Propaganda in “Animal Farm”

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The book Animal Farm is a metaphorical fairy story portraying Stalinist Russia. It’s a fiction book written by George Orwell in 1944. The story begins in Manor Farm, where many of the animals are mistreated, neglected, and malnourished.

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Old Major, an old prize-winning boar taught them about a dream he had about animals living without humans, and the animals followed. Months later, the animals executed the revolution against the humans on their farm. They proved the other farms, Pinchfield and Foxwood, wrong by living in a communist society where everyone receives equal treatment. For a while, things were better than they were before. Later, everything started to go downhill. Power got to Napoleon’s head, the pig that took leadership, and he began to execute animals for things they never did. Soon, nobody questioned the authority and the pigs were nearly the exact same as the humans. Throughout the story, there are many types of propaganda that can be recognized in various real life situations. Some of which are selection, lying, and asking rhetorical questions. Propaganda in Animal Farm was used by Squealer and Napoleon to gain and keep power and control over the farm.

In selecting information to feed to the animals, Squealer, the main propagandist, and Napoleon make conditions on the farm seem better than they actually are. A great deal of the real facts are hidden behind closed doors and only certain information makes it to the surface to be widely known. Squealer represents fake news sources to spread misinformation. “Squealer… would read out to them lists of figures proving that the production of every class of foodstuff had increased by 200%, 300%, or 500%, as the case might be.” But what Squealer isn’t telling them is that they don’t have that much food, the facts are blown way out of proportion.

The most common and objectively worst form of propaganda is lying. For example, Snowball, the previous co-leader of Animal Farm, had the idea of building a windmill to increase productivity on the farm. He also helped a lot in the making of the windmill. However, once Snowball was run off the farm, Squealer said, “…the windmill was in fact Napoleon’s own creation.” and some animals questioned it, but were quickly shut down by more lies. Another lie that changed the fate of Animal Farm was when Napoleon lied about Snowball’s role in the Battle of the Cowshed. “The time will come when we shall find that Snowball’s part (at the Battle of the Cowshed) was much exaggerated.” Snowball’s role was in fact one of the most important parts in the whole battle. He was a hero, and somehow propaganda was used to persuade animals into thinking Snowball was the enemy. They drove Snowball away when he had their best interest at heart.

Another form of propaganda used in Animal Farm is rhetorical questions. It essentially scares the animals into thinking something bad will happen if they don’t do what they’re told. An example of a rhetorical question that came up a few times is, “Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?” This alarmed the animals and made them work harder than they had to to make sure Jones wouldn’t come back. Their days and days of toil had no effect on whether Jones came back or not. Rhetorical questions were used to control the animals’ emotions.

The revolution in Animal Farm was meant to create a better society for the animals. Perhaps that could’ve worked without the dishonest use of language to control the farm. Both Squealer and Napoleon successfully used propaganda to wield power over the farm. However, the use of propaganda led to a dystopian society.

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