Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1511
Essential Passage 1: Chapter 5
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Napoleon, with the dogs following him, now mounted on to the raised portion of the floor where Major had previously stood to deliver his speech. He announced that from now on the Sunday-morning Meetings would come to an end. They were unnecessary, he said, and wasted time. In future all questions relating to the working of the farm would be settled by a special committee of pigs, presided over by himself. These would meet in private and afterwards communicate their decisions to the others. The animals would still assemble on Sunday mornings to salute the flag, sing “Beast of England,” and receive their orders for the week; but there would be no more debates.
Napoleon, assisted by Snowball, had led the animals in revolution against humans, gaining control of the farm. Based on the equality of all animals, the leadership has, however, been retained by the pigs, most notably Napoleon. Though Snowball has fought valiantly and supplied much of the plans for the success of Animal Farm, Napoleon has seized complete control, driving Snowball from the farm, and has begun the process of villainizing him. While the animals have held Snowball to be a hero, Napoleon (through Squealer) begins to paint him as a traitor. Flanked by his specially trained guard dogs, Napoleon presents the new order of things to the other animals. There will be no more meetings in which all animals have a voice. Decisions will be formed by a committee, ruled over by Napoleon. These meetings will be held in secret, with the decisions presented to the animals by Squealer, the voice of the revolution. Only the minimal, superficial rites of the rebellion are kept in place for the moment.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 8
All orders were now issued through Squealer or one of the other pigs. Napoleon himself was not seen in public as often as once in a fortnight. When he did appear, he was attended not only by his retinue of dogs but by a black cockerel who marched in front of him and acted as a kind of trumpeter, letting out a loud “cock-a-doodle-doo” before Napoleon spoke. Even in the farmhouse, it was said, Napoleon inhabited separate apartments from the others. He took his meals alone, with two dogs to wait upon him, and always ate from the Crown Derby dinner service which had been in the glass cupboard in the drawing-room. It was also announced that the gun would be fired every year on Napoleon’s birthday, as well as on the other two anniversaries.
Things have changed on Animal Farm, with many of the Seven Commandments having been “revised.” Despite the injunction that “No animal shall kill any other animal,” there has been a purge in which several animals were killed, having been suspected of conspiring with the exiled Snowball. The animals continue to work hard, with Squealer reading off the production reports weekly, indicating that they are succeeding more than when the farm was controlled by humans. As no one can remember, or was aware, of what the production totals were with the farm belonged to Mr. Jones, they accede to these numbers. In the meantime, Napoleon becomes to retreat from the common populace. When he does appear, he is flanked by his dog body guard, along with the rooster who announces his speeches so that all animals can attend. Living apart, he has taken over the luxurious living of the humans, eating from fine china. He has also elevated himself to public adulation by having his birthday celebrated with great fanfare.
Essential Passage 3: Chapter 9
There were many more mouths to feed now. In the autumn the four sows had all littered about simultaneously, producing thirty-one young pigs between them. The young pigs were piebald, and as Napoleon was the only boar in the farm, it was possible to guess at their parentage. It was announced that later, when bricks and timber had been purchased, a schoolroom would be built in the farmhouse garden. For the time being, the young pigs were given their instruction by Napoleon himself in the farmhouse kitchen. They took their exercise in the garden, and were discouraged from playing with the other young animals. About this time, too it was laid down as a rule that when a pig and any other animal met on the path, the other animal must stand aside: and also that all pigs, of whatever degree, were to have the privilege of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sundays.
The farm is deemed a success, though the winter is hard, the animals go hungry (except for the pigs), and food becomes rationed. As the year progresses, however, only the weather improves. The population increases, and mostly it is in pigs, the offspring of Napoleon. As pigs were treated more favorably than the other animals on the farm, Napoleon’s children are treated even better. He personally supervises their education, and makes the building of a school (for his children only) a priority. The piglets are kept separate from the other animals, enforcing the new elitism that continues to grow. Animals are now subservient to the pigs, and must give way to them as to a higher being. It is only pigs who are allowed to wear ribbon decorations, something that Mollie the cart horse had wished for strongly but had been denied as being contrary to the revolution. Napoleon has at last succeeded in making himself that against which they had rebelled.
Analysis of Essential Passages
Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin, the Communist dictator of the Soviet Union in the early part of the USSR after the Russian Revolution. With Trotsky, he set up the communist government as a replacement for the corrupt tsarist monarchy. With control supposedly given to the people (namely the workers), communism was hailed as to be the new Enlightenment, with Stalin as its leader. However, from the very first, Stalin proceeded to merely replace the tsar’s tyranny with his own. In the same way Napoleon elevates himself throughout the novel so that he eventually becomes the same as Mr. Jones, the farmer they had driven out.
Napoleon, along with Snowball, developed the principles of Animalism, in which all that was human was evil, and all that was animal was good. The strict regulations against animals taking on any of the characteristics and practices of the humans were designed to increase productivity, security, and happiness for all animals. Initially, this success was achieved, but eventually it came at a price.
As Stalin drove out Trotsky, Napoleon drives out Snowball and begins to revise history as to Snowball’s contributions. As Orwell has pointed out elsewhere in his other novel 1984, he who controls the past controls the future. With such revisionism Napoleon convinces the animals that he alone is the creator of Animal Farm. In this role, he begins to acquire those luxuries that he had previously condemned as inconsistent with the Rebellion, such as stealing the milk and apples that had been available to all. Bit by bit, he eliminates those aspects of the Rebellion that had given the animals a voice in their welfare (such as the Sunday meetings), which were the foundation of the Rebellions to begin with.
With the training of the puppies to be his guard (similar to the Stalinist Secret Police), Napoleon has set himself apart from the day-to-day dealings of Animal Farm. While he requires its bounty, he contributes nothing to its production. Though the initial premise was that all animals are equal, Napoleon has placed himself on a pedestal, having his speeches preceded by the “announcements” by the cockerel. His self-importance stretches even to the use of the fine china that Mr. Jones had left behind. As Stalin began to live in the manner of the tsar, so Napoleon begins to live in the manner of the formerly hated humans.
As Napoleon enlarges his family, so he enlarges the privileged class. Though the Rebellion had intended to strike against the elite and classicism of the reign of the humans, he simply denies it to the other animals and reserves it for himself and his children. As the Soviet party members were the new aristocracy that replaced the old in Russia, so Napoleon’s family replaces the privilege that the humans enjoyed at the expense of the animals. Thus Napoleon betrays the very revolution he started by becoming that against which he rebelled. He has become what he hated. Eventually, going beyond the mere revision of the Seven Commandments to justify his desires, he abandons them totally. He moves into Jones’ house, uses the human luxuries, begins to walk on two legs, wear clothes, and in effect becomes human. He begins to make deals with the humans, especially Pilkington (who represents Great Britain). Though they have agreed to live in harmony and even cooperate, there is still mutual distrust, as is evidenced by both trying to cheat at cards. In the end, the animals cannot tell the difference between man and pig. Both have been sublimated into each other.
Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1419
Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1
“Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.”
Old Major, the oldest boar on Manor Farm, has called all the animals together after Mr. Jones once again neglected their welfare due to his love of drinking. As the disparate group of animals gathers in the barn, Old Major stands upon the platform to address them. Speaking of his dream of liberty for animals, Old Major endeavors to inspire his fellow creatures to fight for their freedom from humans. The land is good, they are all excellent workers, and all conditions are ripe for fruitfulness and happiness. But because of the tyranny and neglect of humans, animals must suffer. Old Major points out the blunt facts of their existence. Though they receive sustenance, it is only enough for survival. They are worked to the point of death, and when they are no longer able to give anything more, they are put to death.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 9
Reading out the figures in a shrill, rapid voice, he [Squealer] proved to them in detail that they had more oats, more hay, more turnips than they had had in Jones’s day, that they worked shorter hours, that their drinking water was of better quality, that they lived longer, that a larger proportion of their young ones survived infancy, and that they had more straw in their stalls and suffered less from fleas. The animals believed every word of it. Truth to tell, Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. They knew that life nowadays was harsh and bare, that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they were usually working when they were not asleep. But doubtless it had been worse in the old days. They were glad to believe it so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out.
After the Battle of the Windmill, when the animals “successfully” prevented the humans from conquering the farm (and despite the destruction of the windmill), conditions continue to slide downhill for the animals. Though animals such as Boxer have labored hard and long for Animal Farm, their lives are continually plagued by hunger and, as winter sets in, cold. Yet they labor on. Squealer, as the voice of Napoleon, reads off the statistics that “prove” that their lives have indeed improved. Despite evidence to the contrary, the animals believe the statistics, for statistics do not lie. The tyranny of the humans under Mr. Jones has faded, and they know only the present. They are told that conditions had been worse, but they do not stop to question exactly how.
Essential Passage 3: Chapter 10
There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything—in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened—they might have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of—
“Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! For legs good, two legs better!”
After many years, the farm has never looked better. Crops are good, and the land is doing well. The living condition of the animals, however, still is hard. Yet they are reassured over and over that production is much improved under animals than under humans. The pigs are the only ones, it is evident, whose lives have any form of comfort and sufficiency. They have long lived in the farmhouse and slept in beds (the rule against doing so having been revised to mean that sleeping in beds with sheets is the restriction, not the beds themselves). The elitism of the pigs is evident to all and widely accepted as necessary if they are to lead effectively. But one summer day, the other animals are shocked when Squealer, followed soon by the other pigs, appears in the farmyard walking on two legs. The Animalist motto, “Four legs good, two legs bad,” obviously is not going to work anymore. Without Squealer revising the rule for them, the sheep (and soon the other animals) revise the rule for themselves to match their new reality.
Analysis of Essential Passages
The use of propaganda in Animal Farm shows the slow progression by which the innocent citizens of a community are gradually duped into submission. From the revolutionary ideas of Old Major to the self-delusion of the sheep, Orwell demonstrates the path that totalitarian governments take in convincing their people that “Freedom is Slavery,” as Orwell states it in 1984. The willing collusion of the animals into compliance leads them into the slavery that they rebelled against earlier.
Old Major, the acknowledged wise leader of the barnyard, inspires the animals with dreams of freedom. Rather than using heavily charged, emotion-ladened words, he states the simple facts of their lives. They are hungry. They are worked hard. They are subjected to cruelty. No one is free. All are subject to the whims of humans. Old Major has appealed to the facts more than the emotions. He has placed his philosophy on the foundation of reason and observable proof. The situation is clearly black and white, slavery versus freedom, cruelty versus kindness. By the simplicity of his rhetoric, Old Major has convinced his fellow creatures of the sorry nature of existence. He points the blame where it justly belongs, and he prophesies a day when animals shall live in peace and happiness.
The use of heavy-handed propaganda will be left to Napoleon, Old Major's successor and the implementer of his philosophy. Napoleon has wisely codified the philosophy in the form of the Seven Commandments, simple statements of observable regulations. Easy to understand, they can be learned by the slowest mind. And yet Napoleon, as time goes on, begins to bend the philosophy to his own benefit, resulting in the concentration of power in his own hands (or hooves, rather). To do so, the rules must be “revised,” thus beginning the progress of propaganda to convince the animals of the fact that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” The brainwashing begins as each successive commandment must be rewritten to allow for “exceptions” to justify the past actions of Napoleon. Napoleon wants to sleep in a bed, so the rule must be modified to mean “beds with sheets.” Napoleon gets drunk, and he thus must revise the rule to mean no drinking alcohol “to excess.”
Through ignorance and an inability to reason, the animals fall for the propagandistic messages, thus giving up more and more of their freedom. The power of Napoleon’s words belies the fact of the animals' meager existence. They are cold and hungry, but they are "free." They do not even realize that they are still slaves: the master now is merely different.
The final triumph of the propagandistic machine is when it no longer needs to exist, when citizens themselves “revise” the regulations and their reality to coincide with the teaching of the rulers. As the sheep now proclaim that “two legs are better,” so the victory of tyranny is complete.
The ultimate tool of tyranny, as Orwell shows in both Animal Farm and 1984, is not military might but propaganda. Armies can kill, but they cannot convince. Combatants may threaten lives, but they cannot thrive in the hearts of the opposition. The real battlefield is not on the scorched earth of the enemy but in the minds of the people.