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Literary Devices in Animal Farm

Dec 23, 2001 1262 Words
Literary devices used in Animal Farm Timothy Quong

What is the definition of a good novel? Opinions on this question may differ, but there are many things that good novels have in common. Most importantly, the reader must enjoy the novel. When I use the word enjoy, I don't necessarily mean that it should make the reader ‘happy' or ‘joyful'. The novel should give the reader a valuable or worthwhile experience. Many good novels often address topics that relate to our own reality. In George Orwell's Animal Farm, one of the main focuses is on power and corruption.

Although consisting of only 95 pages, Animal Farm is effective in delivering its message. Orwell uses a variety of literary devices in Animal Farm that make it a deceptively complex and effective novel. I have decided to examine three of these literary devices: Structure, atmosphere, and irony. To chart the progression of the story, I will demonstrate how different things change throughout the story.

Work and food-
After the revolution, all the animals shared the food equally. They also worked to their own capacity. The first cases of inequality occur in the third chapter. All the milk and windfall apples are given to the pigs, instead of being shared among all the animals. After Napoleon took power, the common animals worked 60 hours a week and had to work on Sundays as well. In the past, each animal worked to his own capacity, now anyone that didn't work on Sunday would have his rations reduced. As the story progresses, the rations of the working animals slowly decrease and the amount of work increases.

After the death of Old Major, seven commandments were proclaimed. Over time, the pigs changed the commandments. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy – The pigs engage in business and trade with the humans. Napoleon socializes and plays cards with the humans. Four legs good, two legs bad – Four legs goo, two legs better. No animal shall wear clothes – The pigs eventually wear clothes. No animal shall sleep in a bed – It changes to: No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets. No animal shall drink alcohol – No animal shall drink alcohol in excess. No animal shall kill any other animal -- No animal shall kill any other animal without cause. All animals are equal -- All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others are.

Initially, the animals used a green flag with a horn and a hoof. The green represented the green fields of England and the horn and hoof represented the future ‘Republic of the Animals." Later, the pigs changed it to a plain green flag. Since by that that time, the pigs had already become humans. Beasts of England was abolished by Napoleon after the first executions and replaced by songs about his own greatness. The gun was also fired on his birthday. In the last chapter, military-style parades were held.

Initially, if any animal didn't work hard enough, the leadership would overlook it. Debates and criticism were welcome and meetings were held every Sunday. Once Napoleon came to power, Sunday meetings were abolished and anyone who voiced any opposition was threatened. Anyone who rebelled didn't receive any rations. Later in the story, the animals that complained or rebelled were executed.

The rebellion didn't have any bloodshed and no one was seriously injured. The battle of Cowshed was the first battle where animals died, a sheep and a stable – lad were killed. A few other animals were also wounded, "bloody streaks across Snowball's back." The next battle was even more violent, three sheep, a cow, and two geese were killed. Almost everyone else was wounded.

Social classes-
In the original ideology, all animals were equal. The ideology sought to eliminate injustice towards all animals. As time passed, the pigs became the rulers. At first, the pigs became the leaders because they were the most intelligent animals on the farm. Napoleon and some of the other pigs later used force (dogs) to eliminate opposition (Snowball) and used propaganda to trick the less intelligent animals. The first sign of inequality occurred in the third chapter when the milk and windfall apples were given to the pigs. The end of the third chapter is also when the pigs first use propaganda. Squealer convinced the other animals that the apples and milk were ‘essential' for the health of the pigs. The pig's rations went up as the rations of the working animals went down. The pigs rarely had to do any physical work. Th pigs also moved into the farmhouse, slept in the beds, drank alcohol, and wore clothes. In the 9th chapter, when a pig and any other animal met on a path the other animal must stand aside. Pigs were also allowed to wear a green ribbon on their tails on Sundays.

Atmosphere The atmosphere in the first barn scene is very warm, "Clover made a sort of wall around them with her great foreleg, and the ducklings nestled down inside it and promptly fell asleep." For most of chapter three, the mood was very bright. There was a successful harvest, the animals had more food and were very happy. The overall atmosphere remained cheerful until the fourth chapter. The battle of Cowshed leaves a sheep dead; many other animals were wounded. The mood continues to darken in chapter five. The conflict between Snowball and Napoleon intensifies. The animals are in shock after Snowball is chased off the farm by Napoleon's dogs. The bitterly hard winter also added to the darkening of the mood, "The earth was like iron, nothing could be done in the fields." Starting from chapter six, the animals work like slaves. Their workweeks are extended to 60 hours and they have to work on Sunday afternoons as well.

Subsequent harvests yield less food until the last two chapters when the windmill is finally completed. Rations for the working animals get lower and lower as times passes. The working animals are always cold and hungry. The hopes of the animals are dealt a huge blow when the windmill is destroyed in a storm, only Boxer and Clover remain optimistic. The mood turns mournful after the brutal executions, "When it was all over, the remaining animals, except for the pigs and dogs, crept away in a body. They were shaken and miserable." A very emotional scene occurs later in chapter when the animals gather around Clover on the knoll, "As Clover looked down the hillside her eyes filled with tears. If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race. These scenes of terror and torture were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion." In chapter nine, Boxer's death had a large impact on the animals that had known him. Even Benjamin who appears to be least affected by the turn of events is changed by the death of Boxer, "Only old Benjamin was much the same as ever, except for being a little greyer around the muzzle, and since Boxer's death, more morose taciturn than ever." In the last scene where animals watch as Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington brawl over the game of cards, the reader truly gets a sense of how badly the revolution went wrong.

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