Charlotte Walton WALCHA07 22-04-05
Level 2 Access/GCSE Communications
Chose three chapters in the fable where you think the author’s use of satire helps us to:
- Understand the writers purpose
- Understand what is happening in the novel
- Understand and appreciate the ‘characters’ more fully
- Appreciate the writers skill
- Understand why he used a fable form rather than a novel
Animal Farm was written by George Orwell in 1943, yet due to political sensitivity, not published until 1945. The novel is written as an allegory of communist Russia. In consideration of Russia being an ally of the British at this time one can understand the reluctance of many publishers to participate in its distribution. The story is set on an English farm and the animals on the farm are used as characters intended to represent prominent figures in the Soviet Union. The story centres around a revolution undertaken by the animals in order to oust the farmer, Mr Jones, and gain freedom from oppression and hardship. How the story unfolds relates directly to Orwell’s profound disillusionment with revolutionary politics, human nature and our overwhelming need to dominate and suppress.
The principle characters in this book are Napoleon, Squealer, Snowball and the pig population. Napoleon represents Stalin and remains the most powerful force through out the story. Squealer is used as a means of propaganda directed by Napoleon in order to control the animals on the farm. Snowball who is in disagreement with Napoleon from the outset represents Trotsky who fled from Russia after the revolution. After Snowball’s expulsion he is used as a focus of evil and as scapegoat for things that go awry on the farm. To balance the ‘ruling class’ which are the pigs, other characters such as Boxer and Clover the horses, Benjamin the donkey and nameless hens, sheep and the cat reside on the farm and on the whole are true believers in the cause in which they fought and loyal to the principle of Animalism even though they are mostly unaware they are really loyal only to a different form of dictatorship.
Using animals to represent human figures creates an environment where it is far easier to illustrate treachery and cruelty. The reader is not clouded by human personality and is drawn to the scale of the cruelty more vividly because the characters are animals. The use of pigs as the oppressors is any easy leap for the reader to make and works beautifully at the end of the story when “the creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which”.
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Another crucial tool Orwell uses to convey his message is through the use of irony. By making the reader aware of situations and deceptions on the farm the animals are not; are the reader is educated in the methods powerful groups use in order to oppress a larger population. One argument is the use of parallels between animals and real individuals, fictional situations and real events is an attempt to get the book published and avoid offending but it is far more likely the use of satire was intended to highlight real instances of tyranny rather that veil it. To discuss the use of irony more fully it is important to look at chapters seven, eight and nine while looking closely at an incident in chapter two which is certainly the most important indicator of how events will unfold throughout the book. One of the first chores of the farm is to milk the desperate cows. Once the milk is obtained the animals are curious to know what will happen to what is the first fruits of their labour, Napoleon stands in front of the buckets of milk and exclaims “Never mind the milk comrades!…that will be attended to” by evening it was noted the milk had disappeared. For Orwell this was the animals first indicator that the pigs were in charge and that all animals were not equal and that they would not benefit from what they produced on the farm. The powerful message is that if the animals had objected at this very first instance the hold the pigs were already tightening around them would have been prevented – a great lesson for any society, to question.
By the time we reach chapter seven in the book the conditions on animal farm have become increasingly poor. Instances of irony increase as we learn about the now brash decadent behaviour of the pigs in comparison to the torturously harsh environment the other animals exist in. The reader would find it hard to fathom how the animals can participate in the deception of Whimper ( considered to represent various capitalist countries who trade with capitalist nations). To dispel rumours that Animal Farm is failing, the pigs fill the food barrels with sand and cover with grain to give the illusion of abundance. The sheep are also used to remark on increases in rations. One argument regarding how the animals can participate in this propaganda while still believing their standard of living is acceptable, could be the hatred which is created in the animals of humans. To fight against this ultimate threat the animals participate in the deception. In order to resolve the conflict within them they must be facing, the animals reason that if conditions are not great; they surely are better than being back under human control. Only the reader is aware that they most certainly are not.
It is also at this point in the story that the use of Snowball as a terrorist is put into full effect, we learn that every thing which goes wrong on the farm is due to Snowball and the animals are led to believe he is present among them. The pigs are using an invisible force not only as a convenient scapegoat but also as a tool of fear to create a greater dependency on them. The lies told by the eloquent Squealer are so outrageous to the reader and also at first difficult to swallow by the animals, but a desperate need to cling to a dream wins over the animal’s judgement and memories. “now when Squealer described the scene so graphically, it seemed to the animals that they did remember it…” It is ironic that the more desperate conditions become the more the animals rely on the dream they fought for even as it participates in their down fall absolutely. The use of terror is one which has been a successful tool of control in many seemingly civilised societies, including Nazi Germany and perhaps the fear of terrorism is affecting our society’s moral judgement at this very moment.
Towards the end of the chapter the massacre in the cow shed takes place and the reader is led to believe that there is a possibility the main characters in the book are finally aware that everything they had worked for is a sham. They know another commandment has been broken, Clover in her thoughts mirrors our feelings and we feel that finally reality has been revealed, if however, Clover knows of their oppression she has discovered it too late and fear prevents her from speaking out. The animals only comfort is to sing their anthem Beasts of England only to discover they are no longer permitted to do so. A striking piece of irony in this chapter after such violent scenes is the replacement anthem with the lyrics “…Animal farm, Animal farm, Never through me shalt thou come to harm!”
Chapter eight is used to concentrate on the increasing power and status being taken at this time by Napoleon. The pompous ritual, seclusion and encouragement by other pigs to refer to Napoleon as ‘our leader comrade napoleon’ which is in itself a massive contradiction as the term comrade works on the principle that there are no leaders. A poem which is written for Napoleon in this chapter is a wonderful piece of irony entwined in humour. The shabby use of both formal and informal language gives away the pig’s disjointed education. lines such as “Every beast great or small Sleeps at peace in his stall” are considered to be outrageous to the reader who knows every animal lives in terror and sleeps in hunger. The Line “thou art the giver of all that thy creatures love” is sickening in its melodrama and inaccuracy. The greatest illustration of Napoleon’s egotistical nature is the naming of the now completed windmill, Napoleon Mill. Ironic in that every animal on the farm nearly killed themselves in order to build the windmill with the exception of the pigs especially Napoleon who has endeavoured in no labour since the revolution. It is also worth noting the line “nothing short of explosives would lay them down now” in reference to the windmills walls, Of course we learn later in the chapter that this is exactly what lays the walls down!
Napoleon uses his powers now to disregard the original principles of Animalism completely and embarks on complex trade negotiations with neighbouring farmers Pilkington, (who represents the British ally to communist Russia) and Fredrick (considered to represent evil Germany). A tiny element of justice is served to Napoleon at this point in the book when he is conned by Fredrick during the sale of timber. Every animal was in such awe of a leader who was so clever he could not be cheated with a cheque only to discover their great leader’s knowledge of human bank notes was so poor he had accepted forgeries. This is perhaps a message not to trust the judgement and abilities of leaders purely because they are leaders. The irony rests here with the parade organised by the pigs to show off Napoleons procurement of money.
By the end of this chapter the pigs discover alcohol and get drunk. The reader finds it humorous that when Napoleon thinks he is dying they know he actually has a hang over but the effects of alcohol make the pigs careless in their sabotage of the principles of Animalism especially when Squealer falls from his ladder blind drunk whilst trying to amend another commandment, the irony here is seen in the fact that the commandment being amended this time is ‘no animal shall drink alcohol”. It is changed to “no animal shall drink alcohol to excess” after the pigs discover the effects of hangovers. This a commandment directed at the elite, especially in light of the fact that no other animal has access to alcohol.
The final chapter to be discussed is chapter nine. The use of satire in this chapter is evident in the tragic demise of Boxer. The reader is shocked at the decision of the pigs to send Boxer to the knacker’s as he has been the most hard working and popular character on the farm. The animals at first cheer as Boxer is taken away. Boxer and they have no idea he is not going to the vets. This incident resembles instances in Nazi Germany when small children smiled and waved on trains, supported by cheering onlookers as they were taken to their imprisonment and death. Only a rare interjection from Benjamin makes the animals aware of Boxer’s fate and they are too late to prevent it. Even after his death Boxer is used by the Pigs as a tool to manipulate the animal’s loyalty stating Boxers last words were “…Napoleon is always right” This proves the absolute disregard the pigs have for decency and the total break down of caution as to what the animals are prepared to accept. Even as Squealer lies his nervous mannerisms suggest that even he cannot believe they can get away with such obvious dishonesty. The cruellest irony of all is that he and the rest of the pigs can. No set of events could, the reader believes, be more instrumental in creating disaffection amongst the farm animals. The animals are now controlled so thoroughly and from so many different angles even such obvious betrayals cannot stir them. To end this chapter we learn that …”from somewhere or other the pigs had acquired the money to buy themselves another case of whiskey”. The readers are fully aware of where some where or other is.
The books final irony is the powerful use of Clover to observe dinner between the pigs and the humans. Because Clover is one of the few original surviving character it is effective that she witnesses the final symbolism of the pigs completed takeover. It is now impossible to distinguish between Pig and human. The true intentions of the pigs can no longer be ignored and the totalitarian state the farm animals exist in can no longer be denied. Animal farm is renamed Manor Farm, there is no longer any motivation to hide how this society is run.
Because there is no happy conclusion to this novel it is evident to the reader that this is no charming fairy tale. It is ironic because the animals fought so hard for nothing but far more desperate conditions and slavery and haunting because the whole story portrays human pre disposition towards power, exploitation and cruelty.
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.