Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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How do Napoleon and Snowball use propaganda in Animal Farm?

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Napoleon and Snowball use propaganda to convince the other animals that the pigs are operating in their best interests. This is shown clearly in Chapter Three when Squealer justifies the stealing of the milk and apples for mixing in the pigs' mash. Take a look at how he justifies this action:

Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back!

In other words, Squealer uses a combination of false science and fear (the fear of Mr. Jones returning) to convince the animals that the pigs should be allowed to eat better food. The use of these two propaganda techniques proves successful, and the animals do not publicly complain about rations in the future.

Napoleon and Squealer also use scapegoating to divert attention away from their own mistakes and to blacken the reputation of Snowball. This is clearly shown when the windmill is destroyed. Although the windmill collapses because its walls were not built thick enough (a problem caused by the pigs), it is Snowball who takes the blame. By doing this, Napoleon and Squealer are also able to further exploit the animals by having them build a replacement.

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Inuk Lee eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The heart of the reign of the pigs is rooted in propaganda. Since Snowball is kicked out early on, it is really Napoleon and Squealer who spin the propaganda. Here are several examples. 

First, whenever something bad happens, Napoleon has a perfect answer: Snowball must have done it. This makes the animals hate Snowball and fear him. He is a boogieman of sorts who can absorb all the blame. In this way, Napoleon is never at fault. Hence, Napoleon has a perfect solution in vilifying Snowball.

Second, Napoleon uses fear to keep the other animal in check and to justify whatever he wants. For example, the pigs take the apples and milk. They say that they actually don't like apples and milk, but they are consuming them, because science proves that these things are good for pigs. If the pigs did not take this sacrificial action, Mr. Jones would come back. Of course, this does not make sense; it is propaganda after all.  This idea of Jones coming back is a refrain. 

In the end, the propaganda is so powerful the animals are willing abettors of their own subjugation. Moreover, most of them believe that their lives are better. 

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katessa | Student

Since the Russian Revolution was built on propaganda, it is no wonder Orwell's work relies so heavily upon it to move the plot forward. In the opening of the story, we see the work of Old Major in his speech to the animals and in teaching them the song "Beasts of England". While Old Major is genuine in his beliefs and well-intentioned, these are still examples of persuasion of a mass populace toward a political aim.

Another example of propaganda in the book is the ease with which the revolt was fomented by implanting the sheep with the message "four legs good, two legs bad". The sheep represent the popular masses, who may be persuaded to repeat simplistic slogans without much thought to the content or consequences. They spread this message everywhere they go!

Post-revolution, the pigs (as the smartest animals, representing the intelligentsia) vie for power and control of the farm and its collective resources - including the product of the labor of the animals! As his name would suggest, Squealer does the bulk of Napoleon's dirty work for him in this regard. His description of the events of the Battle of the Cowshed were so clarion that it “seemed to the animals that they did remember it” (pg 54).

Of course, Snowball becomes little more than a tool of Napoleon's public opinion machine from the point of his removal onward, as a propagandist loves nothing more than a scapegoat. With Snowball gone, every bad thing that happens can be conveniently blamed on him. When the windmill collapses, Napoleon goes so far as to frame the absent Snowball for this misfortune - which stemmed from the pigs' own poor judgment.

No amount of lying can change the fact that there's not enough food to go around, and the animals end up more miserable than ever. In the end, all that's left is to let Moses laze about, telling tall tales of Sugarcandy Mountain to keep the animals pacified and laboring.

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