divides the world into men and animals: “All men are enemies. All animals are comrades…Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers” (31). Despite their physical differences, all animals find something stirring in their anthem, Beasts of England. “The cows lowed it, the dogs whined it, the sheep bleated it, the horses whinnied it, the ducks quacked it”(34). Though each animal is irreconcilably different, they can all raise their voices to sing the same song of hope. Their power to overthrow men is derived from this awareness of themselves as animals, the antihumans. This collective sense also propels the animals through the incipient stages of their self-government after the revolution, and it is a version of what literary critic V.C. Letemendia calls “innate decency” (119). Their first harvest is the biggest in history not only because each animal works honestly hard, but also because “not an animal on the farm had stolen so much as a mouthful” during the harvest (46). The new government is stable because “Nobody stole, nobody grumbled over his rations…” (47) and the animals’ “decency” is generally reliable, with only a few exceptions like Mollie the vain mare and the never-present cat. The new government works swimmingly because, as Letemendia notes, the worker animals’ decency “provided them with an instinctive feeling of what a fair society might actually look like” (120). The majority of the animals do not crave power “for any personal gain” (120)—at least, not yet. The fraternity is still the overriding social force. However, their revolution and hardship contains the genesis of a new conflict. In addition to unity, concrete animal leadership is also required to benefit from their own immense power. That very leadership generates a schism between the leaders and the led. Right from the beginning, the “work of teaching and organizing the others fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognized as being the cleverest of the animals”(35). They expand Old Major’s ideas into a complete system of thought called Animalism, which emphasizes freedom from human oppressors and whose central tenets are summarized into seven commandments that oppose to all human characteristics. Thus, the pigs constantly inflame the animals’ anger and awareness of exploitation, which is essential overthrow of the humans. However, the pigs are “generally recognized” as cleverer; a distinction grows right from the start between the pigs and the rest of the animals. There is no competition; the pigs are “naturally” cleverer; they simply assume control and the unity of all the animals begins to fragment. Indeed, as the regime progresses, the original animal brotherhood deteriorates further. After Napoleon takes over, the animals do not “sit all together as they had done in the past. Napoleon, with Squealer and another pig named Minimus…sat on the front of the raised platform, with the nine young dogs forming a semicircle round them, and the other pigs sitting behind. The rest of the animals sat facing them in the main body of the barn” (70-71). Already, the pigs and the dogs are divided from the rest of the animals; two groups sit facing each other in a strong aura of opposition. After awhile, the division is so severe that only the pigs themselves really know what the pigs are doing. They move into the farmhouse, further segregating themselves from the working animals who can rely only on rumors and hearsay to discern whether the pigs are sleeping in beds. Time passes, and Napoleon is even elevated to quasi-godhood. He is so much of a leader, so different from the rest, that his food must be tasted and dogs must guard him day and night. He is so separated that he almost never appears in public and has Squealer speak for him. Thus, out of the original sense of brotherhood has grown a horrific chasm that divides the new leadership from the rest. We then appear to have returned to the miserable beginning with this new schism. Again, the oppressed find a fraternity in oppression: a union that may perhaps lead to another revolution. Just after Napoleon’s first violent executions, the animals, “except for the pigs and dogs,” instinctively creep away to brood “in a body”(93). As they are all “huddling together for warmth”(94), they tacitly share their shock and dismay over the bloodshed they have witnessed. This new fellowship is rooted in a wordless psychological rapport, much like the original sense of fraternity. One might be able to argue that since the animals are, at least physically speaking, in the same oppressed situation as they had been at the beginning of the book, another revolution might occur and the cycle might begin again. After all, they are in the perfect position for another leader to rise from among them, inflame their emotions and make them aware of their new oppression and its needlessness. True, once again the necessity of leadership might yet lead to another failed revolution; yet, a revolution might be possible nonetheless. If we return to Letemendia’s argument that the animals possess an “innate decency,” however, we can see that the animals are not quite in the same position as before; moreover, as long as that “innate decency” prevents them from comprehending “the true nature of the pigs” (120), they cannot tap their new potential power in unity. After the slaughter, Boxer still concludes that “It must be due to some fault in ourselves”(94); he cannot blame the pigs because his decency prevents him from recognizing that the pigs are not included in the fellowship of decent creatures: something of a paradox. Though Boxer is widely respected and admired for his tremendous working capabilities, even he cannot lead the animals to a possibly better future. In Clover’s mind, too, there is still “no thought of rebellion or disobedience”(95); she still “would remain faithful, work hard, carry out the orders that were given to her, and accept the leadership of Napoleon”(95). Though she feels the disillusionment keenly, she cannot express her feelings because she simply cannot comprehend why the picture is wrong. Hampered by their naive “innate decency,” the working animals are unable to translate their general disillusionment into action to correct the shortcomings of their government. Not only does their “innate decency” prevent them from recognizing the evil in their leaders, it is even exploited by Squealer until their oppression becomes consensual. Each time the pigs do something questionable, whether it is taking the milk and apples, resolving to trade with humans, or moving into the farmhouse, there is first a promising murmur of protest. However, though “some of the other animals murmured, it was no use”(52); that glimmer of self-agency dies as soon as Squealer delivers his rhetoric. For example, the animals blithely swallow Squealer’s statement that most pigs “actually dislike milk and apples…Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health”(52), because being unselfish themselves, they cannot imagine others being selfish. They have technically consented to the beginnings of injustice. When Napoleon wants to initiate trade with the humans, even though the animals question themselves—“never to have any dealings with human beings, never to engage in trade, never to make use of money—had not these been among the earliest resolutions passed?” (76)— Squealer exploits the lack of written records to ease their doubts until all animals are “satisfied”(77) and consenting. Any sparks of self-agency are mellowed into satisfaction. In his most significant speech, Squealer addresses the issue of agency and autonomy. He convinces the animals that only Napoleon can make the decisions, because they “might make the wrong decisions” for themselves (69). He paints leadership as “a deep and heavy responsibility”(69) rather than a place of privilege and power. Again, the animals are duped into believing the unselfish motives Squealer depicts because their naïve decency prevents them from knowing better. Thus, the “general feeling” becomes “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right” (70); they have consented to the hijacking of their ability to act for themselves. The pigs essentially manipulate the animals’ decency to extract from them a monstrous consent to their exploitation, thereby robbing the animals of all self-agency and ability to better themselves. Thus, though “innate decency” might have caused the animals’ initial fraternal success, it also brings upon their later inability to act for themselves. One is tempted to speculate that if only the animals were less passive and more ambitious their society might have failed less spectacularly. However, some of the pigs lack the problematic “innate decency” and do have the ambition which propels them to act for themselves. Ironically, within the homogeneous species of pigs there is more dangerous violence than there is between the diverse working animals. Obviously we see that Napoleon ruthlessly kills to consolidate his power and shamelessly lies through Squealer to keep his honored position. Right from the beginning there is conflict between Snowball and Napoleon. They cannot agree on whether to export the revolution to other farms or whether to shore up their own defenses. They constantly squabble over the windmill, and their enmity culminates in a military coup: Napoleon calls up his secretly reared dogs and violently expels Snowball from the farm. Even after that, the constant drive to secure his hard-won power pushes Napoleon to eliminate opposition from within his own ranks as well; his dogs savagely rip to pieces “the same four pigs as had protested when Napoleon abolished the Sunday Meetings” (92). Even the pigs, who might have a chance to fulfill aspirations to power, live in a world. The ambition that governs the pigs does not ensure their happiness or survival any more than the “innate decency” of the working animals. Society can be based on neither characteristic; the animals have a “decent” fraternity but are exploited; the pigs have self-agency but live in a dangerous culture of ruthless ambition. There are several tragedies in Animal Farm, then. One belongs to the working animals; their tragedy we can hardly bear to witness is the desecration of decency, consent, and self-agency. One of the final impressions of the animals we have is their irrepressible, utterly misguided hope. In the final chapter when life before revolution is almost less than a memory, they secretly hum their inspirational anthem of yore. They are convinced that though it “might be that their lives were hard and that not all of their hopes had been fulfilled…they were not as other animals…All animals were equal”(131). Though they live and work and feel together in a potentially powerful union, their naïve decency ensures their consent to their own destruction. The other tragedy belongs to the revolution and construction of society in Animal Farm at large. Even if the animals had the self-agency to revolt, the inevitable necessity for leadership would merely bring them along the same path of betrayal; if they had ambition instead of decency, they would be no better off. In the end there is little hope for permanent betterment of Animal Farm. Works Cited Letemendia, V.C.. “Revolution on Animal Farm: Orwell’s Neglected Commentary.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Animal Farm, ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999. 119-129. Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1996.

Old Major’s Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis

Animal Farm, a book by George Orwell, begins with a leader, an old, wise boar that delivers a speech after their tyrant owner, Mr. Jones, goes to sleep. He speaks about how the animals are oppressed at the farm, and allows them to see how badly they are treated. Old Major is in favor of a rebellion, and although he knows that he will die soon, he wanted to spread his ideas, later named Animalism, before he passed. During Old Major’s speech, the animals felt inspired, and they listened attentively before they all broke out singing “Beasts of England.” What got the animals to come and listen to Old Major was his wisdom, age, and the respect that he received from the animals on the farm; however, what made them listen was his skills in making a speech. He uses many effective rhetorical devices that give his speech more character, and to make it something worth listening to. In Old Major’s speech he uses repetition and rhetorical questions in order to emphasize the animals’ mistreatment and to get them to follow his ideas.

Throughout Old Major’s speech, he repeats words and phrases such as “comrades” and “all animals in England.” Both of these give the animals a sense of belonging, as he is not only addressing some animals specifically, but all of them. This creates an attentive environment because he had all of the animals listening to him for what they should all do in order to succeed in the rebellion. His repetition of the phrase “no animal” is used to set out a list of rules that the animals must follow in order to ensure that they must not come to resemble men, and to remind them of the tyranny that they have faced. For example, Old Major tells them that “no animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old.” This gives the animals at Manor Farm a feeling of sorrow, as it dawns upon them that they have been used their entire life. This can create animosity between Man and animals, which could make Old Major’s mission a success, due to the uprisings that it may cause. Along with the phrase “no animal,” Old Major repetitively uses the word “comrade.” His use of the word portrays him as an equal to the rest of the animals, and works to persuade them that he has experienced the oppression of Man along with the rest of them. His line “‘Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours?’” he is exemplifying the fact that, although he is lucky to have lived a full life, he is equal to the rest of the animals in the way that they have all been treated poorly. Although all of the animals respect Old Major, and look up to him, by relating to them with the repetition of “comrades” he creates a friendlier environment that allows him to persuade all of the farm animals. Relating to the rest of the animals will help the rebellion in the future, as it may inspire them to fight together despite their differences.

Together with repetition, Old Major uses many rhetorical questions in his speech. His use of rhetorical questions invoke an overwhelming amount of feelings within the animals such as anger, betrayal and blame. He also uses rhetorical questions to remind the animals of the brutality that they have faced. During his speech, Old Major angers the animals by asking them what Mr. Jones has allowed them to do with their own lives. Old Major did not expect them to answer the questions because he already knew the answers to them, as did the rest of the animals. However, his clever use of the question angers the animals enough to follow his ideas and start a rebellion. He also gains support for the rebellion by blaming all of the disasters on Man: “‘Is it not crystal clear, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours springs from the tyranny of human beings?’” Of course the uneducated, impressionable animals used this question to see that he blames the struggles that they have faced on the human race. As Old Major continues on with the speech, the animals begin to realize how terrible their lives have been. This only reminds them of the lowest points in their lives, and how they have no control over things like when they will have kids and what they will do with those children. Rhetorical questions give Old Major an overwhelming amount of support, which allows the animals to fight together, and win the rebellion against Man.

Old Major and his ideas clearly have a strong influence on the animals, as they are followed religiously even after his death. His iconic speech proves to be very influential due to his use of repetition and rhetorical questions. These rhetorical devices create a significant, and inspiring speech that expresses many ideas that are used throughout the rest of the book, and in real life today. Many people use Old Major’s speech as an example for standing up for a certain cause in real life situations, such as standing up to a bully which simply proves that his brilliant use of rhetorical devices create an encouraging message for people (and animals) to follow.

The Use of Language in 1984 and Animal Farm

The evolutionary aspect of the human race which sets it apart, in knowledge and complexity, from the rest of the animal kingdom, is its ability to express ideas through language. Arguably, our ability to manipulate language in order to negotiate, disseminate and create ideas, has allowed the human race to survive and prosper more than any other. And while it is often asserted that language is merely a tool to express our thoughts, language itself help conceptualize ideas. In addition to setting humans apart from the rest of the kingdom, it creates distinctions within classes of human society. George Orwell, an English novelist during the 20th century, discusses the importance of language in the social hierarchy of a society across his many eminent works. He posits that language factors into a society’s social hierarchy, an idea that manifests itself in two sub-arguments: that ruling powers can manipulate language to restrict thought, and that those without a strong understanding of language can easily be oppressed.

Orwell argues that language is a key component of thought; therefore, if language is manipulated in any way, will be compromised. In the novel 1984, one of Orwell’s key ideas is that language is a vital component of thought, as language defines the limits and structure of human ideas. The novel features a centralized ruling power, the Party, which attempts to rid English of words that could be used to conceive dissentful ideas by controlling the structure of the language. Specifically, these sentiments manifest themselves in the creation of Newspeak, a language of limited words to express a limited range of thoughts. The main character, Winston, is secretly opposed to the blind support for the party, or “bellyfeel,” and as a result does not approve of Newspeak. A devoted Party member, Syme, recognizes his distaste for the new language and attempts to explain the purpose of the language to Winston, asking “[d]on’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it” (51). The ultimate goal of the party is to create a language through which no conflicting ideas can ever be conceptualized, keeping it in power indefinitely. However, Orwell’s creation of hypothetical societies to highlight subliminal socio-political truths is not limited to 1984. In 1945, Orwell published Animal Farm, a novel that told the story of farm animals who rose up against their human masters to only soon be subservient to the pigs of the farm ‒ an allegory to the notorious Russian Revolution. Prior to and shortly after the rebellion, the pigs use the song “Beasts of England” to express their zealous revolutionary sentiment. Upon the creation of their new society, the leading pig, Napoleon, bans the song from the farm, as the rebellious language in the song could inform the animals of their situation and promote rebellion against the domineering pigs. Restricting the pigs from the language in the song guarantees that the pigs cannot think of revolution against Napoleon. As made clear in 1984 and Animal Farm, ruling parties can easily manipulate language to limit their population’s ability to form certain concepts or ideas.

While Orwell implies these ideas in different hypothetical societies, he specifically addresses his concerns regarding the English language in the essay “Politics and the English Language.” He points out that the relationship between language and thought is mutualistic, that as the English language becomes more decadent, “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts” (“Politics” 21). Furthermore, he asserts that the languages of countries that have fallen victim to dictatorial rule – he cites German, Russian and Italian as examples – “have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years.” In doing so, Orwell implies that in order to initially gain the support of a population, dictators must twist the way they use language, which in turn robs the language of its richness and truth. As insincere thought corrupts language, the thought which language expresses corrupts as well, resulting in an on-going cycle of linguistic and ideological decadence. By explaining the interdependency between thought and language, he explicates the ease with which language can be manipulated in order to corrupt and effectively restrict thought.

His works also underscore that those lacking a strong understanding of language are easily subordinated with no way of acknowledging or challenging their situation. In Animal Farm, many of the animals are illiterate and are able to comprehend neither the conditions to which they are subjected on the farm nor the social structure of the farm. Through the cunning use of language, the pigs are able to convince the other animals to stay subservient to them without the animals recognizing it as such. Namely, the pigs intelligently alter the farm’s rules to take advantage of the others; while the commandments of farm life are initially intuitive and serve to protect the rights of all the animals, the pigs secretly alter the commandments to their liking when opportunities arise to elevate themselves to more rights. If the animals were able to comprehend the meaning of the original written commandments, they would realize that the new ones differed logically. This is specifically clear in the case of the final commandment, which initially reads “ [a]ll animals are equal,” (Animal Farm 8) but is changed to “[a]ll animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” (Animal Farm 80). While the altered commandment is a logical fallacy, and hence has no meaning, the animals’ illiteracy makes them unable to comprehend it as such; this is also true for the alterations of most of the other commandments. The pigs also distort language to justify the difference in food rations between the pigs and the others, asserting that “[a] too rigid equality in rations … would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism (Animal Farm 97).” Since Old Major’s ideas of Animalism called for an equal distribution of goods, the first clause of the sentence is nonsensical because equality has no shades of intensity: it cannot be “too rigid.” However, the animals’ illiteracy prevents them from realizing this, so they comply with the pigs. Of course, if they understood the true meaning of the circumlocutory and distorted language that the pigs used, they would have been able to acknowledge and resist their oppression. The pigs also successfully simplify their language to better control the farm animals. Early on, Snowball attempts to establish a true Marxist society as proposed by Old Major, one in which all animals are treated equally and justly. He gives impassioned speeches about his plans for the farm which, if the farm animals could comprehend, would benefit all the animals. However, Napoleon, another pig, has more selfish intentions; and in order to gain the support of the farm, introduces short, popular catchphrases such as “Four legs good, two legs bad” (Animal Farm 37). These simple phrases resonate with the unknowing animals and Napoleon is able to edge Snowball out of political influence by convincing the animals that Snowball is working against the goals of the farm. The animals’ inability to comprehend Snowball’s genuine yet complex language results in their support for a leader whose only hopes are the escalation of his own power and luxury. Orwell furthers these ideas in “Politics and the English Language,” in which he laments the overuse of certain words – such as “Fascism” and “Democracy” – that have lost meaning in contemporary writing, asking “[s]ince you don’t know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism?” (“Politics” 29). Throughout his writing Orwell makes evident that those without a strong understanding of language can easily be politically dominated.

Across his works, Orwell presents the idea that language is a prime tool of oppression, an idea shown by the manipulation of language to restrict thought and the easy subjugation of those who are linguistically deficient. His discussion of the relationship between language and oppression is concentrated in his works 1984, Animal Farm, and “Politics and the English Language.” The consequences of the decadence of language that he discusses in the final of these is illustrated in the fictional storylines of the previous two, highlighting the importance of language in resisting oppression. In the same way language has long given man dominion over the rest of the animal kingdom, the optimal use of language has allowed man to rule over others of his kind. In instances of social and political oppression today, individualistic and revolutionary thought is one of the only powers which the oppressed hold over their oppressors; and language is often the vessel by which these thoughts are formed and spread. In that sense, therefore, the most effective way to fight back against social and political oppression today is to make sure that those being oppressed hold on to their unadulterated language and pass it down to those who will follow.