Political Views In Animal Farm

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When I first received the invitation to speak about a fable that has stood the test of time, my mind immediately went to the famous like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”; “The Tortoise and The Hare” and “The Ugly Duckling “ but none were greater than the legendary “Animal Farm”. Animal Farm is a fable and political expression as, like every fable, uses animals instead of people, reflecting the person’s real personality as well as having hidden meanings at every corner for those who look hard enough.

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Animal Farm was published in 1945, England by Eric Blair under the pen name George Orwell to avoid the embarrassment of his family. It was initially rejected by 4 publishers before he found someone who would publish it because of its radical views on communism and totalism, as well as being seen as too controversial to print during wartime as the USSR was one of their strongest allies.

Though the book had strong political views, Eric decided to print it as a fable to appeal not just to the intellectual, but also to the masses as well as making it more effective as the animals appearance and character was an accurate and simple way of portraying the Russian Revolution. It shows how no matter how hard you may strive for equality, no matter what your intention may be to start, such power corrupts even the most pure soul.

In Animal Farm, Squealer represents the propaganda Stalin used to manipulate the people during the russian revolution of 1917. Throughout the book, Squealer was Napoleon’s mouthpeace and the animals mind, using a multitude of persuasion techniques to manipulate the other animals and Boxer to do as he wanted. He uses everything from emotional appeal to repetition and lying to achieve comrade Napoleon’s goals. This is first seen in the first harvest after the animals take over the farm. Squealer immediately steps in and takes all the milk and apples from the other animals by playing with their fears and by exploiting the fact that they are uneducated by stating everything as a fact saying,“Comrades, You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege?… It is or YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples… If we pigs fail our jobs Jones will come back!” With the threat of Jones return, the animals are all too happy to allow the pigs to take their hard earned harvest. This is the first evidence that a seed of corruption has been planted on the farm.

The second time this theme of power and corruption surfaces is when the animals decide to elect a leader. Initially, there were two candidates: Snowball and Napoleon but snowball was chased of the farm by dogs that Napoleon had raised. Thought the animals were shocked and scared by this, none protested as they were scared of the dogs. Napoleon then proceeds to announce that there weekly meetings were cancelled and that from now on only the pigs would have a say in the matters, presided by him of course. Though some pigs started to protest, there cries were soon silenced by the dogs. This causes a slight unrest among the animals but Squealer quickly jumps in saying “’Comrades… Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? Suppose you had decided to follow Snowball, with his moonshine of windmills– Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal?’ This plays at both the animals sense of freedom and fear, by making it seem as though they had a choice in the matter and asking rhetorical questions that he answered himself as he does not want the animals to think, he does the thinking for them, implementing Napoleon’s ideas. Afterwards, Boxer thinks about this, but since snowball had done the thinking for him, he agreed with these statements and from then on adopted the maxim, “Napoleon is always right.” This shows how powerful propaganda can be when it is simply accepted as fact, it can start to leak into your every thought and be the only thing you can think about.

As this seed continues to grow into a rose, its thorns start to become evident around the farm, causing chaos and pain, especially for Boxer. Boxer represents the dedicated but manipulated Russian citizens during the revolution. He believed whatever was told to him and did not critique a single thing that came out of Squealers mouth, which ended badly for him. Even when Old Major warns him that, “The very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, you will be sent to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the fox-hounds”, he takes the warning with a grain of salt. Throughout Napoleon’s reign, Boxer works tirelessly, refusing breaks, drinking only the lies of Squealer and doing tenfold that of the other animals, and when ever a set back arose, he would get back to work saying “I will work harder.” This shows a positive aspect propaganda can have on people. It can make them perform over and beyond any expectations and, in the right hands, could be used for great good in the world. But this work life takes a toll on Boxer and he eventually gets sick and can no longer work. Though he was promised healing at a hospital, Napoleon instead calls the knackers instead who take him away. As the animals are illiterate they do not realise that it isn’t a veterinarian van. Later in the day, Squealer appeals to the animals love of boxer and uses emotive language, to exploit Boxer’s death inorder to strengthen Napoleon’s grip on the animals saying ‘Nearing the end of his life, almost too weak to speak, he whispered in my ear that his sole sorrow was to have passed on before the windmill was finished. ‘Forward, comrades!’ he whispered. ‘Forward in the name of the Rebellion. Long live Animal Farm! Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right. Those were his very last words, comrades.’ The animal immediately lap up these lies and push on with building the windmill, believing that they were fulfilling a dying horse wish when in reality they are fulfilling a living pigs desire.

Animal Farm brings to light the dangers of blindly accepting everything that is told to you. Had the Russians taken even a moment to compare what life was like before and after the revolution, as well as why they had a revolution in the first place, they would have recognised the corruption present in Napoleon and tried to make a stand. Instead, they believed everything told to them, resulting in millions being killed and many more being tortured.  

29 April 2022

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