Pre-AP English II
6 December 2017
Rhetoric’s Purpose in Animal Farm
In the early 1900s, the Whites, the aristocracy of Russia, were overthrown by the Reds, the Bolsheviks. The primary reason for the change in leadership was that the people were discontent with the conditions that they were living under. After the fall of Czar Nicholas II’s regime, the people were looking forward to a new form of government. It was communism, a form of government where property is owned by the public and the people are paid by their ability. It is an important moment in the history of Russia, because although it caused the deaths of many millions and the deceit of many, it launched them into the industrial revolution. In Animal Farm, a dystopian allegorical satire by George Orwell, the use of rhetoric helps readers link the events of the Russian Revolution to the story; therefore, the demise and deception of the Russian people was shared to the rest of the world.
With the use of imagery, Orwell creates vivid images for readers to understand the conditions under which the Russian people were living. In a moment of confession and judgement for the animals on the farm in relation to the accusation of colluding with those outside the farm, Napoleon, who represents Stalin describes the brutal retaliation of traitorous acts as “when they had finished their confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out,” (Orwell 58). The vivid description creates an image of utter horror, and it shows how Orwell was possibly trying to portray his disdain for Joseph Stalin as a cruel ruler who would stop at nothing to maintain power. People who were seen as traitors by Napoleon were killed if they were found talking to foreigners. Nonetheless, it continues to show how Stalin had no remorse in killing people whom he thought were traitors, which ultimately led to his demise. As the book continues, Mr. Frederick or Germany attacks the farm then proceeds to destroy the windmill, which is a representation of Stalin’s five year plan; the animals that are killed are strewn across the farm and “the sight of their dead comrades stretched upon the grass moved some of them to tears” (Orwell 72). Orwell uses sensory details in order to illustrate the animals’ emotions in reaction to the windmill being destroyed and the others deaths. He uses senses such as sound, when he describes the sorrowful silence, to appeal to the audience’s hearing; including vivid images allows for a connection to form with the audience, which further helps the audience to sympathize with the animals in their time of despair. By the use of sensory details, Orwell links the demise of the Russian people with their fear of change and helps the reader understand the emotion of the animals. The purpose of imagery in Animal Farm allows Orwell to convey vivid events that occurred during the era of the Russian Revolution. A part of rhetoric that goes hand in hand with imagery is the use of details.
Orwell’s use of details is evident throughout the novella, since it provides insight to how the Russian people were doomed from the start. About midway through, the animals had come to accept that the pigs were now going to be the leaders of the farm, but there were problems arising because some of the pigs did not exactly see eye to eye on policies. Snowball, who represents Leon Trotsky, and Napoleon were not the best ruling pair, especially when it came to making a resolution on a problem, “Pigs decide all questions of farm policy, though their decisions had to be ratified by a majority vote,” (Orwell 33). Although the pigs had the overarching power, the animals had some power; exhibiting how Orwell was depicting that the people of Russia believed they had power, but when in reality they did not. However, this then became a problem because they became ignorant of the conditions in which they were truly living in. In the beginning, the animals had made seven commandments, their Bill of Rights, as to what the animals should live by; yet, the pigs, creators of the seven commandments, changed them, ¨It ran: ‘No animal shall kill any other animal WITHOUT CAUSE.’ Somehow or other, the last two words had slipped out of the animals’ memory,¨ (Orwell 63). The changing of the original seven commandments proves significant because the animals were not literate and this allowed for the pigs to change the laws as they pleased. Because they did this, it made the animals doubt what they actually know, which is not the truth. Orwell includes this detail that the last two words had supposedly slipped out of the animals memory in order to depict the animals are becoming more and more ignorant and will almost immediately trust majority of what the pigs are telling them without questioning their authority and decisions. A noteworthy component of Orwell’s writing is that these hidden details show how the animals were subject to trickery since they were spoken to with a diction that they was not familiar to them.
Diction is an important aspect of the novel because it has the power to sway people in one way or another. Old Major, represents Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, was a highly regarded pig on the farm, who planted the seed of revolution in the minds of the animals. In his speech to the animals, he presents that “the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty,” (Orwell 5). In this example, Orwell uses a vocabulary that is strong to exhibit how Old Major was trying to start a revolution. The use of the words ¨slaughter¨ and ¨cruelty¨ have a strong negative connotation and the ability to manipulate people when used correctly. Because of Orwell’s strong use of vocabulary, the reader has a sense of freedom and longing for the animals or the people to have their freedom. Throughout the development of the new administration, the animals were proud of what they had accomplished and what they had accomplished after expelling their leaders, ¨with the worthless parasitical human beings gone, there was more for everyone to eat,¨ (Orwell 20). The diction used exhibits the disdain and hatred that the animals had towards the humans. With the words “worthless” and “parasitical”, the underlying meaning of how the pigs have created a mirage for the animals that they are seemingly better than the Czar or Mr. Jones. The diction contributes to the quick demise of the people because they do not know much other than what they are being told by the pigs.
The use of rhetoric in Animal Farm to explain how the pigs had evolved to be like mankind completes the book because it shows how the pigs had come full circle to becoming just like mankind. It is also ironic because in the beginning of the book, the pigs despised humans and now they had become just like them. Therefore the importance of this is that Orwell was trying to explain how a government may be saying one thing, but in reality they are doing another.