Animal Farm, by George Orwell

Animal Farm, by George Orwell

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“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” This simple quote from Animal Farm, which at first seems merely humorous, can provide valuable insight into the values and ideas expressed in the novel. George Orwell uses various language forms and features to convey the ideas that are evident in Animal Farm. Such features include allegory, fable, satire, imagery and characterization. They are used to provide understanding of the purpose of the composition and in doing so convey ideas such as greed, propaganda, utopia, work ethic, betrayal and warnings.

     The form of allegory in Animal Farm is used to convey the composer’s ideas. Animal Farm is a composition which includes a deeper level of meaning beneath the superficial children’s story. One particular perception of the audience is that it is a subtle warning that power can corrupt any government. This can be seen through the character Napoleon and several of his porcine counterparts. As the novel develops, the pigs gradually obtain more power, which they use to take advantage of the less intelligent animals on the farm. This supports the idea that Orwell is possibly warning the audience that no matter what the original intentions are, power can corrupt anyone. Orwell uses a deeper level of meaning to act as a vehicle to convey his idea in the form of a warning.

     Animal Farm is a fable which is used to teach a lesson in morality. One such lesson can be that greed reveals the worst in everyone. In the novel, the pigs were driven by their own personal interests and ambition until they became just as bad as their enemies (and even friends with them). The earliest example of greed is when the pigs steal the apples and milk for themselves under the false pretence of it being for the benefit of the farm. Later on, they become even bolder when Napoleon declares that what was to become the retirement paddock was to be sown with barley. This evidence is directly linked to the idea that greed produces the worst in everyone. Therefore Orwell’s ideas on greed are conveyed through the form of a fable.

     Satire is also used in Animal Farm to help achieve the writer’s purpose. Animal Farm is a satirical view of Russian politics in the early to mid twentieth-century. This can be deduced from several key factors. The composer parallels the characters in Animal Farm to key Russian leaders by mimicking their personalities to their human equivalents.

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He also copies several historical events, however they are modified accordingly to suit the context of a farm. An example of this is the building of the windmill. The windmill symbolized the effort to industrialise Russia in the twentieth-century. By linking the two, Orwell is satirising Russian politics as he does this in a critical manner, making his opinions on the topic obvious. This is evident as he regularly exaggerates people as well as events and also incorporates humour. In summary, Orwell uses satire to convey his opinions of Russian politics in the aforesaid time period.

     George Orwell uses imagery in the text to evoke particular pictures in the minds of the readers. The use of metaphoric language is common in the novel when describing the idea of utopia, a frequent theme throughout the novel. An example of this is during Old Major’s oration to the animals of the farm, when he sings the song ‘Beasts of England’. One stanza of the song is: “Bright will shine the fields of England, Purer shall its waters be, Sweeter yet shall blow its breezes, On the day that sets us free.” Orwell uses imagery in this instance to evoke certain feelings in the audience. In addition, it conveys the theme of utopia to the responder. Therefore the idea of utopia is conveyed through the technique of imagery.

     Characterisation is used as a vehicle to convey the idea of work ethic. This idea is mainly suggested to the responder through the character Boxer in Animal Farm. Boxer, who is the epitome of hard work in the novel, adopted the saying “I will work harder” and woke up earlier than everyone else in the morning for the sake of his friends. This supports the concept that the idea of a good work ethic was strong in the animals, especially Boxer. Therefore, the idea of work ethic is conveyed through the characterisation of Boxer.

     Characterisation is also used to express the idea of propaganda. Squealer the pig is portrayed as cunning throughout the novel. Not surprisingly then, he is the centre of the propaganda on Animal Farm. He uses the propaganda to take advantage of the less intelligent animals often by stating false statistics or claiming that Mr. Jones will return. One example of this is: “Squealer would read out to them lists of figures proving that production had gone up by two hundred per cent, three hundred per cent, or five hundred per cent, as the case might be.” This evidence proves that the pigs were taking advantage of the other animals through Squealer. Hence, the idea of propaganda is expressed through the characterisation of Squealer.

     In conclusion, George Orwell has expressed his opinions, values and ideas in the novel Animal Farm. He does this through the use of forms and features of language including allegory, fable, satire, imagery and characterisation. Maybe in today’s world all men are equal, but Orwell’s opinion is that some will always be more equal than others.      
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