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Significance Of Language In Animal Farm Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 1832 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The end of World War II, the detonation of the atomic bomb, and the start of the Cold War, all took place during 1945. However, what also took place that year was the publishing of George Orwell’s, Animal Farm. Through the use of animals, the novel mocks certain human traits and characteristics. It depicts man’s greed and selfishness as part of human nature and how innocent bystanders are swept under and destroyed by these selfish, heartless people. Orwell’s transformation of the pigs into humans shocks the reader who eventually realizes the tremendous similarities that humans have with the pigs in the novel. A recurring theme in this novel is how language can be manipulated as an instrument of control. From the inspiring song, “Beasts of England” to the commandments and the changing of them by Napoleon, the main source of power throughout the novel is language and the use of rhetoric. Without the correct use of language and the power of words in Animal Farm, the rebellion never would have taken place and certainly the end result of Napoleon’s complete takeover would never have happened. Through Napoleon’s manipulative characteristics, the gullibility of the animals of the farm and the impressive rhetorical and propaganda skills of Squealer, reality is shaped by words.

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In the beginning of the novel, Napoleon shows no concern in what the animals do and leaves most of the leadership work and inspirational speeches to Snowball. Napoleon is described as, “…not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way,” (Orwell, 25). This foreshadows Napoleon’s future behaviour because later on in the novel, he takes on more of a Stalin-like role in the farm. Unable to effectively speak in public, he uses Squealer to talk to the animals of the farm and get them under control. However, being unable to speak effectively in public doesn’t hold him back from taking control. To maintain power, he uses many different types of propaganda techniques, one of which being, using Snowball as scapegoat. Napoleon blames the farm’s failures on Snowball who is no where to be found so he cannot deny or confirm any truth of what is said. For instance, when Boxer questions the loyalty of Snowball, Napoleon tells Squealer to announce that “Snowball was Jones’s agent from the very beginning”. (Orwell, chpt.6) Boxer, being the loyal and gullible animal he is, admits that “if Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.” (Orwell, chpt.6) Not only does Napoleon use Snowball as scapegoat, so that he can secure his position, he alters the seven commandments to legitimize what he does (drink alcohol, sleep in beds, deal with humans). At this point in the history of the farm, the pigs do not quite have enough power to do what they like and Squealer is forced to change the Commandments to fit new circumstances. Meaning, the pigs haven’t yet fully gained the trust of the animals of the farm and therefore need to alter the commandments secretively. The first alteration to the Commandments comes after the pigs move back into the farmhouse. As the pigs slowly adapted to the ways of humans, they started sleeping on beds. The ban on sleeping in beds was changed in Napoleon’s favour by the addition of the words ‘with sheets’. When Clover questions the sleeping in beds of the pigs, she finds that the fourth commandment says, “‘No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.” (Orwell, chpt.5) Clover doesn’t quite remember the ‘with sheets’ being there and eventually concludes that “it must have been there,” (Orwell, chpt.5) Due to Clover’s faulty memory she wasn’t able to recognize this alteration.

From drinking alcohol to murder, and everything in between, Napoleon abused the seven commandments of Animalism and was never rebelled against, not once. This was due to all the animals of the farm being very gullible, to such an extent, that they didn’t realize what was really going on. The gullibility of the animals played an important role in taking Napoleon to the top. He relies on the gullibility of the strongest animals, like Boxer the horse, and the apathy of the wisest, like Benjamin the donkey. When anyone questions Napoleon’s version of history, he has a herd of sheep chant loudly over their protests. In Chapter nine, we read of the tragic death of Boxer, the veteran of the “Battle of the Cowshed” and the “Battle of the Windmill.” Boxer’s motto had always been “I will work harder,” (Orwell, chpt.3) and it is precisely this over exertion in rebuilding the windmill which finally causes his death. One day he collapses and is taken away to the slaughterhouse where his body parts are commercially exploited. When the animals question this tragic death, they are yet again fooled by Squealer. “The animals were relieved to hear [that, he had received] admirable care [and] expensive medicine for which Napoleon had paid without a thought as to the cost, ,” (Orwell, chpt.8).They are told that Boxer was given the best of the best treatment, however, couldn’t survive. The animals, being gullible, calmly agree with him and are told to work even harder since Boxer is not there to help anymore. In chapter 5, when the pigs were found sleeping in beds, Clover thought that there was surely a definite rule against sleeping in beds. “Muriel,” she said, “read me the Fourth Commandment. Does it not say something about never sleeping in a bed?” (Orwell, chpt.5) However, Squealer came along to explain that “a bed is merely a place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention. We have removed the sheets from the far…” (Orwell, chpt.5) Clover eventually agreed as she could not remember and because Squealer was thought as a friend, she accepted what he said and didn’t argue any further. “All that year the animals worked like slaves.” (Orwell, 63) The animals thought that by obeying the pigs, they were preventing the farm from disbanding. Orwell is quite literally suggesting that even if a smart person or leader says something, it cannot be assumed to be true, as demonstrated by politicians. Propaganda only succeeds if people are gullible.

Squealer, described as quite the tricky pig, takes advantage of the other animals’ ignorance and exploits it to an unimaginable level. Squealer has all the characteristics of a successful orator; he is charismatic, intelligent, emotional, persuasive, and even hypnotic. Above all, through the use of correct words and rhetoric, he is able to manipulate language in order to gain the confidence of the animals of the farm. Squealer, being the most powerful weapon which Napoleon possesses, uses his extraordinary skills to bring Napoleon to such a height of success. Squealer constantly puts particular spins on events and conditions and he uses slogans and such to help control the other animals. For instance, when the animals question the pigs getting all the apples and milk, he replies,

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 the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples (Orwell, chpt.3).

Squealer often uses comrades to give the animals a title, a position, which really makes them feel important, useful and in place. However, when it comes to them questioning the actions of the pigs, Squealer often threatens the animals that Mr. Jones will come back, “Surely, comrades, surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?” (Orwell, chpt.3) It continues to say how the animals certainly do not want Mr. Jones back. “The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious” (Orwell, chpt.3) This comes to show how Squealer has the animals so deeply convinced, that they don’t know what is actually happening. Also, Squealer often uses certain slogans that drum ideas into their head, rather than having them think about anything. Slogans such as, “Tactics, comrades, tactics” (Orwell, chpt.5) are used to get the interest of the animals and have them thinking about what they are doing wrong. This displays Squealer’s ability to use certain words and slogans to not only convince the animals, but have them happily agree with him. Although Squealer is a porker pig, he plays almost the main character in the novel. Without Squealer’s ability to persuade, Napoleon was to get nowhere. By giving Squealer such a role, Orwell is suggesting that one doesn’t have to look intelligent to be intelligent, but, in fact, must know how to use their intelligence correctly, for good or for bad.

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The main source of power was from the correct use of rhetoric and language. Through Napoleon’s manipulative characteristics, the gullibility of the animals of the farm and the impressive rhetorical and propaganda skills of Squealer, reality was shaped by words. Animal farm discreetly gives out warning signs on life and what to expect of people. Using animals on a farm, Orwell tells about an unstable fight for power. Hidden warnings found in the book depend on the reader. Orwell mainly pushes the points of education as a necessity of life, there is no peace when striving for power, and words have a very large impact on the minds of others. Many things in life can be used as a warning but it is unfortunate that the warnings aren’t usually noticed until it is too late. None of the animals knew how much education meant, or how much the greed for power had taken over, or even that they were being lied to through the words of those very convincing pigs. By demonstrating how easily swayed the animals of the farm are by a powerful speech or strong words, Orwell is demonstrating the human vulnerability to carefully chosen words and our unfortunate ability to fall victim to the power of words without understanding the deeper meanings behind them.

Work Cited

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company.1946. Print.

Orwell, George. “George Orwell – Animal Farm.” George Orwell – Complete Works, biography, Quotes, Essays. Web. 14 Jan. 2011. .


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