Irony In Animal Farm
What is an example of verbal, dramatic, or situational irony in Animal Farm?
This answer will address situational irony. Animal Farm is rife with situational irony: the whole book is framed around the sad irony that a well-intentioned "revolution" intended to bring about equality and a better life for the animals ends by recreating the same inequalities and tyranny that provoked it in the first place. Let us look at one especially powerful example of situational irony...
This example is when Boxer, the old horse who has worked hard for Animal Farm, is sent to the knacker to be euthanized. This tragic end is especially poignant and ironic because Old Major, in his speech to the animals at the beginning of the book, has warned Boxer that "the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the foxhounds" (9). The animals undertook their uprising to avoid exactly this kind of fate for themselves, but in the end, it is Napoleon, now in power as a result of the uprising, who sends Boxer to the knacker. This is only one example of situational irony, but it is especially important because it illustrates the central irony of the book. Through their leadership of the creation of Animal Farm, the pigs have become as cruel and exploitative as the humans they replaced. By the end of the book, the animals cannot even distinguish them from men at all. Boxer, among the most loyal and hardworking of all the animals, is an ironic victim of this corrupted would-be utopia.
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