Thematic Paper- Animal Farm by George Orwell
In Animal Farm, George Orwell uses allegorical language and rhetoric to conceptualize both issues in the class system, and the corruption that comes along with power. He writes the novel in an entertaining manner, including an unbelievable premise that includes talking animals and the assumption that animals are smart enough to run a farm by themselves. Making the story unbelievable provides an almost shield for the reader that helps to prevent Animal Farm from becoming propaganda. However, it is not hard to see that the book, once the extraneous details of the characters are removed, is a prime example of literary propaganda, something that George Orwell was known for. There are many points he tries to persuade upon the reader, and two of them will be outlined herein. The first is his views pertaining to issues in the class system, or, how he feels the poor people being treated differently than the rich people is unfair. The other point is about his views on the corruption that comes along with power.
George Orwell’s use of satire and rhetoric is very well-known, and for good cause. His language immerses the reader in landscapes that are both unbelievable and all too real. He uses lots of allegorical language both to entertain and to inform. I think his writing style is almost as important as the actual material in his novels because more people are inclined to listen to him because of his writing style, which helps him to get his point across to as many people as possible. The way he wrote Napoleon’s lines was a prime example- “The main point emphasized in the novel is that language is a powerful tool, which can be used to manipulate and control people in order to bring about change, whether big or small.”(Hopcroft 1) and Orwell uses wittiness and satire throughout the piece to express his views. Making the reader laugh and be entertained while simultaneously making them think is not something that is easy to do, but Orwell achieves it beautifully. Throughout Animal Farm, there are many instances of Orwell’s use of rhetoric and satire, many of which can’t even be seen and dissected until the second read-through of the novel. Using this language is entertaining, intriguing, and intelligent, and is one of the highlights of the book.
The class system is, and always has been, prevalent in most societies in the history of the world. From the caste systems of Ancient India, to the 99/1%-ers of 21st century America, there is always a way to separate a populous into different classes, oftentimes resulting in the unfair treatment of the lower classes. In the beginning of Animal Farm, the animals make seven commandments, the most important of which is “All animals are created equal”(Orwell 133). This commandment resounds with all of animals on the farm, and makes them appreciate the revolution and obedient of the leadership. As the novel goes on, however, the commandment is changed to “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.” This change, coupled with some of the animals starting to walk on two legs and living in the farm house, both of which started out being forbidden, shows that there is a clear class issue on the farm and that there is always going to be a class system, as long as people think the way that they think now, and the way that they have always thought.
The other point exemplified in the novel is the issue of corruption that comes along with power, and is probably the easiest theme to find for any reader. The animals start out stating things like “Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy”(Orwell 89), but eventually, the pigs start walking on two legs. As soon as all of the animals began to mindlessly obey the pigs, the pigs realized that they could get away with whatever they wanted. With the way that the pig(read:human) psyche is wired, having power blinds the conscience, and like it or not, if placed in the same position the pigs were placed in, most people would make the same decision. The animals listen and believe everything Napoleon says, and some become so brainwashed that they say things like “Napoleon is always right” no matter how poorly Napoleon treats them. Socialism was prevalent in the time that Orwell wrote the novel, and many points in the novel point to the realization that Animal Farm, in entirety, is nothing more than British propaganda against Socialism.
In conclusion, in Animal Farm by George Orwell, the author uses instances of allegorical language, satire, and rhetoric to exemplify, among other things, the issues involved in the class system, and the corruption that comes along with power. He writes in a style that is both informative and entertaining, and most of the times, the reader does not even realize that what they are reading is British propaganda. Orwell points out the flaws in a socialist society, and uses characters representing Leo Trotsky and Joseph Stalin to explain and inform readers of the way the Bolshevik revolution just resulted in the continuation of Socialism. He points out the ways that a class system is unfair, yet how it is also unavoidable. He also speaks about the corruption that comes along with power, in a nod towards the Bolshevik revolution and how, in the end, it failed to accomplish what was originally intended, fairness for all people. This was Orwell’s second most popular work, falling short to 1984, another satire piece involving Propaganda that was well-received by critics. Animal Farm is a resounding piece that will be engrained in literary culture for many, many years to come and is a must-read for students, and is oftentimes required reading in high school. The allegorical language and satire keeps the piece entertaining, while the scary, almost threatening nature of the propaganda informs the reader of the dangers of Socialism and how believing everything you hear can be detrimental and sometimes even deadly.
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