Animal Farm

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade September 2001

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Animal Farm, by George Orwell is a novel about a farm, where the farmers are overpowered by the animals. The animals feel they haven’t been treated fairly, so they try to learn to read and write in order to take control. Once they have the farm, the pigs, who are extremely greedy and deceitful, establish a dictatorship. They delude the other animals into thinking they have a perfect society, and create a society that is beneficial only for them. This is accomplished by using the power of language. The pigs twist the meaning of words, and are able to do this because they are the main animals who have learned to read and write. The pigs also change the history to reflect positively on those who gain power. They contradict their main philosophy, which is basically that any human characteristic is bad, by walking, wearing clothes, and drinking alcohol. Those in positions of leadership abuse their power because they have the ability to do so.

In the end, the animals’ vision of a perfect society is completely lost due to the pigs’ selfish ways.

The pigs are very careful in every action they make. Every word they speak has to be perfect. They use the power of language to help them succeed in their quest for their selfish, perfect society. The main pig that is responsible for using the power of language is Squealer. When the apples and milk disappear, all the animals wonder where it has gone. Of course, the pigs have taken them. Squealer says, “Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself… Milk and apples (this has been proved by science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well being of a pig,” (52). In another example words were used to threaten the animals: “Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?” (70). Complicated language such as files, reports, minutes, and memoranda were used to confuse other animals (129). They were also misguided when they were told there would be a readjustment of rations rather than using the word reduction, which was really what was done (115). Additionally commandments were changed to allow for some instances of killing, drinking alcohol, and sleeping in beds. This was justified by saying, “Very comfortable beds they are too! But not more comfortable than we need, I can tell you comrades, with all the brainwork (81). Obviously the pigs were very deceitful in their leadership as they used the power of language.

Napolean became their leader through changes in history made by those in power. Snowball was used as a scapegoat in order to achieve this. In a storm the windmill came down but Napolean blamed Snowball for it being destroyed. The key to the shed was missing, but Squealer claimed Snowball must have stolen it. Later it was found in a sack of grain. Snowball was accused of being in league with Jones, the old farmer, but in fact he was fighting against him in the Battle of the Cowshed. Although Snowball had led the fight Napolean was known as the leader and hero in that battle. This shows how winners write history.

The pigs also abused their power in many ways. For example, they slept in beds, while the other animals had to sleep in the barn. The pigs also did little labor around the farm. The others were required to step aside when those in power walked past. The best food was set aside for the pigs and other leaders. Finally, the retirement field was turned into a field producing barley, an important ingredient in beer. Originally, elderly animals would spend their last days in the retirement field where they relaxed and did not need to work. With this change these animals had to work until they died, and the barley was used for making beer so the pigs could drink alcohol. The pigs took advantage of their power to create a society, which was advantageous to them, instead of being faithful to their plans for an equal society.

George Orwell seems to be saying in his novel Animal Farm that a perfect society is impossible, not because it is impossible in theory, but that “human” nature interferes with utopian plans. The pigs being intelligent animals were able to learn to read and write, and in so doing used language to distort what was really happening. These powerful animals, telling a story with themselves as leaders, rewrote the history. The leaders continued to abuse their power throughout the story. Human characteristics such as selfishness, greed, deceit, intelligence, thirst for power, and enjoyment of personal comfort drove the animals to demolish the equality necessary for their vision of society to succeed.