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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Classic Novel – Animal Farm
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the character Napoleon is an extravagantly evil character who uses military force (his nine attack dogs) to intimidate and control the other animals. In his incomparable deceit and cunning, Napoleon proves more treacherous than his counterpart, Snowball. Indeed, from the very beginning of the novel, Napoleon emerges as a selfish, corrupt opportunist. Though he is present at all meetings of the newly formed state, Napoleon never makes any contribution to the revolution of the animals. Napoleon never shows any interest in the strength of Animal Farm itself, only in his power and control over it. The only project he truly undertakes with any enthusiasm is the raising of a litter of puppies. Though he does not educate the dogs for their own well being, but rather for his own good (it is this litter that becomes his own private army of attack dogs.) As Napoleon’s power and influence over the animals spread his tyrannical and brutal personality becomes ever more apparent. Napoleon’s character, in truth, possesses few if any admirable qualities and is more marked by the brutality, tyranny, deception, and corruption of the archetypal totalitarian ruler.
In Animal Farm, the pig Squealer abuses language to justify Napoleon’s actions and policies to the lower class animals by whatever means necessary. Through manipulation, such as when he teaches the sheep in Animal Farm to bleat “Four legs good, two legs better!” whenever any of the animals begin to object to Napoleon’s policies, Squealer limits any chance for the working animals to object and speak their minds. By complicating language unnecessarily, he confuses and intimidates the uneducated but earnest, working animals such as when he explains that pigs, who are the “brainworkers” of the farm, consume milk and apples not for pleasure, but for the good of their comrades. Furthermore, Squealer employs jargon (“tactics, tactics”) as well as false statistics, to create a sense of self-doubt, confusion and helpless in all the “lower class animals” (all but the dogs and pigs). Squealer’s lack of conscience and unwavering, unconditional loyalty to his leader, alongside his equivocal and eloquent speeches, make him the perfect propagandist for Napoleon’s reign. It is this combination of un-admirable qualities that marks the character of Squealer the pig.
Granted, Orwell’s Animal farm is a fictitious fairy story, and in keeping with such fables, set in an unspecified time period devoid of historical references that would allow the reader to date the story precisely. Consequently, there are no time elements of the story that are pertinent to the plot except those regarding the machinery and technology used in the certain areas of the farm. On the other hand, there are various places that have a direct and symbolic pertinence to the story’s plot. The Animal Farm itself is physically located between two other farms that take turns in providing an enemy for Napoleon to unite the lower class animals under. This unity is a paramount example of the manipulation that Napoleon and the other pigs use to distract the lower class animals from the reality of their abhorred living conditions. Additionally, the barn and windmill play important roles in the plot of the story with their roles in the seven commandments of animalism and forced labor of the lower class animals, respectively.
Admittedly, Orwell wrote Animal Farm with a political subtext. The pig Napoleon and his counterpart Snowball are actually based on Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky, respectively, and the events that take place in the book are meant to reflect the actual events that took place during the Russian revolution in the 1940’s. Orwell’s negative portrayal of the of the actions of the pig Napoleon implies a negative view of the socialist values and ideologies of Stalin and Trotsky. These are values that hold very strongly especially I 21st century democratic America. Additionally, the actions of the pigs as they reflect very basic aspects of human nature such as greed will always compare to preset values.
Additionally, one of the themes of Animal farm is that the ignorance and unwillingness to question authority condemns the working class to suffer the full extent of a ruler’s oppression. Animal Farm is not told from the perspective of any particular character, though. Instead, the story is told from the perspective of the common, lower class animals as a whole. These animals give Orwell a chance to explain how situations of oppression arise not only from the manipulation and tactics of the oppressors but also from the naïveté of the oppressed, who are not necessarily in a position to be better educated or informed. For example, when presented with a dilemma, Boxer prefers not to work out the implications of various possible actions but instead to repeat to himself his maxim, “Napoleon is always right.” Also, the inability of many animals to read properly limits them in being ale to dispute the lies spread y the pigs. Animal Farm, in this way demonstrates the importance of education, free-thinking, among the population.
Finally, the pig Napoleon experiences several different types of conflicts in the story. The foremost of these being his fighting with snowball (a man vs. man conflict). Also his role in separating the pigs from the rest of the animals represents a large scale man vs. society conflict on the farm. Both of the conflicts are solved by Napoleon’s use of cunning, deception, ad ruthlessness. Specifically, the problem of Snowball’s growing popularity on the farm is solved by driving him off the farm with the attack dogs. The Situation with the societal stratification, on the other hand was a slow and gradual process that required the use of propaganda and a gradual altering of the common animals collective memory.
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