Animal Farm, an allegory by George Orwell, echoes real historical figures and ideas about the Russian Revolution. The story about a group of animals that overthrow their farmer, Mr. Jones, is actually about the Communist Revolution that took place in 1917. Orwell brilliantly uses his characters and storyline to represent the events and support his political commentary. One of the characters, Squealer, a pig second in command, is fairly represented by George Orwell as Soviet propaganda for he persuades others by taking advantage of their pride in hard work and he spreads lies by appealing to emotions.
Through his character Squealer, Orwell wants to illustrate how the propaganda of the revolution was persuasive because it took advantage of worker pride. Russian propaganda often displayed images of proud workers. For instance, Long live the indissoluble Union of the iron of the working class with the peasantry! by Ivan Simakov depicts 2 strong men carrying the soviet flag and farming tools as they walk upstairs towards success (Figure 1).
It is an image of pride, strength, and idealism. They hold tools to show that they are farmers and laborers who take pride in their work. Squealer tries to make the animals on the farm work harder by taking advantage of the pride they felt in hard work: “[He] made excellent speeches on the joy of service and the dignity of labor, but the other animals found more inspiration in Boxer’s strength and his never-failing cry of ‘I will work harder!’” (Orwell 57).
Squealer uses the image of hard work to exploit the animals into making a greater sacrifice. When Boxer dies, Squealer uses his death for personal gain. He recounts the events of Boxer’s death to the animals:
I was at his bedside at the very last. And at the end, almost too weak to speak, he whispered in my ear that his sole sorrow was to have passed on before the windmill was finished. ‘Forward, comrades!’ he whispered. ‘Forward in the name of the Rebellion. Long live Animal Farm! Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right.’ Those were his very last words, comrades (Orwell 92).
Soon we discover that Boxer had actually been taken to be slaughtered and that Squealer had simply lied to the animals to inspire them to keep working. Squealer is effective because he takes advantage of the inspiration the animals feel with hard work and can easily manipulate others, just like Russian propaganda.
Orwell also uses Squealer to show us how propaganda is able to spread lies by manipulating other’s emotions. In PRAVDA: A PROPAGANDA SHEET IN DISGUISE OF NEWSPAPER? Tarihi discusses how one of “the most important [propaganda] tools can be said to be “suggestion” or “stimulation”” (Tarihi 8). This is a great example of one of Squealers various persuasion techniques of proposing an idea, and convincing people to accept, but not through logic and reasoning.
His claims are very compelling to the animals even if it makes no logical sense to trust them. This is because he appeals to their emotions, but most specifically fear. Squealer frequently assures, “Do you know what happens if we pigs fail in our duty? Jones would come back!” (Orwell 22). This is one of many times throughout the book in which Squealer exploits the animals’ fear so that he may maintain order and power.
He does so by insinuating that Mr. Jones would come back if the pigs were not in charge. This causes the animals to feel like they have no other choice but to trust the pigs. Squealer completely exploits that trust and the power that he has over the animals by spreading lies and gradually changing the list of commandments. By manipulating their emotions, Squealer leads the animals to believe in these dishonest commandments and other lies.
George Orwell wants to warn the world about the dangers of totalitarianism, but he knows that people are not interested in a news story about the Communist Revolution. Instead, Orwell uses allegory and writes a simple story using the kind of farm animals you can find in a children’s book. The allegory makes a complicated issue easier to understand.
Orwell uses the power of a story to inform and educate the reader about the lies spread by propaganda, which is represented by Squealer. As can be seen, Orwell has fairly characterized Squealer as his real-world representation for he uses the animals’ pride in hard work to control them, and is able to convince them his lies are true by targeting their emotions.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Secker and Warburg, 1945. PDF file, drive.google.com/file/d/1K6TPb2GEwxIYECyV6ix3baHP4lwEioxx/view. Accessed Sep 5, 2020.
Simakov, Ivan. Long live the indissoluble Union of the iron of the working class with the peasantry! 1924, lithograph on paper.
Tarihi, Gönderim and Kabul Tarihi. PRAVDA: A PROPAGANDA SHEET IN DISGUISE OF NEWSPAPER? 2018. PDF file. Accessed Sep 5, 2020.
Rodden, John. Understanding Animal Farm: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. ks Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. Google Books, books.google.com.br/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TG-YpkczTjEC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=russian+revolution+propaganda+animal+farm&ots=jlt5cYZsvV&sig=_KUGhxL2bW_EUDUUB3C3r2fEADg#v=onepage&q=squealer&f=false. Accessed Sep 5, 2020.
Strakhov, Adolf. Emancipated Women: Build Socialism! 1926, lithograph on paper. Tate Modern, London.
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