Although Animal Farm is often seen only as an allegory of the Russian Revolution, it also has important messages for readers today. Explain how Orwell uses three of the following to convey these messages: Moses, Mollie, Benjamin, Squealer, and the cat.
Animal Farm is an intriguing allegory based on the rituals of the Russian Revolution. The theme of Animal Farm is not difficult to understand. Orwell intended to criticise the communist regime. This story is a condemnation of totalitarian society based on the Russian Revolution and its betrayal by Stalin. The animals are dissatisfied by their servitude to the humans so they take over the farm after overthrowing humans. However, the animals are betrayed by the pigs, who adopt the commandment, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Orwell uses his allegorical farm to actually symbolise the communist regime. It teaches us, in the Western world, that dictators of the past often used their skills of manipulation to turn against their people and that communism is not equality, in fact, quite the contrary. It is another form of inequality. The humans in this book are depicted as unpleasant. Man’s brutality (as referred to by Major in his speech) is reinforced with the cruel suppression of any signs of revolt from neighbouring humans. This allegory shows us that in the presence of Mr. Jones’s principles and harsh mistreatment of the animals were clearly adopted by the greedy Napoleon who was the assumed leader. With their superior knowledge, they have acknowledged the fact that they are stronger than their fellow companions, and have considered this to assume the leadership. The pigs and the dogs have taken post of the power for themselves, knowing that they are the best administrators for the government, in this case, autonomy. Eventually the power within the pigs corrupt them and they turn on their fellow companions, eliminating competitors through propaganda and bloodshed, making it a complete totalitarian government. Orwell intended to make this a direct reference to Stalin who murdered many of his own people in order to maintain his dictatorship of Russia. Each character in the allegory has a message hidden, in either their personalities or their exteriors but they have to be found by in-depth understanding of Orwell’s story. There is very little indication to what the story is based on in the beginning. The convincing description in the opening scene introduces the animals and their characters to the reader. The behaviour of the animals, in the straw, gives the reader clues as to their behaviour in the satire and they are established in a way that they can develop in line with the story. The description of the animals’ attributes is important for later events in the story. The reader is encouraged to feel sympathetic towards the animals from the start. The messages are not directly based on the Russian Revolution but to the present, in the Western world today.
One character in particular that was so significant was Moses. He played a small role in the story but the times where he flew in and out made the differences. His actions were so significant to the story. Moses is a raven that is quite rare in the story but enough was accomplished for the reader to realise his character and his ways to other animals and the part he played in the revolution. But interestingly he is the only one who doesn’t work since he escapes somewhere and the only one who did not listen to Old Major’s speech of rebellion. Moses is a tame raven who was Mr. Jones’s especial pet. He may have been a spy and a sneaky character but he is a great orator, especially to the influence of the other animals, his companions. He claimed to know the existence of many fantasy worlds (Sugarcandy Mountain) that the animals are interested in. Nevertheless, most of the animals hated Moses since he told lies and made up tales that they were not impressed with. In this allegory, Moses represents Orwell’s view of the church. Orwell clearly wanted Moses to be an image or a role of the Russian Orthodox Church. The church was a great help to the Tsars (who were ruling Russia at that time) and in a similar way, Moses was a great help to Mr. Jones. This might have been a way that the animals found him provocative. However, the animals started believing in the stories about Heaven and such things, about where and what their afterlife would be like, in view of Moses. In result of this, the pigs found him highly threatening to their dictatorship of the animals. Just before the revolution, Moses fled, in result of the pigs being fed up of his made up stories, thinking that he would lure the animals away from the pigs’ beliefs and future practices.
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George Orwell uses Moses to criticise Karl Marx’s belief that the church will just go away after the rebellion. The satire wants to ridicule the leaders and main people involved in the Russian Revolution. And so, he uses Moses to portray this vision and display these messages. Orwell uses the events of each scene so the character build up can easily be identified by the reader, as anthropomorphic but he still manages to retain Moses’ animal characteristics for them to be credible as farm animals: they should behave in ways to their species. As the novel progresses, Moses attitude doesn’t change. But he disappears but then reappears later in the story, about several years later. He obviously intended to keep to his same ways but it was too late for him to influence the animals’ decisions, as the pigs have strongly given across their messages. However, Moses would be manipulative, but the pigs are the true manipulators, especially Napoleon, since he has backup if anything or anyone defies him. Napoleon feeds Moses with beer and then, the full circle is complete. This is gratitude from the pigs; he had gained full acceptance from the pigs, after he came back to Manor Farm after several years. This parallels the attempts by Stalin to gain acceptance for his cruel actions in Poland from the Catholic Church. This was greeted with derision abroad.
If we look at the type of animal he is, there is possibly a link and why Orwell chose this particular animal to focus on this character for the role in the Revolution. Moses is a raven, a species of bird. One reason why I think that Moses was not greatly influenced by the pigs, was because of his actual animal characteristics. As a bird, he can fly away to any destination and does not need to carry out laborious work in the pursuit of Mr. Jones. Moses has this one great advantage. Because of this, he was Mr. Jones’s special pet and didn’t find the rebellion particularly interesting. In fact, the only creature that can manipulate him would be a human; Mr. Jones treats him as a trustworthy pet. He sends messages to anyone in the process through Moses. Moses would have realised that while Jones treats his other animals quite badly (in view of the animals) and takes their livestock, which they produce during hard labour, he treats Moses with care and doesn’t harm him in any way. He escapes but reappears several years later, when there is no sign of humans on the farm. Moses who has lost Mr. Jones, comes into Animal Farm, and tries his sneaky ways again. However, the animals are fully aware that the pigs are their supreme leaders but they have their doubts. Of course, the animals have fear in their hearts, in view of Napoleon’s power and frightening bodyguards. Moses is no way, affected by the revolution or taken any part in it. Orwell, very cleverly placed him in these situations, because he wanted readers to know the position of the Church in those days, during the traumatic Russian Revolution and maybe make comparisons with modern equivalents. This can prove quite successful since Orwell has used characters that are fairly simple and quite easy to compare with according to their character and processes of manipulation. Alternatively, you can identify the proletariat, qualities of gullibility or the trustworthy. The Western world can finally realise the dangers of communism knowing of these characteristics of different equivalents. Moses represented, what was, a human that wasn’t bothered by the rebellion or the revolution. He had his own views, which could have been negative, but he believed in them and, mischievously, tried to persuade others, that his beliefs would come true. But, obviously, this was a threat to the pigs that, immediately, wanted to get rid of him. Then he disappeared and he was the one that sent messages to the Western world. Whatever the case may be, there are some in trying to manipulate people’s standard of choice and options, (just like Moses did), they try to keep people hopeful and productive. Jones first uses Moses to keep the animals working, and he was successful in many ways before the rebellion. However, when the pigs take over, Moses escapes. Eventually, he finds his place again, when the pigs are turning out worse than Mr. Jones and then Moses finds his place again and tries to lure everyone with the same lies. However, he is not successful this time. Now, again, Moses does represent Orwell’s view of the church. He has a cynical and harsh view of the church so therefore this proves that Animal Farm is not simply an anti- communist work meant to lead people into capitalism and Christianity. The truth may be that Orwell found much hypocrisy in both systems.
Therefore, in conclusion, Moses represented the Church, where the belief in Christianity and capitalism is included and the pigs demonstrated an ideology of communism, which is completely the opposite. Obviously, a social system based on common ownership of property, and their own means of production may not be suitable after all, and that trade and industry ruled by a private owner that might be suitable for the world today. Moses helped the Western world, many others, and us; to realise that communism brings many dangers with it too. According to the Russian Revolution, America could prove that capitalism and democracy could outlive a system of government-mandated equality. Simplified, George Orwell’s view could have been, that the farm with a private owner could have made the fair share of work between the animals rather than a totalitarian government ruled by the self- assumed leaders the pigs.
Benjamin is an elderly donkey and is seen as a cynic. The novel deals with the way in which power is seen to corrupt and traces the descent of the revolution from its idealistic start to its tragic conclusion. Benjamin, unlike the other animals, questions whether the animals really will be better off as the result of the revolution. He realised the indications that the promised utopia will never materialise. However, he is not uncaring as his relationship to Clover, and especially Boxer, later shows. His cynicism remains unchanged in the light of the success of the harvest. At the ‘Battle of the Cowshed’ he is in the thick of the fighting, which questions how critical he is of the regime at the farm.
Benjamin is in some ways one of the most interesting characters in the book. He is loyal to the horses but repeatedly refuses to read the commandments – believing that it will create trouble. He appears to be aware of the true nature of the revolution throughout the novel but refuses to interfere when he sees the pigs doing wrong. It is only when his best friend is being lead to his forthcoming death that he immediately alerts the others, however by that stage it is too late to help Boxer. He is the one who reads out the final betrayal of the animals and is with Clover when the true extent of the betrayal at the farmhouse is revealed.
Benjamin was never bothered about the revolution or the causes and consequences it brought with it during the process. He was rather unchanged since the rebellion. Although there is no clear metaphoric relationship between Benjamin and Orwell’s critique of communism, he represents the character that never looks to their leader for help. He doesn’t seem to expect anything positive from the revolution. He is not affected by the propaganda placed on him by Napoleon and the other pigs, unlike the other residents of the farm who work hard for their own living. Alone among the other animals, he never laughed. His view and beliefs were always so negative to what the animals asked. If an animal asked a political question, he would reply, ’Donkeys live a long time. None of you have seen a dead donkey”. With this statement, you can tell he never becomes excited or disappointed about anything that has passed or a forthcoming event. It was the only cryptic remark he produced and his companions would have to be gratified with that. He would never laugh, as he was so bad-tempered. If asked to why he never laughed, he just declared that he saw nothing to laugh at.
Connected to Benjamin, there is the sight of education. Many of the animas do not know how to read or write, and Orwell wanted to state the role of education in society. Benjamin knew how to read but did not want to apply this into his work or use it any way. The pigs exploit the other animals as they are intelligent enough to manipulate the truth is such a way that their evil actions seem perfectly acceptable. This is achieved through a skilful use of language. Benjamin refused to read but Orwell made it clear that he did know how to read. In the light of the pig’s intelligence, Benjamin penetrated the truth but did nothing with it. He was not gullible or naïve like many of the other animals and knew the unfaithful ways of the pigs. With the use of language by the government to its gullible people, George Orwell may bring on an argument about this. Some people may argue that this is not just a feature of totalitarian governments. Squealer may deny accusations in the future. But Orwell’s warnings about the ways in which words and their meanings can be twisted are still relevant today.
We see his true, determined side when his friend, whom he is devoted to, is taken to the Knackers yard. We see his frustration and anger revealed as he reads the proclamation on the side of the van. The animals, in a sombre and disheartened mood, say goodbye to Boxer. However, Benjamin’s fury is revealed here, ‘Fools! Fools! Do you not see what is written on the side of that van?’ He said this with remarkable vehemence that was clearly unusual for Benjamin. He was prancing around the onlookers and stamping the earth with his small hooves. It was almost as if the old donkey finally comes out of his shell, his perfectly- fitted demeanour is damaged. Nevertheless, it’s not only this. His fury establishes his devotion for the beloved Boxer. He was never open about his friendship with Boxer but here, and in the advancing years, no explanation is required. All the animals loved Boxer, but none other like Benjamin. Benjamin suffered from further depression from the loss. He continued the drudgery He was more morose and taciturn than he ever had been.
But how does this all fit into Orwell’s view of the real world in the past and present? Benjamin symbolises the older generation.
Squealer is, in my opinion, the most cunning, devious, and well thought out character in the whole satire. He is described as a manipulator and persuader. He is the major link between Napoleon, the supreme leader of the whole farm, and its people. Squealer is responsible for the devious alterations of the Commandments, which are amended each time one is broken, to reflect the reality of life under the pigs. To the animals' discovery, Squealer collapsed with a pot of paint and a brush at the foot of the wall, which Orwell stated as a 'strange incident, which hardly anyone was able to understand'. Orwell is able to, gradually, to reveal the animals' ignorance of the pigs' situation. That the animals find the discovery of Squealer unremarkable shows the reader just how unwilling the animals are to trust the evidence of their own eyes. I think, that they are so used to having others think for them that they are unable to think for themselves. This is how effective Squealer is to the story. His every word and astonishing phrases makes all the differences. He presents each flouting of the rules as a perfectly reasonable action and is able to confuse and persuade the animals in such a way to eliminate opposition. His manipulative nature is derived that he can "turn black into white". This suggests that he plausibly defends the pigs' actions in brilliant pieces of articulation, which are always underlined by the basic threat of Jones's return. The rest of the animals are then given little choice but to agree and accede to the pigs' actions. Squealer's 'twinkling eyes' add a bit of flavour to his speeches, which is useful to influence the delicate minds of the animals. His foreseen manner emphasises the persuasiveness of his character. Squealer is a brilliant propagandist (not to the animal's consent) which makes him an articulate orator. But his distortion of the truth and language becomes too whimsical when he claims that 'A too rigid equality in rations... would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism'. This completely distorts the meaning of the word 'equality', reducing language to nonsense. Also equality is revealed to the reader as the weeks go on, when the animals are working as harder as ever and their lives are 'harsh and bare', with the comparison to the pigs, who 'were putting on weight if anything'. This makes him highly hypocritical.
Propaganda is widely associated with Squealer. He convinces others of the truth of their arguments. Orwell, again, stated that Squealer could turn 'black into white'. He uses rhetorical questions which do not require an answer from the audience - so the speaker does the thinking for them such as, 'Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?' This quote also demonstrates a further technique, targeting the enemy. In doing this, the animals will forget their personal problems and concentrate on the enemy outside their society (Snowball, and Jones). He invents questionable scientific evidence (which may or may not be entirely true) to convince the animals that the pigs should have apples, reads out lists of statistics that have been forged and tells the animals of written evidence, which obviously, haven't been produced to prove that Snowball is in league with Jones. But he knows very well that animals cannot read.
Squealer, as a propagandist, uses several weapons. The pigs are able to exploit the other animals, as they are intelligent enough to manipulate the truth in an extraordinary way that their evil actions seem acceptable. This is achieved through, purely, a skilful use of language. Squealer, despite being a marvellous propagandist, hypocrite, and orator, he is also a coward. There are many indications that suggest this. It is apparent that Squealer does not rely on his eloquence alone. There are occasional direct references to the dogs, which accompany him wherever he goes, around the farm. There is also an element of cowardice in his character, which is suggested when he is 'unaccountably absent' from the fighting. The sinister side to his character rears out when resistance is developed between the animals, or when the animals are considerably doubtful even if they arrive from the gentlest of creatures. His ugly looks and the subsequent attack on Boxer suggests Squealer's propaganda is more sinister than simply ensuring that the animals' obedience to Napoleon remains. This is his dismissive attitude that the reader encounters.
His relevance to the Russian Revolution is quite clear to the story's behalf. You can correlate Squealer to the newspapers of the Russian Revolution.
Propaganda might've been a key to many publications in favour of the dictator. Since there was no television or radio, the newspaper was the primary source of media information. Orwell's satire is supposed to metaphor characters in Russia and Squealer is the primary key in a dictator's success and achievement of the people's belief. Squealer, just like the newspaper, was a link between the dictator and his people, just as Napoleon was to his animals. The messages that are portrayed in the Western world today are that stronger and more able people are the best candidates for the democratic world. The best ones are the self- appointed administrators of government. However, the power corrupts within them. Squealer was not a supreme leader, but worked illegally for one, feeding lies to the innocent with false impressions to go with it. The main factor in this world and the world of the Russian Revolution, in the eyes of George Orwell, was that when a person found a strength, a particular talent, they would focus on that and use it to exploit others by. Squealer, as time and time again, was a phenomenal propagandist which was his strong point and use it to exploit his so- called companions, as they before. The pigs never let their weakest points show, just to reflect that they were sovereign.