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A Brawl Between Brothers

By Abena-Anim-Somuah Feb 24, 2014 4245 Words

A Battle between Brothers: Analyzing the Positive and Negative aspects of the relationship between Snowball and Napoleon through themes used in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm


The purpose of this essay is to analyze three major themes in the novella and relate each theme to the relationship between Snowball and Napoleon, the leading pigs in Animal Farm. The novella under discussion is noted for its use of simple language and animals as symbols of political characters. This then leads to the inquiry “What themes does George Orwell use in exploring the relationship between Snowball and Napoleon in his novella, Animal Farm?” Both these characters exhibit strong opinions about political ideas, particularly those associated with the Animalism ideology. The inquiry of this essay was limited to examining Orwell’s novella analyzing major parts of the story, formulate themes and relate them to the positive and negative aspects of the relationship between both pigs. It considers how the power among the public influence the animals through positive diction, illustrating the strength of these characters as well as the tone to embellish the character development and the relation between characters. This essay also assesses components of the use of language and corruption of Animalism ideals that affect the reader’s thoughts on Animalism. Adaptations of Animal Farm external to the novel were not included to the analysis of the essay. Another limitation was that as the book was a political satire, the comparison of characters to political leaders is omitted in order to derail from a historical analysis rather than a literal interpretation. The essay, concludes the idea that the three themes discussed allow the reader to understand the positive and negative aspects of Snowball and Napoleon’s relationship, with all themes capturing both aspects of each other , with the strategic implication of language , value-laden diction and the ability of Orwell to draw conclusions on the role of power based on a complex relationship.
What themes does George Orwell use to explore the relationship between Snowball and Napoleon in Animal Farm?

Since its publication in 1956 and the book rising to fame after 20 years, Animal Farm by George Orwell is well known as a political satire comparing the leaders of the Russian Revolution to those on Animal Farm. The book highlights the competitive nature of the two leading pigs in the story and how their competitive characters affect the farm and the animals that they govern. However, the positive and negative relationship between Snowball and Napoleon is what makes the novella captivating and has been analyzed by many historians and literature experts. The positive and negative relationship between Napoleon and Snowball allows George Orwell to explore the themes of Power among the Public, Power of Language and Animalism Ideals/ Ideology in his novel, Animal Farm.

George Orwell used Animal Farm as a way to interpret the events of the Russian Revolution in a form of literature. By comparing the leaders of the revolution to animals, Orwell believes that there are certain animal qualities, which are present in humans. It was also used as a tool to group the revolutionary characters into the various categories of an animal farm- from the highly ranked pigs to the downright dumb sheep, making the novel more interesting and captivating.

For an author who seems to believe that these leaders are similar to animals, Orwell uses the strong relationship between Napoleon and Snowball to outline the underlying themes in the novella, how human traits can easily be found in animals, the struggle to win power and its affect on the animals and the effect that language has on our ideas and the way that they are communicated. Most importantly, by using underlying characters like Boxer to represent the generic working class, Orwell uses character development to emphasize the effect that power has on its subjects and how the changing of rules can affect the various events in the novel and the shape the ideals of Animalism.

In Animal farm, George Orwell uses the theme of Power among the Public to illustrate the characters of Snowball and Napoleon who are influences in the farm’s decisions, Boxer, who represent the general animal population as well as the Major’ influence on the Animalism revolution and the role of the pigs. In the novel, Snowball is a pig full of talent and great leadership as well as the mastermind behind attempted Animal. After the Major’s death, Snowball is left in charge of the farm with is brother, Napoleon and takes full responsibility of planning committees, such as: “ the Egg Production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails League for the cows, the wild Comrades’ Re-education Committee “, (Orwell, 22) in order to provide a better life for all the animals. The idea of planning the committees identifies the negative relationship between Snowball and Napoleon, as Snowball believes that the committees will improve the overall well being of the farm but Napoleon believes otherwise and thinks that the education of the young is more important. Snowball is also a passionate intellectual who reasons with animals and is more honest about his motives than Napoleon. Orwell bases this character on a strong leader who was smart, decisive and has innovative ideas to change the course of Manor Farm into the utopian Animal Farm. Snowball also shows compassion towards the animals by taking the seven commandments and narrowing them down to the short maxim, of four legs good, two legs bad. “This, he said, contained the essential principle of Animalism. Whoever had thoroughly grasped it would be safe from human influences” (Orwell, 24). This quote illustrates the differences in the personalities between Snowball and Napoleon as Snowball showed compassion towards the pigs whereas Napoleon was firmer with the general populace and led them with an iron fist.

Being the strongest animal on the farm but not the smartest, Boxer displays many signs of strength with his work ethic and his contribution to the overall well being of the farm. “Boxer was the admiration of everybody on the farm […] and the entire work on the farm seemed to rest on his shoulders.” Although he appears to be a composed animal with compassion towards other, Boxer played an important role in the Battle of the Cowshed by saving the farm from the humans. Orwell portrays Boxer as a character who has the appearance of a beast but has a gentle character. His strong side is exhibited in the battle when “ the most terrifying spectacle of all was Boxer, rearing up on his hind legs and striking out with his great iron-shad hoofs, like a stallion” (Orwell, 30). This establishes the fact that Boxer’s character is the unofficial head of the farm, pushing all the animals to work harder and strive for the best by screaming the maxim “ I will work harder”. However, towards the end of the novel, Boxer’s realization of his weakness is pure evidence that the power among the common animals is fading and that total control has fallen into the evil hands of Napoleon. Napoleon had worked him so hard that “ for the first time, it occurred to [Boxer] that he was eleven years old and that perhaps his great muscles were not quite what they had once been.” (Orwell, 77). Boxer’s weakness is not good for the farm as there is no motivation for the animals to work yielding no work on the farm. The physical exertion reveals the positive aspect of Snowball and Napoleon’s relationship as they both agreed that working Boxer to his full potential was the best option for the farm but did not take his health into consideration and it was morally incorrect for Napoleon and the other leading pigs on the farm not to warn him about the dangers of body exertion. Boxer’s character is a perfect illustration of the positive and negative relationship between Napoleon and Snowball as it exhibits the positive relationship in which they believe that Boxer is an excellent leader when it comes to getting the animals to perform their duties as well as demonstrating the negative side of the relationship in which Napoleon believes that the only way the farm will run is by exerting Boxer to his maximum and illustrates how far the pigs will go to attain what they desire whereas Snowball believed that it was good for Boxer to take that role but he must not strain himself in order for him to be better at a physical level. In order to understand the extent of Boxer’s character, focus must be placed on Mollie, a character who exhibits opposite characteristics from Boxer. In the novella, “Mollie, it was true was not good at getting up in the mornings, had a way of leaving work early on the ground that there was a stone in her hoof.” (Orwell, 21). As a foil in Boxer’s character, Mollie believes that humans are not evil and will always shower her with gifts and compliment her beauty. Her laziness illustrates the relationship between Snowball and Napoleon as they agree that she is a terrible influence to the animals due to her corruption of Animalism ideals as well as not being a good asset to the farm due to her lack of contributing to the overall workload. Napoleon’s physical appearance is considered a threat to the majority of the animals on the farm as it gave off an impression that he was powerful. Orwell describes him as a “Large, fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker but a reputation of getting his way.”(Orwell, 10) This quote depicts how Napoleon gets his way by letting Squealer speak for him and using his presence to establish a hierarchy between himself and the general populace. He also bases his character on that of a violent dictator using violent measures to remove his opponents and take charge. In order to create this powerful character, he trains the puppies into dogs that manipulate fear into the animals. In introducing the hounds, “there were nine enormous dogs wearing brass studded collars came bounding into the barn” (Orwell, 38). This episode is the first of many in which the political positioning of the Rebellion’s early days gives way to overt violence, openly subverting the democratic principles of Animal Farm from a society based on equal rights to a society in which those who lead the hierarchy determine the rights for all. This represents the negative relationship between Snowball and Napoleon as Snowball promotes the well being of the animals on the farm but Napoleon’s concerns were focused on the security and farm exhibiting no empathy or compassion towards the animals. His use of power is evil as he creates rations on food for the general populace yet increases them for his security dogs and the rest of the pig council. On Page 82, Orwell states, “ Rations, reduced in December, were reduced in February, and lanterns in the stalls were forbidden to save oil and yet the pigs seemed comfortable enough, in fact, were putting on weight if anything.” This could be related to the corruption of Animalism ideals as the Major believed that all animals should be treated equally regardless of their species leading to the negative aspect of the leading pigs relationship which recognizes the fact Snowball believed in the same rights as the Major leading to the development of committees in order for animals not to alienate each other whereas Napoleon believed that the order of a social hierarchy for the animals was the best solution for the farm and the well-being of the pigs as inferred by many of Squealer’s speeches. In Chapter 3, the pigs assume the role of leaders on the farm in which their self-assigned duties include supervising every task on the farm, controlling food rations and initiating important ceremonies to recognize Animalism. This leadership is based on the assumption that as the Major was a pig and had insightful thoughts about the Animalism Revolution, all pigs have the same thought process causing them to feel more superior. The role of the pigs identifies both the positive and negative aspect of the relationship between Napoleon and Snowball, as they both believe they could use their power to control the dumbfounded masses but the division in their thoughts is based on their opinions of the Major’s thoughts on the revolution of animals. By referring to the animals as comrades, a connotation associated with the military, the Major is revealing how the role of power is important to the farm’s discipline. In instilling the idea that all humans are evil and their purpose is to eradicate the animal race as “ all the evils of life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings”(Orwell, 5). This quote explores the positive aspect of Snowball and Napoleon’s relationship, as they both believe that the revolution of Animalism is vital in restoring the security of the farm. The Major’s verbal abuse and use of negative diction such as “All men are enemies”(Orwell, 6) expresses his hatred towards humans and their views of animal treatment from his perspective. This can be related to the positive aspect of their relationship, as both pigs believe that there is evil in this world but the line is drawn on how each pig is influenced by the nature of man and the extent of his strive for power. Snowball believes in the well being of the animals and supports the Major’s ideas about the revolution, putting them first in all his ideas whereas Napoleon believes that his rise to power is more important than the state of Manor Farm and the animals living there. The role of Power among the Public illustrates the negative and positive connotations associated with the relationship between Snowball and Napoleon as the positive aspect illustrates the idea that both pigs believe that their status is vital in determining how to lead the masses as well as the partial agreement that man is coherently evil. However, the negative connotation of this relationship is associated with the idea that Napoleon is more assertive in the gain of power whereas Snowball’s strengths are turned towards improving the well being of the farm. The power of language is an important factor of Snowball and Napoleon’s relationship and their influences on Animal Farm. The Major’s speech is a great example of how language has a strong role in the plot of the story. By stating “All men are enemies. All animals are comrades”(Orwell, 3), the Major has created a negative image associated with the human, majority of the animals to have a certain lack of respect for humans, particularly Mr. Jones. The ideas of the Major’s speech reflect the relationship between Snowball and Napoleon as they are inspired by the ideas of the Animalism revolution. This expresses the negative relationship between Snowball and Napoleon as Snowball believes in placing the Major’s ideas through projects, speeches and organizing committees but Napoleon thinks otherwise and believes that the rise to power involves the manipulation of animals and the education of the young. Squealer has a very important role on the farm because he uses his exceptional speeches to convince the general population that all things said by the pigs, specifically Napoleon are believed to be true. If animals don’t comply with any of Napoleon’s ideas, Squealer said “ Now if there was one thing that the animals were completely certain of it, it was that they didn’t want Jones back.” (Orwell, 26). Using Jonees as a threat refers to the power of language revealing how it can inform or persuade the animals into believing whether an idea is right or wrong. This can be linked to the relationship of Snowball and Napoleon, as he believes that the only way to relate to the animals is by controlling them through forced orders and inflicting fear in them. Squealer also convinces the general populace that everything the pigs did, evil or not, was considered vital to the well being of the animals. By convincing the animals that “milk and apples contain substances that are necessary to the well being of the pigs” (Orwell, 26), this outlines Napoleon’s use of effective propaganda to change the course of events on the farm and force all the animals to believe in the ways of human corruption which are portrayed to be rights associated with the Animalism ideals. Additionally, Snowball’s use of speeches to convince the animals illustrates how the power of words can affect crowd behavior and belief as well as highlighting an important character trait separating him from Napoleon. For example, when giving a speech about the power of windmill, his use of extravagant words, sharp imagery and imaginative ideas created this idea of a new hope for the animals on the farm and was believed, “ there was no doubt as to which way the vote would go”(Orwell, 36). This then explores the idea that the pigs are different in the way that they articulate themselves, as Snowball is a forward thinking character with greater technical achievement on the farm and the revolution throughout England. In contrast, Napoleon is a schemer and is most concerned with the consolidation of the power that he has already gained. Finally, Snowball’ s speeches cause him to illustrate his confidence and innovative ideas through thoughts such as “ Electricity, [Napoleon] said, could operate threshing-machines, ploughs, harrows, rollers and reapers and binders” (Orwell, 38). For an animal to think of such tactical ideas in a time where the idea of technology was not a prime focus in society, Orwell uses the charisma associated with Snowball to highlight the strength of Snowball which can be used further to analyze the negative aspect of their relationship. The power of language explores the relationship between the major pigs as it highlights the strengths of Snowball in the power of his speeches causing Napoleon to resort to other schemes, as his speeches do not have a lasting effect on the animal populace as compared to that of Snowball. The Animalism ideology is set in stone by the Major to provide the animals with an idea about the Revolution and its effect on the animals. Orwell establishes the relationship between Napoleon and Snowball by expanding the idea of Animalism in the corruption of these ideals as well as the loss of Animalism on the farm. For example, in the Major’s speech, he advises the animals to avoid promiscuous ideas of gambling, alcoholism and sleeping in beds. The theme of Animalism Ideology explores both the negative and positive aspects of Snowball and Napoleon as they share varied views on the opinion of Animalism. Snowball believed that the reeducation of all animals would have a lasting effect on instilling the ideas of the Revolution into their minds. For example in a speech by Napoleon states, “ The education of the young was more important than anything that could be done for those who were grown up” (Orwell, 24), highlighting the agreement on education, a concept highly valued by humans and the disagreement on who should be educated: the young with no knowledge and the ability to be easily brainwashed, adding these new ideas to previous experiences. This difference in education could be related to the theme of Power among Public as a majority of the pigs use the power to limit the education or language of the general populace and cement their status as the mentally elite in order to manipulate the animals. In relating back to the relationship between Snowball and Napoleon, this calls attention to their opinions on education, Snowball believing that the education of the animals will increase morale and Napoleon deducing that the appropriate education of the young and vulnerable is all that is needed on the farm, inferring the corruption of the Animalism ideal in which all animals are equal. After Snowball is chased off the farm by Napoleon’s menacing dogs, the hope of a farm where all animals lived in harmony and shared an abundance of food was lost. The corruption of Animalism ideals is essential in analyzing the relationship between the leading pigs as it reveals the negative aspect of the relationship through the drastic changes in the Seven Commandments, the connection between human activities and Napoleon’s leadership as well as the association with the attainment of wealth and power. The Seven Commandments are the building blocks of the Animalism revolution and although they are not understood by majority of the animal population due to the lack of education, they are used to establish the idea of order and rule on a farm that was previously distraught. Both Napoleon and Snowball agreed on the Seven Commandments, as they were part of the small population that understood the principles of Animalism in order to use them as a tool of oppression or discipline on the animals. However, it can be deduced from the novella that there were some differences in the opinions of the leading pigs. For example, in analyzing the seventh commandment where ”All animals are equal” (Orwell, 17), Napoleon and Snowball have different perspectives on this particular principle. Napoleon believes that the education of the young is more important than that of the old and that all “milk and apples should be provided substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig” (Orwell, 25), demonstrating Napoleon’s lever use of language and propaganda to scheme or deceive the animals into following his dictator-like ways. On the other hand, Snowball shortens down the principles of Animalism to a maxim of “Four legs good, two legs bad” (Orwell, 24), displaying the fervent ideologue throwing his hear and soul into the development of Animalism and improving the farms infrastructure in comparison to the character of Napoleon, chiding to human ways and exhibiting interests in the strength of his power, not the morale of Animal Farm. Finally the corruption of Animalism ideals associated with the human aspect of Napoleon’s dictatorship at the end of the novella expresses the negative aspect of his relationship with Snowball. For example, when the idea of alcohol consumption, a human activity, is questioned, the commandment is changed from “No animal shall drink alcohol” (Orwell, 17) to “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess”, (Orwell, 78). This defines the negative aspect of their relationship as Napoleon is convinced that acting like humans will change the order and mannerism whereas Snowball thought otherwise and did not meddle with the humans, knowing the effect they would have on influencing the animals to learn from their ways, revealing the idea that animals have no self control when guided by humans. The idea of humans and animals working together is a corruption of the ideal that “ Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings is a friend.”(Orwell, 17). Towards the end of the novella, “twelve voices were shouting in anger and they were all alike. No question, now what had happened to the faces of the pigs […] and looked from man to pig and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which” (Orwell, 102). This quote represents how both the pigs and humans have the same ideals after Napoleon’s dictatorship. Orwell uses this quote to establish the idea that the pigs who consolidate their power and their totalitarian, dictatorship completely overwhelming the democratic-socialist ideal of Animal Farm. This reveals that the attainment for power is of great value to Napoleon that he now considers himself human. In relation to Snowball and Napoleon’s relationship, the negative aspect is clearly highlighted in the way that each pig portrayed his leader. Snowball’s use of idealism, persuasion and rhetorical skill were exceptional for the utopia portrayed by the Major but was no match for the brute force applied by Napoleon. His style of leadership was based on instilling fear into his subjects, which leads to him imposing his will on others. He also believes that scheming is the only way to receive results as well as falling to greed over who has total control of the Farm and his immoral way of doing things leading to the destruction of Animalism and Manor Farm. In light of the above, it can be deduced that Orwell used the theme of Power among the Public to outline the negative and positive sides of their relationship by creating characters illustrating the effects of how their power affected the general populace. For example, Boxer was loyal to Napoleon and yet was betrayed, providing a clear depiction of how evil power can affect a character that was the motivation of hard work on the farm. Secondly, the power of language reveals how the two disagreed as they had two clear visions for the farm and although Snowball’s plan was articulated better than Napoleon’s, the corruption of Animalism ideals diminished his idea of a utopian farm where all the animals lived in harmony instead of a dictatorship rule in which one species of animals were considered superior over all. The positive aspect of their relationship was covered in the use of language where the idea of the Seven Commandments was drawn. Orwell using the themes to determine the extent of their relationship establishes the idea that power is the root of evil in a communist government and allowing the reader to question the venerable motives of each pig

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. London: Penguin Books, 1987. Print.

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