How does Orwell explore the problem of rhetoric in Animal Farm?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is through Squealer that Orwell is at his strongest in constructing how language can reflect power.  Squealer's function in controlling the printed word and the spoken word is powerfully important.  Napoleon is not able to wield the power he is unless Squealer is able to construct the truth that validates his authority.  It is through language and political rhetoric that credibility is conferred upon the government.  When Squealer rewrites history, he does so to ensure that it reflects the Pigs' rule as a benevolent one in favor of the animals on the farm.  In a very metaphysical manner, Squealer's vision of truth is the only vision of truth that is able to be articulated on the farm.  This means that if Squealer writes it, there has to be an acceptance, forced or not, of truth.  This enhances the idea that language is power, especially in a state controlled setting where what is said has no other competition.  When Squealer rewrites the past so that Snowball never receives the award of "Animal Hero, First Class," there is no other conception of truth because there is no other alternate history to be articulated or other rhetorical conception of truth allowed.  In this light, Orwell suggests that if authority possesses control of rhetoric and is not questioned at each turn because of it, there is a greater chance it will use the power is gains to consolidate and buttress its own credibility, and not work for the larger conception of the good.

aashi-morakhiya | Student

George Orwell constructs the rhetoric through squealer the strongest. It is through Squealer that he shows how language reflects power. Without Squealer, Napoleon would not be able to acquire the power that he had. Squealer shows how powerful words can be and it is through language and rhetoric that he is successful  in helping keep Napoleon’s power. When Squealer rewrites history, he bends the truth to make it look like the pigs are the heroes and he bends the truth manipulatively so that the animals have no choice but to believe Squealers rhetoric. Orwell’s language portrayed through Squealer is used as an instrument of control and the pigs rewrite history very craftily to gain and keep Napoleon in power.