There is no question that George Orwell perceived at the time of writing Animal Farm in 1945 the power of controlling the official sources of information. Long ago, the French conqueror of renown, Napoleon Bonaparte, the namesake of the leader of the animals, would first take control of the newspapers of any country that he conquered. In this way, he could disseminate whatever propaganda he chose, and he could alter information to suit his political gain. Surely, Orwell recalled the successful propaganda machine under the Russian Communist Josef Stalin that changed historical records, sometimes eliminating all references to certain individuals, and, probably modeled his propagandist, Squealer, upon Hitler's insidious media genius, Joseph Goebbels.
In Chapter VII of Animal Farm, after the quelling of an uprising by the hens, who have been ordered to lay 400 eggs a week and rumors of Snowball's subversive activities as a spy for Mr. Jones who wants to return, the despotic Napoleon has his vicious dogs gather up the animals who have been subversive. The three hens who were the ringleaders of the rebellion confess under duress that in a dream Snowball had appeared to them and fomented them to rebel against Napoleon's orders. Then, other animals come forward and confess to seditious acts such as theft of the food, urinating in the drinking pool, and so on. These animals were executed by the dogs who ripped open their throats. Frightened by all this, the remaining animals crept away.
This demonstration is meant to change the perceptions of the animals and is propaganda. Here are examples of propaganda from Chapter VIII:
- A few days after the violent demonstration of Napoleon's retribution,
...some of the animals remembered--or thought they remembered--that the Sixth Commandment decreed "No animal shall kill any other animal."
But, when Clover has Muriel read to her the Sixth Commandment, it reads, "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." Thus, the wording of the commandment has been changed to fit Napoleon's political agenda.
- Despite the scarcity of food and long hours of labor that the animals endured, Squealer would read on Sunday to the animals a list of figures that supposedly proved that the production of food increased by two hundred, three hundred, or five hundred per cent, "as the case might be."
- With no more Sunday democratic meetings, Napoleon is in total control. He is now referred to as "our Leader, Comrade Napoleon," and inventive titles are simply given to him without substantive cause. He is named "Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold," and the like.
- Napoleon is credited with every success on the farm. A laudatory poem is written by Minimus about the benevolent and successful Napoleon.
- Rumors of another plot involving Snowball surfaces and three hens confesses that they entered into a plot to kill Napoleon.
- The animals are told that frightening accounts are "leaking out" about cruelties upon animals by Frederick, inciting the animals to want to go to Pinchfield Farm and set the animals free.
- When the wheat field becomes overrun with weeds, an insidious plot by Snowball is supposedly uncovered.
- The animals are informed that Snowball really did not earn the order of "Animal Hero, First Class." Instead, he was "censured."
- When the windmill is finally reconstructed, Napoleon takes credit for it (although he fought Snowball's idea and destroyed his blueprints), having it named Napoleon Mill.
- Napoleon blames Snowball for the rumors about the cruelty to animals on Frederick's farm.
- Squealer extols the brilliance of Napoleon's mind
- When Frederick and his men attack Animal Farm, the animals fight back and drive off the men, but they have lost the timber because of a forged check; the windmill has been destroyed, as well. Nevertheless, Squealer claims victory for the animals; when Boxer tells him they have only won back what they already had, Squealer says, "That is our victory."
- After Napoleon gets drunk, the Fifth Commandment is altered from "No animal shall drink alcohol" to "No animal shall drink alcohol to access."
from Chapter IX
- When young pigs are born, they are schooled only by Napoleon and told not to associate with the other animals.
- Napoleon decrees that there be "Spontaneous Demonstrations" which have as an objective the celebration of the struggles and triumphs of the Animal Farm, although there have been few, if any triumphs lately.
- If anyone complains, the sheep bleat loudly, "Four legs good, two legs bad!" drowning out the complaints.
- It is supposedly revealed that Snowball "had not merely attempted to lose the Battle of the Cowshed," but he had been in collusion with Mr. Jones.
- When Boxer is injured from overwork on the new windmill, Napoleon feigns great concern and says he is calling for help. But the truck that picks up Boxer has written on its side, "Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Boiler...." Three days later, it is announced that Boxer has died in the hospital.
- Squealer wipes away tears as he recounts Boxer's fight in the hospital. Then, he shouts, "Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right!"
- When asked about the truck that read "Horse Slaughterer," Squealer becomes angry and expresses shock that any animal could be so stupid. "Surely...they knew their beloved Leader, Comrade Napoleon, better than that?"
- On Sunday morning Napoleon himself appears and delivers a short oration in Boxer's honor.