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One of the most consistent themes in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm is the way that propaganda is used to establish, enhance, and protect the power of Napoleon and the dictatorial regime he establishes. Squealer, the chief propagandist, plays an especially important role in advocating for, defending, and explaining the interests of this increasingly totalitarian state. Some examples of his behavior include the following:
- When the other animals discover that the pigs are being better fed than the rest of the creatures, it is Squealer who does the explaining and justifying:
'Comrades!' he cried. ‘You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. 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.'
- When Snowball is expelled from the farm and Napoleon assumes total leadership, it is Squealer who justifies the new arrangement.
- When some of the animals try to defend Snowball from attack, it is Squealer who explains why Snowball does not deserve any praise.
- It is Squealer who explains to the other animals that Napoleon had never really opposed construction of a windmill – a blatant lie.
- It is Squealer who claims that Napoleon’s apparent opposition to the windmill was merely tactical, merely a clever ploy.
- It is Squealer who claims that trading with humans is actually permissible. It is he who assures the skeptical animals that they are merely imagining prohibitions against such trading. Similarly, at one point the narrator reports that
the pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse and took up their residence there. Again the animals seemed to remember that a resolution against this had been passed in the early days, and again Squealer was able to convince them that this was not the case. It was absolutely necessary, he said, that the pigs, who were the brains of the farm, should have a quiet place to work in.
- Similar propaganda is needed when the other animals learn that the pigs are now sleeping in beds – a practice that had earlier been prohibited. Squealer, of course, has a ready explanation:
'You have heard then, comrades,' he said, `that we pigs now sleep in the beds of the farmhouse? And why not? You did not suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely means a place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention. We have removed the sheets from the farmhouse beds, and sleep between blankets. And very comfortable beds they are too! But not more comfortable than we need, I can tell you, comrades, with all the brainwork we have to do nowadays.'
Many other examples of Squealer’s talents as a propagandist could easily be cited, but these are enough to show how propaganda is used in the novel to (1) justify the behavior of the ruling junta, (2) justify departures from the original ideals of the rebellion, (3) rewrite history, (4) justify the privileges of the rulers and intellectuals, and (5) justify the treatment of the junta’s enemies.
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