Animal Farm - Language and Structure

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Language and Structure
Irony - When a writer uses words that suggest the opposite of what they actually mean
Satire - A written attack that makes something look foolish or unpleasant ­ ironic humour is often
used to draw our attention to follies that the author is attacking
Allegory ­ A story that mirrors historic events or wider ideas
Fable ­ A short story that contains a moral message
Manipulating Language ­ And People
One of Orwell's main concerns was the way in which language could be used to manipulate and
mislead people. This concern is reflected in Animal Farm.
Language Used By The Pigs
The pigs ­ in particular squealer ­ manipulate language to control the farm. The techniques they use
include:
Rhetorical questions: The animals are repeatedly asked if they want Jones to come back: "Do
you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back!" pg30
Statistics: Squealer tells the animals that they eat more and work less: the opposite of the
truth. They create an illusion of life on the farm that the animals are incapable of questioning
Subversion: The pigs completely change the meaning of the words. They use the word `
equality' to mean its opposite. Its logically impossible for anyone to be `more equal' than
another. (oxymoron)
Simplification: Majors maxim: Whatever goes upon two legs, is an enemy. Whatever goes
upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend" is reduced to the slogan "Four legs good, two legs
bad". The less intelligent animals adopt this reductive phrase, which becomes a way of
silencing dissent.
Obfuscation: The Pigs deliberately mislead the animals by using words that they find
confusing.
Distortion: The meanings of words are twisted out of shape, reducing language to nonsense.
Satire
Animal stereotypes: His choice of animal to represent different historical figures or ideas is satirical.
He uses mainly negative representations, e.g the sheep (traditionally regarded as stupid animals) are
used to represent the public as an unthinking `mob' and a donkey (tend to think as stubborn) is the
farm's cynic Benjamin.
Political allegory: The symbols used are obvious ­ as you would expect in an allegory. The farm
represents Russia; Napoleon as Stalin. The satire also makes complex political events, like the
German invasion of Russia (Battle of the Windmill) easy for us to understand.
Style

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Orwell's style is `transparent' and simple.
Fairytale phrasing
Simple language: the book contains the sort of language we would expect to find in a fairytale.
Phrases like `As soon as the light in the bedroom went out there was a stirring and a fluttering all
through the farm buildings' encourage us to think that this will be a traditional children's story.
Animals are introduced to us in a list-like way as they come into the barn.…read more

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Exploiting the farm animals
Told that the animals have `hardships' to face but they also have a greater dignity in their lives than
before as there are `more songs, more speeches, more processions'. The reader can see that these
are simple ways in which the pigs control the animals.
Ridiculing Napoleon
Comedy is also used by Orwell for satirical effect. When the pigs get drunk in chapter 8, their
behaviour is amusing.…read more

Comments

Paul Dutton

A detailed guide looking at language and structure in the novel. Important for those taking the higher tier. 

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