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Propaganda In Animal Farm Essay Introduction

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Animalism, Fear And Propaganda In Animal Farm - With A Free Essay Review

PROMPT: How Does Napoleon Use Animalism, Fear And Propaganda To Control The Animals On Animal Farm?

Animal Farm, a political allegory written by George Orwell in 1945 is a masterpiece which gives us a timeless look at the various tyrannical and dictatorial societies. The book hints at the Russian Revolution of 1917 and past and future totalitarian governments. Just like many of us know from World War II, propaganda has a big role in dictatorial societies, so does Fear, and Philosophy. These three concepts are very well explored by Eric Arthur Blair in his novella Animal Farm. Napoleon’s use of the nine dogs as a fear creating body is just one example of how fear is used to bring the animals under his supremacy. There are numerous other occasions in the book when either Napoleon himself or his spokesperson Squealer would use one of these techniques to either persuade the large number of animals or force upon them a set of ideas. Now, one by one, I am going to uncover the various situations and the many ways Napoleon used propaganda, fear and animalism to control the beasts on Animal Farm.

To begin with, Propaganda is used very cleverly on Napoleon’s Animal Farm. These are some of the many ways Napoleon used it to control the animals. In chapter 5, Squealer reassures the animals that whatever Napoleon is doing is for their benefit and that Snowball was nothing but a criminal. Squealer used Name Calling to give a description of Snowball, which went as much “Snowball, who, as we now know, was no better than a criminal… [And] Snowball’s part in [The Battle of Cowshed] it was much exaggerated.” [Orwell 37] He even used fear by saying “Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?” [Orwell 37]. The animals thus could not resist to this argument for they hated Jones the most and they would do whatever possible so that Jones would never show his face again on their farm. This way Napoleon could expel Snowball not only from the farm, but from the hearts of the animals too. Next, the song Minimus composes for Napoleon is an example of Glittering Generalities, one of the many propaganda techniques. The song “Friend of fatherless! Fountain of happiness!…Calm and commanding eye, Like the sun in the sky, Comrade Napoleon…” [Orwell 63] praises Napoleon very highly and credits all the positives on the farm to him. Napoleon here is promoting himself and attributing himself all the qualities that the animals wish to see in their leader. Moreover, Squealer calls it a ‘readjustment’ of food instead of a ‘reduction’ in Chapter 9. Euphemism has been used here, because instead of using the bland and unpleasant word “reduction” which means dropping the quantity, the more palatable word “readjustment” was used, which can either mean an increase in the quantity or a decrease. This way, animals cannot possibly question the pigs for giving them lesser ration. There is also an example of Transfer at the end of chapter 9 when Napoleon tells the animals to adopt Boxer’s two mottos, “I will work harder” and “Comrade Napoleon is always right” just after Boxer passed away. By definition Transfer is “a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept” and Comrade Napoleon very cunningly carries that out, because almost every animal on the farm had great reverence for Boxer and his great strength and willingness to always do more than he was asked for. So, now the animals would work harder for the farm (which is good for the pigs and especially Napoleon, for they themselves sit and consume) and no one would question Napoleon since Boxer (someone who they would admired greatly) used to carry out Napoleon’s all wishes. Card Stacking is also used in Animal Farm when Squealer lies to the animals that there is enough food on the farm, while in reality the food was scarce. Logical Fallacy too is used throughout the novel, especially after the expulsion of Snowball, for whenever something bad happened on Animal Farm, it was blamed upon Snowball. So, basically, it had now become a norm that if something happened, Snowball would be behind it. This then saved Napoleon from a candidate who had both the power and the brain to challenge his power. Just like Harold Pinter said “It’s so easy for propaganda to work, and dissent to be mocked.” Napoleon used propaganda all in his favor and to strengthen his control over the rest of the farm.

A misuse of Animalism can be found in chapter 6, at the time when the pigs move into the farmhouse and take it as their residence. When the animals questioned the pigs’ relocation, they were very shrewdly tacked by Squealer and other pigs. The pigs had changed one of the seven commandments that read “No animals shall sleep in a bed” [Orwell 15] to “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets” [Orwell 45]. And then again when Squealer gave his persuasive speech to the animals regarding this issue, he presented the idea that of the possibility of Jones taking back the farm, which ran a surged a shrill wave of fear through the animals’ bodies. And, this changing of the seven commandments, the pillars of Animalism, can be seen throughout the course of the story, for example, the change of “No animal shall kill any other animal” to “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause”. Napoleon had changed the commandments to his wish, for he could now deceive the animals, and Sqqealer actually did say once in chapter 6 that “You did not suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds?”

The first reference to the use of fear by Napoleon is in chapter 5. In this chapter, Napoleon, right after Snowball finished speaking for the Windmill project, “uttered a high pitched whimper…and nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn” [Orwell 35]. The dogs created fear in all of the animals and made it very easy for Napoleon to ascend to the position of the leader of Animal Farm. The dogs’ fear also prevented rebellion against Napoleon or any questioning of his authority. Another appeal of fear is shown when Squealer explains to everyone that Napoleon had restarted the Windmill project. Here the three dogs growled so threateningly that no animal could question any further. A big and gory example of fear is in chapter 7 when Napoleon orders his fiery dogs to slaughter the four pigs that were at times rebellious and questioned his authority. Then a series of bloody trail followed, in which three hens, a goose, three sheep and many others were slain until “there was a pile of corpses lying Napoleon’s feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood” [Orwell 57]. This filled the rest of the animals on the farm with more fear and terror than ever for now their race was doing it and it indeed go against Animalism. So, now, everyone knew that the punishment of disobedience to Napoleon would simply result in death. The constantly used phrase “Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?” is truly a decent use of fear in the book to control the animals, for whenever they were presented with the fact that Jones can indeed come back, they would just accept whatever the idea, no matter if it was right or wrong. So, fear was used directly to throw rules upon the animals, prevent an uprising and to make sure that everything went according to the wish of the pigs.

Thus there is no doubt that Napoleon used propaganda, fear and animalism to keep the animals under his supremacy and maintain his position as the leader of the Farm. The three techniques heavily influence the way animal farm was set up and the lives of the animals.


Orwell, George. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970. Print.



I think what you need to focus on here in the prompt is the word "control." You are being asked how certain things (animalism, propaganda, fear) are used to control the animals on the farms. To answer that question, you need to think about what it means in the story to control the animals. You need to think, in other words, about what Napoleon wants to get those animals to do or not do, and to think or not think. If you think about what Napoleon is actually trying to achieve, then you can talk more meaningfully about the way he achieves it.

In the last sentence of your first paragraph you promise to "uncover" "one by one" "the ways Napoleon use[s] propaganda ..." I think that is the wrong approach. Your essay ends up being a list of examples rather than an argument. So your next paragraph is a list of examples of use of propaganda, with very little analysis of how the propaganda brings about the kind of control that Napoleon wants to effect. You don't explain, for instance, what Napoleon and Squealer are trying to achieve when they denigrate Snowball. Of course you do begin by saying that they want to convince the animals that "Snowball was nothing but a criminal," but you don't explain why they want to do that, or what it has to do with the exercise of control. Likewise Minimus's song certainly promotes, as you say, Napoleon, but to what end? At the end of the long paragraph on propaganda, you do have an argument about the effect of one element of the propaganda (it "saved Napoleon form a candidate who had ... the power ... to challenge [him]"). I think it would be better to focus your paragraph on the development of arguments like that, rather than on drawing up a list of examples.

The paragraph on Animalism is perhaps more problematic because while you do show that the principles are changed over time, you don't really talk at all about how Animalism (as a philosophy or an ideology) is actually used for the purposes of controlling animals. Is it intended to make them good revolutionaries? Or good citizens of Animal Farm? Or just to create the impression that they have rights, and so appease them? The paragraph on the use of fear, by contrast, is much clearer on the way that fear is used for the purpose of control.

Finally, if you revise the central paragraphs of the essay along the lines suggested here, where the focus is to explain what type of control is exerted through the use of propaganda, fear, and Animalism, you might then be in a position to revise your final sentence of your opening paragraph into the form of a thesis about the novella, rather than a promise about your essay.

Best, EJ.

Submitted by: nishantaggarwal

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George Orwell’s 1946 novel Animal Farm uses the animals of Manor Farm as a metaphor for Stalinism in order to demonstrate the corruption and dangers of a Communist leadership. In keeping with this theme, the novel employs many instances of propaganda–an oft-used tool of totalitarian leaders–to illustrate that people can be easily convinced by flawed ideas if they’re presented in an engaging manner. This allegorical dystopia uses songs, slogans, and poems to depict the manner in which the animals gradually come under Napoleon’s spell with the effective machinations of Squealer, the farm’s Minister of Propaganda. Although Orwell also uses positive propaganda to demonstrate its power in uniting a populace, the overwhelming message of this novel is that people living under an oppressive regime are ripe to be manipulated by the persuasive power of propaganda. Animal Farm demonstrates that true power may lie not with the dictator himself, but with the mouthpiece who speaks for him.

In the essay that was meant to preface the original edition of Animal Farm, George Orwell writes that “unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban” (“Freedom”). This idea holds true for the residents of Manor Farm due to the diligent hard work of Squealer, the farm’s Minister of Propaganda and official mouthpiece for dictator Napoleon. Although Napoleon’s mode of speech tends towards the taciturn and terse, Squealer is known by the other animals to be a “brilliant talker” (Animal Farm 6) whose entire physical being becomes animated when he is engaged in convincing his audience. His reputation is that of one who “could turn black into white” (6). He possesses the innate ability to turn the other animals’ arguments around with wordplay that has them agreeing with issues that just moments earlier had them enraged. This is seen most notably with the mystery of the missing milk. Once the other animals learn that this extra milk is being used to supplement the pigs’ apple mash, food that the Manor Farm animals “had assumed as a matter of course […] would be shared out equally” (14).

It falls to Squealer to calm down the angry animals and explain the rightness of the situation. To win the argument, he overly complicates his language, thus taking advantage of the poorly-educated animals who have difficulty following complex argumentative strategies. Telling them that “many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself” (Ibid.) but that the foods are :absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig” (Ibid.), Squealer aligns himself with the other animals by pretending to be more interested in their well-being than his own. He effectively gains their total agreement by subtly suggesting that if the pigs aren’t well fed than they will be unable to protect the other animals, possibly leading to the return of the hated Mr. Jones. This sort of propaganda twists the truth by suggesting that the goals of the pigs and the other animals are the same, and that the pigs have only the other animals best interest at heart. It has the effect of silencing dissent, because once he introduces the figure of Mr. Jones into his argument, the other animals “had no more to say” (Ibid.). The animals agree to reserve all extra milk and apples for the pigs’ sole consumption, an opposite opinion to the one they had prior to listening to Squealer’s doublespeak.

The key to Squealer’s talent as a propaganda machine for Napoleon lies in his ability to manipulate language to suit the particular demands of his audience and the specific situation itself. When he wants to hide his intentions or the truth, he uses overly complex words and ideas that intimidate the other animals and make them feel intellectually unequipped to join in the discussion. One example of this is Squealer’s reference to “tactics” (22) in explaining that Napoleon had been behind the decision to build a windmill all along. This contradicts his earlier explanation of the issue, but it is no matter for the other animals don’t understand what he means anyway. His constant use of propaganda that goes over their heads ensures that they “[accept] his explanations without further questions” (23) because Squealer has positioned himself as the keeper of knowledge who is essential for the animals of Manor Farm to understand Napoleon’s grand design.

Squealer is also guilty of oversimplifying language when it suits his purposes. He employs this tactic late in the novel in a key instance of propaganda and manipulation when he teaches the sheep the phrase “‘Four legs good, two legs better'” (51) so that they might cry it out at the appropriate moment to silence any dissent that might arise from the other animals when they see the pigs walking upright in direct contradiction to the original maxim of Animalism “Four legs good, two legs bad” (12). Clearly, Squealer is a master at orchestrating events so that they turn in the pigs’ favor, for the sheep bleat out their simple refrain at the exact moment when the brow-beaten, brainwashed animals might have spoken out, “as though at a signal” (51). And, of course, Squealer is the pig behind that signal, manipulating words and events with equal measures of abandon so that the confused animals no longer know what, or how, to think. Instead, they wish only to be told what to do, convinced by Squealer’s propaganda that they are nothing without the pigs’ leadership.

Squealer’s masterful language manipulations result in a state of mind for the other animals that bolsters George Orwell’s statement that “the result of preaching totalitarian doctrines is to weaken the instinct by which free peoples know what is or is not dangerous” (“Freedom”). Although the farm animals are ostensibly free from the abuse of Mr. Jones, they have been brainwashed to the point where they are no longer to tell truth from fiction, even when it stares them plain in the face, such as with the writing on the van that takes Boxer away from the farm. The literate Benjamin is able to read the letters and tells the other animals that the van belongs to “‘Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone−Meal'” (36). The farm animals react to this news with total horror, however they are unable to save Boxer and, days later, are quite accepting of Squealer’s explanation that “the van had previously been the property of the knacker, and had been bought by the veterinary surgeon, who had not yet painted the old name out” (37). Although the animals should know better, they accept Squealer’s version of the truth because it is easier than thinking for themselves. To think independently means to confront possibly ugly truths and be forced to do something about them–few of the animals are bright enough or strong enough to deal with such a burden.

Additionally, Squealer is able to manipulate this possibly damaging moment by both casting aspersions on the “stupid” (36) animals who spread a “foolish and wicked rumor” (Ibid.) regarding the horse knacker and using Boxer’s death to further bolster Napoleon’s plan for the completion of Manor Farm’s windmill. There are no animals who are able to contradict his claim that he was with Boxer during the popular horse’s final moments, nor are they able to dispute his assertion that Boxer’s final words were used to praise Napoleon by urging his fellow animals, “‘Forward, comrades! […] ‘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” (37). This speaks to the key reason why Squealer is such an effective mouthpiece for Napoleon: not only is he able to manipulate language to suit his leader’s needs, but he is able to gauge the temperament of his audience and alter his message to fit their current moods, thereby ensuring that he will be successful in his machinations.

The lies and half truths issued by Squealer do not always have an entirely negative effect. There are instances in Animal Farm when propaganda helps to build a greater sense of community amongst the animals, heightening their sense of kinship and the belief that they are accomplishing the goals that they first set out to achieve in ousting Mr. Jones. This occurs most effectively when the animals’ spirits are at their lowest, such as during the harsh winter when supplies are dwindling and morale is down. Squealer produces statistics that contradicts the reality of their situation by proving that they are much better off. His figures ‘prove’ “that they lived longer, that a larger proportion of their young ones survived infancy, and that they had more straw in their stalls and suffered less from fleas. The animals believed every word of it” (33). Indeed, they take great comfort from such unprovable ‘facts’, in part because of the “greater dignity” (34) that they feel as a result of the increase in speeches and songs, which give greater meaning to their desperate circumstances. The introduction of “Spontaneous Demonstrations” (Ibid.) ordered by Napoleon but carefully orchestrated by Squealer, also aids in their acceptance of their new lot in life. Of course, because they are planned, these demonstrations cannot be spontaneous, but this is a bit of clever manipulation that the animals are no longer capable of recognizing. Instead, they revel in the pomp and circumstance of the events which “celebrate the struggles and triumphs of Animal Farm” (Ibid.), giving the animals something to look forward to in the dreariness of their regular life.

While Napoleon may wear the symbolic crown as leader of the Manor Farm, ruling through terror and fear, and Snowball once represented the hopeful prospect that the animals’ rebellion might succeed by implementing education and a greater sense of egalitarianism, it is indeed Squealer who truly controls the farm animals. With his propaganda tools, he is able to manipulate Napoleon’s subjects to the point where they learn to love their brutal lives, and crave Squealer’s direction as they no longer have a will of their own. Through the character of Squealer, Orwell demonstrates the dangerous power of propaganda in manipulating people to the point where they are no longer able to recognize the truth and must blindly accept whatever their government, and its mouthpiece, sees fit to tell them.


  • Orwell, George (1979). Animal farm. New York: Penguin.
  • (2011). Preface to the Ukrainian edition of animal farm, 1947. In Charles’ george orwell links. Retrieved from http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/articles/ukrainian-af- pref.htm
  • (2004). Freedom of the press: original preface to animal farm. First published in The Times Literary Supplement. In George orwell. Retrieved from http://orwell.ru/library/novels/Animal_Farm/english/efp_go

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