How did the pigs abuse language to maintain their position of power in Animal Farm? Essay Sample
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In “Animal Farm”, there are 4 pigs, Major, Snowball, Napoleon and Squealer, that are very important to the story, and they use various ways to abuse language, they include rhetorical questions, assertion, lying, songs and slogans, adding condition and smearing the enemy. The pigs abuse language to achieve different goals, yet all of them end up help maintain pigs’ position of power.
Major through abusing language, started the motion for a revolution. As he sparks this idea in the beginning, he puts the pigs into the leading position of the revolution, which allows the chance for the pigs to gain the position of power which has been held by human if revolution does succeed.
Snowball leads the animals into the early stages of revolution. During the first doubt about the new “farm”, fundamental question about how the system is going to work, Snowball started the tradition of pigs making the decision to questions like problems with “sugar” and “ribbon”. He abused language to encourage animals’ enthusiasm towards animalism under the pigs.
Napoleon with the help of Squealer also abuse language a lot to maintain pigs’ rule. While Napoleon is the one who is making decisions, Squealer is the one who tries to “justify” and “promote” Napoleon’s decisions through abuse of language, and to make sure the animals at least obey the pigs’ decision if all others fail.
Now we know what they achieved through abusing language which maintained the position of power, so in what ways did they abuse language exactly? In general, the pigs abuse language in quite a few ways which includes rhetorical questions, assertion, lying, songs and slogans, adding condition and smearing the enemy.
Language is, in TOK, a way of knowing among with perception, reason and emotion. As language is a way we know things, if it is abused, we will “know” something which is not true, which others people want us to “know”, this is exactly what happened to the animals.
The first technique is rhetorical questions. Rhetorical questions are questions which are asked yet answers are not expected because the speaker will lead you to an answer which he wants. And from the very beginning in the first chapter in Major’s only appearance in the book, he uses rhetorical questions to convey the message of “human are enemies of pigs and we should take over the farm” For example, “Why then do we continue in this miserable condition” was asked but he continued to answer himself “Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings.”, the question was asked not in order to get animals’ idea, but a chance for Major himself to propose this idea of human are animals’ enemies.
By doing this, Major does not allow animals to think about their answers to the questions, yet he brings them up and gives them their answers. If the animals were not too conscious to reject the answers of Major, Major’s answers will become theirs. And in fact, the animals did not reject as Major is an elderly pig and animals think he then must be an authority to give such answers. In this case, Major successfully use language to create ethical grou
nd for overthrowing the humans. However, rhetorical questions do have their weakness as one needs to
make sure the listener will not disagree. Therefore, later in the story, Squealer tries to use the same technique, yet because his lack of credibility he needed assistance from other techniques.
Assertion is also used by Major, assertion is like taking rhetorical questions to a higher level, directly telling others about your idea, in a bold statement which shall only be used with undisputable truth. It takes away the possibility of discussion as the subjects of assertion are often arguable perspective and directly jumps to a conclusion, which means truth is established perhaps solely based words (language) of one or a few. That includes “No animal escapes the cruel knife in the end.” This also reinforces Major ethical claim for overthrowing. Yet it also has the same weakness as rhetorical questions.
Assertion sometimes comes with lying, as sometimes assertion will not be too effective and lasting if there is not justification, so when there is not much justification, the pigs lie, make up something to “justify”. This is most professed by Squealer as he was not treated as an authority by the pets hence needs to lie. He uses “Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig.” Squealer in this case lies to create a “science”, a scientific knowledge which provides rationale for the pigs to take away the milk and apples. However, lies can be described as creating “fake knowledge”, it will work as long as they are not discovered, this is its weakness. However as the animals are mostly illiterate, cut off from the rest of the world, they have little chance of knowing the “knowledge” are forged, therefore lying works for the pigs except for animals who really know the truth, such as the donkey, Benjamin.
Then songs and slogans are also made up by the pigs, even though the ones usually saying the slogans are not the pigs. They are usually ideas summarized in an easy to remember form which does not explain why. The animals remember it and sing or say it without knowing why they do it only because they enjoy doing so. They helped the pigs in the most obvious way as they change them as situation differs; this allows us to compare them. The song “beast of England” which encourages animals to follow pigs’ revolution is sung when they are trying to establish the new regime.
However when the regime is established and Napoleon is building a personal dictatorship, the pigs change the song into “Comrade Napoleon” which promotes personal admiration of Napoleon. The slogan “four legs good, two legs bad” is used when pigs were trying to clear humans’ influences as humans stand on two legs. But when the pigs themselves were trying to practice human activities, including standing on two legs, they change the slogan into “four legs good, two legs better”. These are also constantly repeated so they can get into the subconscious of the animals.
The “seven commandments” were also written at the earlier stages of “animal farm”, yet as time goes by, the “seven commandments” go against their wills hence they add condition to some of the commandments. As they add condition, it completely changes the original meaning of the commandments and is completely violating the initial aim of the commandments. Example like “No animal shall kill any other animal” becoming “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause” shows that by adding condition, language is utterly abused in their advantage giving the pigs moral ground to kill other animals.
Lastly, from Major to Squealer, all the pigs smear about “enemies” yet they also decide who belongs to “enemies” and who does not. In chapter 1, Major smears humans for their cruelty against animals to spark hatred against humans, such as “Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.”, this helps gain support for his idea for revolution. “Every night, it was said, he came creeping in under cover of darkness and performed all kinds of mischief. He stole the corn, he upset the milk-pails, he broke the eggs, he trampled the seedbeds, he gnawed the bark off the fruit trees.” This was said so the pigs can blame all failures on someone who cannot defend himself. Squealer also smears humans for their cruelty again yet this time it is to provoke terror in order to somehow warn the animals if the pigs are gone, the worse will come to make sure they do not revolt again.
Language was abused by the pigs to create motion for revolution under the pigs, justification for pigs’ unreasonable actions, enthusiasm towards animalism under the pigs, obedience to pigs’ order when enthusiasm is lost. In conclusion, no matter how the pigs abuse language, they abuse it to maintain their position of power.
Animal Farm – George Orwell, Penguin (ISBN – 13: 978-0-140-12670-9)
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