Animal Farm, by George Orwell, was first published in 1945. Propaganda and the abuse of power are prevalent themes in the satirical novel, accentuated by the deliberate use of carefully selected language techniques. This essay will illustrate how a wide range of language techniques can be used to support a theme that runs through every aspect of the story and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
Context is essential in understanding the underlying elements in the book. The book was written in 1945 and reflects the events leading up to the Stalin era before the Second World War. Setting is important in this novel as it relates to the themes in the book. Animal Farm is a story where animals are personified to resemble the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalin. Parody is found in this mocking imitation of real-life people as some of the animals are based on Communist Party leaders: Joseph Stalin as Napoleon and Leon Trotsky as Snowball. Animal Farm is a political satire where Orwell criticizes socialism and capitalism in a humorous way. Propaganda and the abuse of power are issues that are most often associated with politics.
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The characters play a vital role in revealing the hidden themes in the story. They are the ones who drive the action and who the reader connects with. From the passage, it is clear that Napoleon is the animal in charge and the one with the most power. This is revealed in his title as ‘Leader’ as well as the interaction between Squealer and Boxer. Boxer’s reply; If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right highlights the power imbalance in the relationship between the animals. It relates to both the themes of abuse of power and propaganda, as in his position of power, Napoleon’s word is accepted as an unquestionable truth. It also reveals how propaganda has worked into brainwashing the animals into believing this truth. Squealers’ reply of, That is the true spirit, comrade, relates to the theme of propaganda as it reinforces the idea that everything Napoleon does or says is in the right. Napoleon’s power (and abuse thereof) can also be found in the act of awarding himself medals of ‘Animal Hero, First Class’ and ‘Animal Hero, Second Class’. A portion of his power comes from the fact that he controls the dogs. This relates to the theme of abuse of power as he uses the dogs (that only he can control) to capture the pigs. The other animals are at a disadvantage as he is the only one with a weapon, and he uses that weapon as a means to control them with fear. Both the dialogue and actions of the characters are essential in informing the reader of the position of each character and how they relate to others.
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