How does George Orwell use language (especially emotive language and propaganda) to create sympathy for the animals in Chapters 7-10 of his novel Animal Farm?

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapters VII-IX of his novel Animal Farm, George Orwell often uses emotive language to create sympathy for the animals he depicts.  At one point in Chapter VII, for instance, the narrator describes Clover’s reflections on the violence that has befallen the farm in the time since the rebellion:

These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak, as she had protected the lost brood of ducklings with her foreleg on the night of Major's speech. Instead she did not know why they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.

In passages such as this, the narrator uses emotive language to create great sympathy for the animals.  Thus the word “terror” refers to mental suffering, while the word “slaughter” refers to physical violence. The animals do not merely suffer psychologically and emotionally; they suffer physically as well. The animals have not been freed either from “hunger” (which causes a constant, gnawing internal pain) nor from the “whip,” which causes sharp, biting external pain.  Moreover, the animals dare not speak their minds: they thus suffer mentally and intellectually as well. At the same time, they are threatened by “fierce, growling dogs,” who symbolize the constant danger they face of vicious, deadly physical attack.  In short, every kind of torment has been imposed upon them.

To make matters even worse, the animals not only face such viciousness themselves but have to suffer the pain of watching their “comrades [being] torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.” The narrator continually makes very vivid the suffering that the animals now endure – suffering that is simultaneously physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual, and suffering that hangs like a dark cloud over their past, present, and future. They are living a kind of hell on earth, and it is nearly impossible not to feel sympathy for them.

The narrator’s emotional language is all the more potent since most readers will realize that the torture he is describing is not merely imaginary but reflects the actual conditions of life in the Soviet Union in the 1930s under Joseph Stalin.  In Animal Farm, we read about the suffering of animals, but we know that we are really reading about the actual suffering of human beings. As anti-Soviet propaganda, passages such as the one quoted above are hard to surpass.