Many authors construct themes through their novels to deliver their personal point of view on a particular matter occurring within society. This is dominantly reflected in the 1945 novel, ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell (Eric Blaire). The novel ‘Animal Farm’ is centralised among the story of the animals that live on Manor Farm, where they are dictated by their cruel master Mr Jones. Under the inspiration of a pig named Old Major, the animals rebel against Mr Jones and overthrow him.
They decide to construct their own farm, which they plan to be a utopia where ‘all animals are equal’. However; after the death of Old Major, corruption arises and many of the animals, who are lacking intelligence, live in a state of oblivion. Although ‘Animal Farm’ is under the disguise of a fable about domestic animals, it is also allegorical of the events of the Russian Revolution, the Communist Manifesto and The Russian Civil War.
The author, George Orwell has created numerous themes within the novel, namely; ‘‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’, ‘simple minds fall subject to propaganda’ and ‘the abuse of language can contribute to the abuse of power’, all of which he creates through the use of many intricate writing techniques. ‘Animal farm’ was written to be focused on the story of rebelling animals. However; it both constructs and reinforces many themes. The technique of propaganda was used during the time of the Russian Revolution to manipulate those with simple minds and in particular, the Bolshevik community.
They were induced into committing to the campaign of Dr Goebbels and Joseph Stalin. Propaganda is the term used to describe the form of commandment that is intended at influencing the attitude of a community toward a certain issue. The novel ‘Animal Farm’ co-responds to the theme ‘simple minds fall subject to propaganda’, much like the events in history. This is shown through the characterisation of Boxer, Mollie and the Sheep. Through the use of Squealer’s propaganda, Napoleon was able to take advantage of the Animal’s ignorance.
This is dominantly mirrored in the example of Boxer, who supplies physical labour for Napoleon and is returned with his betrayal and death. Boxer, a strong male horse was constructed by Orwell as the hardworking proletariat devoted to Animal Farm. However; he has a simple mind and could not foresee his own doom. Boxer’s prolonged dedication to work made him weaker and deteriorated his well being. After an accident that damaged his lung, Napoleon decided to send him to a veterinary in Willingdon: “… The animals crowded round the van. ‘Goodbye, Boxer’ they chorused. ‘Fools!
Do you not see what is written on the side of that van? That gave the animals pause, and there was a hush. Muriel began to spell out the words. But Benjamin pushed her aside and in the midst of a deadly silence he read: ‘Alfred Simmmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone Meal. Kennels Supplied. Do you not understand what that means? They are taking Boxer to the Knacker’s! ” (Pg 82) Instead of being properly treated, Boxer was sold to the knackers. So that the animals did not distrust the regime of Napoleon, Squealer crafted a speech to realign the animals: “…
It was the most affecting sight I have ever seen! ’ said Squealer, lifting his trotter and wiping away a tear. ‘I was at his bedside at the very last. And at the end, almost too weak to speak, he whispered in my ear that his sole sorrow was to have passed on before the windmill has finished. ‘Forward comrades. Forward in the name of the rebellion. Long live Animal Farm! Long live comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right. ’ Some of the animals had noticed that the van which took Boxer was marked ‘horse slaughterer’ and actually jumped to the conclusion that Boxer has been sent to the Knacker’s.
The explanation was really very simple. The van had been the property of the Knacker, which had been bought by the veterinary surgeon, who had not yet painted the name out. The animals were enormously relieved to hear this. ”(pg 83) Squealer’s speech is an obvious illustration of propaganda. It contains emotive language, where Squealer states, while crying that Boxer’s death was affecting. This allows the reader to assume that the story told by Squealer is simply a masquerade for his true intentions, to sell Boxer to be able to ‘buy themselves another case of whisky’.
It also includes deceptive statements, claiming that the van was property of the Knackers and that the vet simply forgot to paint it over. This allows the reader to assume that the explanation was far too unconfirmed to be true. As the animals believe Squealer’s speech, this therefore constructs the theme of ‘simple minds fall subject to propaganda’. One character, Mollie is depicted by Orwell to be a ‘foolish white mare’ who was excessively materialistic. After the rebellion, Mollie was not permitted to wear ribbons as they were a sign of human relation nor consume sugar lumps.
She was shown not to be supportive of the farm work and usually was late. Eventually, she becomes progressively nostalgic towards the luxuries that Mr Jones gave her and leaves Animal Farm to relive her luxurious life in Foxwood farm. Mollie is allegorical of the wealthy white Russians; referred to as the ‘Bourgeoisie’. They were people who did not care about the revolution, but instead their own welfare and fled to another nation, where they could maintain their self indulging lifestyles.
Mollie and her actions strengthen and construct the theme of ‘simple minds fall subject to propaganda’ as she abandons an independent life without luxury and is drawn towards life under dictatorship, where she remains preoccupied with material rather than spiritual or intellectual things. In the novel ‘Animal Farm’, the sheep were used by Orwell to represent the demographic of people who provided unconditional support to the regime set out by Stalin. The sheep are characterised to be unintelligent and simplify one of Old Major’s seven commandments, saying ‘four legs good, two legs bad’.
However; in the final chapter, the sheep are led out to a piece of waste land, where they spent days browsing at leaves under Squealer’s supervision. They remained for weeks, where Squealer taught them a new song. The sheep are then taught to repeat ‘four legs good, two legs better’, to validate the pigs walking on two legs. Squealer brainwashes the sheep with propaganda, saying that two legs are better than four. This example therefore highlights that the sheep, with simple minds do fall subject to Squealer’s propaganda.
One of the major focus themes of ‘Animal Farm’ is the way in which the abuse of language, such as the changing or twisting words and their meanings can contribute to the abuse of power. The pigs continually add clauses onto Old Major’s original commandments to both justify their corruption and maintain their tyranny over the animals. A Dominant examples of the abuse of language is the massacre of animals. A predominant commandment of Animalism, is that ‘no animal shall kill another’. However; this is very much contradicted by Napoleon when he decides to engage in the trading of materials with other farms.
To fund the trading, Napoleon decides to contract the hens to give up their eggs. However; the eggs were into the stage of incubation and taking them would be considered murder. The hens then decide to lay their eggs on the rafters, where the eggs would smash onto the floor, sparking the rebellion within the rebellion. Napoleon is then outraged with this decision and stops the rations being given to the hens. Nine hens die as a result and a meeting is called to allow animals to confess their treachery towards animal farm: “… Napoleon now called upon them to confess their crimes.
Without any further prompting, they confessed that they had been secretly in touch with Snowball ever since his expulsion, that they had collaborated with him in destroying the windmill, and that they had entered into an agreement to hand over Animal Farm to Mr Frederick. When they had finished their confession the dogs promptly tore their throats out. The three hens who had been the ringleaders in the attempted rebellion over the eggs came forward and stated that Snowball appeared to them in a dream and incited them to disobey Napoleon’s orders. They too were slaughtered. (pg 56) By killing the three pigs and the hens, this conflicted with the sixth commandment. When the sixth commandment was read, it stated: ‘no animal shall kill any other animal without cause’. The above example constructs the theme of ‘the abuse of language, such as the changing or twisting words and their meanings can contribute to the abuse of power’ by adding ‘without cause’ to the sixth commandment to authorise the murder of several animals. The quote ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ was firstly introduced by John Dalberg-Acton.
The author, George Orwell uses the techniques of propagandist dialogue and imagery to promote the quote as a theme and parallel it through the novel. Following the death of Old Major, Napoleon then appoints himself as the leader of Animal Farm. With the assistance of his propagandist, Squealer, he is able to persuade the animals into ignoring his corruption. The theme ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is exemplified in the text, where milk produced by the cows was discovered to be missing. The milk was ‘assumed as a matter of course that these would be shared equally’.
However; it was discovered that it was mixed daily into the pig’s mash. Squealer, in an attempt to resolve conflict, creates a propagandist speech to provide a reasonable explanation for taking the milk: “… Comrades! He cried. 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. Our sole object is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by science comrades) contain substances necessary to the well being of a pig.
Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed our duty? Jones would come back. ” (Pg 23) Squealer’s speech is explains that as the pigs are the brain of the farm and physically require milk and apples to maintain it. However; they use their position within the hierarchy of Animal Farm as justification for taking the milk and isolating it to themselves, therefore constructing and reinforcing the theme of ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. An important concept created by Old Major was that ‘in fighting man we must never come to resemble him’.
However; as the story progresses his entire original seven commandments are broken and altered in some way. At the end of the novel, the farmers from Foxwood and Pinchfield are invited to make a tour of inspection of Animal Farm. While a game of cards is played, conflict arises, presenting the audience with a juxtaposed image of Old Major’s concepts: “… Yes a violent quarrel was in progress. The source of trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr Pilkington played an ace of spades simultaneously.
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. ” The image presented above symbolically conveys that as the pigs have accumulated all the power within Animal Farm; they have become so corrupt that they have overwritten all the original commandments and resembled their enemy, both through their actions and through their appearance.
Therefore, through the use of imagery the theme of ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is constructed. The text ‘Animal Farm’, although an allegorical fable does in fact construct many themes. Specifically, ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’; through imagery and propagandist dialogue, ‘simple minds fall subject to propaganda’; through the characterisation of the animals and ‘the abuse of language contributes to the abuse of power’; through dialogue. ‘Animal Farm’ is a novel which is both informative about context and an enjoyable book that should be read by all.