Notes on Animal Farm Themes

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Animal Farm Topic Tracking: Propaganda

Propaganda 1: Old Major uses some techniques of propaganda in his speech to the animals - he identifies humans as the enemy, and attempts to unite them all against this common enemy. He promises that their lives will be better and easier if they do what he suggests and overthrow the humans. He also teaches them a simple, easy-to-remember song, Beasts of England, to inspire them with his ideas. Although he genuinely believes that he is acting in the animals' best interests and is not trying to deceive them, this is all still propaganda.

Propaganda 2: The pigs persuade the other animals to agree with the principles of Animalism. They hold secret meetings in the barn, which always end with singing 'Beasts of England'. When the animals talk about loyalty to Mr. Jones, or ask why they should care about the Rebellion if it is going to happen after they die, or why they need to work for it if it is going to happen anyway, the pigs do not focus on logically explaining away these difficulties. Instead, they tell the animals that these ideas are contrary to the spirit of Animalism. It is very difficult to oppose an abstract argument like this. When Mollie asks if there will still be sugar and ribbons after the Rebellion, Snowball tells her that her ribbons are a badge of slavery. Although she does not seem convinced, she doesn't try to argue with him. Boxer and Clover, once they have been told something by the pigs, pass it on to the other animals by simple arguments.

Propaganda 3: Although the sheep, hens and ducks may not fully understand what it means, they all memorize the slogan "Four legs good, two legs bad." Such a slogan is simple, easy to remember and repeat. The sheep develop a great liking for it and often all lie around in the field bleating "Four legs good, two legs bad" for hours without getting tired of it. The question is, does someone repeating such a slogan really think about what it means, or simply get used to the sound and accept the slogan?

Propaganda 4: Squealer uses several clever techniques to persuade the other animals to accept that the pigs will keep all the apples and milk. He tells the animals that he hopes they don't think the pigs are doing this to be selfish - implying that if they do think this, they are being foolish. He tells them that many of the pigs in fact dislike milk and apples - he says he dislikes them himself - and take them only to stay healthy for the sake of the other animals. He tells them it is scientifically proven that milk and apples contain substances absolutely necessary to the health of a pig. He says that because the pigs are brainworkers and do all the management, they have a duty to stay as alert and healthy as they possibly can. He plays off the animals' fears by telling them that if the pigs fail in their duty, Jones will come back. All the animals are very afraid of Jones coming back, and so if the only way to avoid it is to give the pigs all the milk and apples, they will agree to this.

Propaganda 5: Snowball and Napoleon use messengers to spread their ideas as widely as possible to animals on surrounding farms, and to teach these animals the signature tune, "Beasts of England".

Propaganda 6: Pilkington and Frederick engage in anti-Animal Farm propaganda, making up exaggerated horror stories about what they think is happening there, without any grounding in reality.

Propaganda 7: Each faction - the one that supports Napoleon and the one that supports Snowball - develops its own simple slogan to persuade animals to vote for that candidate, emphasizing the future benefits. The two slogans are "Vote for Snowball and the three-day week" and "Vote for Napoleon and the full manger".

Propaganda 8: Squealer emphasizes that with one false step, the animals will bring Jones back. He uses their fear of Jones to make them cooperate.

Propaganda 9: When the animals ask why, if the windmill was Napoleon's idea, he spoke so strongly against it, Squealer explains that it was a maneuver to get rid of Snowball, who was a dangerous influence. He says that this is called 'tactics', and although the animals don't understand the word, Squealer is so persuasive and the three dogs with him look so threatening that they accept the explanation.

Propaganda 10: Squealer persuades the animals that their memories are at fault when they think they remember passing a resolution against money and trade at the first meeting after the Rebellion. He suggests that this is imaginary and probably due to lies spread by Snowball. He also asks them how they can be sure they did not dream it, since there is no record in writing and no proof of such a resolution.

Propaganda 11: When the animals remember passing a resolution in the early days never to use the farmhouse, Squealer is again able to convince them that they are imagining it. He emphasizes that it is necessary for the pigs as brainworkers to have a quiet place to work, and that it is unsuitable for the Leader (Napoleon) to be living in an undignified sty.

He convinces them that there can never have been a ruling against beds, since a bed is simply a place to sleep and even a pile of straw must count as a bed - he says the rule was against sheets, which are a human invention, and that the pigs have removed the sheets from the farmhouse beds. He says the pigs need a comfortable place to sleep because of all the brainwork they have to do, and asks whether the animals want the pigs to be too tired to carry out their duties, and whether they want Jones to come back.

Propaganda 12: When the windmill blows down in a gale, Napoleon prevents the pigs from looking stupid for building the walls too thin. He claims that Snowball crept in overnight and broke the windmill apart. He also has a pig leave footprints in the grass leading to the hedge, so that he can 'discover' them in front of the animals, sniff them and announce that they are Snowball's. This lends credibility to his story.

Propaganda 13: Napoleon does not want the humans to realize that the animals are starving, so he persuades Whymper that there is more than enough food. Previously no animals have had contact with Whymper, but Napoleon orders a few of them, mostly sheep, to casually mention to each other that rations have been increased when Whymper is nearby. He also arranges for the nearly empty storage bins to be filled up with sand, which is then covered with what remains of the grain and meal. He finds an excuse to lead Whymper through the storage shed, so that Whymper is deceived into thinking the bins are all full and reports to the outside world that the animals have plenty of food.

During the major shortage at the end of January, Napoleon avoids making appearances in public, and makes sure he is guarded by a number of dogs whether he is inside the farmhouse or somewhere on the farm.

Propaganda 14: Squealer manages to convince the animals that whereas they remember Snowball fighting heroically at the Battle of the Cowshed, he was in fact on the other side. He does this by telling them that the pigs have found secret documents proving it - he tells Boxer he could show him evidence of the plot in Snowball's own handwriting, but Boxer would not be able to read it since Boxer only knows the first four letters of the alphabet. The animals remember seeing Snowball wounded by Jones's gun, but Squealer tells them it was part of the arrangement and the shot only grazed him. He asks them if they don't remember Snowball signaling them all to turn and run away at the key moment (which in fact happened, since Snowball had arranged to lead the men into the cowshed by pretending to run away and then ambushing them). Squealer describes Snowball's cowardice at the scene of the battle, and Napoleon's imaginary bravery, in such detail that it seems to the animals they do remember these things.

When Boxer still refuses to believe that Snowball was already a traitor at the Battle of the Cowshed, Squealer changes his mind by telling him that Napoleon says so.

Propaganda 15: Napoleon bans the song 'Beasts of England' and replaces it with a new song praising the glories of Animal Farm. Squealer explains the action by saying that 'Beasts of England' is outdated because it was a song wishing for freedom and the animals now have their freedom and no longer need the song. Some of the animals might have protested, but the sheep, Napoleon's most devoted followers, start bleating 'Four legs good, two legs bad' over and over again and put an end to the discussion.

Propaganda 16: When the animals become upset because they are always hungry, Squealer starts reading to them every Sunday from long strips of paper, telling them that the production of every type of food on the farm has increased by two, three or even five hundred percent. The animals do not remember very well what conditions were like under Jones, so they do not dispute this.

Propaganda 17: As Napoleon leans towards selling the timber to Pilkington rather than Frederick, anti-Frederick rumors begin to abound. Some of them are that Frederick is planning to take over Animal Farm with a group of armed men and has already bribed the magistrates and police to let it happen; and that Frederick tortures and starves his animals.

Napoleon tells the pigeons that he sends out to neighboring farms to drop their slogan of 'Death to Humanity' and replace it with 'Death to Frederick'.

Propaganda 18: Now that the animals have finally accepted Squealer's version of the Battle of the Cowshed and remember this as the true version, he is able to convince them further that they are still remembering things wrong and Snowball was in fact criticized for his cowardice in the battle.

Propaganda 19: When Napoleon changes his mind and sells the timber to Frederick, all the stories are immediately changed so that the animals will not think that Napoleon has acted inconsistently. He tells them that the rumors of an attack are totally untrue, that he has been in agreement with Frederick secretly the whole time, and that the rumors of cruelty to animals on Pinchfield probably originated with Snowball, who is not at Pinchfield after all, but has been living in luxury at Foxwood for years. He says he only pretended to be friendly with Pilkington to get Frederick to raise his price.

Propaganda 20: Squealer overwhelms the animals and forestalls their complaints with endless lists of 'facts' which they cannot disprove because the facts are total nonsense.

Propaganda 21: Strategically, as the animals have less and less food, Napoleon makes sure they are encouraged more and more to be enthusiastic about Animal Farm and be patriotic. He also further revises his story of the Battle of the Cowshed, to make the animals believe that Snowball was the out and out villain. Some of them still remember seeing wounds on Snowball's back, but they are told that these were inflicted by Napoleon's teeth.

Propaganda 22: Although the pigs officially declare that everything Moses says about Sugarcandy Mountain is a lie, they secretly are glad to have his ideas spread around the farm - they allow him to stay on doing no work, and give him an allowance of a gill of beer a day. Moses tells the animals that after they die they will have a happy, easy life in a better world, and this makes them more likely to accept their current hungry, laborious lives.

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