GCSE Animal Farm – Themes
Animalism is one of the key themes about animals only working for themselves and is similar to communist ideals. It is a “system of thought” inspired by Old Major. In Old Majors utopian vision, he saw animals working alongside each other, running the farm for themselves and all having an equal say in the decisions, which are made.
Old Major summarised his beliefs in seven commandments before he passed away. He felt that every animal should be treated equally and fairly. The commandments are written on the barn wall but as Napoleon and the pigs gain more power, they get altered until finally there is nothing left of the original idea of Animalism. All the commandments are rubbed out and the one rule is left on display “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
Education and Social Class
After the revolution, different social classes start to emerge. The pigs become the ruling class, and the other animals become the working class. Education is part of the reason for this divide. The formation of these classes goes against the commandments and animalism as “all animals are equal” within the system of thought. The pigs help to reinforce this divide and use it for their own means. They gain more and more power over the other animals through fear and manipulation. The pigs also control education within the farm. They teach themselves to read to ensure that they are superior from the start. This contradicts Snowball’s wishes, as wanted to see education for all animals on the farm.
Power and Language
The pigs use language to gain power over the other animals. Squealer’s persuasive language is a powerful form of propaganda which he uses to keep Napoleon in power. Napoleon also increases his power over the farm by controlling rations and keeping the others in fear through trials and executions of anyone who may be a challenge to him.
Orwell was concerned about the power of language, and how it could be manipulated to change its purpose and meaning. The animals are constantly been told lies by the pigs and even their memories are altered by stories that the pigs have created to keep them obedient and unquestioning.
For equality, the farm needed to have freedom of speech. However, as soon as anybody disagreed with Napoleon he got rid of them. For example, Napoleon used his dogs to chase Snowball out of the farm because his ideas were very different to Napoleon’s. Other animals faced trials and executions if Napoleon felt threatened by them, saying that they were in league with Snowball.
Even if an animal had a rebellious thought, they couldn’t express it once Napoleon and the pigs were in power. Napoleon was able to control their thoughts by restricting what they heard and said.
The pigs use propaganda to control the other animals and maintain their power over them. Squealer is the most skilled at using propaganda to keep the animals powerless. He spoke so persuasively that the animals believed everything he said. He even managed to change their memories through the descriptive but false stories he told about the past.
Squealer used propaganda to glorify Napoleon and give him credit for anything good that went on in the farm. He also used propaganda to blame Snowball for anything that went wrong at the farm. As Snowball was no longer at the farm, he had no way of saying the truth to the animals, so they began to believe that Snowball was a traitor and unkind. They even became scared of him and started to believe he was coming to the farm in the evening to steal from them due to the lies which Squealer told them.