In the masterfully constructed novella “Animal Farm” (1945) written by George Orwell, a group of animals revolt against their human masters only to become exactly like the powers and injustice they first fought against. However, on a larger scale, Animal Farm is considerably one of the most controversial and enduring novellas. It is widely regarded as an allegory of the Russian Revolution of 1917; the actions and influence utilized to gain power in what became a totalitarian state.
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The use of creating a common and absent enemy indistinguishably emerges as a theme throughout Animal Farm. In Animal Farm, the exiled characters of Mr. Jones and Snowball are used by Napoleon to allow the animals to feel united against a common cause and place their trust and even lives in his leadership. Even when the animals begin to doubt Napoleon’s explanations and intentions, the intimidating remarks “Surely…you do not want Jones back?” (p.g 21) sends the animals into subservience. In a way to keep his name clean, when things went bad on the farm, Napoleon blamed Snowball, using him as a scapegoat to create a sense of fear from which only he could protect them; “The animals were thoroughly frightened…Snowball were some kind of invisible influence… menacing them with all kinds of danger.” (p.g 31). This molding of characters to create enemies unites the animals through common interests and leaves the animals completely trusting of their “great leader” to help them steer them the right path in times of hardships.
The quote “If you control the food supply, you control the people,” plainly, sums up Napoleon’s reasons for rationing food when supplies were plenty. By withholding rations, Napoleon maintains power as no animal can go without food. Food is one of the animals’ main motivations as we can see from their initial revolt when Mr. Jones was underfeeding them. Napoleon promises more food yet abuses the animals’ inability to remember as a means of controlling food distribution. Napoleon even uses food to manipulate the animals, threatening the “…hens rations to be stopped…” and “…any animal giving so much as a grain to a hen should be punished by death.” Squealer’s convincing, persuasive techniques: “Many of us actually dislike milk and apples” and “It is for your sake we eat the milk and apples…” illustrate the pigs as somewhat heroic and sacrificing their desires for the good of the farm. This coerces the animals to believe they shouldn’t be so selfish and pressures them to agree with the beliefs of their leader. Although Napoleon could be easily overthrown for his food supply, sufficiently feeding the dogs gave reason for them to stay under Napoleon’s command where the remaining animals could not revolt under such strong enforcement. Controlling the food supply allowed Napoleon to remain in power as without it, the animals could not survive and are therefore were forced to comply.
Napoleon insists on near impossible labor demands from the animals and yet, they obey. Initially the animals adhere to the commands of Napoleon for the good of the farm and the need to prove themselves to the ever watching and ever judging humans. As the demands become greater and the standard of living worsens, the animals continue to comply with Napoleon’s orders as hard work and labor is glorified. Boxer’s manta of “I will work harder…” adds to the belief that “The truest happiness…lay in working hard and living frugally.”
In the eyes of the animals, Napoleon is a seemingly ideal leader, guiding them through their troubles and preventing the hardships of the human race. However, throughout the novel, Orwell reveals Napoleon’s true colors in more depth exposing him as deceitful, greedy character, unmistakably constructing his dictatorship through absolute manipulation. The vast range of evidence used to portray Napoleon’s use of Snowball and Jones as common threats, control of food to create desperation, utilization of propaganda to change historical happening for his advantage and glorification of labor depict Napoleon’s authorial leadership. However, the question of how long that power will last until the masses rise up against their masters again to overthrow injustice creates food for thought.
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