Animal Fram - structure and language

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  • Created on: 16-05-17 20:07


A fable is a short story, with the use of animal characters who represents human characteristics to convey the moral of the story. 

Orwell used this technique to teach us a lesson about power and propaganda in a political way. Hence people may question - is it a fairy story?

For example in Animal farm, Squealer is highly skilled at speeches and uses it to manipulate the animals under the rule of Napolean. He represents Vyacheslav Molotov in the Russian Revolution as he was Stalin's minister of propaganda.

Also the ending of Animal Farm is ambiguous. There is no clear sense of how life will turn out for the animals. No clear moral is stated, although Orwell’s message throughout the text is clear.

The use of the fable technique is that it teaches the audience a lesson to not always believe what you hear or read (propaganda). Additionally If you give someone complete power they will always end up using it for personal gain or bad things because they become corrupted. 

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An allegory is an extended comparison, in which events and characters represents other things. 

Orwell uses this technique as he compares Animal farm to the Russian Revolution, so all the characters and events represent something from that time frame. Also he used this technique to unfold the true nature of a person.

To illustrate in Animal farm: Napolean (with the help of nine loyal dogs) drives out Snowball and completely takes over Animal farm. Link to the Russian revolution: Stalin - having driven out his own competition - Trotsky, from Russia with his supporters, takes power. 

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.

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Satire is used to address a serious issue by presenting it in a ridiculous way. 

Orwell uses satire to expose what he saw in the Russian government's faults, as well as expressing his own opinions through it.

Such as in the novel: Orwell describes the mistakes and foolishness of Mr. Jones. He tells us that Mr. Jones had a drinking problem and that is what lead to the downfall of his rule over the Farm. Compared to the Russian Revolution: Mr. Jones is compared to Czar Nicolas II, who was the emperor of Russia. What lead him to be taken away from power was his poor handling of Russia's role in WWI.

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.

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Irony is the opposite of what is meant or expected. 

There are 3 types of irony used by Orwell: dramatic; verbal and situational. He used these technique so the reader can play a key role in moving the story forward and deepening its meaning. Therefore in order to use these ironic terms the novel is structured in a third person narrative. 

Ridiculing Napoleon - Comedy is also used by Orwell for satirical effect. When the pigs get drunk in chapter 8, their behaviour is amusing. The fact that the pigs think Napoleon is dying, when it is clear to us that he has a hangover is funny. The pigs behaviour in chapter 8 then is not just comic, but also shows the way in which the pigs come to resemble Jones in his greed and lack of concern for the animals welfare.

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.

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Dramatic irony

Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something the characters do not. 

Orwell used this technique to expose how the proleteriat and bourgeois were "blind" because of lack of education.

For instance when the hard-working horse Boxer, gets injured, and Squealer tells the animals that he is being taken off to hospital. The reader, however, knows the real truth, which is that the pigs are selling Boxer to a slaughter house.

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Verbal irony

Verbal irony is usually a figure of speech, in which what is said is the opposite of what is meant. 

The use of verbal irony in Animal Farm is to criticize the gorvenment and the idea of communism.

In this case Squealer has been modifying with the commandments all along, like the pigs start to sleep in beds, and so the rule of "No animal shall sleep in a bed" is changed to "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets."

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Situational Irony

Situational irony is the events described to us, but is the opposite of what we expected.

The situational irony in Animal Farm is the rebellion and the aftermath of the pigs being corrupted with power. 

One example of this type of irony is when the memorial banquet was held for Boxer's death. It is ironic because the pigs are celebrating his death and purchased liquor with the money from his sale.

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A shift in tone

Final scene in the book there is a shift away from Orwell’s detached narrator to the tone of a dream or vision. This shift is emphasized by Orwell’s repetition of the animal’s trust in the pigs and that the promised utopia will arrive some day, followed by clover seeing the pigs walking on their hind legs, and the acceleration towards the final scene. The contrast highlights the extent of the pigs betrayal and exploitation of the animals. 

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Orwell uses a third person narrator. A third person narrator is a god-like, omnipotent figure who sees everything that happens in the story – and can even tell us what each character is thinking.

Detachment: Orwell’s narrator seems detached and gives the reader a similar distance from the events in the book. The gap between what is really happening and what we are told is exploited by Orwell to make a satirical point.

Trust: We trust the narrator. We do not question his interpretations of the characters and we believe that he is telling the truth and showing us all that happens on the farm. This relationship between the reader and the narrator is problematic and perhaps ironic in a book that is itself about the way in which language can be distorted.

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Manipulating Language - 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!” ch 3

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)

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Language II

Orwell’s style is ‘transparent’ and simple.

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. The narrator acts as a traditional storyteller, using phrases such as, ‘Now, as it turned out’ to give us a sense of the story unfolding before us.

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.

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Language III

Economy: Uses an economical, spare paragraph structure to emphasise particular points

Repetition: Some simple phrases are repeated. 

Descriptive Language: There is little figurative language (create an image in head; metaphors, similes & personification) used in Animal Farm. The language becomes more descriptive when the animals look at their farm during the harvest after the revolution and after the execution.

Orwell uses descriptive language in order to leave us in no doubt that the revolution is a good thing. The description of the farm after the revolution is poetic ‘sweet summer grass’ and contains an evocative physical description of the animals activities.

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