Why does the word "more" cancel out the meaning of the new commandment that appears on the barn wall in Chapter 10 of Orwell's Animal Farm?

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rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The commandment in question reads: “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.” It replaces the original Seven Commandments. The word "more" cancels out the meaning of the first part of the commandment, which is a holdover from the Seven Commandments. Obviously nothing can be "more equal" than something else. The alteration, of course, has occurred in an effort to justify the arrogation of powers and privileges to the pigs, who by this point are behaving, even dressing and walking, like humans. It seems clear that they are justifying their privileged place on Animal Farm by employing, ironically enough, the egalitarian rhetoric of the Revolution. This statement is an example of the manipulation of language by totalitarian governments, and of "doublethink," the ability to think two contradicting things at the same time, which Orwell explored in 1984.

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teachersage's profile pic

teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

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The original commandment reads, "All animals are equal." It is the seventh of the Seven Commandments the animals devise when they take over the farm and initially a bedrock belief. By the end of novel, the commandment has been changed by the pigs and now reads, "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others." The word "more" makes nonsense of the original statement. If two things are equal, logically one cannot be "more" than the other. For example, if two items are said to weigh the same amount, one cannot also, at the same time, weigh more. It's a non sequitur: in other words, the second proposition cannot logically follow the first.

Orwell's point is that if we are not careful, language can be manipulated to mean the opposite of what was intended. The new language can then be used by people in power to oppress others and undermine democratic principles. The pigs use the new commandment as an ideological justification for the privileges they alone have seized.  Animal Farm is a cautionary tale meant to urge people to listen very carefully to what people in power are saying rather than accept it blindly. 

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