5). Describe at least one memorable idea in the text
Explain why this idea was memorable to you.
A memorable idea in George Orwell’s allegorical ‘Animal Farm’ is propaganda. This idea is developed throughout the novella in the form of Squealer’s persuasive techniques of manipulation. Squealer is a porker who represents the head of Communist propaganda, Vyacheslav Molotov and the Soviet propaganda newspaper, PRAVDA - which only contained what the Russian government allowed the population to hear. ‘Animal Farm’ is set in England, however, the events occurring in the novel are based on the actions of Joseph Stalin during the Russian political upheaval (1917-1945). Orwell made this important idea memorable through the use of anthropomorphic animals as it communicates the message of how words can be used as a tool of manipulation, in a way that is easy to understand. The characters have a sense of human emotion, allowing us to make connections and relate to them.
George Orwell wrote ‘Animal Farm’ to serve as a warning against Totalitarianism. He did this after believing the rise of NAZI Germany and Communist Russia - Totalitarian states with abuses of power that led to the deaths of millions. Orwell uses Napoleon, a Berkshire boar, to represent Joseph Stalin and Snowball, a white pig, to represent Leon Trotsky. Trotsky was Stalin’s rival for power. Orwell shows through anthropomorphism how the pigs represent the Soviet Union’s manipulation on its people.
Squealer uses euphemisms as a means of manipulation. He uses the animals’ ignorance to his advantage by saying words they don’t understand. In chapter 9, Squealer substitutes the word ‘reduction’ for ‘readjustment’ when referring to the rations of food production. This figurative language creates an illusion by concealing the negative happenings on the farm to keep the animals oblivious. Euphemisms are polite ways of replacing an unpleasant phrase. This is manipulation as the animals lack of knowledge prohibits them from understanding the true meaning. Squealer is clever with his use of words, twisting the animals perception of reality. Teenagers today are naive, believing what is said despite the fact that they do not completely understand. It is difficult to distinguish the truth on social media, as there are many different versions of how something can be said.
Mark Twain’s quote ‘there are lies, damn lies and statistics,’ is relevant to the events in chapter 8. Squealer manipulates the animals through the use of statistics when it is said ‘on Sunday mornings Squealer, holding down a long strip of paper with his trotter, would read out to them lists of figures proving the production of every class of foodstuff had increased by 200 per cent, 300 per cent or 500 per cent, as the case might be. The animals saw no reason to disbelieve him, especially as they could no longer remember very clearly what the conditions had been like before the rebellion.’ Squealer controls how the animals perceive information, convincing them that times are better now compared to Jone’s rule, despite the lack of food production from their tiresome efforts. This links into the theme appearance vs reality. Statistical fallacies can be used as a way of lying by using numbers which sound appealing but have no meaning. This is common today as we can be misled into believing false information if we are ignorant, unaware that we are not seeing the whole picture.
Logical fallacies are shown through the form of Snowball. Squealer and Napoleon use Snowball as a scapegoat when the windmill is ruined. In reality, the windmill collapsed due to a weak foundation, however, Napoleon could not risk appearing as an inadequate leader. Snowball is the enemy, therefore he is to blame for the occurring failures instead of Napoleon taking responsibility for his mistakes - the inability to come up with ideas to contribute to the improvement of the farm. In chapter 7, the animals were manipulated to associate disasters with Snowball, ‘whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball.’ The pigs create an external threat (Snowball) to keep the animals in line.
Fear is the primary form of propaganda used by Squealer. It can be seen when Snowball is used as a distraction to keep the animals afraid and refrain from questioning the success of the farm. After it is said that Snowball was Jone’s secret agent, ‘the animals were thoroughly frightened.’ The result of the animal’s ignorance left them unsure of the truth. Their fear is symbolic of the fear that existed during Communist Russia under Stalin’s rule. There was no trust among the population due to paranoia from the KGB spying on everyone. Stalin used this fear as a way to keep people under control so that nobody would challenge his rule.
Another example of using fear as a means of control is the threat of Mr Jones’ return. If an animal contradicted the way Napoleon ordered the farm, Squealer would intimidate them by saying ‘you wouldn’t want Jones to come back, would you?’ This led to the animals being obedient to save themselves, resulting in the pigs gaining additional power to continue abusing their privileges. The animals would mindlessly agree to the pigs receiving special treatments including the obtainment of all the milk and apples. This was for the pigs needing ‘brainfood’ to ensure the exile of Mr Jones was permanent. The animals were motivated by the fear of Mr Jones’ return, willing to suffer from lack of food. Manipulation to maintain power is relevant today as a population in fear will obey all orders. This allows you to be easily controlled by those in authority. Teenagers are influenced by daily exposure to social media and it’s negative, deceiving impacts. Being educated will reduce your ability to believe the fear placed in front of you, when in reality it is not true.
The negative effects of communism taken to extremes are shown in the novella. This is applicable today as countries throughout the world continue to experience communism, such as North Korea and China. Communist parties use propaganda by restricting what the population sees and how they see it. This allows the population to believe the government is always right, as is it perceived to be that way.
Propaganda is an important idea in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, shown through the character Squealer. It is made memorable through the representation of anthropomorphic animals. Manipulation can be in the form of lies and fear not only in the story, however, in reality, too. This is relevant as teenagers are exposed to social media and must be educated to not be manipulated by the lies told.