Truth and Hypocrisy in Animal Farm and the Scarlet Letter

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Truth and Hypocrisy In Animal Farm and The Scarlet Letter

Lies are often distorted into truth by those in power, who eventually become hypocrites

as they continue to delude for selfish gain. In the process of this distortion, they will do

everything possible to conceal and maintain their hunger for dominance and deference. This

theme of truth ( or lack thereof ) and ultimate hypocrisy is skillfully shown through Napoleon

in George Orwell's Animal Farm, and Reverend Dimmesdale in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The

Scarlet Letter.

One of the most notable characteristics shared by Napoleon and Reverend Dimmesdale is

their ability to skillfully twist lies into the truth. In Animal Farm, Napoleon is relentless in his

deception of the other animals. According to Graham Greene ( Bloom, 1996, 21), he is a

"consummate powermonger" who can skillfully undermine any idea that isn't his own. The first

signs of his dishonesty are shown when he hoards the milk and apples, with a message to the

others that " It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." ( Orwell, 52 ) From

there, the lies only increase in frequency and size. It's easy to compare this to the deceptive

nature of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale of The Scarlet Letter. The young minister veils his sin

from his Puritanical community by "cultivating an image that is far from the real truth."

( Johnson, 14) From the revelation of Hester's scarlet letter to that of his own, Dimmesdale

conceals his shame by portraying himself as a "miracle of holiness". ( Hawthorne, 139) Thus,

both Napoleon and the minister share the negative attribute of fraudulence throughout their

respective novels.

Another notable comparison between the two novels is that both Napoleon and

Dimmesdale lie for ambition. This is distinctly observable in Animal Farm, where the pigs take

the immediate initiative to establish themselves as the leaders. Napoleon is instantly placed as a

head, being the only Berkshire boar on the farm that has " a reputation for getting his own way."

( Orwell, 35 ) From the moment the animals beat Jones out of the farm, it's obvious that

Napoleon is shrewdly planning to fill the farmer's position. He envisions plans that will benefit

only himself, yet "make him appear to be working for everyone's advantage." ( Allen, 37 ) Thus,

he will rise in the animals' eyes as a caring and considerate leader. This is exemplified by his

expulsion of his rival Snowball, and the subsequent slander of the latter's reputation. Napoleon

then elevates his own reputation as a head by lying about Snowball's intentions. As the novel

progresses, he " becomes increasingly sophisticated in justifying his greed" ( Allen, 38 )

for power.

Reverend Dimmesdale shares this trait by deceiving his townspeople for their respect and

admiration. He desires to be a " great and revered minister" ( Johnson, 15 ), and will sacrifice

anything to conceal his sin. The reverend seems to be concerned solely with public opinion and

it's "effect towards his career". ( Johnson, 32 ) Thus, he lies to his congregation for seven years,

and suffers an incalculable amount of pain and guilt for it. However, he is rewarded with the

desired success, for the townspeople begin to view him as a holy figure: "so apotheosized by

worshipping admirer, did his footsteps, in the procession, really tread upon the dust of earth?"

( Hawthorne, 233 )

A difference is felt between the novels in that while both Napoleon and Dimmesdale lie

for ambition, Napoleon has no compunctions for doing so, in contrary to the minister, who's

greatly haunted by his conscience. Napoleon's greed never wavers throughout the novel, and

only seems to increase to grosser and grosser degrees. ( Allen, 38 ) Not once does he appear to

show the slightest bit of guilt or hesitation in making...
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