Squealer’s Use Of Propaganda In Animal Farm
Propaganda is a word that is often thrown around by individuals — especially today. We often hear about people using propaganda when it comes to elections and candidates; oftentimes, candidates will use propaganda in order to hurt the other candidate, never help the other candidate. it’s no wonder, propaganda can be very powerful. Propaganda is essentially the spreading of information for a cause, and that cause can either help someone, a cause, an organization, or an institution — or, it can hurt any of those people or things. In Orwell’s seminal work entitled Animal Farm, Orwell depicts propaganda as being something that is quite dangerous and it is Squealer who is the chief spreader of propaganda on the farm. Through Squealer’s cunning machinations and his clever way of using propaganda, he is able to make the animals see everything the way that he wants them too, no matter how ridiculous his argument may seem.
Squealer is a pig (an apt name for him). He is well-spoken, persuasive, and incredibly tricky. Squealer finds many different ways to make sense and even justify the pigs’ domination of the farm and all of its assets to the other animals. He also spreads incorrect information regarding the farm’s achievements. Through Orwell’s creation of Squealer, the reader is able to see how language is used by people with power — or pigs with power — to manipulate the truth in order to take and keep social and political control. If any of the animals on the farm dare question any of Napoleon’s actions, no matter how awfully selfish the act may seem to be, Squealer is there to convince the animals why it is a good thing and why it is not selfish or, more importantly, why it is right and just. Squealer will not only dance circles around the truth in order to keep supporting Napoleon, but he will blatantly lie to the other animals.
Squealer is quite cunning when it comes to the tactics he employs for the pigs’ cause. He uses a number of different tricks in order to persuade the other animals on the farm that the pigs should have control over all the apples and milk. He is quite manipulative in his mission. He tells the other animals that it may appear like having all the apples and milk is selfish, but he subtly lets them know that if they do think that the pigs are selfish, then they are simply ignorant. He flat-out lies to the other animals, stating that pigs don’t even like apples and milk, when pigs actually love apples and milk. He claims that he doesn’t like them at all, but he must take them in order to be healthy for the sake of the other animals on the farm (after all, the pigs are the brainworkers of the farm!). Squealer even goes so far as to make up information, coming up with a lie stating that it has been proven that milk and apples are necessary for pigs because they contain important ingredients that they can’t get from any other foods. Pigs must eat all the apples and milk because they need it in order to be healthy and smart. If they don’t take the apples and milk, then something could happen to them and Jones would certainly come back to the farm — and the other animals surely don’t want that. In this way, Squealer makes the other animals fearful and so they do not put up a fight about the apples and milk. Squealer goes a step further with the fear card. He tells the animals that if they do anything wrong, Jones will come back. Squealer is constantly reminding the other animals that Jones could come back at any time. It is the fear that Squealer instills in the animals that makes them want to comply with him. They believe that if they are to mess up, then they will have to face Jones.
Squealer has a knack for simplifying language that influences the proletariat farm animals. For example, he teaches the sheep to say, “Four legs good, two legs better” (Orwell 63). The first commandment on the farm was “Whatever goes on two legs is an enemy,” (7) but then the pigs learn how to walk on two feet and the pigs revise the commandment to “Four legs good, two legs better” (63). He also has a knack for making language more difficult in order to serve his purposes. When the language is made more complicated, it becomes more confusing for the proletariat farm animals. This is certainly seen in the apples and milk propaganda. Squealer twists his words saying that pigs must eat milk and apples not for the love of milk and apples but because it is better for the comrades.
Squealer uses many different tactics when it comes to twisting language. Of course there is the fact that he lies, but he also uses rhetorical question and repetition as some of his propaganda techniques. When he gives a speech to the farm animals about the changing of the commandments, he says:
‘You have heard then, comrades, that we pigs now sleep in the beds of the farmhouse? And why not? You did not suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely means a place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention. We have removed the sheets from the farmhouse beds, and sleep between blankets. And very comfortable beds they are too! But not more comfortable than we need, I can tell you, comrades, with all the brainwork we have to do nowadays. You would not rob us of our repose, would you, comrades? You would not have us too tired to carry out our duties? Surely none of you wishes to see Jones back?’ (Orwell 80).
In Squealer’s speech to the farm animals about the bed situation alone, he uses rhetorical questions — ‘And why not? You did not suppose, surely, that there was a rule against beds?’ — as well as his clever way of outsmarting the other animals — ‘A bed merely means a place to sleep.’ — which, undoubtedly, leaves the other animals feeling like they are, once again, the foolish ones for not realizing that a bed is just a ‘place to sleep,’ a bed could even be in a stall. Squealer has twisted the entire rule around so as to help his and the other pigs’ position on the farm. By telling the other animals that the rule was against sheets not beds (a lie) and that the pigs need their rest for their brainwork, he proves his point and makes the other animals once again aware of how important the pigs are on the farm. He states that the beds are comfortable, but they are not as comfortable as they could be, which perhaps makes the other animals feel a little better about the whole situation. After all, they are not as comfortable as they could be! Squealer must make the beds sound just alright in order for the other animals to feel good about the situation; this is his way of reassuring the other animals.
Squealer is incredibly successful at using propaganda to keep a certain level of power and position for the pigs. Squealer is the connection between Napoleon and the other farm animals; he is the conduit, the means for getting across the tyranny of Napoleon. Squealer is very good at his job and he even grows to love it as illustrated at the end of the story when he is so fat (most likely from all the apples and milk) that his eyes are just mere slits on his fat face. Squealer is so smooth that the other pigs say he “could turn black into white,” which is why Napoleon chooses to use Squealer for his selfish gains.
In Animal Farm, it is easy to see that it is an allegory, that Orwell was making a statement about powerful groups and how they will lie, cheat, rewrite history, and manipulate to get what they want. Though Napoleon is a very bad boar on the farm, Squealer can be considered just as bad because of the pleasure he takes in his job. He works hard at his job, as he must, because keeping up a tyrannical government while all the time trying to appear fair is challenging work.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. New York: Signet Classics; 50th Anniversary edition, 1996.
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